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Design in Motion is a series of creative techniques featuring short projects using After Effects and CINEMA 4D. Taught by motion graphics expert Rob Garrott, the course covers how color correction, expressions, rendering type, lighting, and animation are used in each program, and the topics are updated weekly. Using these tips and tricks, motion graphics designers will find designing to be a more efficient process.
Hi! Rob Garrott here and welcome to Design in Motion, the weekly series where we will explore important fundamentals in the world of motion graphics. Now MoGraph is a powerful component of CINEMA 4D. Now while back I was asked to create a set of train tracks for a show open, and that's exactly the kind of thing that MoGraph is good at. Let's take a look. So this is the finished track that we're going to be creating and pay special attention to the hierarchy. That's really what this exercise is all about. It's about MoGraph modeling, but really it's about hierarchy, understanding that if you build things in the correct order, then you get a very specific result out at the back side and that really is important.
So I've got a Track cloner, a Tie cloner, and then a Spike cloner, so for the different parts of the track. Now I'm not going to concentrate on building these actual elements. I'm only going to concentrate on the MoGraph parts. We've got everything built in the start file. Let's switch over to that right now. I want to go over to the Tracks-Start file and in the Tracks-Start file I have a Tie, a Spike symmetry, which I'll show in just a second, and the Track. And the Track is just a simple Extrude NURB and the length of it is about 2000 units. I just want to zoom in on the end of this so you can see the shape of the railroad track.
And the railroad track is underneath a null object and that's really important as well. I like to put my Extrude NURB underneath a null that I named then Track, because if I want to change this track at any time, this setup makes it very easy to do. So now I've got a track. I need to clone it. I want to have two tracks and so I'm going to go to the MoGraph menu, grab a Cloner object, and take my Track and put it underneath the Cloner. That cloner creates a vertical arrangement of clones. That's not exactly what I want.
I want to have two tracks side by side. So I'm going to go to the Cloner object, just raise this window up a bit, and in the cloner, I'm going to change the mode of the clone from a Linear to a Grid Array. Now the grid array creates an arrangement of clones in a grid, a 3x3x3 in the arrangement by default, and we don't want that many. I only want two. So I'm going to change the Count on X to be 2 and I'll change the Count on Y to be 1 and the Count on Z to be 1 as well. So 2x1x1. I end up with just two tracks exactly side by side, 200 units apart.
I am going to rename this and call it Track Cloner. Very important to name your objects. Otherwise you're going to end up with several different cloners and all called cloner, and you won't know what each one does. So this was the track cloner, so I'll name that track cloner. Now let's take a look at the railroad ties, and if I reveal them, I just made both their dots gray by holding on the Option or Alt key and clicking on the stated dots. And now I've got a railroad tie. And the railroad tie itself, if I zoom in on that, the railroad tie is just a single Cube object that I've textured with a wood texture. I'll render that real quick, Command+R or Ctrl+R on the keyboard, and you can see that it has a wood texture on it and that wood texture makes it feel a lot more like a railroad tie than a cube.
So I'll hit A on the keyboard to redraw the frame. The tie now I want to create copies of along the Z axis into the distance. So I'll use MoGraph again. So let's go to the MoGraph menu and go to the Cloner object and take the tie and drag it underneath this cloner. And now if the cloner by default creates copies along Y, I want to create these copies along Z, so I go to the Cloner object and change the direction from 50 units on Y. I'll have to zero that out.
By default though, tie cloner creates the copies of that they tie along the Y axis. I want to create them along the Z axis. So let's start by zeroing out the Y value. Change that to 0. And now I'm going to change the Z value and I could scrub it here and eyeball it, but I happen to know that hundred units ought to do me just fine, so I'll change that to be 100. And now I've got each tie spaced out along the Z axis. Now that's not enough ties, so I'll change the Count from 3. Let's try a 10.
That's not enough, you can see that. Let's back out a little bit so we can see how far down the tracks that went. That went about halfway, so let's change out to 20. You can see that now I have 20 railroad ties reaching almost the end of the track. Now I don't want to go all the way to the end. I want to have a gap, so that when I create a clone of this, I'm going to create a new section of track with the ties and the stakes and everything, all off into the distance. And basically what I making is a master track section, so that's perfect for what I need to do.
