So the D&AD New Blood briefs have been out for a while and some would say it’s too late to start one – I think it’s never too late! It’s great that I’m actually eligible – I can enter as a recent graduate having graduated from MA Interaction Design (LCC) in 2017. The deadline is 20th March and there are two briefs that have a moving image outcome (and sound half decent):
When you’re running a mediocre machine, adjusting the preview settings is pretty essential when animating in Cinema 4D. The best tips for reducing the level of detail without affecting the final render are:
Options (any view) > Level of Detail > Low to High
Right click the object in the manager > Add the ‘Display’ Tag > Set in Attributes
The Timeline window is similar to the keyframe summary bar but it offers much more control over the animation. F-curves feel very familiar as they function the same as Easing in and out in Flash and Easy Ease in After Effects. They alter the value of an attribute over time. When a keyframe is added to any attribute, its default interpolation is Spline (therefor ease-ease is added). For a constant motion, change the keyframe interpolation to Linear in its attributes.
Tips in the Timeline window (Window > Timeline):
Switch between the Dope Sheet (keyframe) and F-curve views (larger graph) with the toggle buttons.
Right click on a keyframe to see a content sensitive menu.
Maximise the view with the ‘Frame All’ button.
Add a keyframe on the F-curve with ctrl + click.
F-curve keyframes can be copied and pasted to other objects (for example – to a Spline Wraps ‘Offset’ attribute) (It can be temperamental – use ‘Dope Sheet’ view).
The ‘Time’ (x) and ‘Value’ (y) of multiple keyframes can be moved all at once or locked in the attributes menu (or toggle button).
Multiple Timeline tracks can be selected at once by ctrl + click.
Animation! Woo Hoo! The timeline interface is fairly intuitive and I’ve had experience animating in other programmes (Flash, After Effects) previously so this should be fun. Animating is basically changing states across keyframes and can be done with the ‘Record Active Objects’ button () or the animation dots next to attributes. In the timeline, keyframes are represented with blue squares and are summaries of all associated attributes.
There are toggles for Position, Size, Rotation and Parameters next to the ‘Record Active Objects’ button in case they aren’t needed.
Always click the ‘Record Active Objects’ button when a change is made or the attributes (P,S,R,P) will be lost.
To keyframe an attribute – Right click it and select ‘Add Keyframe’ or simply click on the dot next to the attribute. (ctrl + shift click clears all keyframes)
Dot colour meanings:
- Red dot – Keyframe at this point.
- Red circle – Animating but no keyframe at this point.
- Orange (circle or dot) – Attribute has changed but no keyframe has been set.
Keyframes can be moved in the animation timeline.
Multiple keyframes can be selected with a click and brag selection area.
The selection can be scaled (in time) with small boxes at each end.
Shift click & drag move the selected area under the keyframes.
Shift click the small scale boxes to snap the selection at keyframes.
Modelling objects is only really half the story. Crafting an environment and animating things within it is when things start to get interesting. Environment elements can be added from the Scene palette.
Sky is like a sphere that always encompasses the scene.
Physical Sky has its own light attributes.
To move objects around in a composition, Splines can be added to the environment for the object to track along. To do this, add the ‘Align to Spline’ Tag to an object in the object manager.
Right click object (in manager) > Assign Tag > Set the Spline in its Attributes.
Make sure the splines ‘Intermediate Points’ are set to ‘Uniform’ for consistent motion.
Regularly adjusted attributes can be added to the view windows (heads up view) dragging and dropping them (the Right click to select ‘show always’).
Time to buy myself a director’s chair! Multiple cameras can be added to scene offering static angles or dynamic perspectives that move through a scene.
Cameras are added with the same projection as the active view window (i.e. always add them in Perspective view)
Toggle the preview and movement of a camera with while in Perspective view.
To lock a camera, add a Tag by Right clicking the camera in the object manager to open the content sensitive menu. ‘Protection’ locks the P (position), S (scale) and R (rotation) in the attributes.
It’s good practice to zero out the x, y & z axis of a camera as a starting point.
Learning a new program is always tricky – I find my creative side constantly battling the technical. Whilst working through tutorials, I tend to have ideas that are way beyond my current technical ability… and then I get frustrated. But, to be honest, I hope this is always the case as it keeps me on my toes and wanting to push myself further. I do, however, have a tendency to forget some of the ideas that come to me whilst learning something so I’m trying to sketch them down as I go. On that note, I unleashed the marker pens, scissors and glue…
real footage of nature/mountains.
and textures colliding/rotating.
towards the horizon.
into different worlds.
I’m a huge fan of the animation studio Animade and I was lucky enough to see Ed Barrett (Creative Director) and James Chambers (Co-Founder) talk at Glug Birmingham last year. There’s a great article about the studio on Lecture in Progress. In the article, they talk about what a great location they’re in in East London – with about 20 other animation studios a stone’s throw away. So here are few for future reference:
Here’s the results of me just having a play in Cinema 4D with the tools I’ve looked at so far… and a few others.
