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  • Designing Alex Boye’s “Warrior Song” DP West Webb

    We both have never utilized a tool like this before, so we weren’t entirely sure if it would translate on the day. That fear changed immediately when the setup time was diminished at least by half, and the execution of the look was almost exact.

    Cinematography Database: How did the Warrior Song project come together and what was the initial visual concept?
    West Webb: The artist wanted to bring a little bit of Marvel’s Black Panther into the piece, so we tried to achieve a visual piece that didn’t necessarily mimc anything we had seen in the trailers.

    We wanted to create something that granted a powerful feeling that would attribute to Alex Boye’s voice and movements. This was my first time working with Justin Key, former creative director at Big Machine Records. The initial project was a contest held by Hard Rock Cafe. Alex Boye’s “Warrior Song” won the competition, thus giving him a music video.

    CD: What was the pre production process like with Cine Designer?
    WW: I had been watching your tutorials for a few months off and on, dreaming of what it would be like to pre visualize a project. I always feared C4D for some reason, but when I finally decided to make the jump I found that it was far easier than I could have ever expected. I went back to the beginning of the tutorials and just followed along.

    CD: Did you share the renders with the director and artist?
    WW: I shared the renderings immediately with the Director who was surprised to see a representation of what the day could look like. We both have never utilized a tool like this before, so we weren’t entirely sure if it would translate on the day. That fear changed immediately when the setup time was diminished at least by half, and the execution of the look was almost exact. The renderings got the artist even more excited, and we felt a sort of accomplishment before we even started filming.

    What camera, lenses, and lights did you use for the main performance?
    WW: We used the Alexa Mini with Cooke Anamorphics. I was very fortunate to shoot with that package because that combination is extremely powerful and rewarding. I knew the equipment list, which consisted of 10 Quasars, a jem ball, 2 source four’s, and a standard 3 ton grip package including a Fisher 10. We were limited in terms of lighting, but were prepared because of cine designer. I knew what we were walking into.

    CD: Did you share the renders with the crew on the shoot day?
    WW: I sent the gaffer my renderings a couple days before the shoot and he called me praising the technology. He was super excited to work together, and was really impressed with a visualization. The crew was sourced from our studio location in Miami, so I had no way of knowing what it would be like to work with these guys.

    In the space, my 1st AC set up monitor and I had it facing my G&E team as we set up the quasars. Each crew member on my team had the images of the renderings on their phones, and with the monitor and camera position in place it doubled or tripled the speed it would have normally taken to execute that setup. We only had a gaffer, key grip, and a swing.

    CD: How long did it take you to learn Cine Designer and make your first renders?
    WW: I started late November and had my first renderings done by the first week of December. The shoot was on December 7th, so it didn’t take long l for me to catch on. I watched about 20 tutorials and then decided to go rogue for a bit and attempt my first design. I knew most of the dimensions of the studio, and with your suggestions was able to find an appropriate 3D object of a throne.

    I knew I wanted to have a character represent Alex Boye, so I watched the Adobe fuse tutorial and was pleasantly surprised to find how simple it was to create a character and bring them into C4D. Once I had all of the physical objects in there I brought in the quasars and the other elements in my lighting package. The design just sort of came to me immediately. I was realizing I could solve so many issues in the program that I might stumble onto on the actual filming day.

    For instance, I realized the placement of my jem ball needed to be a little bit further in front and angled at a certain degree to get the specific look I was desiring. If I hadn’t discovered that in Cine Designer (which requires no physical labor other than moving my hand on the mouse haha), I would have realized my mistake which would have wasted time.

    CD: Where can people find you and your work online?
    WW: I moved to Los Angeles last summer and just started my own company, Legacy Content.
    You can find my work at /

  • Cine Designer February 2018 Updates

    In 2018 we are going to try to release all of the additions and updates to the Cine Designer Database on the 1st of each month.

    We will publish a blog post and a forum post with the links to the new and updated assets.

    February Additions:

    JL Fisher Model 23 Sectional Jib
    Chapman Hustler IV Dolly
    American Grip Road Runner 220 Light Stand
    X Rite Color Checker Classic and Probes
    Husky String Light
    Beadboard Circle 4ft
    Beadboard 4×8
    Beadboard 4×4

    Cine Designer February Gallery

    Check back next month to see the new updates and additions.



  • Cine Designer Featured DP Lewis Potts

    I got into using Cine Designer after looking at what you are making on Instagram, but always thinking I couldn’t do it because I have zero idea about anything 3D.

