Our 2018 animation began as a holiday card featuring our familiar company snowman. But, there must have been some magic in that old silk hat, because when we placed it on his head he began to dance around!

We decided to bring the print design to life. Since I built the scene in Cinema 4D, I had more flexibility than if I were to have designed the card in a traditional 2D application. I wanted to have the freedom to move the camera around and rotate objects in space and experiment with composition.

I used both rigid body and cloth dynamics to animate much of the scene but ran into some issues with the fur on the Santa hat interacting oddly with the cloth dynamics. I was able to fix this by baking the hat cloth simulation out to an Alembic file. I used the standard renderer with ambient occlusion, 12 buffer passes to isolate objects in composting, and shadow, reflection, and depth passes. I rendered this as a multi-pass png sequence as it allows for some changes and tweaks in the compositing application after the main 3D render.

I decided to composite the render in Fusion for a number of reasons. Since Fusion is resolution independent, I was able to easily render multiple versions from Cinema 4D for different target outputs. For example, the print version of the card needed to be 300 dpi, and there were 16×9 and square versions of the animation needed as well. I wanted the snow to fall in a certain way that was easier to achieve in Fusion than with the particle system that is built into After Effects. Either After Effects or Fusion would have worked just fine, they are just tools in the process. This particular pipeline worked out well though, and contrary to my norm, I didn’t end up using After Effects at all on this project.

-Ryan Rusnak, Motion Graphics Artist