Static VR 360 Spherical Video using Cinema 4D Lite Baked Images
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Static VR 360 Spherical Video using Cinema 4D Lite Baked Images

Create a 360 video with a stationary camera for use on youtube, facebook, vimeo and even the Samsung Gear VR (see “Hack” in post footer). In about 45 minutes (not including render time) we will bake 360 images in Cinema 4D Lite and compose them in After Effects to create a top and bottom stereoscopic video. Rendering out of Media Encoder provides the metadata to communicate with the social networking sites listed above.

Note: Vimeo’s 360 media player (below) is best viewed using Chrome or Firefox.


 

 Export

Export your 3D model from Vectorworks as a .c4d file. Here are our suggested export settings. Before exporting, make sure your model is oriented so that the front of your scene is at 9 o’clock. The goal is to have the model import into c4d oriented as seen below.

 

 Import

Open your exported .c4d file in Cinema 4D via After Effects. Step-by-step import instructions here.

 

 Create your ‘eyeballs’

Add a sphere object, change radius to 2cm, set the Y-value to roughly 180cm or 6ft, Z-value to 3cm.

Create a new material, set color to black, reflectance type to to “Reflection – Legacy” with 0 roughness, 100 reflection, 100 specular, and 0 bump. Drag material onto sphere.

 

 Add baked image tags

Select your sphere object in the objects browser and right click to add a Cinema 4d Tag> “Bake Texture” tag. Click on the bake texture tag icon next to the sphere object and apply the following settings:

a. Details tab: The start and end times should both read 0F. Change the frame rate to 30.  Drag the reflective material attached to the sphere object (as opposed to dragging it from the materials browser) into the “Texture Tags” box.

b. Options tab: Check the reflection box.

c. Tag tab: Click on the “…” button to set a save location & filename to designate it is the RIGHT eye. Set the format to PNG. Set the width to 7680, the height to 4320.

 

 Add compositing tags

Right click on the sphere object and add a Cinema 4d Tag> Compositing Tag. Uncheck all settings that are not already greyed out.

Now, duplicate the sphere object in the object manager. Select the duplicate sphere.

a. Change the Z-value to -3cm. This is meant to mimic the approximate 6cm distance between your eyes.

b. Go back into the bake tags and edit the filename using the “…” button to designate it as the LEFT eye.

c. Select both spheres objects and use the move tool to position them at the direct center of your scene. Be careful not to move them along the Y-axis; You want them to stay at 6ft or 180cm off the ground.

 

 Rendering baked images

Add a light if there isn’t already a light(s) in your scene. If not, see Step 3 of our Basic Animation Tutorial to learn how to add an area light to your scene.

Finally, for both sphere objects, click on the baked texture tag> options tab and and click the “bake” button. Two png images will be in your designated output folder ready to be imported into After Effects. This can take a while, even up to an hour depending on complexity of the scene.

 Flipping Baked Images

By baking the image reflected onto our eyes we have captured an inverted image. We need to flip both the images horizontally either in photoshop or other photo editing software. In Photoshop, main nav bar > Image > Image Rotation>  Flip Canvas Horizontally. Save.

 

 Compositing in After Effects

a. Create a new project in After Effects. Main nav bar> Composition> New Composition. Set the composition size to 3840 x 4320, make the duration 30 seconds long at 30 fps.

b. Import baked texture PNGs into the project panel by right clicking in the Project Panel > Import> File.

c. These images are twice the size of the comp to ensure a better quality end product. Drag each image sequence into the comp. With both layers selected press “S” to bring up the scale parameter and type in “50%”. Position the Left eye on top, Right eye on the bottom.

 

 Rendering in Media Encoder

Exporting with Media Encoder adds 360/VR metadata. In After Effects, Main Nav Bar> Composition> Add to Adobe Media Encoder Queue.  Media Encoder will automatically launch and your comp will appear. Click on the blue text in the Preset column to open the Export Settings window.

a. Change format to H.265, uncheck export audio, set the output file location. In Basic Video Settings, adjust the dimensions to be 3840 x 4320 [uncheck the box to edit if it is greyed out].

b. In Bitrate Settings, adjust target bitrate to 40 and select Quality> highest (slowest) from the dropdown box. Check box for ‘Video is VR’ and select Stereoscopic – over/under from the dropdown menu. Check box for “Use maximum render quality”.

Click okay to exit the export settings window and click the green play button to render!

 

         
That’s it!
I hope this information helps you make some sweet 360 videos. One of the goals of ScenicMentor.com is to help designers learn and work faster, giving them more time to create and more easily share their ideas with the world!
I’d love to hear comments or suggestions. Contact me here.

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