Join Rob Garrott for an in-depth discussion in this video Part 2: CINEMA 4D XPresso rig, part of Artists and Their Work: Conversations about Mograph, VFX, and Digital Art.
- I've got a little project file here open, and this is a little rig I've been making that's kind of like a sci-fi alien something kind of nasty that you wouldn't want to have looking at you. - It's making me nervous right now! (laughs) - The idea was I wanted to play a little bit with bone IK, bone structure, and what I like to do with most of my project files and my animation and everything is make the animation process as simple as possible, so I'll spend a lot of time preparing the asset, the model, so that with one slider I can make all of that happen.
We've got a couple of things going on here. We've got the needle, we've got a couple of arms that hold onto it, and then we've got this dead weight counterbalance up the back, so that as it animates it spins. - Nice. - If we break the MoGraph down, this is just the single arm that gets cloned out with the cloner, and then basically I can control, after my animation, how many of those arms I want. I can bring right down to just three, and the animation still works perfectly.
Nothing has changed in terms of how the information gets passed around, but just using Xpresso to link everything up allows you to have a very flexible rig so if I had arch on either side of this arm that's filled up, I want to see eight arms just wrapped around it. It makes it look very different. MoGraph is amazingly powerful and it allows you to do so much. So a break down of how the arm works, and show you the linkage through Xpresso.
Here we've got acouple of things going on. We've got bone IK, we've got a little piece of geometry, or three pieces of geometry that are attached to three bones, and each of those bones are connected through an IK Chain, and that IK Chain is pointing to a goal. All it does, is it tries to reach out to where that goal is. I've put a limiter on it, so basically I can't take it on any other axis than that.
- Helps keep it lined up. - And basically what that slider was doing I already have a null here with Xpresso tag if we create a user data slider. Add user data, create a float slider, and let's say extension. I actually attached the user data to the tag by accident, but you can set user data to anything. If we bring in the arm goal this is what it's trying to reach, and we come into our Driving Node, and this outputs our information from our user data We get our zero to 100 per cent slider.
Let's say 100 per cent, we want to slide it 300 on the X, that's what we had earlier. We're going to have to convert that information, because by itself it's not going to know how to do that, so we're going to create a range mapper and remap that range between these two numbers. I do know per cent is going in, and we're getting radiance out. I'm going to set those, so right here we've got zero to 100, and I know zero is going to be zero on the x. The high value, 100 per cent, is going to be somewhere around 300.
We can actually just look here and find out. 150 is the upper, and 320 is the lower. You've got to think ahead and see what it is you want, but that's the great thing about Xpresso. You can play with it a lot and then come back and change it very easily. It's all visual, so you can see exactly where your information is going and how it's being manipulated. The joint system is quite easy.
All you really need to do is go into character, create a joint, add another joint, and stretch it out to 200 centimeters, and then do it again. We've got two and then another one, and we just make sure they're all children of each other. Then on the first one you just right click, go into Character, Tags, and then create an IKM tag.
This will just allow you to create an inverse kinematic system that will basically bend the bones in a way that allows the final endpoint to be at the goal, and the goal can be anything, it can be a null, and we drop that into the goal and we set the end joint, and now when I move this goal around, we can see that it does its best to try to reach that point.
If it can't reach it, if it's not long enough, it just locks, like that, but it still aims at it, which is really cool. You can make anything with that. Then all you need to do is a matter of attaching some objects to those bones, so if you just make it a parent of the first one, if we move this null now, you can see that that cube is connected to it. That's what I did for this arm.
Then it's just a matter of cloning it, radial clone, and setting the axis to whatever you need, and when we slide this, we get this really nice, complex... - That's one of the beautiful things when MoGraph was first introduced in the C4D, it was mind-blowing. - MoGraph is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. I don't understand why there isn't something just built in for After Effects, it's got shape layers.
You can use multiple shape layers on a single object and I like that, but in terms of copying out a bunch of clones and then being able to manipulate them, this is amazing. A lot of the time, if I'm doing something 2D, and it requires MoGraph, I'll just go into View and set it to Front, and I'll animate with Mograph as if that's a 2D plane with MoGraph. - Let's talk about that for a second, that little bit about the process, and kind of get out of the software for a second and talk about how you like to work.
You've sort of transformed yourself from a regular old motion graphics artist into this person designing the future, like you said. Do you find that you see that continuing, or is it something you want to do for the rest of your career? - Honestly, I have no idea. I would love to work in games doing Conceptual Interface, really reinvent the wheel and do something different and simple and minimal. I've always liked to design and working in movies and seeing my design in the end product, not part of it that evolves and changes.
I love that when I do User Interface, that's what you see, that's what the end person sees, and if it's designed well -- - It's believable. - It's believable, and it makes the scene. It removes the doubt of what is going on. If it's done well, the person knows exactly what that actor or actress is trying to do. - Do you find yourself throughout your day going out to one place in particular looking for inspiration? Where do you find your inspiration? - A lot of the inspiration comes from playing around, usually I'll find it just diving into CINEMA and looking around.
I try to stay away from tutorials that are very specific. I just look for the technical part, I'm looking to use that in a special way, and sometimes that will give me a style or a weird render or weird effect that I'm like, "Oh, that could be interesting," and I'll save it. And I actually have -- - A folder full of mistakes? - I have a folder full of cool mistakes that I like and I call it The Everyday, and in a day I might work on something and just post it, maybe work on it for four hours and then post it.
Something like this, really simple. I was playing around with a little cube, and I was like, "That's kind of interesting!" It looks like he's trying to get somewhere, but it just keeps sliding away. I worked on that for one day and posted it and that's it. A lot of my inspiration comes from either drawing or other projects that I bring back and reuse in a different way. It's still my hobby and I get paid to do it. I really don't want to put a label on what it is I like or what it is I do.
I just want it to evolve as I find new interests and stuff like that. When I find something new I try and include it into my arsenal of my tool set and move on from there and see what interesting projects come on and how I can use old stuff from my Everyday, for example, and take an idea from that and be like, "I've got something exactly for this project," and I'll go back there, open my project files, which I always save, I save everything, and then I've already got somewhere to start and something to look at.
In terms of where I'm going to be going, probably just keep going with that Everyday and make it even bigger and broader and see how I can make myself more interested in what I do. As long as I'm still interested in what I'm doing I'm going to be a happy camper doing this kind of stuff for sure. - Nice.
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