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Using the Cloner object

From: CINEMA 4D Essentials 7: MoGraph Modeling and Animation

Video: Using the Cloner object

At the heart of the MoGraph Module is something called the Cloner object. The Cloner object is a Generator Object that creates copies of just about anything you place under it. I've got a simple stadium section here and this is the seating module from the stadium in the MoGraph example movie. This was created using simple polygon modeling tools based on an Extrude NURB. The first thing I did was to create the stadium section, the profile of the section using the Extrude NURB Object and a Spline. I'll hide that. And you can see that if I turn that off, that's just a simple spline.

Using the Cloner object

At the heart of the MoGraph Module is something called the Cloner object. The Cloner object is a Generator Object that creates copies of just about anything you place under it. I've got a simple stadium section here and this is the seating module from the stadium in the MoGraph example movie. This was created using simple polygon modeling tools based on an Extrude NURB. The first thing I did was to create the stadium section, the profile of the section using the Extrude NURB Object and a Spline. I'll hide that. And you can see that if I turn that off, that's just a simple spline.

I then copied it and made it editable, and then extruded that outward to get the Stadium seats. I then used a Selection Tag to limit the appearance of the crowd texture on the front faces of those seating sections. Then what I did was, to give the illusion of tapering in, I used a Free Form Deformer Object, and that's a special type of deformer that when you go into Point mode allows you to grab the points on it and move them around. And when I move those points, it deforms the stadium. And so, what I've done is I've tapered the stadium inward to account for the rotation that's going to be placed on each of the sections.

And if I turn the Free Form Deformer off, you can see that the Stadium section gets wider towards the back. That way when I repeat it around an axis there won't be gaps in it. So what I can do with the Cloner object, let's bring the Cloner object in the scene, I'll go to MoGraph and then add a Cloner. And the Cloner object is an amazing thing. Under the Object properties it's got a Mode pull-down. Now it defaults to Linear. So when I drop this child underneath the Cloner, watch what happens. I'm going to drop the child under there and immediately it makes copies of whatever you drop under it.

So I'll select the Cloner object again and go back to its Object properties. Let's raise that up so we can see all these options. And by default, the Count is 3 and the Offset is 0. Down here the in the Coordinate properties, this is how much each individual clone is going to be moved. So if I adjust the Y value, you see that the clones get distributed along the Y-axis and we can make copies of these things. As I increase the number of copies, then it increases the count of the objects. And there's no functional limit that I'm aware of on how many clones you can actually create, but it is a high number and I haven't come close to reaching it yet.

In fact, most likely your computer will crash before you hit that peak value. If I wanted to scale each clone, then I could adjust the scale values here and these scale values will scale the clones over the length of the clone number. So as I increase that number you'll see that it distributes it even higher, if I bring it down lower, then it distributes it lower. The key is that these numbers allow you to manipulate the clones in a very specific way. Let's bring that back to 100%. And the Step Mode determines how the values will be distributed among the clones.

As I bring that to Cumulative, I can adjust the Step Size downward, and I can bring that back to Single Value, and adjust the Step Size upward. And as I adjust the rotation, this is probably the easiest thing to see, and let's increase our clone Count. So we see that we get a spiral here. And as I change that back to Cumulative, you'll see that it distributes the amounts differently throughout the clone Count. As I increase the P rotation and the B rotation, bank and pitch, then I'm now rotating that clone and it starts off and adds a little bit of rotation to each clone going forward and creating this shape in the stack.

Now these are just some of the options and these options are going to change when I change the Mode pull-down. When I change the Mode from Linear to Radial, now I'm going to get a Radial arrangement of all of these seating clusters. And there's a Radius, there's also a Count, I can increase the Count. I can also change the Plane, and that's what I'm going to do next. Let's change the Plane to XZ, and now my clones are arranged around a Y-axis. Now by adjusting the Radius outward, I can get a distribution. Now the slider tops out at 1,000 here, which you can keep scrubbing that value higher and higher.

And I am going to bring the Count down to 11, and then let's go to the Transform Options. The Transform Options allow you to rotate the individual clones. So let's go to the heading rotation and I can rotate each clone around its local axis. And as I bring that to 90 degrees, let's just type in 90 to make it easier, now I can go back to the Object properties and adjust the Radius inward until my clones are touching. Let's zoom in on that. I want to be careful how close they get. If I get down too far then I'll get some weird overlaps, and so, I want to -- just right about there.

