Cineware Party, Part 03: Animating Text with MoGraph

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Instructor Rick Barrett

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Animating text with Fracture Object and Plain Effector

Explore the exciting possibilities with the new live 3D pipeline in the next Adobe After Effects. In this tutorial series, you'll learn how to create a motion graphics piece in CINEMA 4D Lite and composite and render it through Cineware in Adobe After Effects.

In this tutorial, you'll learn how to use the Fracture object and Plain effector to quickly animate the text in a flexible, parametric way. The Fracture object and Plain effectors are a small taste of CINEMA 4D's powerful MoGraph toolset that you have access to once you register and activate CINEMA 4D Lite.



- We just finished creating our party text, and now we're going to use Cinema 4D's MoGraph features to animate it. You may have heard about Cinema 4D's MoGraph feature set, which allows you to easily create lots of objects or break apart objects and animate them procedurally. Cinema 4D Lite comes with a small subset, just a taste, of the MoGraph features, and you get that once you register and activate. So if you haven't done that yet, got to Help, Personalize, and fill out the form in order to receive an activation code. Once you do, you'll have access to the Fracture object, and the Plain and Random Effectors. And these are the tools that we're going to use now to animate our text. So, first of all we're going to choose the Fracture object. And you'll notice that, once again, this is a green object. That means it's a generator; it generates new geometry based on the objects that you put underneath it in the Cinema 4D hierarchy. And the object we're going to put under it is the object we want to fracture, which is our Text Extrude. So we're going to just drag this up, and once again we're going to look for that down-pointing arrow, and we're going to release the mouse. And now our Fracture is controlling the Extrude NURBS. Now it looks just the same because by default the fracture is in the "straight" mode and nothing's affecting it yet. What the "straight" mode means is "affect each of the objects that are underneath the Fracture without actually breaking them apart." We actually want to jump into an option called Explode Segments & Connect. And what that does, is it breaks each of the letters apart and reconnects them. So now you have each of the individual letters in this "party" text, is now being seen by the Fracture as an individual element. To see how that actually works what we need to do is add an effector. And effectors are really the power of MoGraph; it's what allows you to procedurally or parametrically change the animation without creating a whole bunch of key frames. For this we're going to use a Plain Effector. The Plain Effector is just plain. It doesn't do any fancy randomness or shader-based animation or sound-based animation. What it does is it just moves the object in position, scale, or rotation. But it can do that based on falloff. So, with the Fracture selected I'm going to add the Plain Effector to the scene, and you can see that the text popped up a little bit. Well first let's look at what happened here. The Plain Effector is in the object manager, and because the Fracture object was selected, it actually got automatically added in the effectors list within the Fracture object attributes. So an effector has to actually be in this list for it to affect that object. Now if you didn't have the Fracture object selected when you created the Plain Effector, you can just drag the effector right down into the list. Within the Plain Effector, in the attributes, you'll see that we have options here for position, scale, and rotation. We also have some advanced options here for color and time offset, but we're not going to worry about those for now. Here on Position, we have Position X, Y, and Z. And right now we've got a default position of 100 centimeters. So what this effector is doing is moving the text up 100 centimeters in Y. What we want to do is have it come, be mostly in X instead. So we're going to go ahead and take and drag the, right here next to the number we're going to drag to increase the X value here for the position. We're going to jump that up to, like, 1,900 2,000. So now our text is completely off screen. If we go into the Effector tab here, and in fact I'm going to just click and drag over both Effector and Parameters so that both of those tabs are active and I can look at both of them at the same time. And now in the Effector tab I can adjust the strength of this effector. And you can see that at 100% strength it's moving that text all the way off screen in the X direction. When I go down to 0%, it's not effecting the letters at all anymore. So we're going to go ahead and put it back at 100%, and instead of actually using the strength, what we're going to do is use something called "falloff." Right now we're using an infinite falloff, and what that's doing is it's applying this effector globally to the entire scene. But what we can do is apply it locally on just a specific section of the scene. And to do that we can choose a falloff like Box or in this case we're going to use Linear. And you can see our text showed up again. What we need to do now is actually rotate this effector because or linear is going along the