Working with Generators and Deformers at the same time is getting pretty tricky. Usually a Deformer needs to be a child of the object it’s deforming (Taper for example). But this isn’t the case with ‘Generated’ objects as they already have a hierarchy of their own… NULL to the rescue!
Sweep Generator (bendy tube):
Pushes a ‘profile’ spline along a ‘guide’ spline (drawn with the pen & shape tools)
The shape can be moulded using the object tab in the Sweep attributes:
Object tab > Details > adjust points on the spline graph > add points with ctrl + click
Adjust polygon count (points) for the profile and guide splines with the object tab in each of their attributes:
Object tab > Intermediate points > Adaptive (auto on curves) or Uniform (points from the spline graph)
Draw the profile Spline in the appropriate orthogonal view to save changing the orientation.
The hierarchy of splines in a Sweep is key as the profile sweeps along a guide i.e. profile above a guide in the manager.
Try to get the polygons square on a curved object.
Right click on the spline graph to expand into a larger window.
Spline Wrap Deformer (Transforming objects across splines):
Needs a spline associated with it as a catalyst (set in object attributes)
Needs the axis set to the same orientation as the object being deformed (set in object attributes)
Its mode can be changed to Fit Spline or Keep Length of original object
Put Generated shapes into Null objects with alt + G
Then put Deformers into the Null object (above or below)
The hierarchy of Deformers is key as their affects on objects are procedural from top to bottom (I’ll experiment with Displacer and Wind).
January 31st… you know what that means… I’ve been an idiot and left it till the last minute to sort out my tax stuff.
Anyway, I’m in need of some style inspiration at the minute as I feel like I’m losing the plot with all this tutorial stuff. Tutorials are great and essential to learning new tools… but they do nothing to feed the creative side of my brain. Generally speaking they tend to be endlessly grey like the environment of Cinema 4D or they’ll use terrible colours. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, they’ll be all digital, futuristic, glossy renderings that remind me of Tron or Lawnmower Man (both great films!). Oh, and another little tip – never use Google images for any type of research (that might be stating the obvious there). It’s just so easy to do and is rarely satisfying.
Anyway, rant over. Here are some amazing examples of animation that mix 2D and 3D elements, bringing in that crucial element of texture and depth to a narrative. This is definitely something I want to strive for in the future
When modelling a polygon object, the polygons surfaces can be selected (like Points or Edges). When selected, Right click to open the content sensitive menu – a key tool is the Extrude function.
Right click (in polygon mode) > Extrude > Click and drag to adjust.
Workflow = Move (E) > Rotate (R) > Scale (T) > Repeat
Soft Selection option ‘tapers’ a transformation with a selected transform tool by subtly altering the adjacent points in a mesh (shown with a yellow gradient).
Uncheck caps or delete polygon caps when not needed in a subdivision surface.
Try different Display modes in orthogonal views.
When modelling, you can use the objects axis or the world axis (for horizontal transformations) by toggling this button
The Symmetry Generator can be used to duplicate objects (and groups) across different axis.
To model polygons, a primitive object needs to be made editable with the ‘Make Editable’ button. This will disable the primitive object attributes so it’s a good idea to get it as close to the design as possible. To view the objects polygon edges before converting, go to:
Perspective view > Display > Quick Shading Lines > then edit its Attributes.
Live Selection – Shortcut 9 (disable/enable ‘only select visible elements’)
Move – Shortcut E (but can be done with live selection tool)
Scale – Shortcut T (click and drag anywhere to scale a selection uniformly)
Rotate – Shortcut R (rotate selected points, edges or polygons)
Spacebar – changes to last active tool selection
Right click to view the content sensitive menu (line cuts, loop cuts, plane, cuts etc.)
Always consider the view from every plane (axis) in space via the orthogonal views
Press O to frame a selected object in the view
Ctrl + drag an object in the object manager to create a copy
I also looked at the Subdivision Surface Generator which can smooth out an objects surface by creating more polygons. Definition can be added with more cuts (loop cuts, plane cuts etc.) to the object.
Null objects can be used in the objects manager to keep things grouped and tidy. They can be added from the objects palette but it’s best to select an object in the manager and press alt + G (for group). This localises the nulls location and orientation to that object for future movement.
It’s always worth getting some tips on best practice from the word go. I found this tutorial from 3d artist Konstantin Magnus, walking though some points for modeling more effectively within cinema 4D.
1. Reference images, blueprints, backdrops & measurements
2. Organizing scenes
3. Amount of polygons
4. Plan topology
5. Define Goal
6. Begin in flat land
7. Order of execution
8. Check after each step
9. Repeat, don’t fix
10. Focus on complex areas first
11. Isolate problems
13. Keep it parametric
14. Use textures for high frequency detail