Tag Archives: C4D

Days Go By Blog: Introduction

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In addition to being interested in filmmaking, animation, visual effects and the arts, I also happen to like writing songs. In fact, I’d love to make a musical one day since musicals combine so many of the things I’m interested in such as storytelling, art, design, animation, and music. It’s hard for me to imagine much else that would be as fun, or as creative.

With that in mind, I decided to make an animated music video of a song I wrote titled Days Go By. While a music video is not quite a musical, it is not that different either. You can think of it as a musical on a smaller scale, and, after all, what works small should work big.

A wise person once said that the journey is the reward and so I’m looking forward to this creative journey. In addition, the best way to get better at something is to do it. So, besides the fun of the journey, I’m looking forward to increasing my knowledge about 3D animation, rendering and music along the way.

Blog and Vlog

I also decided it would be a good idea to document my progress on the video by posting reports about it right here on this blog as well as videos on my YouTube channel. This would give me a chance to show others what I am making and hopefully foster a lively discussion about 3D animation and the creative process. I hope you will learn something from me (or even get some inspiration). In turn, I would appreciate any opportunity to learn from you.

Comments are, of course, welcome and encouraged both on the blog and on the YouTube channel. Therefore, if you’d like to be informed about updates as soon as they happen, please subscribe to the YouTube channel or send me a message through the Contact area of this blog and request to be added to my email list. I look forward to taking this journey together.

About The Song

I wrote the song Days Go By about a year ago, with the intention of it being used in a musical from the get-go, and recorded it in my home studio. The song has sort of a poppy feel, with touches of jazz and rock.

The DAW that I use currently is Avid Pro Tools 12. I’ve used other recording applications in the past such as Cubase and am interested in Studio One, but I am used to using Pro Tools. It also happens to be the industry standard.

The workstation that I use to record with is an HP Z840 which is just an awesome machine and one of the world’s most powerful workstations. If you are interested, you can read my review of it here.

The audio interface I used to record Days Go By was a Focusrite Scarlet 2i2. However I’ve since replaced it with a Behringer U-Phoria since the Focusrite stopped working when I brought it to Florida last winter (maybe I banged it somewhere along the way). I must say I’m liking the Behringer however. It has MIDAS preamps, Midi ports on the back and sells for a very reasonable price. It also has very sturdy construction.

My recording studio is basically located in my New York apartment.
My recording studio is basically located in my New York apartment.

My main keyboard is a Korg SG-1D which I bought some time ago. It’s got 88 nicely weighted keys and that’s where I usually write my songs. For guitars I have a red Univox Les Paul copy that was built in Japan in the 70s and a Fender dreadnaught style acoustic. The Univox has a nice tone to it and the Fender’s pretty good too.

I might go further into how I recorded Days Go By in a future post. In the meantime you might be wondering how you can hear the song, since it has already been recorded and mixed.

Here’s the thing, you can’t. Not because I don’t want you to hear it. In fact, I’d really like to play it for you. However, I’d like to save it for when the video is finished. That’s the one last thing that I would like to reveal after all the work is done. Maybe I’ll change my mind and play it before I finish the video. Then again, maybe I’ll wait.

Stay tuned for updates!

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A Video Tutorial on Voronoi Fracturing in CINEMA 4D R18

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One of the greatest features in CINEMA 4D R18 is Voronoi fracturing, the ability to fracture a 3D models into hundreds, or thousands of pieces (to read a full analysis of C4D R18, click here). Besides the fact that it can be used to great effect for explosions and collisions, Voronoi Fracturing also has great uses for motion graphics. Because is part of MoGraph, it can also be combined with a variety of MoGraph Effectors. The possibilities are virtually endless for what you can do with it.

I recently made a video tutorial about Voronoi Fracturing where the tip of an airplane’s wing hit and shatter a rock formation into hundreds of pieces. Here it is for you to check out and learn how to do it yourself. I hope you find it useful for the work that you do.

