TurbulenceFD Tests: White Point

Well this one is a little boring, but White Point is a simple setting that you can use to adjust how wide the range of values look in your flame sim. It’s just like in a Curves or a Levels filter in Photoshop where you can slide the White Point down and clamp the brightest areas of the image to lower values, so they aren’t as bright and your image has less contrast. Just a quick little 45 second video showing you how fiddling with this value can help you get the flame looking just how you want it to after caching.

View the all the posts for the TurbulenceFD Test Series here

TurbulenceFD Tests: Turbulence and Vorticity

Here’s a test on a tandem of properties that you may want to adjust together in TurbulenceFD. Turbulence and Vorticity are found right on top of each other inside the Simulation settings of your Container. By adding these properties to your simulation, you get some much needed variation in your fluid’s movement, turning a flame that looks rigid and uniform into one that looks far more natural. These settings yield different results when increased and then combined in certain amounts. Check out a couple of these comparisons side by side, and you can see how adjusting the properties separately or both at the same time can change how your fluid reacts. I was surprised when I saw the results, I expected the flame with higher turbulence to look like what the flame does with a higher vorticity, so this is a good video to examine the affect these parameters have on your project.

View the all the posts for the TurbulenceFD Test Series here

TurbulenceFD Tests: Damp Velocity

Any time I have seen a a “damping” or “damp” setting in Cinema 4D or another plugin it always is used to reduce or limit some type property. The Damp Velocity setting in TurbulenceFD does just that, by limiting the velocity of your flame. Check the short video out to see the results when you add this to your sim.

View the all the posts for the TurbulenceFD Test Series here

TurbulenceFD Tests: Buoyancy

When I saw the setting labeled Buoyancy inside TurbulenceFD I instantly did the a word association with it thought of “float.” I grew up in Florida and went out on the water a lot and passed countless actual buoys, those floating water markers usually covered in seagull crap, barnacles, or in one case when I was out west in California, sea lions.buoy

So my intuition was right with regards to the buoyancy setting and what it would do to my flame in TurbulenceFD. It controls how much the flame rises or floats.  The default value is set to 20, and if we increase or decrease the value we get some different results that may help you get the look you’re going for. Overall I feel like it’s a good setting to adjust how subdued or aggressive your flame will appear. Take a look at the video and see for yourself.

View the all the posts for the TurbulenceFD Test Series here

TurbulenceFD Tests: Voxel Size

So this is the first video in my TurbulenceFD Tests series, and I feel like it’s an important one to start with. Voxel Size in TurbulenceFD is basically a 3D resolution setting for our fluid simulation. It turns a regular pixel into 3D cubes, by combining it with volume (VOlume + piXEL). Voxel Size influences important aspects of your simulation, like how clearly defined your render will look andhow long the simulation will take to cache. I also touch upon some hardware speed testing with CPU vs GPU rendering that ties into your voxel size settings. This is probably one of the longer ones I’ll do for the series, even though it’s only like 3 minutes long. Check the video out to see the samples and explanation.

View the all the posts for the TurbulenceFD Test Series here

New Series: TurbulenceFD Tests

When evaluating a plugin’s usefulness, I like to ask the question “how hard would it be to do what this plugin does if I didn’t have it?” Well in the case of fluid simulation plugin Turbulence FD by Jawset, the answer is “damn near impossible.”

Creating animated fire had always been difficult. The way in which fiery flames move and behave is so organic that attempting to create it purely from software can fall pretty flat. Often times my best bet would use clips of real fire and composite it together in my project, it was as realistic as I could get.

Once I saw what TurbulenceFD could do inside Cinema 4D, I was amazed. Getting great looking fire looked so easy, with lots of flexibility inside of my own 3D project. But once I started using the plugin I was a little lost initially. Then I got sidetracked for over a year with other material and forgot just about everything I learned initially.

So once I got back to square one, I did things differently this time. I feel like there’s not a whole lot of great material available for learning TurbulenceFD online. Many tutorials tend to just plug in numbers in different parameters and skip out on explaining why you’re doing what you’re doing with the plugin. So as I tried learning the ins and outs of the plugin, I decided to renderer out some tests to visually understand how the parameters change the fluid simulation. My process was to just change  one parameter at a time, then compare and contrast the results side by side to see how the change affected the simulation. And I figured as long as I was learning the plugin,  I figured maybe I could help other out a little too by posting and explaining the comparisons.

