Compositing THINKER Close-Up in Syntactic Labyrinths

Integrating realistic 3D hardware in After Effects

Published on
November 8, 2021
Syntactic Labyrinths

Learn the Compositing workflow for Hard surface 3D-Assets

In Syntactic Labyrinths we have two super-computers that drive the story — THINKER & RECEIVER.
They acquire and transmit data throughout their journey through space.

Both of these hardware devices have been designed by Edon Guraziu.

Most of Syntactic Labyrinths is a full 3d-rendered film. However, the interior of the Library (the space-ship from our journey) was a background plate shot on set.
The first step was defining the look of THINKER and designing all of the shaders.

A 3D-render of THINKER designed by Edon Guraziu in a still from Syntactic Labyrinths.
THINKER in a still from Syntactic Labyrinths

THINKER & RECEIVER required a shader setup for plastics, glass and metal.
Integrating them into the scenes of Syntactic Labyrinths means we need materials that nicely catch the light while looking photo-realistic.

A viewport screenshot from Cinema 4D of THINKER designed by Edon Guraziu from Syntactic Labyrinths.

The plastic shader from THINKER uses a tiny bit of SSS (Sub Surface Scattering) to give a nice sense of depth.
To make sure your SSS works well it's important to model the thickness into your 3D-object.

We're also using a Clearcoat Layer with a Noise shader to give a bit of variation into the plastic.

A Substance 3D Painter viewport still of THINKER designed by Edon Guraziu with the metal and plastic materials applied to it.

THINKER & RECEIVER were both textured in Substance 3D Painter.
This allowed me to add subtle detail such as binary engravings on the side of THINKER. These serve a story purpose later in the film.

For Syntactic Labyrinths we had a live-action shoot to record interior plates for the Library.
The white box we are inside was constructed by Production Designer Teresa Almeida to host the tracking dummy.
We knew we could achieve subtle realism of camera-motion by shooting with a real camera on a set.
And whether we would keep the environment plate or just use it as reference would be decided afterwards.

A cardboard dummy with tracking markers inside a white void for THINKER by Edon Guraziu for Syntactic Labyrinths.
Our dummy with tracking markers for the live-action plate

The most important elements of compositing THINKER into the shot were

  1. Tracking
  2. Rendering with matching Lighting
  3. Matching Depth of Field
  4. Matching Grain pattern

THINKER designed by Edon Guraziu inside of the Library in a still from Syntactic Labyrinths
Composited THINKER into the live-action backplate

THINKER is built up of a variety of components that Edon Guraziu designed in its entirety.
It's still incredible to me to see a fully original movie asset that was developed specifically for Syntactic Labyrinths.

The interior components of THINKER will be revealed later in the film.
Have a look below at what's inside: 

Below are the original first designs made by Edon for THINKER in 2019.
After all this time we're getting ready to start rendering final shots for Syntactic Labyrinths.

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