Siggraph 2017 Rewind - Mike Winkelmann (Beeple): Building A Tunnel Loop in C4D

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We proudly present to you Mike Winkleman, aka Beeple from, showing some of his practices on how he creates tunnel loops for Video DJ clips inside Cinema 4D. Mike starts with creating tunnel with a Sweep object and a spline path. He then attaches and animates a Camera to the spline path within the tunnel using an Align to Spline Tag, then shows us some different techniques for lighting and texturing the inside of the tunnel, as well as show us how to create some fly through elements using a MoGraph Cloner.

03:03Creating a VJ tunnel starting with a Bezier spline
04:51Build tunnel geometry with Sweep object
06:32Create camera animation using Align to Spline tag
08:02Smooth out camera animation by changing interpolation to Linear
10:00Adding geometry inside tunnel
17:00Texturing the tunnel
20:28Adding fly-through particle with Cloner and Random Effector
23:54Adding Lights to the Cloner



Hey everybody. It feels pretty loud. Yeah. So my name is Mike. I make work under Beeple. So today, I wanted...well, I guess, probably, should play this reel. This is kind of some of the work I've done. Some of it is sort of representative of the type of thing that I'm going to be kind of showing you how to make today. But yeah, here's some of the stuff that I've done. ♪ [music] ♪ So today, we're going to be going over how to make a... okay, that's loud...make a VJ tunnel like this. A lot of the stuff that I do is like concert visuals, so this is kind of a staple of the concert visual world, I guess. Just kind of having something moving through a space, and you can kind of style that a number of different ways, and we'll kind of talk about some different sort of techniques to sort of get you started with making something like this. I also kind of wanted to sort of make things a little more... I get a lot of emails and stuff from people who are kind of asking what software I use and sort of very much at the beginning of, you know, sort of learning. So I kind of wanted to start from like someone who doesn't fully understand like a 3D software maybe, and sort of go through some of these very simple core building blocks. So if you're advanced, you'll probably find this maybe a little boring. Some parts or all parts of it. So the first thing we want to do if we're going to build out something like that is take and make a spline. So a spline is kind of like a...we're going to turn on the grid here. A spline is kind of like an invisible line I guess, and what we want to do is kind of build out the sort of path of the tunnel that we're going to be going through. So if you click the middle mouse button, you can switch to different perspectives here. And you can...the easiest way I think is to go to this top-down view and sort of just build out sort of a blobby circle. So if you just kind of click Points here, and this is just sort of a regular Bézier curve that you'd find in like Photoshop or Illustrator. And just kind of make a couple points and make sort of a blobby sort of shape. You can see this last point has got kind of like a hard point like this. That you want it to be smooth, otherwise, the camera's going to have kind of like a jerky motion. So what you can do then is right-click there and set that to a soft interpolation, and then it'll make it sort of blobby. You want to try, when you're doing this, to not make too many like kind of sharp edges. Like sort of like this. If you did that, it would be kind of wonky and the camera would kind of like whip around real fast, so if you kind of make it just sort of a nebulous blob here, that's kind of your best bet. Then from here, we can also drag out some of these points. Drag them up or down to just kind of give it a little more extra variation. So this is looking pretty sweet. So from here, we can build out the sort of tunnel geometry. And the way you do that is with Sweep Nurbs. So what that basically does is it takes another shape and sort of wraps it around the first shape. So in this case, we're just going to use the circle, but you could use a square, you could use a star, you could use whatever shape you want. In this instance we're just going to use a circle. So you take both of these and make them children of the Sweep Nurbs object and then you get it. So the reason it looks super blobby is because this circle's really big. So you can just scale that down. And actually we should probably scale this entire thing up because I ran into problems before. So you could see it's kind of chunky right there. So if you take and just scale the circle down a bit more, it will get down to like a region where it's not sort of clipping like that. So the next thing you want to do is sort of change the way that this sort of spline is interpolated or I'm not sure what the right word is. If you change it to a cubic, it's just going to kind of smooth everything out a little bit and it's going to make your camera animation and everything seem a bit smoother. So the other thing you can do is to sort of see exactly what we have now is change the way the viewport is displaying this so that you can see the polygons. So if you change this to Lines, then you can see sort of what the actual geometry is made up of. So for this here, we don't need...well, actually no, I'll keep that like that. Okay. So now, we're ready to put in the camera to kind of sweep along there. Kind of fly through this tunnel. So the way you can do that is to add an Align to Spline on the camera and align it to this middle sort of path. And so what that will do, if you drag this in here, and then we click this little button, kind of puts you in camera mode. So now you're sort of inside the tube. What we want to do is change it so that the spline is sort of pointing along the path. So here' can see the spline is in the tube and it's going to kind of go around the tube. That's the thing