Glank: Sound Effector in Practice: Glank Letters: Part 01

Photo of Joseph Herman

Instructor Joseph Herman

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  • Duration: 20:28
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  • Made with Release: 17
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In this video, we’ll use Xpresso and Thinking Particles to create the neon around the iron Glank 3D letters and the falling particles within them.

For the iron Glank letters, an ambitious Xpresso setup was created to make the neon outline draw on to a bell-like sound in the music as well as to make particles rain down inside the letters with Thinking Particles. We’ll examine both of those setups and the logic that makes them work.

Music and found object instruments by Paul Rudolph.



♪ [music] ♪ - Let's talk about the Glank letters, perhaps the most complex part of the animation. The letters are basically hollowed-out metallic shapes with a layer of glass on their front face, and their backs are just solid metal. Let's take a look on how the letters are constructed, like for example, the G. Here's the glass. You've got the back here. And then the depth here. I'm going to hide these letters for a minute because we've got some other things here that I want to show you. There's this Glank deflector. Basically, this geometry is going to be used to contain the particles within the letters. But we're never going to show it so it always just remains off. There are also these Glank emitters. Now, what they are, they're this piece of geometry here, and this geometry basically has a lot of selections. So let's click on some of the selections and see what they are. The first one is called particle drop and you can see that the selection is at the top of these letters here. This is going to be where the particles drop down from inside of the letters. The next selection here is called the N slant. You can see that's where the slant of the N is. That is also used to drop the particles. All of these selections are used to drop down the particles. They're basically where the particles emit from. Here's the K slant. This one is called G and A mids, and it's these things here. You've got the bottom of the L, L bottom, and A slants. It's the slanted part of A. Now, you might be wondering why I have so many different places where the particles emit from and that's because they emit from these areas at different rates. So they'll emit from the tops at a certain rate and from the slanted areas and these sort of bottoms here, they'll emit at different rates. That's why they're so many different selections here. I'm going to hide the Glank emitters geometry because you don't need to see it for it to be able to emit the particles. Next, I'm going to show the metal letters. And I think I'm just going to hide the glass layer, just to make it a little bit simpler. And I'll turn them back on when I render. Now, the next thing I need to do is to create the sound effector which is going to be used to drive the particle emission. So let's go over to the MoGraph menu under effector and choose the sound effector. And there it is. Let's switch over to Adobe Audition for a moment and listen to the track that's going to drive the particle emission. Happens to be this track, the 70 millimeter artillery shell. Let's solo this track and press play. ♪ [music] ♪ Okay, so you can hear that it's sort of a bell like sound. Whenever that sounds, the particles are going to fall from all those emitters. Let's bring that audio track into the sound effector. I'll click on the button in this area. And here it is, it's the 70 millimeter artillery shell. We'll click on that and we'll bring it in. For this audio track, we're going to be modifying these lower cut off and compression levels, here. Let's see what they do. I'll go forward in the video somewhere to a part where, let's say this part right here. You can see that right here there's the frequency graph which is basically a graph of the frequencies in the sound. The first thing that we're going to look at is this compression level. The compression level basically boosts the sound. We're going to set that around 33%. Now, the level of the sound is higher. Let's see what the lower cut off does. As you can see the lower cut off kind of gets rid of the softer sounds, or the sounds with less levels in it. So if I hit this up to about 50%, only the really loud levels are going to be registered by the sound effector. ♪ [music] ♪ A lot of the lower levels are simply cut off. In order to use the sound effector to drive the emission of the particles, we're going to use Thinking Particles, Cinema4D's powerful particle system. First, we going to need to create an Expresso tag in order to create the Thinking Particles. Let's do it on the Glank emitters object because that's a good enough place to do it as any. So I'll right click that. And I'll go into Cinema4D tags, Expresso. There's our Expresso editor window. Let's start by dragging in the sound effector into the Expresso editor. For the output port, I'm going to choose object. It's going to pass itself out of this port. The next thing we're going to do is very similar to what we did for the brightness of the drum lights in the previous tutorial. We're going to right click here and in new node under motion graphics, we're going to make a sample node which we're going to pass the sound object into the effector input node on the sample node. From the output node, we're going to click here and choose the strength for the output. It's basically going to output the strength of the sound effector effect. Next were going to make a Thinking Particles node, a very very powerful one called PMatterWaves. I'm going to right click here, new node, Thinking Particles, TP generator, PMatterWaves. PMatterWaves is a very powerful node. It allows you to do several important things with particles including emanating them from the surface of an object, using textures to emanate particles, using lights to emanate particles, and in our case, using polygon selections to emanate particles. Let me make this a little bit bigger. For its input port, I'm going to choose, On. This will basically turn the particles on and off. And we're going to connect the strength value of the sample node to