NAB 2016 Rewind - Thomas Brown: Cellular Cinema 4D

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Learn how Cinema 4D’s MoGraph and Simulation tools are used in medical illustration in this presentation by Thomas Brown of Vessel.

Learn how Cinema 4D’s MoGraph and Simulation tools are used in medical illustration in this presentation by Thomas Brown of Vessel Studios. Thomas uses layered Displacer Deformers and MoGraph to create T-Cells and C4D’s Hair to simulate Dendritic Cells. See how to simulate cell death (apoptosis) using cloth tearing, and how soft-body dynamics can be used to simulate rolling immune cells.

03:01Creating Cells with Layered Displacers
09:01T-Cell using MoGraph
13:57Variation Shader
16:03Dendritic Cell using Hair
28:53Cell Death Tearing (Apoptosis) Using Cloth
35:16Rolling Immune Cells (Soft Body)

Recorded Live from NAB 2016 in Las Vegas.



- My name's Thomas Brown, I'm a medical animator. I've been doing this for about 12 years. I'm just going to show you our demo reel. I have a company called Vessel Studios we mostly do animation and pharmaceutical space. Here's a little bit of what we do, check it out. That's a bit of our work. Has anybody in the audience ever worked in any medical or scientific animation before? No? Its a little of a niche area excited to share with you guys how we use 3D to do more organic, dynamic things. First, I just want to thank Maxon for having me here at NAB. It's great to be hanging out with all these great artists and I'll definitely say that Cinema 4D is my favorite creative software. It's always fun to work in, its always new, it's always fresh and that's something that I want to emphasize as we work through a few builds. Cinema 4D is a great creative platform. All these things that I'm going to show you guys are not things that I set out deliberately to make when I first started building. It's more sort of like a living sketchbook to me where we go in and we try new things out and often times arrive at places that are a total surprise to us. What we're going to do is we're going to build a few cell types. I've already modeled hundreds of cells in my career and over the course of doing this I've discovered certain similar 4D functions that work really well for certain types of cells. For you guys, people may be interested in creating 3D or 3D generalist there's a lot of functions that work beautifully on an aesthetic level introduce you to organic modeling to dynamics this very much crosses over into all aspects of 3D. Maybe exposing you to scientific visualization that you haven't seen before. We're going to start out with a basic generic cell and we're going to actually build on that so you can see how in Cinema one idea can evolve into another idea, into another idea. We're just going to start out by making a sphere. Sorry guys I'm losing my voice a little bit, day four in Vegas. We're going to set this to icossa and just move it up here a little bit so we can see it. I'm just going to draw a simple material on it. We have it nicely placed and ready to play with. The first thing I want to do is add some displacer deformers to this. The deformers in Cinema are incredibly powerful and incredibly easy to use, sometimes I even think they are overlooked for how powerful they are because you just get so strong immediate results out of them. What we want to do is turn this sphere into something that feels a bit like a living object even though it's just a sphere. We want to give it a little bit of motion make it feel like there's substance beneath it and we're going to do that by just using a few displacers. What we're going to do is, let me back up a second, we're going to make a subdivision surface generator and we're going to put the sphere underneath that as well as the displacer. The displacer is going to allow us to alter the geometry of the sphere using shaders. I'm going to load a noise shader in here just a basic noise and we're going to adjust some of the parameters of this noise.we're going to set the global scale pretty high for this first displacer I'm going to set it up to 600 and we also want this noise to animate the cycle. Just very slowly we're going to set this to 0.4 and we can go ahead and click play so we see what we're getting here. The height of the displacement a little bit more maybe 20. I like just getting to this point because we've just created two objects we combined them and we already have something that feels in the scientific world very organic. I know we've hardly done anything but it's a lot as far as the visual impact. Let's add a few more displacers and see how we can bring this cell to life and maybe make it do a few unusual things. One thing I really like to do with the components, the features in Cinema is push them farther than you feel comfortable and then you sort of get these weird results that you didn't expect and then you can dial them back and figure out how to work them into your visualization. Let's just copy and paste this displacer. Of course, these works are on a hierarchical basis each one affecting the previous and we're going to go back into our shading and we're just going to adjust some of these settings. What I think I'm going to do is give this kind of like a crazy ripply surface like something's happening underneath. I'm just going to set this a little bit lower level scaled around 230 and then we're going to set the animation speed really uncomfortably high up to 16 here and it's just going to go berserk. What we can do now is dial back the height quite a bit we'll go down about two centimeters. You'll see we just get this really nice jittery effect like something is going on in there just two displacers we've gone from this to this really nice odd-feeling