we need to animate. So we need to add in some key frames here. We'll set this to, we'll say 600 frames. So 20 seconds. And so what we need to do then to animate that is go from position 0 on the first frame all the way to position 100 on the end. So then it will animate hopefully along the path. So here you can see you've already got sort of a tunnel that you can fly the camera through. It's a pretty boring tunnel at the moment, but kind of do some stuff to hopefully make it less boring. So one of the things you'll notice with this is, it kind of slows down and stops at the beginning and then speeds up. Just the way it's moving, it's kind of...the animation is not linear. So what we want it to be, to be a nice smooth loop, is to change that to linear. So what we need to do is go into the animation timeline and change this key frame to Linear. So now when it stops at the beginning and it starts at the beginning, it's going to going to have a nice linear speed the entire time. The other thing we need to do to make sure that it's fully staying at the same speed, is change this intermediate points to uniform, and then maybe put it up a little bit higher. So now it's going to be at a nice uniform speed the entire time. There we're sort of going through the tunnel. Yeah. So from here, we're kind of styling the tunnel and sort of coming up with things to make it look a little more interesting. Here's what it looks like if you would render it now. It's pretty much just a blob. So we'll probably make it a little better than that. So some of the things you can do to sort of change this space is change the size of the tunnel. That's going to make it look like it's going a lot faster. You can make it look like it you're going through some sort of like warp-hole or something sweet like that. Or you can change the focal length on the camera. So you could change this to like 15 or put it like a real exaggerated focal length will also make it kind look like you're faster...going faster versus like a sort of bigger focal length will kind of make it seem like you're going a bit slower. We're going to leave it at like 35 and not get too crazy with it. So then if we make this circle a bit bigger, what we want to do now is just kind of add in some additional geometry to make it look a little more interesting. So one of the things we're going to do with that is take and copy this Sweep Nurbs, if you hold down CTRL+ Copy it. Now you've got another copy of it. And what we want to do from there is sort of build in this kind of like a sort of scaffolding throughout the tunnel so that it will kind of make it just not like a plain tunnel. So from here, we're going to make this circle a little smaller so that the scaffolding is sort of inside the rest of it. And then we're going to turn off these caps because we don't need any caps on the beginning and end of our sweep nurbs. And then we're going to make the geometry of this a little bit less, because we don't want this to be such a dense mesh of scaffolding. So what we're going to do is change this angle up a little bit. And then we're going to change this spline. Have a few less points. That's too many...too less. Let me change to like 25. So now we're going to take and make this editable so that we can actually change the geometry of this sweep nurbs. So if you press C, you can make it editable. So now if we just throw this into an atom array, we've got a...okay, it's very big because this cylinder and radius is too big. So if we put this down to like 0.2 and maybe like 0.5. Okay. There you can see that it's kind of like a scaffolding inside it going throughout the entire thing. But one of the things we can do to maybe make this a little more interesting, is not have it be everywhere in the tunnel. So we can kind of take away some of it to give it a little more variation. So what we're going to do is just go ahead and press Spacebar and you can kind of select groups of polygons at one time. And we're going to go through and just kind of grab pieces of it. The other thing we can check is this, Only Select Visible Elements. We want to select things all the way through it. So if we uncheck that and then just kind of...whoop, we also have to go on polygon mode. Check and just sort of hold down Select and grab pieces of it and just sort of paint in some sort of variation here. Just slowly go through painting. Just kind of keeping it on each side just to kind of change things out a bit. Okay. So we'll just assume I painted this other side because it's taking too long. So then if we just invert this selection, press U + I and now we've selected all the other polygons, and then we want to just delete those. So from here, now we just have the other polygons. And so the scaffolding is kind of a little more interesting in terms of having some variation and not just being the same thing throughout the entire tunnel. The other thing you'll notice is these balls are still here. The reason that is, is because it...these points still exists. You only deleted the polygons, not the points of the actual thing. So if you go ahead and just...the simple way to get rid of those is if you just right-click Optimize, it will get rid of all those points. So now you just have the scaffolding pieces left over. So another thing we could do if we want to add in a little more detail to some of this scaffolding is maybe make some of the scaffolding a little more sort of dense. So what we can do for that is grab...there's a couple ways we can do that. We can just sort of grab this and take pieces of it and highlight again like we did, and then just subdivide those pieces. Basically make each piece have more polygons. So that's one way to do it. So if we do that and click subdivide...the thing that I don't like if you do it this way, is it makes these kind of weird jaggy triangles, because it's trying to triangulate the pieces that haven't been subdivided or near the subdivision. So that doesn't really look