All these test videos can be found here, and on my Vimeo album if you want to sort through them that way. Here’s a sample file which I used as the starting point for all these sims. I’m still learning the plugin and getting better at it, so I’ll keep posting videos as I go along.

Video Training Series for X-Particles

I just wrapped up working with cmiVFX to publish a training series on the powerful particle plugin for Cinema 4D, X-Particles. It’s a 10 part and roughly 4 hour long series of tutorials that can get you familiar with the plugin that is definitely growing as a fan favorite among Cinema 4D users, and opening doors for you to create awesome particle effects in Cinema 4D.

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I have been using X-Particles for awhile now and I love how much more functionality you gain inside Cinema 4D by using it instead of the regular particle system, and I find it at least thousand times easier to use than the clunky, XPresso-based Thinking Particles. I find X-Particles feels almost like an extension of MoGraph, basically instead of Cloners you have Emitters and instead of Effectors you have Modifiers. You’ll notice how fast and stable it is right away, it previews and renders very quickly, allowing you to visually see you particle simulation change on the spot.

In these lessons I hit as many topics as I can on X-Particles as I can in about 4 hours. If you have never used the plugin I’m pretty confident after watching my training you will have a good grasp of how to use X-Particles and what you could potentially create with it. I start out going over most of the terms and tools at the base level of X-Particles, and the last few chapters get into some more advanced setups and projects. The goal as always is to give you enough information for you to be inspired to create designs on your own with the help of this new tool.

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Included with the training is a bundle of projects that you can use to follow along and breakdown how you can build these X-Particles designs. I tried to develop some projects that give a good example of how you can combine many of the different tools available to you inside the plugin, with the final result being something that would be far more difficult to create in Cinema 4D without the help of X-Particles.

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A demo of X-Particles can be found here. You should be able to follow along with the lessons just fine if you want to learn it before you commit to buying it. I feel like it’s a worthy investment for the price. The plugin is being developed further (Thinking Particles? Not so much) and it will only get more useful with better integration with Cinema 4D as we go forward.

So please head on over to cmiVFX and check out my training series if you are interested in learning some X-Particles.

Live Performance Graphics: Marc Anthony

Here’s a sample for my graphics for a live performance of Marc Anthony’s Vivir Mi Vida at Premios Juventud 2012 in Miami, FL.

So when I ask what the theme for the act is and it’s just “umbrellas” that doesn’t sound terribly exciting. The producers tried to tie together the performance with umbrellas by handing them out to twirl for the fans and make it appear on the broadcast as if it was raining, there’s a line in the beginning of the song that talks about rain. Of course I would like to forgo any focus on the audience and instead focus on the projection screens I made graphics for.

I picked a set of colors to stick with ranging from like teal and blue paired with orange and yellow, those are Florida colors all the way. I designed a few elements in Cinema 4D like an umbrella, sunglasses, a beachball to kind build up a whole beach theme. Designing a 3D funtioning umbrella was actually pretty tough, so I took a few shortcuts since nobody is going to be very critical as to how the umbrella looks or opens up.

From there I threw the umbrellas in a few Radial Cloners in MoGraph and spun them around to create that sort of hypnotizing, spinning motion, or maybe something that reminds you of synchronized swimming. I supplemented the graphics with a still of beach sand and some water I made using Trapcode Form, which was key because you could make the water loop easily.

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I always like to throw some simple patterns in there and I actually really liked how the ones I made for this loop turned out. I made these vertical stripes that were kind of twitching and fading in and out between teal, white and orange. I used a great setup in Cinema 4D and MoGraph for this to program that randomness. I had a Random Effector that would switch seeds every 10 frames, and the interpolation between keyframes was set to Step, so that would switch abruptly. And on top that I applied a Formula Effector with the Color mode active, and that applied a cascading grayscale color over my stripes. From there I took it into After Effects and layer a couple different instances of these renders on top of each other. Then I tinted the layers white, teal, and orange, and the blending between them creates a lot of motion with minimal effort. I really liked how this one simple loop turned out, I’ll probably recycle the project files down the road for a different act.

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All in all I like how it turned out. The song is very catchy and the loops blended well together and with the beach themed set design and broadcast.

