Take one part MAXON's CINEMA 4D, add two parts challenging projects — create quickly under high pressure — and you've got Cake Studios. Headed by founders Jim Steinhaus, Cake's producer, and Mannix, creative director, the up-and-coming Los Angeles-based design studio is fast becoming known for doing inventive design work using C4D.
Fairly new to the industry, Cake hadn't yet picked their software of choice when they were hired by the NFL Network for a couple of high-profile jobs. The first: create interstitials, bumpers, wipes, and more for a television broadcast of the annual college football all-star game, the Senior Bowl. The second: do the same for a special segment about NFL quarterbacks called QB Quandary. (QB Quandary animation: http://vimeo.com/27510132.)
The only caveat was that the NFL Network required them to use CINEMA 4D. "The NFL Network project offered us the perfect opportunity to expand our use of CINEMA and dive headfirst into the software," says Steinhaus. "It's exciting because we're constantly evolving as a company in terms of what we can offer and we're seeing the creative advantages CINEMA offers over other platforms." (Senior Bowl opener: http://vimeo.com/27510032.)
One key advantage is CINEMA 4D's intuitive interface that "allows artists to quickly get from concept to motion and on to color and lighting faster than other software," says Steinhaus. It also makes it easier for artists to learn. "That's one of the biggest reasons many of our clients are using CINEMA in-house, so it's to our advantage to offer it in our suite of services."
Sports in motion
Sports advertising is well known for having swooping camera work, bright colors, lots of reflections, busy imagery and constant motion. When brought together, these elements help capture the dynamic of professional sports. That's why C4D fits well with that "testosterone aesthetic," says Mannix, who is happy with how easy it is to import vector artwork into CINEMA 4D. "With C4D we can easily import, build & treat vector artwork," he explains. "This is essential in our business, as the ability to present clients with high-quality imagery quickly is key to success."
In addition to requiring Cake to use C4D, the NFL Network asked them to incorporate already existing creative elements into the new projects to maintain continuity. Using storyboards and assets provided by the Network, Cake began working on the motion of each piece; making sure they got the "vibe" of what each could possibly be.
Among the many pieces Cake Studios produced for the NFL Network, the12-second intro to the Senior Bowl and the 8-second intro to QB Quandary are standouts that quickly establish the excitement of football.
To allow the client to swap desired artwork for things like animated banners, Cake rendered a UVW pass from C4D. Cake also rendered out a motion vector pass in CINEMA 4D to allow them to better control the motion blur in the compositing stage. To achieve the realistic motion of waving banners, Cake used C4D's cloth module.
The QB Quandary video offers the same vibrant, visual roller-coaster ride with a swooping camera, high-sheen reflections and dazzling images as an introduction to the rarified, complicated world of the professional quarterback. MoGraph was used extensively to populate the environment with shapes and animate them. "It was nothing too extreme," says Steinhaus. "The shapes were basic and their motion was simple, but MoGraph helped us set things up quickly and animate easily."
Having worked with C4D on both of these projects, Steinhaus believes the software will not only enable Cake to work for a wider range of clients, it will help them work more quickly and efficiently. (See Cake's reel: http://cakestudios.tv/reel.html.) "In the old days, nobody cared what software you used, they just wanted to get your final animations and that's all you delivered," he explains. "Now you're sharing source files with clients and delivering tool kits and ready-to-use files, so because of the ease of use, CINEMA is where everyone's going."
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Article by Scott Strohmaier
Scott Strohmaier is a writer living in Los Angeles with his wife and son.
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