sphere. Let's do one more displacer just to maybe make the cell feel like it's about to burst open when you have virus infected in a cell and the cell starts producing tons of viruses and the cell really can't keep up. The cell dies, breaks apart. Let's make it look like its got this bag of rocks or viruses scurrying around inside of it. This last displacer I'm going to go to shading it's my noise and we're going to choose a different kind of noise. Veronai, maybe is how you pronounce it. We're going to grab that one and up the global scale pretty high here. We'll go a little over 800 and we'll set the animation speed to something around 2-2.5. I need to switch out these colors I want better ways to do this. I'm going to switch the black and white here so the displacement changes direction. For our height lets go up to 19-20. Now we got a pretty cool combination of effects. We got a really organic motion really organic shape. This is something that's really fun to build on now we've just combined a few elements to get to this point. Pretty simple stuff lets get into some more complicated things and make some more specific cell types using more in-depth functions in Cinema40. The first cell we're going to build, I'll show you a picture of it, its called a T-cell it's just one of your immune cells. Here's like an SEM image of one. You can see its a really displaced surfaced it almost looks like its made out of other objects. When we thought about that it looks like its made out of other objects we thought let's just use a bunch of objects to make a T-cell. Made a lot of these this is one just threw together obviously in the same vein. You can see. it's a very crazy convoluted surface and would be hard to do with just materials. To do this we're going to use wonderful mograph and a cloner. I got a few things pre-set here. What I did was just build a single, I'll turn all these off but one. A single boney, wormy looking guy here. Then I just copied him, changed the geometry, changed the shape a little bit just to give myself a few variations of these. These are what we're going to clone along the surface of the cell to create that nice nodule weird shape. I said I was going to build upon what we've already done. Let me command+z to see if I can get back those cells that we've made. I'm going to copy and paste my sphere and I'm going to keep this one kind of the main displacer on the one that was doing this. The overall displacement then I'm going to get rid of this stuff. Then I'm going to go to mograph and grab a cloner. If you guys aren't familiar with mograph or the cloner this object allows you to clone objects. Make copies of them in an infinite number of ways and manipulate them and animate them in an infinite number of ways, It's very very powerful. It's amazing in the scientific and animation world as well. Obviously in graphic design, motion graphics, visual effects, particle effects. What I'm going to do is put all of these little guys that I made in the cloner. I'm going to turn the cloner off while I change some settings here so we don't make too many clones too quickly. In the mode for the cloner I'm going to use object because I'm actually going to clone the surface of this cell. We're going to click render instances, so we instance these objects and save some processor. Our distribution, we're going to do surface and the clones we're going to randomize how they are cloned then I'm going to turn this back on. Unhide everything sorry you weren't seeing anything happen there. Let's put a color on all of this so you guys can see it. Then we're going to make a bunch of copies of this. Let's make 2,600 copies. Pretty cool, pretty fun looking really fast. What we want to do is move these clones around a little bit now or in a different angle give them different sizes. We can do that very simply using an effector on the cloner. The random effector which does exactly what it sounds like it does, it allows you to give the clones random parameters. We're going to turn position off. We're going to turn the scale on and I'm going to use the uniform scale to give these all slightly different scales. What we really want here is some random positions. We'll just do 333 degrees for each one and that's our cell now, we went from a few weird little objects in a circle to a pretty beautiful complicated model. Now you remember the displacer here that is animated it is still attached to that sphere and the sphere is telling the clones where to go. We still get that beautiful motion and all the clones move around with it. One thing I want to show you guys quickly, looking back at this image you'll see that all of the clones are a slightly different color. R17 came out with an updated shader called the variation shader, let's just do a quick example of how that works. We'll just go into color here and I have it going on right now, I do so ill just delete that and start over. If we go down to effects variation we get this new variation shader that works with the cloner which is very cool and there is a lof of in-depth stuff here on how to use it but just very simply we're going to set two colors. For base color, we'll do a green and for secondary we'll do a variation of that green. Maybe something a little more saturated and we'll turn off random color down here. Let's make these a little bit more different. Then you can see up here how we're getting basically those two colors and everything in between and it is now going to apply this to our clones. Let's just render a little section out of it to make sure it's working. You get that nice beautiful subtle variation in those shapes, very quickly a kind of whimsical organic feel to this a lot of fun. All right, that is our T-cell, we're going to