A Cinema 4d Project: 3 Camping Tips


The final project for the School of Motion Cinema 4d Basecamp consisted of designing and animating a 3d scene based upon a 15 second animatic that was provided by our client (see below).

This was my 5th bootcamp for the School of Motion and by far the most challenging. The modeling took up the lion’s share of my time with the VW bus occupying the best part of Christmas!

Vectors by Vecteezy.

  • Responsibilities

    Motion design, modeling, materials, lighting, animation and rendering.

  • Software

    Cinema 4d, Premiere Pro, Photoshop, Illustrator and Adobe After Effects

The campsite

The campsite

Located in the mountains this campsite is heavily influenced by the Canadian outdoors – a place of nature, adventure and dangerous grizzlies!

To showcase my 3d skills I wanted to bring this scene to life with a single sweeping camera move rather than hard cuts and transitions.

Good timing and composition would be important here to support the voice over and help sell the story. I closely followed the theory of the rule of thirds which leads to a more pleasing design harmony.

My thought process begins in Pinterest where I gather a bunch of pins that help me decide on a look and feel. I’ll then sketch some ideas on paper, then play with a few concepts in Cinema.

Pinterest board
Initial sketches

Emerging problems

With a scene of this size, and working on a mid-range laptop, it became evident that to animate without viewport delay/lag would require a more optimised approach.

In this regard, making use of the Cinema 4d layers system and turning off deformers and generators greatly improved viewport rendering and speed.

The animatic

The supplied animatic gave me a loose idea for art direction and for the animation’s speed and timing. However, as discussed previously, I wanted to push the boundaries of this piece which would mean creating extra geometry. The mograph module is an amazing tool to create a sizable scene quickly with trees, rocks, barrels, lily pads, bears and flies so I made good use of this…

The next step was to define the sections/scenes within the animatic:

  1. Title introduction.
  2. Picnic table and bear attack.
  3. Safe and dangerous plants.
  4. Compass and map.
  5. End card logo sign off.

Title introduction

I wasn’t able to use this cut so removed it in the end. I like how it introduces the scene with the VW bus driving into the camping site and parking. Unfortunately, with the speed of the voice over, I would have needed more time and an extended VO. Sometimes, as a director you need to make these calls…

Title introduction
Close-up of VW Bus and campsite
Tent pitch and campfire

Picnic table and bear attack

The picnic table is displayed with all the food and cutlery, attracting flies and our terrifying bear. The bear attacks the viewer with its enormous paws… with a secondary action of the table and objects being moved as the bear lurches forward and violent camera shake to add to the drama.

Safe and dangerous plants

The camera moves around the log to reveal dangerous mushrooms which should be avoided. As the camera settles the hand is retracted and pulled away.

Compass and map

I like the way the compass falls from above then quickly moves to the left as the map opens. Every motion here is considered with anticipation and follow-through.

Lake scene with information stand.

End card reveal and logo sign off

Vectors by Vecteezy.

The camera pulls back to reveal the entire scene with the logo animating into place. The logo text style animation supports the title animation at the start – fun, bouncy and full of personality.

VW Bus 360 tour
Different styles of trees used in the scene
Grizzly bear and rocks
Wooden hut and barrels
Picnic table and pesky flies