C4D Pro Tips #3: Power Animation with Pose Morphs

Tutorials

A tutorial on using Pose Morph tags and user data to rig simple animations of multiple complex objects with very few keyframes.

Using the spline curve inside every Range Mapper xpresso node as a little mini timeline (the In and Out points being wherever on your timeline you put the slider’s 0% and 100% keyframes) you can have whole families of nested animations totally unreliant upon a clusterfuck of Timeline keys! Just imagine the possibilities! The reduction of crime, world peace, prosperity, it’s all up to you. (As an aside, you would actually make more money if you paid attention and made some nice graphics for some big corporations.)

The project file is available for download here:
Download Pose Morph Speedometer (.c4d, r13-16)

The original speedometer asset I made for the Car Film Company. It’s the speedometer from a vintage Jaguar. I had a close-up photo of the face of the dials and produced from this a really nice Illustrator tracing (by hand, Auto Trace just sucks for typography). Then I saved this in Illustrator 3 format and brought it into Cinema. If you join two concentric circle splines in Cinema you get a compound spline, so when you extrude it the centre’s a hole. Most of the model is made this way. For the lovely edging on the shell of the speedo, I made a Loft object from many circles. I later added bevels to make it more realistic.

Although this is one of the few techniques I didn’t steal from another tutor (or Digital Tutors, for that matter) you may have caught it on the NAB presentation about this cube thing that busts apart in mid-air for some American Football promo, you know the one. But mine is better because I’m showing you how to mix timelines AND the project file is above, waiting for you to snatch it up in your dripping talons.

One thing I didn’t go into in the video, for the sake of brevity, is using Mix nodes and Condition>Compare chains to automate triggers and although this makes no sense at all in text form, I can show it off in another Quick Tip.

I also didn’t explicitly show my super-smooth camera technique, but this is definitely going to feature in a Quick Tip very soon:

  1. I simply keyframe the camera shots where I want them to occur in time and space
  2. Then use a Tracer Object to trace the camera’s path (you need to scrub through all the cam’s keyframes if you don’t see a path)
  3. Make the Tracer editable (ie convert it to a spline) to make a permanent camera path spline.
  4. Make this a B-Spline or a Bezier, delete all the in-between points of the spline and make it smooth as a pig’s nose.
  5. Then I add another camera, this time a Target Camera (or copy the cam and add the Target tag and a target object to that)
  6. Turn the Target null from displaying a tiny dot to a Star and make it very large
  7. Add an Align to Spline tag to the new camera, looking at your smooth camera spline. You shouldn’t need a rail spline, but if your camera is flipping around the B axis you can just put Y into the Up Vector field in the camera’s Target tag. I hope.
  8. Then you just animate the camera from 0-100% (or do the LUXX xpresso camera spline thing)
  9. Chuck in a few keyframes on the target null to point the damn thing where you need it.

For extra points, add an xpresso tag to the camera, use a Distance node to measure the camera distance to the target null, Add an offset, and hook this into the camera’s Focus Distance param so your depth of field is perfect – just keep the Front Blur on and set that offset so that everything inside your depth matte is within the camera cone.
TLDR: Watch the camera Quick Tip when I can be bothered to upload it or just download Chris Smith’s CSTools here and ignore me. CSTools is the original and best and has so much clever xpresso I cannot believe the guy is an ad director. It’s nuts. You can also pick the xpresso apart like a bastard gremlin and use it for other things.  I believe CS_EasyCam is in the Content Browser freebies in r16 anyway.

PS I took off all the realistic textures except those on the odometer wheels, because they were a huge pain in the arse to make. The numbers were all Spline shaders and impossible to UV, so I used Bake Object (in the Object Manager) to bake it out once I’d sorted the edge loops. I cannot recommend proper modelling enough.
Rule of thumb for designtards: if it won’t bevel, it won’t UV nicely (or subdivide, displace, deform, or bind to skeletons, the list is endless.)

PPS I know, I know. The colours are absolutely lurid. But the reason is visual clarity and the fact that I didn’t want my realistic Jaguar speedometer immediately sprouting up all over the place. I’ll leave it up to the extremely motivated to google that and build the shaders.