VR: Exporting Nulls to AE via Spherical Camera


Mentioned this in another thread/subject but thought I’d ask in a new thread

I am wondering if there is any method available for outputting nulls from c4d to AE via spherical camera? I fear the answer is no, but if there was some way to translate the position of a null (lights etc) in 3d space to its warped spherical position that would be amazing.

We are working on a huge vr job (almost 20 minutes of rendered vr) and there are lots of labels and callouts as well as nulls we need for things like lensflares and other composited elements. I wonder how other people deal with the compositing side of VR prodction. Its a pain in the ass currently. :frowning:


I could write a plugin that can export them out to a file for you. It could contain the x,y position of the nulls on the equirectangular image for each eye for each frame of your animation.

But I do not know how to load that in to AE, it would need someone else to write a plugin/script for AE to read it in.

If you find someone that is able to read in a json file into AE to do what you want then I will write the plugin to export it out.


Hi Kent. Thanks for chiming in. Are you familiar with the null export procedure in cinema 4d as it exists? Currently you can apply external compositing tags to the nulls, objects and lights you wish, and those get exported as an AEC file (after effects comp) which holds the camera lights and null data. You import the comp via the c4d and ae plugins that come with c4d.

It sounds like what you are saying is that you can write a plugin that does this as well, but the nulls etc will conform to the spherical/equilateral render. Would you not be exporting the nulls into an AeC file? I do not know anyone who writes json .ae plugins unfortunately. Apprecialte the interest here however.


I presume you are referring to equirectangular renders.
Are the nulls going to be moving?
How is the distortion of the composite elements going to be handled inside AE?

As Rick mentioned you could try Canvas 360. Although I haven’t used it, the developer is a friend of mine and I think there’s a solution for that.

There’s a trial version as well.
If you want stereo, check out Canvas STK


Looks like AE can import json file natively so I will have a play around this weekend to see what I can come up with. I may even look into writing a custom AE script to make the transition a bit smoother.


Kent if you can make this a viable, easy solution with a few clicks, I’ll definitely contribute some development money for your time. I’d find this very useful, indeed.


I am not convinced that exporting the nulls in equirectangular 2D space will solve any problem.
Once you have the nulls, and start adding elements to them, how is AE going to handle the distortion, so that the composited elements will align with the equirectangular distortion?
Does AE have built-in tools for that? I may have missed it.


Yes it does have built in tools noseman.

AE VR tools


Do these tools allow you to view your equirectangular as a sphere? (as if you’re inside it?) and look around?
If that’s a real 3D camera and you import the Nulls, they should be in the correct positions.
If I get some time I’ll give it a spin…


YES–the VR tools allow you to work in these formats. The problem is that the nulls that come in only seem to correspond to the normal camera perspective view from c4d and are not “warped” to their equirectangular or spherical position (understandably so). Its been my hope that someone could write a plugin or script that translates these null positions to their “warped” position in the AE VR enviro. Sounds like between Canvas and Kent :slight_smile: , there could be some sort of useful solution.

Here is a video explaiing how things work in AE, if you choose to composite in the spherical evironment.
Our compositor is more familiar with the process than I am–as I am more focused on the 3d side of things in c4d.


OK great. I had the same concerns as noseman. But if you can distort your comps either directly in AE or using Canvas 360 then that part should be ok. I will take a look this weekend to see if I can get the data out and will also look at AE to see how it can be imported in.


Thanks again Kent! YEs it does seem that Canvas 360 (and the stereo version) might be the way to go. Of course, simpler is better, and being able to export data directly from c4d to ae would be preferable. It could be that there isnt a feasible way to get that data into the vr compositing enviro in AE.


The video shows exactly what I’m talking about.
Any work needs to be done in the rectilinear view, thus using the original 3D null positions.
There will be no way for you to correctly create content using the equirectangular view. Any asset you add, will deform…
OK, I’ll do a test with the AE inbuilt tools and see if my theory stands


So, my theory is correct.
Render any 360 footage from C4D and export the 3D data in the usual manner.
Create the rectilinear (POV) comp using your tool of choice.
Then copy the 3D elements from the C4D export, into the new 360 comp, and make sure you align them properly, so that the Original C4D camera is aligned with the New 360 comp camera.
All your 3D nulls will align to your 360 view.


Excellent! I will relax this weekend instead.


Thanks Thanasis. This is a bit of a surprise. We were not getting correct results on our side. I will have time to look into this over the weekend/early next week. Perhaps there was something we missed.

Sorry KEnt for any trouble!

Will check back over here once we have more info on our end.


No trouble for me. I would have been happy to help if needed. But noseman has saved the day! :grinning:


…as he always does :slight_smile: Cheers!


I’ll be making a tutorial on this subject early next week


Looking forward to it already. Been thinking of getting back into VR and compositing again, nice place to start. :slight_smile: