From Substance to Cinema 4D: Hop Into the Creative World of Foam Studio
As a commercial spin-off of the award-winning art studio ZEITGUISED, Foam Studio operates as an independent trend lab, conceptually exploring unexpected imagery for brands which are looking for a way to manifest their progressive visions in the most striking and captivating ways.
Influencers – Creative Direction
With a film commissioned by MAXON, we were challenged to put the latest release of Cinema 4D through its paces and explore new creative territories. Basically, they asked us to do what we love to do most.
Influencers is about drawing out the intrigue in the everyday and allowing it to humbly influence the world around us. Based on the concept of animism, we set out to breathe life into the familiarity of the world around us and coax out the unexpected, simulating the world not just as we know it, but also as it might be. The wonderful thing about this film is that it was made for everyone – from the die-hard Cinema 4D community to art and design enthusiasts, right through to our families, their friends and their friends' neighbors.
For us, the project is a celebration of the creative process and a meditation on the way we work in 3D as a studio. As such, the process was king. We wholeheartedly indulged in the joys of the process itself. We knew that it had to be playful and exploratory in order for it to be a true representation of what we do. We find that these things always translate; if you have fun exploring within the process, the viewer will innately feel this and connect with it. We were confident that this would lead us to a visual and narrative solution that embraced the familiar and the potentially banal in new, unique and unexpected ways.
Wrangling a free and unruly creative process and harnessing it to express something meaningful is always a wonderful challenge that we continually face as artists. We love to place ourselves outside our comfort zone. It's always a humbling experience to play in unexplored and uncomfortable creative spaces, but it yields the most interesting and unique results. We consciously force ourselves to embrace it – to really learn to trust that the process will lead you somewhere interesting. The struggle is real.
We hope to learn something new at every step of the way. If we're not learning we're probably not doing it right. This one felt like a masterclass of life and love.
Substance Source Materials
We started exploring Substance Source in the middle of the project because we were interested in fine detail maps, but then quickly enjoyed the freedom of the procedural materials. They were great starting points to go off and develop new materials, or to add to those we created in Substance Designer. We rarely kept the Substance material intact, preferring to mix them with scans or other handmade textures; the beauty was the ability to manipulate seeds to create new variations. It also allowed us to speed up the look dev while working with pretty low-res assets. For final rendering, we just set the resolution to 4K.
Having this kind of procedural texturing workflow was a lot of fun and saved us a ton of time. It’s also probably the main way we use Substance today. Using full, fleshed-out Substance materials as a whole is great, but more often than not it can’t give us exactly what we want or need. Think of it as creating your object out of the desired material - when it’s constructed you still need to prime and paint it.
The next clip, on the other hand, shows you just how easy it is to apply a material which requires no adjustment whatsoever. When you’re lucky enough to find the right Substance material, the speed is unbeatable.
For some of the shading, we were heavily dependant on noises, which we could easily create in Substance Designer. Once the Substance materials were saved, they integrated seamlessly.
Substance to Cinema 4D Integration
The process is great! We love the ability to save presets for your Substance materials, and also the drag and drop workflow to create materials within Redshift. It’s easy to use individual maps in multiple materials and update everything on the fly. Working with low-res assets that up-res with one click is simply awesome. There are a couple of bugs, especially the dropping of Substance materials when reopening scenes, but the overall experience is so great that we’re willing to ignore these minor inconveniences.
We’re certainly planning to continue incorporating Substance into our workflow. It’s especially thrilling to slowly build up our own library of custom materials that will influence our work in the future. Being able to simply drop the materials into Cinema 4D, and using Redshift to render them, is priceless. It’s an incredibly fast and versatile way to achieve beautiful results. Our hope would be that for future releases this integration will be even more seamless, potentially speeding up the baking process and integrating the parameters of the materials further into the UX of Redshift.
We constantly draw inspiration from everything around us. There are just so many utterly creative and talented artists, designers and filmmakers out there who inspire us to continue what we are doing every day. A few months ago we ventured out to Antwerp for the UsByNight festival organized by our dear friend Rizon Parein, and came back incredibly motivated and full of new ideas that we want to throw into our upcoming projects - it was really an incredible event with such beautiful creative energy!