So let's move that over here. Now I'm going to call this cloner the Tie Cloner and the Tie Cloner will get twirled close, and so I have a Track Cloner and a Tie Cloner. Now I need to clone the spikes, and let's reveal the spikes. And I'll select the Spike symmetry object and hit O on the keyboard and then let's raise it up on Y so that you can see what that is. What the spike symmetry is is a symmetry object that CINEMA 4D uses to create copies on either side of an axis. And I've basically built one spike and plate and then flipped it over an axis so that I ended up with two on either side.
And I've spaced them out already so that they fit perfectly on the track. And all I really need to do is to clone the sky in the same way that I cloned the track and I'll be good to go. So let's bring this back to 000 for the spike symmetry. Now I can rebuild the Track Cloner with the same values or I can simply duplicate the Track Cloner and then call this one Spike Cloner, and really this Spike Cloner Side By Side, because this is going to create the copies of the clone that are going to go left and right.
And so the Spike Cloner Side By Side has underneath the old track object. I don't need that, so I'll delete and then I'll take the Spike symmetry and place it underneath the Spike Cloner Side By Side. And now look what happens. I end up with a spike clone on either side, lined up perfectly with the track. Now the track and the ties are embedded in each other and really they should be sitting on top. So let's take the Track Cloner and the Spike Cloner Side By Side and raise them up a bit. And I want to raise them up so that they're just flush with the railroad tie and that's perfect.
I need to create a clone of the spikes that will go off and match the exact position of the railroad ties. Now I don't have to do that again. I can just use the Tie Cloner as the basis for my spike cloner. So I'll create a copy of that and I'll rename this one and call it Spike Cloner. And I don't need the stuff that's under the spike cloner, so I'll delete that and then take Spike Cloner Side By Side and put it underneath the Spike Cloner.
Now when I do that, you notice that the spike clones jumped back down inside the railroad ties. That's because the cloner object takes over the position of the actual clones it's creating and places them where they need to be. So even though I had erased that up before, the cloner object takes that over and puts it back down to where its axis is, which is right at 000. As you can see they're all in a flush there. So what I can do is I can take the Spike Cloner and just raise that up again. Here we go, and that's perfect.
And now everything is lined up exactly the way it needs to be and let's back out just a bit here. And take a look at our track. And I'm going to hit Command+R, or Ctrl+R on the keyboard to render that. Now the actual track is just one section. I need to now clone this entire group so that I can make copies of the track to have it go off into the distance even farther. So rather than duplicate this by hand, I'll use another cloner object. So let's start by grouping all of these objects under a single null. So let's click on the Primitive objects here and grab a Null.
I'll call this one Track Group and then take this object and put in under here and all of these objects now are under a single null. So if I clone them, then I will end up with tracks going off into the distance. So I go to MoGraph and grab another Cloner object and I'll call this one Track Group Cloner. And the Track Group Cloner will have the Track Group as a child underneath it and it's going to make copies underneath.
But remember it does it by default on the Y axis and that's not what I want to do. I want to make them along the Z axis. So let's go to the Track Group Cloner and under the Object properties we're going to change the values that are in this area here. And the values that I want to change are the Y value. Let's change that to 0. And then the Z value, I want to change to be 2000. And that's because my original clone was about 2000 units long, my original track model that I created was about 2000 units. So if I make these clones 2000 units apart, then I'll end up with tracks that are perfectly spaced.
And in fact, if I zoom in here on the spot where the tracks come together, which is right there, let's zoom in on that area there, you see I now have a perfect seam. There is no gap in the tracks at all. Everything lines up just the way it ought to. You maybe noticing a little bit of sluggishness in your system, once you start creating a lot of clones you can end up in a situation where you've got lot of geometry in the scene. And there is a great little button called Render Instances in the cloner object, and this is a time where I can turn this on and get a lot of performance back for my objects and I want to do that in the sub cloners as well.
So I can go into the Tie Cloner and turn on Render Instances and then I can go into the Spike Cloner and turn on Render Instances there as well. And now I end up with much better performance. You see that it's much snappier and easier to work with. By properly building the hierarchy when modeling with MoGraph, you're going to set yourself up for all kinds of success when it comes time to animate. For more on working with CINEMA 4D, check out the CINEMA 4D section of lynda.com. That's it for this edition of Design in Motion. Keep it moving and I'll see you next time!
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