About 1791 I ought to do it. And you can see that's why within the section hierarchy I added the FFD Object. If I turn that off for a second, you'll see that I get these gaps and my clones would never line up. So by adding that FFD, that allowed me to stretch the objects and have them meet correctly at the ends. Now let's take a look at how to create the lighting element. So I'm going to hide that momentarily. Hold down the Option key and click twice on the status dots. I'm going to add a Cube to this scene and I'm going to call this Cube stad light.

Now I have a material already setup for this, but it's basically just a fully illuminate material. The only channel active is the Luminous Channel. And these are going to simulate the lights that go around the stadium. They're going to be representative of the lights. It's not a real stadium light. It's just a grid of white squares. So let's add the stadium material to the stad light object and now we get this white cube. I'm going to flatten it out along its Z-axis. Let's make it two so it's a nice flat element. I'm going to go to the View menu under the Perspective View and do a Frame Default, so I know what angle I'm looking at my object from.

You want to be very careful when you're setting this up. Now I can start my first clone. So let's go to MoGraph and go to Cloner and let's add our stadium light, there is a child of the cloner, and you'll see it immediately makes three copies of it. What we want do though is change the Cloner from a Linear arrangement to a Grid Array. When we do that, we get a grid of objects. Now let's start off by changing the Count. Anytime you see an arrangement of three fields like this, it always means X, Y, and Z. So this is 3 units on X, 3 units on Y, 3 units on Z. So I don't want to have any on the Z-axis, just the original clone, so I'll change that to 1 on Z.

And you can see that flattens out the Grid Array. Next, let's change the Counts on X and Y. I want to make the Y value 3, and the X Count 5. Now it doesn't look like anything has happened. You can't actually see our clones. That's because of this white material on here and the fact that they're all overlapping. The size of the grid is way too small for the objects that I have in it. So let's take that grid and spread it out. I'm going to spread it on X until you can see the individual clones, and I'll spread it on Y until you can see those individual clones.

And now you can see that I've got a grid of these clones. Next, I want to create a copy around a central axis of this clone. And that's the amazing thing about MoGraph is you can nest the clones. You can clone Cloner objects. It will literally copy anything you put under it. So let's go under the MoGraph menu and add another Cloner to the scene. Then let's name our original light cloner and call this one light grid cloner, and then let's take the light grid cloner and make it a child of the new cloner that we've added. Let's change the name of this cloner while we're at it.

We'll call this one Seat section cloner. Now this new cloner that we've added to the scene that is cloning the light grid, you can see it's already made its three copies. And let's change that mode from Linear to Radial. And we want to use similar settings for what we have for the seats, so we want to change the Plane to XZ, and then we want to adjust the Radius outward. And it's going to be around 1791 as well. So let's leave it right about there for now. And then, let's increase the Count. We want the Count to match the Count of our stadium sections. So that's 11, and you can see that my objects are probably going to be a little bit too big.

Let's make the stadium seat cloner visible. And you can see that our lighting elements are way too big. So let's go to the Cloner object and adjust the Radius outward till our lighting grids or outside the seats. Let's raise them up just a bit. So I'll raise the whole Cloner up, so the lights are sitting just above. We'll probably have to move them again in a second. Now these lights are way too big, so I need to scale them down. Now I could go into the Cloner object and do a Transform and change the scale here. But I think I want to change the scale with something called an Effector.

The real power in MoGraph comes from combining the Cloner object with other objects called Effectors. The Effectors allow you to modify the clones in the Cloner object. So with this cloner selected, I'm going to go the MoGraph menu and go to Effector and add a Plain Effector. And the Plain Effector is 'plain,' as in ordinary. Meaning, it only does ordinary position scale and rotation. So when I add that, you're going to see my clones jump. They jumped up on the Y-axis. That's because the Plain Effector, under the parameter properties, by default it modifies the clones by moving them 100 units on the Y-axis.

So let's uncheck that. We don't want to move them on Y. What we want to do is scale them, and we want them to scale uniformly. So let's change that. And now we can just scrub that value, and watch what happens. We can scale those clones down to just the size we need. And the beautiful thing about this, it's completely none-destructive. If I want to turn that Plain Effector off, then my clones jump right back to the original value. I know that this Plain Effector is affecting this Cloner, because in the Cloner Effectors field, it's listed right there. So that is a real basic look at how you can create clones using the Cloner object.

In the next movie we'll take a look at how we can do further modifications to our Clones using the Effectors.

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