Intro

One of the simplest animation techniques is camera mapping – projecting a picture or video onto a relatively simple 3D geometry. This generates a 3D space, built from nothing more complex than an image or a series of images, that the camera can navigate. Unlike with a traditional take, you can keep refining the sequence after the shot is finished – and it’s very easy to comp in CG and greenscreen elements.

Hollywood films often use camera mapping to apply matte paintings to backgrounds, but as you will see here, the technique can be used front and centre. A fine example is the title sequence to David Fincher’s Panic Room, in which 3D type was composited onto a city fly-through.

In this masterclass, Dimitris Katsafouros and Sotiris Kapnitis –  aka We Are Pitch Black –  show how to create camera maps in Cinema 4D, how to use After Effects to export the textures you need and how to create the final animation. Always ready to mix things up, Dimitri and Sotiris used this workflow to incorporate several different camera moves into of a single time-lapse sequence by Jeremy Goldberg (jeremygoldberg.com), which can be watched below.

To follow along, you’ll need either a still image or an image sequence of a cityscape (if you are working from a video, bring it into After Effects and save it out as an image sequence). Whatever your source, it’s important that you perform lens correction beforehand, as all straight lines must be truly straight for your geometry to be mapped correctly.

Time to complete

5 days

Tools

Maxon Cinema 4D R12 or higher, After Effects CS4 or higher