move on to a different function and a different cell type. We're going to do here, I've already got a sphere here I made it editable and I'm going to copy and past the displacer again we'll use that later. There is a cell type called a dendritic cell and there're a few cells that have these long protuberances coming off of them that either allowed them to hold on to certain things their actually allowed them to grab on to certain things in your body. Hair actually gives you the ability to generate geometry beyond shader based hair that you might be used to seeing or using in Cinema. Typically in Cinema 4D hair is used for fur, hair on your head, on a figure, maybe grass. We can actually create geometry with hair that has dynamics built into it and is really flexible and fun to setup. Here is an image that we made with the technique, I'm going to show you. It also combines the mograph technique of a bunch of spheres cloned to the surface as well. We'll combine these and maybe render it out and show you how we can get something sort of close to this. This one's fun. Has any of you guys used hair in Cinema 4D? Yeah? Cool. We're going to select this sphere that we have here and we're going to go to the simulate menu, go to hair objects and click add hair. Then it immediately applies hair, it's connected, its dynamic. Now we're going to go through and make quite a few adjustments. Follow along with me here. First, we're going to go to our guides and set basically the number of hairs we want total. We're going to do 12 for now. This is where we set the base length for hair we'll leave it at 100. On our hairs tab, we'll also set that to 12. Now to make these actual polys, actual geometry we can go to generate and change our type to in this case we're going to do a triangle. You immediately see it might look like the typical hair your used to but these are polys that are just very little thin columns. Actually to change the diameter of the size of these hairs we go to the material its self to change the geometry and we can go to the thickness and we can crank up this root value here and you'll start seeing the actual geometry here. We're going to do a little bit of the width of the tip as well. You'll see these are open at the end we'll take care of that, of course, we got variation here we can play with. Curves lets go ahead and play with that a little bit I'm going to make the root even fatter. Set a point on this function curve and give this a little bit more of a taper something like that. Looks Ok. Let's go ahead and grab a sub-division surface to put this hair inside of and I'm just going to drop it down here in my hair null. I'll grab a separate sub-division surface to put the cell surface inside of and throw this material over here. Turn off the sub-division surface just so you can see how the hairs are being sub-divided. If we go to the hair tab and decrease the segments this is where we actually control the sub-divisions here. We can get that about where we want it and yes these are still functioning and working and starting to look all gooey and cool. A few more things we want to do you might notice the hairs are not necessarily coming out of the right angle and we can see the bottoms of them, we don't like that it doesn't look good. I go to the hair tab and drop down the roots drops box I can change the roots to the poly center so they're along the normals and set to as normal. That should straighten them out we still have them kind of in a setting of the surface here which we don't want. We do have these two nice setting offset and extend that allows moving the hairs in and out of it. Extend allows you to sort of stretch these in. A little bit of both of those and we'll get these settings where we want them. Let's take care of those little holes on the tips of our tendrils. If I go back to generate and go down to advanced I just need to put an end cap on these to round them off. There's our basic setup for this cell. We do have gravity on right now, I'm going to set that to zero. This is pretty cool I can click play, I can grab my sphere and I can move it around and the hairs react. I need to actually put my hair generator below my sphere so C40 calculates things correctly. Now I can move this around and I get this beautiful amoeba like motion on this. What are some ways we can modify this? We got the displacer, we can turn that on and it'll actually work correctly and crank that up a bit. Looks kind of cool. Maybe we make another set of hairs that are a different shape and size, we can do that very quickly and easy. If I copy and paste that hair object and I make another hair material and throw that in. The first thing I need to do is make these hairs come out in a different place. I can go to my advanced tab and adjust the seed and have these hairs grow from a different location on the surface here. Maybe I can make these hairs a little bit longer, maybe skinnier. Adjust the thickness of those guys and now we'll click play. You can see how you can easily start building upon this and having a lot of fun with creating geometry with hair that has dynamics built into it. It works with all the forces in Cinema so I can go to simulate to my particle forces and grab, for instance, an attractor would be good. I'll leave this over here, let's see if it's already linked up ill crank this up pretty high in the strength and we get our hairs looking at this attractor. We're getting some clipping we can do a few things to fix that. Within the hair, there is a way to have the hairs collide with each other but we're going to keep moving past that for now. We can add a hair collider to the surface of this sphere, which will take care some of those collisions. If we go to simulations tags