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MAXON Unveils CINEMA 4D R18: Voronoi Fracturing, Object Tracking and More

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If you think about it, August is kind of like December, but not due to the weather of course. Every August at SIGGRAPH, MAXON unveils a new version of CINEMA 4D, their popular 3D modeling, rendering and animation package. For C4D users, it’s a little like the holidays. After months of anticipation, each new feature is something like a present, one that they can’t wait to open up and play with. This year was no exception as MAXON announced the latest version of CINEMA 4D, R18 at SIGGRAPH 2016.

In addition to rolling out C4D R18, MAXON also streamed a series of live presentations from their booth at SIGGRAPH. These presentations were delivered by accomplished CINEMA 4D artists (which also included demonstrations of some of the new features in the new version).

R18 is a substantial upgrade and contains a lot of enhancements to C4D. Let’s take a closer look.

Voronoi Fracturing

One of the most exciting new features in R18 is the addition of Voronoi Fracturing. 3D programs are great at building things and making them look clean and perfect, but suppose you want to destroy something? For example, let’s say you want to crash an airplane into an old castle in the Scottish Highlands and smash it to bits (or part of it anyway).

CINEMA 4D's new Voronoi fracturing lets you break and shatter things with ease.
CINEMA 4D’s new Voronoi fracturing lets you break and shatter things with ease.

It wasn’t easy to do this in CINEMA 4D previously unless you wanted to spend weeks cutting up your model with the knife tool. Actually, that wouldn’t really work, so don’t even try it (I was just kidding).

Fortunately, there was a solution available previously in the form of an excellent third party plug-in called NitroBlast which, in fact, did a good job of breaking up your model into lots of pieces, a technique called Voronoi fracturing.

In C4D R18, Voronoi fracturing has now been natively built into the software, no need for any plug-ins, and with its implementation comes a whole slew of parameters and options for a ton of creative fracture effects. There are options that allow you to set smaller pieces in one area and larger pieces in another. This is handy, for example, since an object usually breaks up into smaller pieces near the point of a collision with the pieces getting larger further away.

There are lots of other ways to fracture an object. You can use a spline path, a polygonal mesh or even a matrix object to define the way an object will break up. In addition you can scale down the fractures for a cool, broken up effect with a little more space on the edges. You can also define separate materials for the outside and the inside of the pieces for enhanced realism (the outside can be dirty and scuffed up, for example, while the inside can be clean).

One of the greatest things about Voronoi fracturing, however, is that it is part of MoGraph. This means that MoGraph effectors can be used to control the fractured pieces. This results in mind-boggling creative possibilities and creative animation options.

Object Tracking

Motion tracking was introduced in R16, and it was a great addition to the program since it allowed you to bring footage shot by a moving camera into C4D, track the camera and add seamless 3D elements to the scene.

In addition to motion tracking, introduced in R17, CINEMA 4D R18 now introduces object tracking.
In addition to motion tracking, introduced in R17, CINEMA 4D R18 now introduces object tracking.

The thing that was missing however was the ability to track individual objects in addition to the camera. With Object Tracking you can do things like add 3D elements to moving objects. For example, you might to add radar equipment to the top of a turning vehicle or a helmet on somebody’s head.

It’s great that object tracking has been implemented inside CINEMA 4D. That, together with the pre-existing camera tracking, makes the application a complete tracking solution and saves users from having to rely on third party tracking software. This saves time and money.

MoGraph Enhancements

As mentioned before, Voronoi fracturing is an important new feature of MoGraph. Let’s now take a look at some other enhancements to C4D’s popular cloner tool set. One interesting new feature is the Push Apart Effector which can be used to prevent MoGraph clones from overlapping on top of each other, a common issue that can happen when generating clones.

Push Apart can work in several different ways. Besides “pushing” the clones away from each other (on every axis or on just one), it can hide overlapping clones as well as scale them down to eliminate overlaps.

Another nice new feature in MoGraph is the ability to generate clones in a Honeycomb pattern. Before, clones could only be generated in linear, radial or grid array arrangements. The addition of the honeycomb array is very useful, especially since the offset of the pattern can be adjusted. This is not only useful for making honeycombs and beehives, but thinks like cobblestones, movie theaters, and many other things.

The ReEffector is another interesting new MoGraph feature. It can be used to modify a group of multiple effectors that have been applied to a cloner object. With it you can do things like reset all effectors at once as well as limit all effects to one axis.