    To be honest if it wasn’t for your tutorial videos I probably wouldn’t have bothered, because I think a huge misconception is that you need a really good computer to run it.

    Lewis uses an Apple Macbook Pro to run Cinema 4D and Cine Designer.

    Your videos gave a simple explanation of how to set up a project, build a scene and pre-vis a shoot to make something similar to what you are making, with out all of the other technical parts that come with Cinema 4D.

    So far its been great, another reason I started using it is because I have a few bigger projects coming up this year that I think it will be great for, so I thought if I could build some key scenes in 3D in the pre production and basically do what your doing, it would make the director, producer and everybody in every other department happy that we’re all on the same page.

    Also, it’s just another great skill to have to make yourself more employable.

    The bedroom one is from a short film I was shooting, this was just from a pick up shoot day of us getting a couple scenes in a house to finish off shooting a film. I didn’t really need to build it in 3D, Im just getting as much practice as I can at the moment for bigger projects coming up in the future, so any opportunity is a good one at the moment to practice!

    The car ones and the techno crane one in the desert are just from me learning how to use the program too. Having the ability to see how specular objects render is pretty great!

    Lewis Potts Links



  • Designing A Child’s Fantasy | DP Angelo Coli | Cine Designer Case Study

    Cinematographer Angelo Coli transforms a child’s living room into the ocean floor using clever lighting and camera work.

    Cinematography Database: Tell me about yourself and what kind of work you do right now?
    Angelo Coli: I am a 28 years old Italian cinematographer based in Milan, the city where the majority of italian commercials get made and where I started off as a camera assistant almost 9 years ago. Now I work as cinematographer mostly on commercials.

    CD: What was the director’s concept for this commercial?
    AC: The story of the “Under the sea” video is a strange one. The director, Giancarlo Spinelli, and I met on the set of a commercial when we were both at the beginning of our careers. Since then we developed a strong work relationship and began to share the ambition to work on high end commercials and build up a competitive reel to show also outside of Italy. It is difficult to be offered projects that are going to make for good showreel material, so we often use our spare time, in between jobs, to produce our own concepts. This also gives us the opportunity to experiment new techniques.

    This particular video was born as a test commercial, produced by a production company from my hometown, Genoa, called “e-motion” with which we have a good relationship: they provided their Red Camera, lenses and some lights. The budget was extremely limited and we were lacking many necessary professional figures (no production designer, for example) but during the pre-production process we fell in love with the concept: we ended up putting lots of unrequested (and unpaid) free time and thoughts in it. Just to make a couple of examples, the director reinvented himself as prop-maker, building the two different sized diving-helmets, and I took care of creating the glowing elements of the set (the colored lanterns of the stairs and about 50 transparent jellyfishes).

    The director wanted to give this child’s adventurous exploration a both dreamy and unsettling mood: in the end everything had to be also playful, but mainly misterious and surreal. The story procedes building up the illusion of being underwater: in the last “jellyfish scene” we knew that the house setting was probably not going to be there at all. As the director was convinced there was not going to be any close encounter with smiling and happy fishes, he gave me the task to establish a dark mood. From the beginning we were aware that the light was going to be the key element of the scene. Light is in fact the main product advertised in this commercial, as we discover in the last shot of the video where we see the caustics on the ceiling being generated by a small device attachable to the lens of a smartphone.

    CD: Can you talk about the pre production process for this spot?
    AC: We began pre production focusing a lot on finding references and examples for what we wanted to do, but the research was hard. What I ended up doing was in fact to start “playing” with a Cinema 4D project in which I started adding underwater props and testing compositions. Since our resources was very limited and we were fairly new to this kind of production design heavy work, the 3D world of unlimited resources was mind blowing and saved us a lot of pain and expenses.

    CD: What camera and lenses were you using?
    AC: We shot with a Red Epic with the 6k dragon sensor. Unfortunately for the lenses I was not given a choice but I have to say I am really happy with the results I got from the Red prime lenses, which we were so kindly provided.

    CD: Can you talk about the lighting in the bedroom?
    AC: The lighting in the bedroom is really simple. Simplicity and logic are important factors I keep in mind when I light, and especially in the first and third part of the video where we are in the kid’s room, I wanted to save the “wow factor” for the underwater scenes. At the same time we had to present the main character in her own environment, a space where she belongs, as a young, brave, and slightly undisciplined child wide awake in the middle of a stormy night. For this reason I lit it in a dramatical way, but keeping it also as natural as possible, in order to have a more efficient gap between reality and escalation of fantasy once underwater. To find this balance was the main challenge here.