Z-axis, which is moving into the scene, away from the camera right now. So we need to rotate this effector on the H-axis 90 degrees. So we'll do that right down here in the Coordinates Manager. And now you can see a little bit better how this effector actually appears. We've got a yellow line here, which is the end of the effect, and we've got a yellow line here which is the start of the effect, and we've got a red line here which represents the falloff. Now the bigger distance between the yellow lines, and between the falloff and the first yellow line, the longer the transition is going to be between the 0% strength and the 100% strength of the effector. So we're going to go ahead and increase the size of this falloff. So right here in the Attributes Manager we're going to increase the size to something like 250 centimeters. We're also going to go ahead and increase the falloff range here to 100%. And again, that's just going to give more transition between affected and not affected. So we've got this whole distance here that's transitioning between being affected and not. Now as we move this effector through the scene you'll see that we make those letters move in because as the effector moves over, each letter, it's choosing not to affect that letter any more. The falloff is going to zero as we move across. So what we want to do is just animate this effector going straight across like this, and that'll animate our text in. So we'll start with our effector way over here, and we're going to go to frame eight just because we want to start just a little bit into the scene. And we're going to go ahead and switch into the Coordinates tab here of the Plain effector, and this is where you can adjust the individual coordinates of each object. And you can see here that we have the position X is at negative 900-some odd units. Now to set a key frame, we can just Ctrl click on any of these dots next to any attribute in Cinema 4D. So all the attributes that have these dots basically are key framable. And if you Ctrl click on the dot, it sets a key frame. You notice how the dot turned red; that tells me there's an active key frame right now. If I jump up to say frame 80, we'll go ahead and move our Plain Effector all the way to the other side of the screen so that it's not effecting the text at all anymore. And you can see now in the Coordinates Manager, the coordinate...or in the Coordinates tab, the X value is almost 1,200 units. You can also see that we now have an orange circle telling me that the value has changed for this particular attribute. And that means that if I want to save that, I need to set a key frame. So again I'm going to Ctrl click on the dot, and I get another red dot. So now I have a key frame at 8 and at 80, and you can see those key frames represented here in the time slider by these little blue boxes. And so, now if I click this button to go to the start of my animation, and hit the Play button, we'll see that text animate in. Now the great thing about this is that the effector itself is still totally parametric. So I can jump back into my Plain Effector, go to the Parameter tab, and I can make further adjustments to this animation. Say for instance I want to have it come in from higher in the screen. I just increase the PY and now you'll see them sort of drop in a little bit more. I can also add some rotation into this. So let's go ahead and put a little bit of bank in them. And you can see that now that they're actually sort of rotating as they come in. We're actually going to do just a little bit of bank. I'm going to bring this down to like five, and I don't want them coming in quite from so high. I want them pretty much just coming straight from the left. So I'm going to bring the position Y back down to around 400. And I can just drag the arrows here, or just select the text and type a number. And so there we go. We have basically our text flying in now, and it's still completely parametric. We can still change the text, we can still change the font, ad we can change the actual animation of it. We're going to go ahead and do one last step before we save our file, and that is to add all of these things that we just created into a new layer. Layers in Cinema 4D allow you to easily organize your scene, and there's a really nice feature in Cineware where you can isolate each layer. So in order to take advantage of that you need to go ahead and make sure that all of your items are on a layer. So just select the Plain Effector, the Fracture Object, Extrude NURBS, and the text. And you can do that really easily by selecting the Plain Effector and shift clicking on the text, and that's just going to select all of the objects in between. And we want to add these to a new layer, so go to the Edit menu and choose Add to New Layer. And you can see that the swatch here, which represents the layer, has actually changed to a maroon color. And if we go into the Layers tab here underneath the Attributes Manager, here you can see each of the layers. So we already have the environment layer that came in when we merged our environment, and we have this new layer that's maroon or sort of pinkish. And you can double click on the layer text here and we'll actually name this layer "Text." And now we have our text all layered up and we're ready to move on to the next stage of this scene, which is creating the balloon.
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