How To Make Fictional User Interfaces (FUI)


Ever wondered how all the futuristic displays that you see in so many movies are made? Well, the likes of the ones you've seen in Iron Man, The Martian, Doctor Strange, Guardians Of The Galaxy and so many more were made with the help of Cinema 4D. Here's how...

What is a Fictional User Interface (FUI)?

FUI is the term used to describe the graphics seen on computers, monitors, phones or heads up-displays, which are purely fictional but give the impression of being realistic. Whilst they may be based on current user interfaces and operating systems, they are often very different, to give a feeling of an interface that is way ahead of current technology.

FUI's are often very important in movies for helping communicate important plot points and to create additional on-screen entertainment. If you watch a movie such as Avengers: Age Of Ultron, you'll see FUI's all over the place, such as the example above made by Territory Studio. There's rarely a scene without some kind of FUI aiding the story telling.

How are FUI's created?

This depends on the complexity of the FUI required. A simple static computer screen, which isn't showing any 3D animation, could be created with an image editor such as Adobe Photoshop. If an animated FUI is required, then tools such as Adobe's Photoshop and After Effects are combined for 2D graphics.

For more advanced 3D elements, 3D animation software such as Cinema 4D is used. The above examples of graphics created for the Doctor Strange movie were created by SPOV using Cinema 4D.


What is the demand for FUI's?

Huge! With the likes of Disney churning out movies based on characters from Marvel and Star Wars, a mass of futuristic movies like The Martian (above image by Territory Studio), Star Trek Beyond and many more, and TV series' getting more and more advanced, this is a growing requirement. Also, the games industry is packed with futuristic titles all requiring FUI's.

What's particularly interesting is a relatively small team of people can churn out FUI graphics quite quickly. FUI's are also typically less graphically intense than a complete CGI sequence, so it's a good way to get into movie production without spending a fortune on hardware and software.


How do you get started creating FUI's?

MAXON US's Cineversity recently teamed up with FUI specialists Perception to create a fantastic 11-part Guide To FUI. This invaluable series is over 2 hours long and teaches you a huge amount about FUI's, showing examples and ways to create typical elements that you see on-screen. Around half the episodes are free to view. The others, you need to be a premium member of Cineversity which you can either sign up to on the site or it's a perk of a MAXON Service Agreement if you own Cinema 4D.

Cineversity also provides links to some really helpful talks from previous shows such as Siggraph and NAB where artists show how they created FUI's for the likes of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Need for Speed, the Flash, Arrow and much more. You can see all FUI examples on Cineversity here.


What Software do you need to create FUI's?

Whilst you can use many different types of software, I think the core tools to create FUI's are:

  • Adobe Photoshop - For creating 2D elements.
  • Adobe Premiere Pro - For editing video.
  • Adobe After Effects - For creating animated 2D elements.
  • MAXON Cinema 4D - For creating 2D and 3D elements.

The above example for the 007 Spectre movie was created by Vincent London, who created over 300 animations for the movie. Creative Director John Hill, said around 90% of the work was created in Cinema 4D and After Effects.

If you'd like to have a go at creating FUI's but don't have the software already, you can get the Adobe software as part of Adobe's Creative Cloud subscription. For Cinema 4D, you can grab a FREE 42 day trial below.

Try Cinema 4D 3D Software For Yourself


Easy to use, powerful, stable and fast. We think Cinema 4D is the best 3D software for 3D motion graphics work. If you'd like to try out Cinema 4D and have a go with all the powerful features on offer, then be sure to grab yourself a free trial. The trial gives you access to virtually all of Cinema 4D's features and you can also opt to activate it for 42 days of save functionality. Simply fill out the form on the link below to get started!

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About the MAXON Blog

Welcome to the official MAXON UK Blog. This blog provides the most up-to-date official information about MAXON, its products – in particular its flagship product Cinema 4D – and the Cinema 4D community. You can expect to see posts from a wide variety of MAXON UK employees.