Motion Design: Andreas Barden Breaks Down his Substance Source Video
A few weeks ago, we worked with Art and Creative Director Andreas Barden, on a video showcasing the customizability of the sportswear fabrics recently released on Substance Source. The result was a very inspirational and abstract motion design video, and Andreas was kind enough to tell us a bit more about his background and his work on the animation.
Hi! My name is Andreas Barden, and I’m a Motion Designer and Art- and Creative Director currently residing in Düsseldorf, Germany. Back in 2008, I started working in the field of motion design. After I finished my apprenticeship as an audio-visual media designer, I studied communication design and graduated in 2015. During my studies, I had already worked as a freelance motion designer and art director for several clients. Since 2015, I've worked at Elberfeld Kreation as Art and Creative director.
During my apprenticeship, I'd already started working with different software tools like After Effects and Cinema 4D. At that time I was impressed by the work of Maxim Zhestkov. I began using the tools I learned during my apprenticeship to do some similar animations. Since then, I focused on abstract 3D animations. During my studies, I gathered insight into different aspects of communication design, like editorial and information design. This background is beneficial to combine various elements of design in the creation of motion design.
The World of Motion Design
Motion Design combines different design elements such as illustration, photography, typography, film, and sound. You can say it is more about graphic design, compared to other forms of 3D art.
At Elberfeld Kreation, we have a wide range of different projects. We do animation, motion design, animations for customized oversized projections, product visualizations, music videos and image films.
The Substance Source Video
First of all, I was pleased to do the animation for Allegorithmic. There were hardly any specific regulations in the briefing. The only task was to show the ability to tweak the Substance Source materials in different ways. I came up with the idea to blend various parameters of one texture over one surface, e.g., different colors, opacity levels or roughness. From the beginning, it was clear to me to do an abstract animation. I wanted to showcase the use of Substance Source materials in motion design. Although I used the sportswear materials, I didn't want to do an animation linked to sports.
As with any other project, I started by collecting reference images. I searched for any textile references and many color references to define a mood I wanted to create for my animation. I like to use Pinterest to collect the images. Furthermore, I had a look at different references of textile movements.
As I described before, I started by spending some time doing research. When I have a clear vision of the look and the kind of animation, I begin to do some still images to define the style of the animation. For the animation, I need to do cloth simulations first. For those, I like to use Marvelous Designer. When I´m happy with the movement of the cloth simulation, I export the simulations as an Alembic file and import them into Cinema 4D. In C4D, I do all the lighting, shading and modeling of the scene. For the shading and rendering, I used OctaneRender. To integrate the Substance materials into my workflow, I exported the different layers of the fabrics as a .tga file. So I had the opportunity to adjust the color, roughness, opacity, etc. within OctaneRender.
Working as a Motion Designer
I think the most important thing for a motion designer is to have a sense and passion for design. Because motion design is a combination of many design aspects, it is nice to have some design background. Software-wise, I think Cinema 4D and After Effects are useful tools to start with as a motion designer.
We are planning to open a new multidisciplinary Design Studio in Cologne with a high focus on motion design this year. It is going to be called Bureau Klaus Alman. You can check out a first teaser animation on www.bureauklausalman.com.
Step 1 – Finding the Style and the Idea
The first part of my work is to spend some time doing research - looking for reference images for inspiration and defining the mood and style of the animation. I like the movement of fabrics in general and wanted to create natural movements of the fabrics myself. I like the work of Zeitguised, especially the compositions of their scenes and how they work with colors. You can say that was the central part of the inspiration.
Step 2 – Building the scene and first animation tests
The essential part of my animation was to create the simulation of the fabrics. To do so, I used Marvelous Designer. I started drawing multiple simple rectangle shapes and did all the simulation within Marvelous Designer. For some of the shots, I imported a rotating torus from Cinema 4D as an Alembic file. I used the torus as a collider to influence the simulation. In Marvelous Designer, you can play back the simulation, but you can neither shade nor render it. For the next step, I used Cinema 4D. So I exported the simulation as an alembic and imported the file into Cinema4D. Inside Cinema4D, I did all the texturing, lighting, camera animation and modeling of the scene. The scene had to stay clean and straightforward - so the fabrics could pop out. I modeled the surroundings with simple cubes. To get a clear sense of the simulations, I created simple software previews from C4D without any shading, texturing and lighting.
Step 3 – Texturing, Lighting, and Styleframes
This is one of the steps in which I used Substance Source quite often. I downloaded the textures I wanted from Substance Source and opened them with Substance Player. Inside Substance Player, I adjusted small things like roughness, color or the normal intensity - just some little tweaks, because I could change a lot inside Cinema 4D and OctaneRender. One crucial step was to increase the output to 4k so that I could keep a high amount of detail of the textures. Then I started building the Octane shader with the different layers of the Substance Source material. To evaluate the shaders, I had to do the lighting first. I kept the lighting simple and diffuse. Just one studio HDRI – that was it. My idea was to blend different colors, roughness and opacity levels over one surface. I built different Octane shaders and combined them with the Octane noise in the amount of an Octane mix material. To keep the edges of the noise sharp and clean, I shrunk up the contrast of the noise with a color correction note. Before I started to animate, I created style frames. These were a combination of still renderings of the final look to create a storyboard. Like this, I could define camera perspectives and a storyline without rendering the whole animation.
Step 4 – Animation
The key element of my animation was the simulation of the fabrics. I already did this part with Marvelous Designer. I decided to do four different simulations of fabrics for four different textures. Each simulation was imported into the scene in C4D and saved as a separate project file. Inside Cinema 4D, I animated a bit of camera movement to add some dynamism to each shot. Before I rendered the whole animation as a full res clip, I created an animatic - known from viewport inside Cinema 4D. This is the best way to edit the clip and add music without wasting too much time.
Step 5 Finalization
Finally, I started to render the video in the final resolution. In this case, I used a Resolution of FullHD with a framerate of 30fps. One thing I usually do before I render the video is adjusting the render settings of OctaneRender inside Cinema 4D. For animations, you always have to keep an eye on render time for each frame without wasting the technical quality of your images. A good render setting is to change the GI Mode of OctaneRender to path tracing and adjust the settings until you get a clean image without any grain. In this case, I used 2048 Max. samples and a value of 10 in the diffuse depth channel. Because I didn't use any refractive materials I reduced the specular value to 0. The GI clamp value was reduced to 10 and the other values were left at their defaults. Then you have to wait until the renderings are finished. When everything was rendered in Cinema 4D, I imported all the sequences into After Effects and did some little tweaking, like color correction, and added some motion blur.