to our hair tags and do hair collider so we don't intersect with the sphere anymore. Now let's just combine a couple of the elements from the mograph setup from the cloner setup with this. Then we'll throw material on it to see if we can get a nice organic interesting cell shape. The same thing we did last time we'll do really fast. I'm going to get a cloner, this time, let's just use spheres. I'm going to grab a sip of water here guys. I will put that sphere inside the cloner again I'm going to turn the cloner off for now. We're going to set this to object mode. I'm going to put my cell sphere as the object cloner we're going to do distribution surface, render instances, turn this on now. I'm going to decrease the size of these spheres quite a bit. We'll do another random effector on here and we'll use that just to effect our scale. Let's make a bunch of clones of this. Let's make a new material to throw on everybody here. I'm going to put it on my sphere, I'm going to put the same material on my hair and on the sphere surface. We're just going to do a simple sub-surface scattering on this. Let's get these tendril in a pretty position here kind of like that looks cool. The surface is undulating, the spheres are linked to that and we got our nice little tendrils. I'm just going to make one light I've already got some soft boxes here. Ok, it's not going to let me do that. I'm just going to throw this light right back behind my object over there should be fine. Let's make a really quick simple sub-surface scattering material. I'm going to turn off reflectance I'm going to turn off color I'm going to turn on luminance. We're going to go down to effects, sub-surface scattering everybody likes blue so let's make a blue cell. Our path link lets set that pretty low down to one. Then let's line our color paths with the color we picked here. Tweak a few more things change that index for a fraction, crank up the strength a little bit see what that looks like. All right, I think that applied everywhere where we need. Now you're going to see a problem when we render this ill just render a little section right here. It is going to want to render our hair. We need to go to our render settings and turn off hair render. Now just render this whole guy and see how he looks. To make this sphere it needs UVs. I'm going to make it editable and it'll look a lot nicer now. We got this pretty haunting whimsical, fun, gooey, gummy cell. You can imagine if we animated this it look pretty cool. That's our hair mograph dendritic cell combination. Next, I'm going to show you guys a cell action using cloth. Cell death is called apoptosis and the cell literally burst open and all of the organelles guts fly out. Cloth gives us a really nice way to do that. We're going to take you through that setup here. To start I've set up the force I'm going to use to actually create this cell tearing apart. What I've done is made three spheres and if I click play you'll see they just move apart. Now these are the spheres that are going to collide with the inside of the cell and rip it apart. The cloth is really fun again, it's like an another soft body. I think sometimes some of these uses are overlooked. This is a great way to create this organic floppy, tearing geometry. I will again grab one of my previous cells. I'm going to drop it down here so we keep using the same model put a different material on it, get rid of that tag, decrease that displacer a little bit. I'm going to turn the displacer off for now and just back up a bit and take off that sub-division surface so we do this from scratch. The first thing we need to do with cloth is get a cloth object. Cloth surface generator, the cloth will not work without this. We just need to put our cell sphere underneath this and set a few attributes we don't want any sub-divisions here but we are going to use thickness. This is a nice thing if you ever need thickness with geometry the cloth surface is a good easy way to do that we'll crank that up a little bit. Then we need a few tags. On our sphere, these are all under simulation we need a cloth tag. Then on our little spheres that are going to be colliding with this we need some cloth collision tags but let me show what the cloth surface generator and that tag if I click play. The cloth is active you can see gravity, gravity is on. The simulation is working let's go ahead while we're thinking about it go to forces under our cloth tag and turn the gravity to zero. Like I said we do need to go to simulation tags and get cloth collider tags. I will grab that and copy it three times. If we click play now wait for it....we do get those spheres colliding with the interior of this cloth sphere now. Let's move it out a little bit. Let's get a sub-division surface and we're going to put our cloth surface underneath that. Let's click play again we'll just keep watching this. We don't need to see our spheres because they are just basically acting as a force I'm going to turn those off. Of course, this will still function now, let's adjust some of the attributes of the cloth surface itself. We go to tag the stiffness we're going to bring this way down to 15% flexion we'll bring that down a little bit to two to five. Let's look at this now, click play. It's a little bit wobblier a little bit gooier that looks good. Now we got the fun little use tear down here and that's really what we want. We're going to turn that on now, tear starts working around 100% if I set this to 101% click play it's immediately going to tear. Looks a little bit weird. It's finicky and dependent on how much force is being applied to it. Since we have these three spheres quickly pulling apart we want to make it hard for this to tear apart so when it actually does