The Courier

The Courier promo look was created using Cinema 4D with Greyscale Gorilla’s City Kit,  Texture Kit Pro, HDRI Light Kit Pro and After Effects with plug-ins from GenArts, Video Copilot and Red Giant Software.


The look is based on a movie poster for The Courier in which the hero is holding an aluminium briefcase, standing on what looks to be a tarmac with explosions in the background.


The case frame  was straight forward to model but the brackets required a little more consideration. There are numerous approaches but I ended up starting with a Cube object and modifying it into a tripod shape.


Dropping the cube into a Hypernurbs object while modifying the base geometry is a great way to preview changes as you make them.


The Hypernurbs object was made editable then further adjusted in Point mode to bend the corners around the case. All polygons were then selected and extruded using the Extrude tool to give the bracket depth.


The case and brackets were textured using metal materials from Greyscale Gorilla’s Texture Kit Pro. Texture Kit Pro materials are easy to adjust and can be a great starting point. Notice how the brackets don’t hug the case geometry, which was intentional since the case is only seen from a distance, making fine-tuning the fit unnecessary.


Once the corner bracket was complete, it was dropped into a Symmetry object which was nested multiple times to create brackets for the other corners.


The title from the original poster was traced in Illustrator and extruded in Cinema 4D.


The tarmac texture was sourced from CG Textures. Becoming a paid member of CG Textures gives you access to the highest resolution images with no daily download limit, which is well worth the money.


The image was cleaned up in Photoshop to remove anything that would have been too obvious once tiled in Cinema 4D. I added some thin cracks from a different image for detail then applied to a Floor object in Cinema 4D.


Greyscale Gorilla’s City Kit once again came in handy for the cityscape. The Shape City has a list of different shapes your city can be attached to, and for this look I used the Plane setting.


This was the first time for me to try the Cinema 4D Skies and for this I chose Arizona, tweaking the settings to add more clouds and contrast.


The illumination includes an Area key light and Area fill light plus two bounce cards and an overhead softbox from Greyscale Gorilla’s HDR Light Kit Pro.


HDRI Light Kit Pro is easy to use and includes a range of customisable lighting setups.


The case frame and corrugation were excluded from reflecting the bounce cards. Being able to choose what is and isn’t affected by lights makes lighting in 3D very flexible.


The scene was then rendered out of Cinema 4D, with image buffers for the case and title.


An External Compositing Tag was used in Cinema 4D to correctly position fire footage from Video Copilot’s Action Essentials 2 behind the case in After Effects.


The object buffer was used as a luma matte for the fire clip.


The fire was duplicated three times with Sapphire Blur applied to each duplicate using varying amounts of blur. Sapphire Blur gives high quality results and is more flexible than any of the default blurs in After Effects.


The fire layers were composited together using the Add blend mode, then the case and title were comped back on top.


The final fire composite.


Video Copilot’s Optical Flares were set to track two lights imported with the After Effects Composition (.aec) file exported from Cinema 4D.


The flares add depth and interest and help unify the composition. The case was set to obscure the flares as it passes in front.


The Curves effect adds contrast and a blue/cyan hue.


Red Giant Software’s Magic Bullet Mojo is a longtime favourite and was used for the final grade.


The Add Grain effect was used with an Adjustment Layer for some subtle overall grain, which helps soften the CG look and further unify the separate elements.


The final composite. I did render a depth pass from Cinema 4D and played with depth of field but in the end decided it wasn’t necessary. I also skipped using any motion blur because of time.

  1. Aamir Raza

    Nice post, I love breakdowns 🙂

    • John Dickinson

      Thanks Aamir, glad you like it.
      Best, John.

  2. Troy Pickford

    Superb work as always, John. Very informative and useful breakdown. Cheers.

    • John Dickinson

      Thanks Troy.

  3. Mohmmad

    WOW .. what a style ! great textures , great compositing , a fantastic piece , thanks for the breakdwon John .

    • John Dickinson

      Thanks Mohmmad, glad you like it.

  4. Jack Sewell

    Nice job on modeling the brackets, very informative breakdown. Thanks John!

    • John Dickinson

      Thanks Jack, I enjoy the challenge of working out the best approach to attacking a model. The more tools I learn, the easier that gets.

  5. Tosan Nick Oru

    John I must confess you keep blowing my mind every time I see you new work, they are always amazing. Nice and creative work.

    • John Dickinson

      Thanks Tosan I appreciate it!

  6. ashcat

    Thanks for the break down, looks great, i was coming here hoping to see some examples of the HDRI Light Kit Pro in use. Cheers

    still trying to choose between hdri studio and the light kit, not sure which is best for broadcast style animation.

    • John Dickinson

      I recommend both. The studio is more drag and drop lighting. Light Kit Pro gives you individual lighting tools for more control but I often use both together. Best, John.

  7. Maurizio

    Fast and great tutorial, the source file can sell? Thanks.

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