MoGraph now includes the ability to store MoGraph Caches externally with the new MoGraph Cache tag. Suppose you have a complicated simulation involving lots of clones and decide to cache it in order to speed things up in your scene and enable scrubbing back and forth in the timeline. Since caches can add lots of data to your file (maybe hundreds of megabytes), next time you save your file, the cache gets saved along with it making your file that much larger. This complicates things, especially when you want to do something like email your file to someone.

Now you can use the MoGraph Cache tag to store your caches externally and keep the cache data separate from the main C4D file. In addition, multiple MoGraph Caches can now be used and blended between each other with the use of a few judiciously placed keyframes. I like that a lot.

Among some of the other enhancements to MoGraph is the new Weightmap tag which allows you to use a new weight paintbrush tool to directly paint the influence of effectors on MoGraph Clones.

Modeling

When it comes to polygonal modeling, there’s almost no tool as useful as the knife tool (okay, maybe the extrude tool). In CINEMA 4D R18, the knife tool has updated with several important new enhancements.

The knife tool is now divided into three sections. First is the Line Cut tool which now allows you to interactively draw a shape to define the cuts on your object and edit it to your heart’s content with onscreen handles and gizmos, until you are certain that the cuts will be exactly where you want them. That’s a handy thing. There are also new slice modes. In addition to Cut, there is Split which splits out the new polygons as well as Remove Part A and Remove Part B which allows you to strip away or preserve sections of your geometry easily.

Next is the Plane Cut tool which allows for planar cuts of your model and allows you to define the number and spacing of parallel cuts. The third mode of the knife tool is the Loop/Path Cut tool which cuts new loops or paths onto objects. Loops and Paths can now be applied bidirectionally and there is now a handy on-screen GUI to help with the knife tool.

Other enhancements

One new feature that is pretty cool in the C4D R18 is the Thin Film Shader which allows you to simulate in your renders those colorful rainbow-like effects that are sometimes visible on the surface of transparent bubbles, soap films or oil slicks.

R18 also includes many other important new features such as parallax bump mapping for better results with bump maps, and inverse ambient occlusion which can, among other things, help you achieve a fake sub-surface scattering effect as well as do things like simulate wear and tear on the edges of a model.

There’s also a new Shadow Catcher shader that allows you to easily extract object shadows for later compositing. In addition, interactive real-time rendering has been further enhanced. For example, C4D’s viewport now supports screenspace ambient occlusion, approximate reflections, and displacement. Pixar Open Subdivs are now also supported when creating subdivision surfaces for alternative subdivision surfaces options as well as increased compatibility with other applications (subdivision surface weights can also now be exported).

There are a lot of other very substantial new features to C4D such as a new Quarternions workflow, enhanced Alembic and FBX exchange options, support for Allegorithmic Substance materials, better Houdini exchange, updates to Team Render and, importantly, improvements to baked displacement maps from sculpts. For a complete list of all of the new features in CINEMA 4D R18, see this list here (insert online link to complete R18 feature list).

Conclusion

MAXON has put together a very compelling release in CINEMA 4D R18 which includes important new features that every C4D user will want to have in their arsenal. Having personally used C4D for many years, I feel that this release contains many enhancements that will prove indispensable, Voronoi shading and object tracking not the least of which. CINEMA R18 is a must-have upgrade.

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Will Adobe buy The Foundry?

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EDITOR’S NOTE:

After this story was published, it soon became apparent that the rumors about the possible acquisition of The Foundry by Adobe were unfounded. The Foundry instead received a majority investment by England’s HG Capital. Well, it was an interesting rumor anyway, one that was wildly speculated on at the time. In that regard, I’ll leave my thoughts about the implications of such a merger would have been. It might be a fun read. – Joe.

I recently heard that Adobe may potentially acquire The Foundry, the London-based company whose applications include NUKE, a respected compositing program used in the VFX industry, and NUKE Studio which includes editorial and finishing (in addition to compositing and VFX). In addition to NUKE, The Foundry also makes other ambitious products such as MARI, a 3D painting and texturing solution as well as MODO, a 3D modeling and animation program. There is also KATANA, HIERO and other programs in The Foundry’s toolbox.