things stick together and it's got a cool, unique shape we're going to up that to about 160% and click play. We get a pretty fun tear and every percentage that you change that it's going to give you a little bit different result. That's pretty fun, really fun effect I think it would be useful in a lot of different types of animations, artistic animation or abstract animation. We have some clipping here we can take care of that if we go to expert and click self-collision it should help that out a bit. Might still be a little bit because we added the thickness but it should hold up pretty good. It's pretty cool. Fun to look at, we can actually use that displacer now just to add another level of anticipation to this animation. I'm going to turn that displacer on, Let's go look at our shader and we're going to up the animation speed a little bit to 8. See what that looks like. Yeah, that's what we want. We're going to set a few keyframes. Let's look at where this tears really quickly where it's occurring. It's about 30 frames in, what I'm going to do is turn on the displacer and set the strength to zero and set a keyframe at the very beginning of our timeline. Then go forward about 25 frames and crank it up to 100% and set a keyframe there. Now we're going to get this cool effect. Like something is thriving, something bad happening then we get the tear and the displacer keeps working with the dynamics on the cloth as well which is kind of fun. That is our apoptosis cell. I'm going to show you guys one more thing with some soft bodies. I demoed this before we'll do it in a little bit of a different way. There are immune cells in your body that when there's an immune response they will cling to the wall of a blood vessel and roll along and eventually squeeze between a couple cells and go do whatever they need to do to attack a disease. I want to show you how we can recreate that rolling of a cell using soft bodies and a couple forces and create a fun, little organic machine if you will. What we're going to try and do is make a soft body sphere roll around this cylinder just continue to roll around it. I want to use an effector with it to actually control its emotion. There's a few ways you can do this. I like using it as a deformer actually using it through cloner as an effector itself. There are a few reasons for that and again we will set this sphere to icosa. I'm going to put it inside this cloner, we only need one clone of it, we need one guy here. We're using the cloner so we can use the effectors with this sphere. I will turn my cylinder back on, I'm going to make my sphere editable. I'm going to position it right up here, I will decrease the scale of it a little bit and put a different color on it. Let's get some soft bodies going with this. We're going to go to our simulation tags and grab the soft body tag here, We're going to click play and see what happening, nothings happening at this point. We need to go to the tag and go to collision and set individual elements to something other than off. I'm going to set it to all. Let's take a look at my gravity is set to zero which is hopeful while it not moving. I'll just turn that back to 1000 and click play, you'll see we do have soft body dynamics working. Set the gravity back to zero. I'm going to put a collider buddy tag on our cylinder here. When I click play it should not fall down because I set gravity back to zero. Let's use a force to pull it into this cylinder. I'm going to go to simulation to my particle forces and grab an attractor, which should be nicely centered within this cylinder and I'll increase the strength a bit and click play. It gets pulled in and collides I'll crank up the strength to 5,000 so you can see the gooeyness, not quite what we want. Go back to 2,000 for now. Now we want to create this rolling effect. We can adjust some of our soft body springs, decrease the structure a little bit let's take that down to 50 and the sheer inflection down to 20. Give it a little more gooeyness. Now we're going to use a time effector to adjust the parameters of this sphere over time so we can make this roll. Here my time effector and if just click play now it's going to start to spin then stop. It's not spinning in the right direction either. The reason it stops is because it just sees that effect on the very beginning of the animation and then it switches over to the dynamics simulation. What we can do is a balance between the position dictated by the time effector and the position dictated by the softy body dynamics. If we go to the force tab on our soft body tag and adjust our follow rotation follow position. As we raise these values up it will want to follow the effectors position more and more while still keeping its dynamic characteristics in place. We don't need to follow position with the mographed, with our time effecter we do need follow the rotation. I'm going to crank that up to five and it should continue to spin now throughout the animation. We just want to change the direction now it is spinning. Down on this axis we're going to set this kind of high to see if we can get this guy to roll pretty fast around our cylinder. A pretty cool, pretty effect again we can adjust some of these attributes crank the strength up a little bit and switch this down and make it crawl a bit faster. Can add some friction to these surfaces. Go to collision and crank the friction up to 80 and also on the cylinder crank it up to 80 and lets add some structure back to our soft body. He's struggling right now. 70 and we can also add a little bit more strength to our follow rotation and click play. That is our rolling immune cell and that's all my cells I've got for you guys.
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