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Understanding the character animation workflow

From: CINEMA 4D Essentials 8: Character Rigging and Xpresso

Video: Understanding the character animation workflow

The process for creating character animation can be as complex as the movie Toy Story, or as simple as bouncing a cube around the floor. And no matter what approach you're taking, the steps that you go through to create your character are going to be pretty much the same. You're going to need to have a character, that involves designing it, modeling it, and texturing it. Then you're going to have to build controls for that, called a rig. Then you'll have to bind that rig to the character, and then you'll need to animate and render and composite. This chapter is all about taking a look at the controls in CINEMA 4D for generating the character rig and binding it to your character, and also some other uses for the character controls in C4D.

Understanding the character animation workflow

The process for creating character animation can be as complex as the movie Toy Story, or as simple as bouncing a cube around the floor. And no matter what approach you're taking, the steps that you go through to create your character are going to be pretty much the same. You're going to need to have a character, that involves designing it, modeling it, and texturing it. Then you're going to have to build controls for that, called a rig. Then you'll have to bind that rig to the character, and then you'll need to animate and render and composite. This chapter is all about taking a look at the controls in CINEMA 4D for generating the character rig and binding it to your character, and also some other uses for the character controls in C4D.

I've got a very simple character here and these colored boxes that you see are the actual controls for the rig. And if I click on that, you can see that it's named L Arm and it's got (L_IK_Arm ) after that. That tells me that this is the controller object for his left arm, and if I click on it, and I can drag it around, you can see that that allows his arm to move. I can also click on his torso and have him squat up and down. I can move it back and forth. I can also rotate it.

I'll hit R on the keyboard to bring up the Rotation Tool and you can see I can rotate it and have him twist. Now I'm getting some issues with the side of his face here. That's based on the binding of the rig, and talk about that process later on in the chapter. CINEMA 4D has some special controls that allow for a much easier process in generating your character rig and binding it to your mesh. However, the character animation process can be pretty intense. The key is to have a clear image in your head what it is you're trying to accomplish and then making the controls do what it is that you need to do. And that's always the trick.

There are some handy tools in C4D, like CMotion, which allows you to add motion to a character. Let's click on this little checkbox right here next to the CMotion object and activate it. And you'll see that when I do that my character disappeared, that's because I'm at Frame 81 on the timeline and I've already add animation, and he's walked past the camera. Let's rewind back again and then hit Play on the keyboard. And you'll see that our character walks back. Now, the motion on the character and his arm is going through there, and that's because of me moving the character before I added the CMotion.

If I go back and undo a few steps and then turn on the CMotion, now you can see that that fixes it. And this is part of the troubleshooting process that you'll go through when you make your characters. Creating rigs is an intensive and rewarding process, but it involves a lot of deep thought and troubleshooting along the way. Sometimes your rigs are going to be very simple and will go together quickly, and other times your rigs are going to take a lot of effort. I can't stress enough how important it is to have a clear picture in your head when you start the character animation process. If you go in with a clear picture, on paper, in your head, then you'll have a much better time with the process.

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CINEMA 4D Essentials 8: Character Rigging and Xpresso

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Rob Garrott
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