Live Performance Graphics: Upfront 2013

I had to create graphics for a segment of Univison’s 2013 Upfront presentation in New York City at the New Amsterdam Theater. An Upfront is basically a fancy powerpoint presentation touting a networks past accomplishments for the year while demonstrating what else is coming on the horizon, and it gets exceedingly more elaborate each year. My animation was supposed to be a weather alert that interrupts the show because it’s snowing outside, which was a themed segue to the debut of a new show.

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Basically received the direction to try to make it look like a news broadcast, just a quick bump that wipes to an exterior snow shot of Central Park. They were also going to pump fake wind and snow into the theater to sell the the effect some more.

We are currently redesigning the graphics for one of our news shows, and my producers referred me towards that. The graphics involve a lot of rings so I started adding all sorts of Tube primitives, Torus primitives, Sweep NURBS, and Radial Cloners just to create this elaborate looking ring design. I moved the camera and the object, trying to make this a complex looking shape. When all else fails and you have like 2 or 3 days to model, light, texture, and animate something that needs to look like it could belong on broadcast TV, you don’t get too picky or philosophical with questions like WHAT DOES THIS SHAPE MEAN MAN?

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In After Effects I brought in the camera from Cinema 4D, so I could composite in some wind and snow that looks like it belongs with the ring. These weren’t 3D particles, just 2D clips I put in there pretty quickly, but they work well in the scene. I added some camera shake too which I tend to like, it makes the camera feel like it’s being affected by the motion design.

So that was the piece for the main screen, but I also had to create complimentary graphics that go along with the rest of the stage. There were secondary screens throughout the theater that needed to be tied together with the big screen on stage. I composed a bunch of tech overlays and scanline objects together, with some text that read “Weather Alert” all in red to contrast sharply with the cool blue look in the center. The final result was kind of cool and kind of cheesy in the delivery, but I still like how it came out.

Live Performance Graphics: Pitbull

Pitbull was the opening act for the Latin Grammys in 2012 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. When you have the opening act for the show, they tell you to take your graphics an double the energy for it. So I had to create something very exciting to start the show. His song “Don’t Stop the Party” is about a noble quest for one man to not stop the party, regardless of the circumstances.

The set for the act was all gold everything, so I made a lot of my graphics metal and shiny and also paired it with red colors as well, which tend to compliment gold. Usually this is the case, they set the parameters for your design through the set design and the props, and you kind of build your work off of that. Initially they wanted me to build a sort of structural design with like this golden palace, but eventually it shifted to a more graphical look with me doing my own thing.

This stage happened to be covered in zig-zagging LED screens, which are much brighter than the projection screens in the back. Usually the stages I’ve done are fairly balanced between LED screens and projection screens, but this time the stage design was leaning heavily on the use of LED screens. I designed my animations to work well in very long, skinny sections to better fit the LED stripes.

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The first sample seems incredibly simple… because it is. It’s just a Linear Cloner of a tapered Cube in Cinema 4D, with some lights flashing on a shiny gold material. The cubes are spinning in a pattern that is not totally uniform, which is just a touch of randomness I always try to use in my designs. With this very wide aspect ratio I could position these all along the LED stripes and have this shiny gold texture moving spinning differently on various screens.

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I also used the motion graphics lynchpin Trapcode Particular to do a series of defocused dancing particles. Particles are always good because they can be worked into just about anything and can be colorized or styled in a variety of ways. I could easily take these particles and change them to be like a dark blue or purple and slow them down and used them for a slower, more dramatic song. I probably will in another show and hope you don’t call me out on it.

After doing enough of these shows I figured out ways to get more motion out of your graphics, rather than strictly animating everything by hand. I like to use expressions in After Effects to block out certain screens with different timing patterns. I’ll divide up my composition with masks, in a way that corresponds to the layout of the LED screens fed into the media server at the venue. Then I will place black solids or adjustment layers on top of them, and use my trusty companion, the Wiggle expression. By placing the “Wiggle(F,A)” expression inside a layer’s Transparency setting, where F stands for the frequency and A stands for the amplitude, you’ll get a random fading in and out of the black solid, which will make the screens flicker on and off during the song. It’s incredibly easy to do just to get some random, simulated movement without using any keyframes.

I included an After Effects project here which is a simple setup showing some of the same expressions I’ve used before for shows. I use it to make screens, flicker, cascade, or kind of pulse with varying frequencies and rhythms. You can check it out and see how math can be your friend when you have to a deadline to meet for a live show happening in a couple hours.

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The final result had a lot of energy and set the stage for a great show. I think this one turned out well and looked great on the wide shots.

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