    For this scene it was also incredibly important to talk with the director about the position of the bed relative to the windows, and the kid’s relative to her bed lamp.

    This discussion involved a good amount of testing which we were able to do in 3D as well, without having to constantly change the position of a really heavy bunk bed (not a job for just two people). Thanks to Cine Design I was able to light and pre visualize what we wanted from day two of post production. We decided to have a practical light behind the kid providing a justified backlight, and letting her key herself with the torch reflected on a white page of the book, while having some moonlight filters from outside the window, for which I used a kinoflo with 5600K tubes. I also used props with shiny surfaces to add some reflections and light to the scene without sacrificing its darkness, but always in coherence with the set design and the character’s personality.

    CD: Can you talk about the lighting in the living room? How did you get the water “caustics” projected on the wall? Was that from the “Firefly” projector? What was the light in the scuba helmet?
    AC: For the living room we came up with as many possible options for light sources to have on frame, in line with the idea of a living room turning into the sea abyss.

    So first a lamp, then the treasure chest with industrial warm led strips all around the edges, the projector, and the many jellyfishes we designed, with paper core lit by tiny single led lights. I always read about the importance of communication between Dop an production designer, and having done both jobs on this project, designing my own light sources, I cannot stress enough how wonderful it was.

    As for the main character I knew I was gonna put some light inside the helmet so I went for a warm color to make some chromatic contrast with the blue of the environment. I fell in love with a light angle from straight down her face, giving the requested creepy feel in a way that reminds the “narrating a scary story pointing the torch at your face” sort of thing. For this I used an industrial LED strip, wrapped in Lee 250 half diffusion to make it a bit more gentle and spread out.

    This way I had her face always keyed without effort and my only challenge on set was to shape up the roundness of the helmet with reflections, without over illuminating the rest of the environment. I think this is the part where Cine Design came most to my help, to test the different angles of reflections and spaces required using just my Mac book pro. To create these reflections on set I used two kinoflos bouncing on poliboards put behind the sides of the main character.

    For budget reasons we had to shoot in a house with white walls so we immediately felt the need to have a permanent solution for the backgrounds. We decided to have caustics there, bright elements moving out of focus and also using them as a narrative thread between the scenes. We began real world testing but soon realized that the best way to go was CG. This gave us a much more controlled effect.

    CD: The models of the room are really great, did you model them or find them online?
    AC: I modeled the rooms based on the house we knew we were using. I used Set designer walls and furniture for most of it. Some things like the scuba helmet I easily found online, others I learned how to make online or watching your videos.

    Check out Angelo’s work at his website and Instagram.

    You can watch the final spot HERE

  • Don’t Use PBR Materials with Physical Render in Cinema 4D

    This is not a complaint, just a workflow update for Cine Designer and Set Designer users 🙂

    Cinema 4D R17 introduced the “Reflectance” channel for it’s native materials. This was a move towards physically accurate reflections and using it for reflections works great. In R19 they added a new feature called “Add PBR Materials” that puts the “Color” channel in the “Reflectance Channel” as a Lambertian layer. This is mandatory for using Pro Render, their new native GPU render engine, that is actually made by Radeon Pro.

    I tried using the new PBR Materials with my normal Physical Render workflow and found out that if you use the PBR Materials that they use the Embree Raytracing engine to calculate global illumination, even without “Global Illumination” added as an effect. It’s possible to use the PBR Materials with Physical if you are doing exteriors but for interiors they are VERY noisey and increase render times dramatically.

    For this reason, Set Designer defaults to “Normal” C4D Materials that use the “Color Channel” and we recommend sticking with normal GI with Irradiance Cache/Light Mapping or QMC/Light Mapping.

    We’ll make a video dedicated to render setting soon.



  • Develop 3D Live 2017

    Develop 3D Live is a conference that brings together designers and the hardware and software vendors who make up the quickly evolving AEC and manufacturing industry.

    I went to the conference because Cinematography Database relies on the same technology like 3d modeling, 3d rendering, 3D scanning, virtual reality, mixed reality, and augmented reality to create tools for the modern cinematographer and filmmakers like Cine Designer and Set Designer.


    Who Did I Meet With?

    Foundry – Modo VR

    The first company that I met with was Foundry who make the Nuke, MoDo, Katana, Mari and several other VFX industry software solutions.  They were showcasing their new Modo VR beta where you can use their 3D animation program inside of an HTC Vive virtual reality head mounted display.

