This project was created using a combination of  Cinema 4D and After Effects with Zaxwerks ProAnimator and Knoll Light Factory. The simple 3D text supers were created using ProAnimator inside After Effects and the supers with characters were created in Cinema 4D and finished in After Effects.

I could have used Cinema 4D for the text supers as well but they didn’t require any reflections or enhanced features of Cinema 4D, and  using ProAnimator allowed me to set them up and render as proxies in After Effects whilst the Character supers were rendering in Cinema 4D. Prerendering the ProAnimator layers as Proxies sped up the workflow quite dramatically, making the final render of over 20 ProAnimator supers take about 15 minutes. Making It Look Great 1 covers using Proxies with After Effects and ProAnimator in detail.


The lens flare was built from multiple Knoll Light Factory elements, linked together using the expression pickwhip. The extra circular shapes around the flare are four Shape Layers which add interest to the flare and add enhance the overall look of the graphics.

A Compositing Tag was added to a back light in Cinema 4D and placed behind the text, this was used to position the Knoll flare in After Effects. As Knoll flares are 2D only, I used this expression:  thisComp.layer(“Back_flare”).toComp([0,0,0]) applied to each flare element’s Light Source Location property to position the flare correctly on the Back Flare layer (which is 3D). Thanks to Harry Frank for that one.

All of the main elements of the Character supers were rendered out of Cinema 4D with object buffers, allowing easy color correction in After Effects. The characters were cut out in Photoshop and saved with alpha channels, then imported into Cinema 4D as textures and applied to simple plane objects. These were animated to rotate towards the camera to hide (as much as possible) the fact that they had no depth.

007_Hellboy2 006_Home_Of_Heroes 005_Heroes_Of_FBO 004_This_Summer 003_And_Heroes_Are_Made 002_Where_Adventure_Unfolds_2


  1. Lou Borella

    John, This seems like something that could have been achieved easily entirely in AE using Invigorator or ProAnimator. Are you looking for excuses to use Cinema4D so you can become more familiar with the program? Did you receive promo stills of the characters or did you have to cut them from a screen capture? Lou …

  2. John Dickinson

    Hi Lou, There are definitely pros and cons for using either application. I mentioned some of the benefits of using both in the post and if you take a look at the K1 post I mention some of the limitations of using ProAnimator only, especially as far as reflections are concerned. You’re also right about me wanting to become more familiar with Cinema 4D. Having used Invigorator and ProAnimator exclusively for so long, entering the world of Cinema 4D was liberating and the more I use it the more I want to use it. I find lighting and camera work a pleasure in Cinema 4D, and the transfer to After Effects is easy and seamless. As far as the stills go, I used high resolution promo stills.

  3. pablo

    John, I have a question about the lights used in the 3D text, do you use pro animators or After Effects? How many, what colors ? Do yo use golden materials inside of Pro Animator or colorize the text in after effects with shine or another effect?
    Thanks and sorry for my english. Happy new year!!!!!

  4. John Dickinson

    Great question Pablo. I used After Effects lights, in front and behind the text. There is a red light at the back right which is casting red light on the sides of the text. After Effects lights are more controllable than ProAnimator lights which are directional only. The gold is a combination of a gold texture applied to the text and simple gold colored materials applied to the sides and bevels. No Shine was used. I may post this ProAnimator project.

  5. Pablo

    Thanks John for your answers and ALL your share with us. This is my favourite website!! and I can ´t believe you answer our question so quick and clear. Thanks again You are THE ONE, love your work!! Cheers!!!

  6. Dan

    Hi john. Great project looks great, can you tell us what font you used in C4D to create the text? Also is it possible to get a project file to explore the C4D project or something like it to train on how to use the text in C4D reflection and lights before importing to AE or is there a tutorial coming up showing the interaction between the two softwares?

  7. John Dickinson

    Hi Dan, the font is Bitsumishi but it was modified using Illustrator to connect certain letters and give the text more of a logo-type style. I won’t be posting this C4D project sorry. Cineversity has some great tutorials on how C4D can be integrated with AE.

  8. Ryan Kehn

    Hey John,

    Couple of questions…The reflections in the spot, were the character reflections done in Cinema4d or did you use something like reflector in AE to tie everything together. Also, where did you get your camera data? Did you use the AE camera or import from C4D? I’m just a little curious how you integrated 3D elements from two different interfaces together especially when it appears as though the character super is in between different text objects. Very cool stuff, i’d be curious to hear more about that workflow!

  9. John Dickinson

    Hi Ryan, The Hero text and characters are all done in Cinema 4D. I didn’t mix ProAnimator content with C4D content directly. All the reflections are from Cinema 4D. Cinema 4D allows you to export the project as an AE comp, with lights, camera, nulls etc converted to their AE counterparts, it’s a very sweet workflow.

  10. Ryan Kehn

    Ok, that makes sense. So all you built in Proanimator are the text only sequences with no reflections (“where adventure begins…”)? Also, did you use the compositing tag in C4D for the cutout to face the camera or did you manually animate that? Thanks for answering my questions, it’s awesome to be able to pick someone’s brain!

  11. John Dickinson

    Yes, the text only supers were done in ProAnimator. I animated the characters manually to face the camera in C4D.

  12. Spiro

    Love to see you working more in Cinema4D. Hopefully you’ll incorporate your newly acquired C4D skills into MILG6, MILG7, MILG8 … 🙂

  13. AJ

    Great work John!!!!

    I started using Cinema 4D with AE and I love it!
    Please keep me informed the day you launch any tutorials or DVDs using After Effects and Cinema 4D exclusively.

    Thank you for sharing your amazing work and talents with us.


  14. AJ

    After learning from a close friend in the Broadcast Design industry that CNN and the majority of news organization use AE and C4D to create those amazing eye catching motion graphics, thats when I jumped onboard

  15. Eric

    How did you place the pictures in Cinema 4D

  16. John Dickinson

    Eric, I prepared the images in Photoshop with alpha channels, created a new texture in C4D, added each image as a texture in the Color channel and in the Alpha channel. I’ll probably do a video tip on the steps.

  17. Josh Johnson

    Great Promo John. I have to get Knoll Light Factory!

  18. Eric

    Thanks I look forward to seeing the video the step to put photos
    into C4D

  19. Dave


    When you render a proxy movie of an animation that was created in ProAnimator which has texture maps, is there a setting you use for a draft version of the proxy movie that properly renders the texture maps or do you have to use a “best” setting in the render options in order to see the texture maps? Any insight would be appreciated. Thanks

    • John Dickinson

      Hi Dave, leave the layer “Quality” switch for the ProAnimator layer at full quality but render a draft quality movie. Regards, John.

  20. Chad

    John you mentioned perhaps doing a proanimator tutorial for this project PLEEEEASSSEEE DOOO! I would love to see more on this!

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