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CINEMA 4D Essentials 8: Character Rigging and Xpresso
Illustration by John Hersey

Creating a data slider to control a spline wrap


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CINEMA 4D Essentials 8: Character Rigging and Xpresso

with Rob Garrott

Video: Creating a data slider to control a spline wrap

There are going to be times in your animation process where you're going to want to be able to control multiple objects, and you could use individual sets of key frames to control those multiple objects. But it's much better to have just one point of control. That's where Data Slider comes in. A Data Slider is a single point of control that can be used through Xpresso to control other objects. The first step in this process is going to be to create a null object that's going to hold our Data Slider. Let's go to the Primitives and add a null to the scene, and let's call this null, Sliders. Now you can put sliders on any object anywhere, but in this case, I want to make it really obvious where that slider is going to be, so it's easy for me to find later.

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CINEMA 4D Essentials 8: Character Rigging and Xpresso
1h 8m Beginner Sep 28, 2012

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CINEMA 4D Essentials with Rob Garrott is a graduated introduction to this complex 3D modeling, rendering, and animation program, which breaks down into installments that can be completed within 2 hours. Start this installment with a look at Xpresso, a scripting tool that allows you to speed up your workflow by automating control of rigs, animations, and menu commands. This course also covers the basics of character rigging, from binding joints and geometry to adding movement with CMotion.

Topics include:
  • Linking objects to points in Xpresso
  • Creating a data slider to control a spline wrap
  • Controlling multiple objects with a single slider
  • Understanding the traditional character animation workflow
  • Using the Character object for building and applying rigs
Subjects:
3D + Animation Video Motion Graphics Character Animation
Software:
CINEMA 4D
Author:
Rob Garrott

Creating a data slider to control a spline wrap

There are going to be times in your animation process where you're going to want to be able to control multiple objects, and you could use individual sets of key frames to control those multiple objects. But it's much better to have just one point of control. That's where Data Slider comes in. A Data Slider is a single point of control that can be used through Xpresso to control other objects. The first step in this process is going to be to create a null object that's going to hold our Data Slider. Let's go to the Primitives and add a null to the scene, and let's call this null, Sliders. Now you can put sliders on any object anywhere, but in this case, I want to make it really obvious where that slider is going to be, so it's easy for me to find later.

Now in CINEMA 4D terms, this slider is something called User Data. If you click on the null object, down in the Attribute Manager, you'll notice a little menu item called User Data. If we click on that, there is an Add User Data and Manage User Data. Essentially, there is very little difference between these fields. I normally go to Manage User Data. When I do that, that pops up the Manage User Data field. Now this is a big blank window, and what it's going to ask me to do is on the left-hand side is to add data. When I add data, it gives me the word Data over here on the left, and on the right-hand side are the attributes for that data.

So let's call this data something other than data. Let's call it Sliders. When I hit OK, you'll see that I now have a new User Data field over here on the right on the attributes for this null object. When I click on that, you can see there is a Sliders with a percentage. This percentage is the user data interface. Now that's not what we want to end up with. We want to have an actual Slider field instead of just a float field with a scrubber. Normally, I would not have hit OK right there, I would have modified this ahead of time. But I wanted you to see what the result was.

So let's go back to the User Data. We can get there two ways. We can go back to the User Data and tell it to Manage User Data, or we can right-click right on the Slider and then go to User Interface, and then we want to Edit Entry. When we edit entry, that pops us back into the Manage window and now we can see our Sliders interface over here. So the interface that we want to create is something called Float Slider. When we do that, you can see down here at the bottom of the window, this is an example of what the interface will look like. And the Default value is whatever the value will be when the object is at rest.

So we'll leave it at 0%. Down here in the field, we can change the units. We can make it be percentage, or real values, or degrees. We're going to leave it on Percent for now and the Step is going to be 1%. That's fine. You can actually change that to be tenths of a percent or in groups of 10%. The important thing is to put in a Step value that gives you enough control for the type of animation you're going to be doing. The limits for minimum and maximum are how much range the slider has. By default, the slider goes from 0% to 100%.

I could change this to 500%, and I'll tab over. Don't hit Return, otherwise that will be like hitting OK down here. You can see that now my slider goes all the way to 500%. If I change this to 100%, you can see that my slider maxes out at 100%. That's going to be fine for what we want to have here today. So let's click OK. And now, you can see that on our User Data field on the null, we now have a slider. This slider doesn't do anything yet though, and that's where Xpresso comes in. Now we want to use this slider to control the Offset parameter on this spline wrap.

We could set up a manual link with Xpresso to do that, but there's a really cool feature called Set Driven Keys. If I go back to my slider object, and right-click on the word Sliders here under the User Data, and I can go to XPressions and then Set Driver. Now what happens when I do that is that CINEMA 4D is now waiting for me to do another right-click, and it's asking, what do you want to use this driver to drive? So if I go to my spline wrap, and then right-click on the Offset, and go to XPressions and then do a Set Driven (Absolute), that Absolute reference means that no matter where I put the Xpresso tag, it's always going to point back to that same spline wrap object.

Now it still looks like nothing happened. But let's go to the Sliders null object, and adjust the value here on our slider. If we drag that to the right, you'll see that there goes the matrix object. Now I'm getting a weird redraw issue because of the screen recording software. So if I hit the letter A on the keyboard, you see my objects jump. Let's go ahead and animate the Sliders option. Let's drag that to the right, and then let's Ctrl+Click on that to set up key frame for that value at time 0. Then, let's drag forward in time, and you see that my screen reset itself back to the 0 percentage value.

Let's make that 100%, and let's Ctrl+Click to add another key frame. Now when we hit Play, you see my object passing through the sphere. Now I have an Xpresso link between the point on the spline and the sphere. If I take that big sphere and move it around, you'll see that my spline will redraw itself based on the position of that sphere, and now my objects will pass through that sphere at that location. So that's a really simple example of how to Use User data to control a particular parameter on an object.

In this case, we used the User Data to control a single parameter, but in the next movie, we'll use that User Data slider to control multiple parameters on different objects.

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