Suffice to say that this is big news, if it happens, it could change the dynamics of the industry. How? It’s hard to say, but below are a few thoughts. Keep in mind that I haven’t officially confirmed this report and have only read about it online.

On one hand a merger between Adobe and The Foundry makes sense, on the other hand it brings up questions. First, there is the question of overlap. While After Effects, Adobe’s own compositing and VFX application, does some of the things that NUKE can do, each of them has relative strengths. One might say that After Effects is better at handling typography and graphics (as well as integrating better with the rest of the Creative Suite). It’s also timeline based.

NUKE, on the other hand is node based (whether you prefer a layered timeline-based interface or a node-based approach depends on the user). Its 3D compositing capabilities, however, you might say, are more robust in my opinion and handles things like projection or camera mapping more effectively than After Effects.

There are more benefits to each program, however it’s probably safe to say that, due to its features, After Effects has found it’s place among motion graphics artists, broadcast designers and independent filmmakers while NUKE has carved out its niche among high end, VFX-heavy feature film and television projects.

Therefore, while there is some overlap between the two programs, they do serve different markets. Thus, if Adobe does acquire The Foundry, I could see the logic in keeping both programs alive and part of the Creative Cloud. Motion Graphics artists and broadcast design projects would gravitate towards After Effects while high-end VFX for television and film could be done in NUKE.

NUKE Studio, on the other hand, brings up other questions. NUKE Studio is a software suite that adds editing and finishing to NUKE. Adobe of course has worked hard to develop Premiere into a robust NLE that has been embraced by a many professional editors. For finishing, Adobe has SpeedGrade which they acquired a few years ago. NUKE Studio is a relatively new product which was released about a year ago and I am not sure how much penetration into the market it has had yet. Whether Adobe decides to maintain two editing and finishing solutions or merge them into one (such as Premiere and SpeedGrade Lumetri) remains to be seen. I doubt it.

MARI is a product that is used by professional 3D artists to paint complex texture maps for their creations, whether they be dinosaurs, aliens or mechanical monsters. I don’t see any reason why this program wouldn’t continue to live as a contributing member of the Creative Cloud.

What About 3D?

While Adobe has a wide variety of applications for a variety of media, it lacks a true 3D program. Once, a long time ago, it made a program called Adobe Dimensions which was, frankly, pretty bad and was summarily discontinued. After Effects, Photoshop and Illustrator all have some 3D(ish) capabilities, but, of course, none of them approach what is possible with a real 3D application since none of them are.

This void has effectively been filled by MAXON’s CINEMA 4D which is widely used by Adobe users. CINEMA 4D is a highly capable 3D application which works great with Adobe applications such as After Effects, Photoshop and Illustrator. For the record, I am not only a satisfied CINEMA 4D user, but in the interest of full disclosure, I also travel to trade shows to demo the program as well as give talks about how to use it. CINEMA 4D has been enthusiastically embraced by motion graphics and visual effects artists, not only in North America but around the world.

Though not everyone realizes it, a version of CINEMA 4D called C4D Lite comes with the Creative Cloud thanks to a working relationship between MAXON and Adobe and a live bridge between the two programs called CINEWARE has been developed that allows After Effects users to import native C4D files without rendering them first. However, C4D Lite is not listed in the list of apps in CC. To use it, you launch it from within After Effects. Adobe and MAXON remain separate and autonomous companies.

The Foundry has a 3D application called MODO which, I suppose would be acquired along with NUKE and MARI. While it would probably become available as part of a subscription to the Creative Cloud, it isn’t as mature a product as C4D is, and not as popular. MODO is a compelling program, but C4D has features that are very useful to Motion Graphics Artists such as the MoGraph cloner toolset, a built in motion tracker, quality rendering and solid character animation chops. It is thanks to features such as these that C4D has become so popular in the past few years.

It will be interesting to see what might come out of this tentative acquisition of The Foundry by Adobe and whether they will be able to successfully integrate The Foundry’s product line into the Creative Cloud in an elegant fashion without causing confusion and overlapping product lines. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. If you have any thoughts about this potentially important development, feel free to add them in the comments section below.

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