E-books met CINEMA 4D (ENG)


There is a charming little dragon from Brazil that’s captured the hearts and minds of people around the world and his name is “Dragãozinho UJ” (UJ The Little Dragon). Written by Marcelo Borges for his young daughter, the book is a simple coming-of-age tale about a little dragon mocked by his friends because he can’t yet breathe fire like they do.

Now, Beto Prado, creative director and owner of Lithium Studios in São Paulo, Brazil, has taken UJ’s story a step further with the best-selling e-book version he created using MAXON’s CINEMA 4D. The e-book, which is actually an 8-minute film, feels much like a 3D pop-up book might. Chapters start with traditional 2D illustrations but characters soon emerge from the page in 3D.

Creating this new type of animated storytelling took considerable planning. Once he was satisfied with the sketches he made of all the action. Prado used CINEMA 4D for every step in the process, from modeling and animating to lighting and rendering.

Prado was inspired to create the e-book after a colleague showed him Borges’ book. After twelve years working as a graphic designer making logos and doing packaging design, he was ready to make a change and grow as an artist. So he cut back his workload and went to school, devoting himself to the study of 3D design. It was then that he discovered CINEMA 4D. “The easy-to-use interface is a piece of cake for designers,” says Prado. With the aid of Cineversity tutorials, he immersed himself in the software.


The book’s original characters were created by Spacca, a noted Brazilian illustrator and comic artist from São Paulo. Prado spent several days modeling characters he based on Spacca’s in CINEMA 4D. It was the first time he’d used something other than ZBrush to model. “I wanted to improve my pipeline and it was a fantastic experience working with HyperNURBS and giving them their final shape,” he says.

Initially, Prado based the look of FirraFogo the wizard on Gandalf of The Lord of the Rings. But when he turned out looking too scary for children he changed gears and gave him the warmth and humor he saw in the face of Albert Einstein. Using CINEMA 4D’s Hair dynamics, he made the wizard look more realistic and inviting.

Because he lacked character-rigging experience and didn’t have the budget to hire anyone to help him, Prado again turned to Cineversity for help. Animating the characters was the next challenge, and this was particularly daunting because Prado had never animated anything before.

Even though he feared good animators “had to be born with the ability to animate,” he once again went to Cineversity, watched tutorials and got the job done. After Effects was used for final color and shadow adjustments, and the final movie was compressed to H.264 in Visual Hub.

The English version of “UJ The Little Dragon” is available free on iTunes.

Website Studio Lithium: http://www.studiolithium.com.br

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