I created this sequence a new message series at my church. I knew that I wanted to try more work in 3D so I challenged myself to create most of the scene in Cinema4D. I had no idea whether or not I could model what people might believe to be some part of the inside of someone’s head, but as I worked I realized there were a few different parts of the process that came together to help sell the atmosphere.


I can’t draw very well but anyone can make simple shapes and I thought masses of blood vessels and abstract muscular tissue was something I could manage (really, it turns out, its the textures that sell everything anyway). I drew one spline zig zag shape and added a nurbes object to turn it into a sort of zig zagging cylinder. Its this single item duplicated various sizes and orientations that make up all of the vein like structures. The room that the camera is flying in is a large sphere that has been cut in half and elongated at the back.

Eye Track

The eye was enhanced by tracking the entire pupil with Mocha then exporting the resulting matte to use with an adjustment layer in AE. I knew the matte didn’t have to perfectly match the circle of the inner eye, it just had to be close and I could blur the matte later. Mocha made tracking the eye fast and accurate. Using its planar tracker Mocha allowed me to create a single shape of which the entire surface area is tracked to the underlying footage. Mocha tries to rotate, shear, and position the shape to the pixels of the footage and it did an excellent job. I only had to manually adjust the matte for a few frames when the eye blinks.

Eye zoom

To create the transition into the eye I added an AE camera to the live footage and key-framed a quick move into the eye. I had to increase the camera shutter angle in AE in order for the motion blur to be dramatic enough to blur all the details of transition. Before I rendered out the final Cinema4D animation to be composited in AE I made sure the color of the tunnel leading into the eye was close to the final color corrected version of the eye so I wouldn’t have to try to tweak it later.


The camera was animated in cinema4D and then imported into AE. This is where cinema4D makes going back and forth from compositing environment to a 3D environment really easy. You install the Cinema4D after effects plugin and import the cinema 4D project. The plugin creates an AE camera that matches the Cinema4D scene perfectly. This gave me the opportunity to add additional particles to composite in AE. In the above picture you can see the particles I made in AE that were composited into the final shot.

Veins Buffer_object_1_0079

In order to make the AE particles appear as if they were covered up by 3D objects from the C4D scene, I rendered out a “buffer Pass” (Above) from cinema4D that created a matte of whatever objects in the scene I choose. I made some particles in front of the matte and some behind and offset the particle birth rate in each instance. In the final animation the particles are really subtle, but I think it was valuable to go through the process of generating the buffer and trying to incorporat particles post-3D render that seemed to interact in and around the 3D objects.


The shakey titles were added in After Effects using the Twitch product by Video Copilot. Twitch was added to an adjustment layer with a mask to create a soft selection around the text. I thought this ended up creating a disturbing sort of shake since the texture around the text seems to stretch and rip with the text as it twitched.

Of course what I think really brings the whole scene together is the little pockets of light all around the inside of the eye. There are two lights used to light the final title and four or five other lights of different colors scattered around the scene. These create contrasting pockets of darkness so you can never quite tell that the whole scene is really just a big half circle with some texture.

The textures were made from a single image of the inside of the human retina that I found on Google. I made different variations of bump maps/colors/reflectivity to apply to the big veins, little veins, and walls of the eye so everything would look a little different. The texture was also scaled differently on the different objects which added more variation. To make the whole thing pop even more i could try applying totally different textures to the elements but I had no idea how far one texture can go.

I really like the interface in Cinema4D and the accessibility of the tools. It allows you to create without futzing as much with the application and easily get into After Effects to tweak the look and add more elements.