that. The way that it's going to work is when the strength is not zero from the sound effector, the particles are going to emit. When it's off, the particles are going to stop emitting. Now, let's drag the Glank emitters object into the PMatterWaves object field. This tells the particle system to start a emitting particles from this object. Next, we're going to drag the first selection tag into the selection field. This PMatterWaves node will start generating particles on the Glank emitters object from its particle drop selection tag. The next thing I want to do is change the birth type from count to shot. What shot does is it allows you to specify how many particles are generated on each frame. For this selection, we want to generate 66 particles each frame. Which basically, after some experimentation, is a number that I thought worked well. There's a few other things I'd like to change in the PMatterWaves node. The life of the particle I would like to last 250 frames. And as far as the speed is concerned, I'm going to make the particles be affected by gravity. So it doesn't really matter what their speed is. I'm just going to set it to zero for now. Now if I were to move this and I were to play, you'll notice that when that bell-like sound happens... ♪ [music] ♪ You can see that the particles are just collecting along the tops of this group of letters. And that's because we set their speed to zero. So now let's apply some gravity so that they actually fall down towards the bottom. To do that, we're going to make a new Thinking Particles node, P-Pass. This node is a handy way to pass all the particles to something else. Let's go ahead and we're going to right click, make new node, Thinking Particles, TP dynamic, we're going to make a P gravity node and this is how we're going to set up our gravity. Let's pass the particles into our gravity node here. In order for us to use this node, what the P gravity node needs, is a null to tell it what direction the gravity is going in. Let's go ahead and make that null. There it is. Let's find it in the scene right here. And let's rotate it so that the Z-axis is pointing down. It's always the Z-axis that's going to be the one that's telling it which way the gravity is heading. Now, let's take this null and drag it inside of the P gravity node. And I'll frame up our letters again, and I'll rewind, then I'll press play. ♪ [music] ♪ Well, we can see that gravity is working okay. ♪ [music] ♪ The particles however are falling right through the letters and they're not being generated in the slanted areas, but that's why we have these other polygon selection tags, which we'll use a little bit later. So let's fix those issues now. First, I'll rewind. To get the particles to be contained inside of the letters, we're going to make a new node here, Thinking Particles, TP dynamic, P deflector. This node is set to deflect the particles with whatever object it's set to use to deflect them with. We're basically going to use this Glank deflector for the deflection object. I'll drag that in there and we'll connect the output of the P pass which is just passing all the particles into the Glank deflector node. Then, to get it to work, you've got to change the deflector type from box to object. Let's take a quick peek to see how this is going to look. ♪ [music] ♪ Okay, so it's being all collected inside of the deflector object, the Glank deflector object. But there are a few things that are wrong with it. First of all, these particles are bouncing too much. So the first thing that I want to do is change the bounce amount to 65% instead of 100%. The next thing I want to do is, it's also bouncing too regularly or the actual way that it's being deflected is too predictable so we want to change the variation from 0 to 50%. Also, we're going up this energy amount to 10%. That's also going to help to randomize the motion a little bit. Now, let's see how this looks. ♪ [music] ♪ There, that looks better. I'm just going to copy this PMatterWaves node several times for the different parts of the emitters such as the slants on the K and the A, and the bottoms of the G, and the A middle section. Just going to copy and paste this. In this one, I'm going to drag the next section, the N slant. For the N slant, I'm going to make it emit it at a different rate of 15 instead of 66. I'll copy this again. Now let's choose the K slant. The K slant is going to emit at around 15 as well. Next on the list is the G/A mids. Those are going to emit at a rate of 12 per frame. Then I'm going to copy again and drag in the L bottom, which is going to emit at a rate of 10 particles per frame. Copy one last time. Drag in A slants which is going to emit at 18 particles per frame. Now I'm simply going to take the strength of the sound effector and just attach it to each one of these nodes. I'll move this around a bit to make it a little bit more aesthetically pleasing. Now, let's move it out of the way. Rewind and take a look. ♪ [music] ♪ Okay, that looks good to me. Now, let's talk for a moment about how I rendered the particles. I'll minimize this window. And I have a hair material here that I've created, because the particles were rendered with a hair material. Let's double click this material. And you'll see that it's got sort of a magenta color with a bit of specular on it and a thickness of .875 inches. In order to get the particles to render with hair, you go into the simulate menu and under Thinking Particles choose particle geometry. Now, let's drag that hair material onto the particle geometry object. We'll also right click on it and under hair tags, you want to choose hair render. Now, the particles will render with the hair renderer. Let's move forward to a frame where there are a lot of particles falling. ♪ [music] ♪ Okay, let's move in closer for a closer look at these particles. I'll just render a little region of it. You can see there are the particles that are falling down inside the letter. The reason I use the hair renderer is because it renders really fast. Now, I'm going to just go ahead and turn back on the glass that's in the front. In the next video, we'll continue with the Glank letters, specifically the blue neon that sweeps around the edges of the letters.
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