    I am still very new to VR and I got sick after about 10 minutes, but I hear that it takes time to build up your stamina.

    The experience of viewing and interacting with 3D sets in virtual reality is really compelling.  You really feel like you on a set and it gives you a “physically” accurate point of view.

    I’m very interested to see how Modo VR develops and I spoke to them about possibly developing a Cine Designer VR plugin for Modo when it’s out.


    AMD Radeon Pro

    I recently purchased a new PC with a Ryzen Threadripper 1950x CPU and I have also been playing with the new GPU renderer called Pro Redner in Cinema 4D R19.  It turns out that AMD are the creators of Pro Render and I got to speak with their team about it’s development and implementation in C4D.

    I asked them if it would be possible to access the direct/raw pixel data so I could visualize the lux reading from all of the lights.  This would allow me to accurately map real world lumen values to the lights and then calculate the corresponding lux/footcandle and exposure at different parts of the set.

    More info on this as it develops.


    3d Connexion and Boxx

    I met with the head of marketing for 3D Connexion who make really interesting 3D input devices.  It was my first time using one and I plan on ordering one and using it on my primary Cinema 4D workstation for making smooth walk through videos.

    Boxx computers are every where in the pro 3D world and it was great to chat with them for an hour about their systems and how they work.  I already have my PC workstation but I’ll definitely take a closer look at their laptops if I need a Windows laptop with a proper GPU in it.



  • Our First Cinematography Course!

    In August of 2017 we launched our first online cinematography course and it’s been a great success! In this post I want to briefly talk about why and how I made the course and what our plans are for the future.

    Why Did I Make This Course?

    I’ve spent the last 2 years on YouTube and Instagram talking about cinematography and teaching what I know and what I’ve been learning. While they are both great platforms, they aren’t the best places to teach something in great depth. So I decided I wanted to create a place where I could create long form in depth cinematography content and the courses section of Cinematography Database was created.

    The First Course Topic

    The first course I created was about White Cyc Lighting. White cyc lighting is something I’ve been doing for the last 10 years. It started with music videos and then moved into commercials. I’ve been able to make a living shooting white cyc and green/blue screens, so this is the first topic I wanted to share with up and coming cinematographers.

    I learned these techniques by observing on bigger sets and learning from DPs and gaffers. I wanted to share that experience virtually for people who are unable to get on bigger sets in person.


    I spent a month brainstorming what concepts, techniques, and setups I would use to illustrate the fundamentals of white cyc studio lighting. After making an outline I broke the content into “modules” that were made of “lessons.” Each lesson would be a video about 5-10 minutes long. I recorded the A-roll and voice over in a few days and then created the corresponding illustrations with Cine Designer over a month.

    This forced me to further develop Cine Designer and I made a lot of improvements that will make their way into the next update/release.

    The Future

    I am currently developing a Set Designer, which will allow me to visualize sets, rooms, houses at a much higher level of quality. When that is completed I have plans for a course on location lighting and stage lighting with sets.

    I want to thank everyone who has taken the course and I’m looking forward to producing more in the future.



    You can watch the trailer for the course and take two lessons for free @

  • Set Designer for Cinema 4D Set Designer for Cinema 4D in Development

    In April of 2016, we launched the very first version of Cine Designer for Cinema 4D. Since then, our user base has continued to grow and we have released a new version and several updates. And we’ve always included a free “alpha” version of Set Designer with every Cine Designer license.

    We are now working on an official release of Set Designer for Q4 of 2017.

    What is Set Designer?

    Set Designer is a collection of both parametric and static Cinema 4D assets that streamline the process of creating photo realistic sets.

    – Stage Flats with windows and doors
    – Residential house walls with windows and doors
    – Floor and Ceiling with Stair Well
    – Parametric Cabinets with Customizable Drawers and Doors
    – Kitchen Assets ( Refridgerator, Microwave, Dishwasher, Sink, Faucets )
    – Bathroom Assets ( Toliet, Shower, Sinks )
    – Bedroom Assets ( Beds, Dressers, Night Tables )
    – Practical Residential Lights and lamps
    – Couches, Tables, Shelves, and more!

    No one wants to 3d model rooms, doors, windows, etc. but they are essential to visualizing almost every scene. Set Designer for Cinema 4D brings together all of the essential components of a built set or house into one centralized place.

    Follow Cinematography Database on Instagram to stay up to date with our development.



    Development Renders

    Set Designer for Cinema 4D

    Set Designer for Cinema 4D

    Set Designer for Cinema 4D