sort of good for what we're kind of going for here. So the other way I would do that... I'm going to just undo that. The other way I would do this is to take and make this, kind of like what we did before, make another copy of this, and actually maybe we'll keep a copy for like another texture. So I'll make another copy of this. We're going to hide this. These two little buttons hide the thing. So we're going to hide this and then just do what we did before, and take and grab some of these polygons. Grab some pieces here. Looking good. Looking sweet. And then we're going to take and split those... actually, we already have grabbed it, we don't need to split those. We're going to take and do what we did before and invert that selection and then delete the pieces. Go to the point mode. Optimize to get rid of the points. Now we've got a sort of subset of those pieces that we can take and apply a subdivide to. So we can see some of the pieces somewhere. Okay, that did not happen. Where's the camera? Oh. Here we go. So some of these pieces here are subdivided and they've got kind of a little extra sort of...maybe we'll subdivide them one more time. Okay. So now, if we put these under an atom array, then we've got kind of extra little detail in the like grid here. Maybe we'll make these lines a bit smaller like 0.1, 0.2. So now you've got sort of bigger grids and some smaller grids and it's got a little more sort of variation through the sort of look of it. From here, we are going to take and add in a texture to kind of give the look of the shell a little more sort of depth. I think we're going to take and put this in a...maybe we'll try putting it in the color channel. And we're going to give it kind of like a tacky sort of look. So there's one texture that I use quite a bit, partially because I'm too lazy to make more textures, and partially because it seems to work pretty good. But there's this like super, just kind of a greeble texture. And if I go to the thing, I can kind of show you what it looks like a bit closer. But it's just sort of semi-random kind of texture that has some patterns and some geometric sort of shapes. But it's got a lot of straight lines so it kind of can work on a number of different surfaces and still sort of look good and not look like weird. So I'll post this texture in Twitter or something and you can download it. But this is the texture we're going to apply to the outside here. So if you look at it, it looks a bit sort of wonky in the viewport here just because it's kind of low-res. They just kind of just set it to be low-res just to sort of keep the viewport speed up. But if we go to the editor here and change this texture preview size to like 4000 by 4000, you can see it a bit better. So it still looks a little stretched out. What we can do there is just kind of change the tiling here. I don't know if it's this one or the other one. Is that changing it? Yeah. So there is just sort of a if we kind of render it, it's starting to kind of look a little more interesting. So if we put this we're going to maybe add some color to this sort of grid. Maybe we'll do kind of a reflective sort of look to these. I'm not going to get too crazy with the kind of style because this can kind of style it to more what you're looking for. There we've got kind of a sort of...looks a bit better. So from here maybe we'll add add some like more brighter pops of sort of light. Add a bit luminance. And I've got another variation of this just with certain pieces of it. Kind of popped out so that there's sort of a bit of variations that make it a little more interesting. There's kind of some very bright spots. Okay. So I think we can put color in with like lights. So from here, maybe it would be good to add like some particles that you're kind of like flying through particles. If we take and add first, we're going to make...if we add a cloner. And then take and we'll just put in some cubes to start with. Put these cubes under the cloner and then change this to object mode, and then put in the sweep mode. It will put those cubes along our path. So if we go, we're going to keep running into these giant cubes. So if we kind of scale these down, you could see they're way, way too big. Scale these way down. Now we've got these nice cubes. Kind of the problem with this is...and we can sort of make more of them. Right now there's 10. Can make a bunch more. The problem is they keep whacking you in the face. So that doesn't really look super great. So if we change...what we can do there is kind of scatter them around so that they're not all just kind of whacking you in the face as you're going along here. So we can change and add a random effector and that will sort of scatter them along the cube. So we've got it at 50. I think that's too much that they are getting pushed outside of the thing. So we'll just change this to say five. Oh, that's too small. We'll say 10. Okay. So we're going to make these a little smaller too. And maybe we'll make these blue so we can get our color in there. Okay. Actually, let's put that in the luminous channel. Okay. There's very little blue cubes there. If you put on these render instances, you can put quite a few more and it will still be pretty fast. Another thing we can do is change the size of them to give a little more variation. If you change this to uniform scale, maybe we'll say two. Maybe we'll say three. Okay. So now we've got our cubes in there. Now maybe we'll make another sort of tack element to...or another cube element to just give a little more variation to those. Maybe we'll take this cube and we'll turn on...we'll go to this view. And what we're going to do is extrude out this cube here. We're going to grab all the sides of it, all the faces of it, and extrude out. Oops. Extrude out. Turn off this preserved groups and extrude out to make it a little bit of like kind of a "+" sign. Feels like kind of a tacky thing, "+" signs. So we got our "+" signs there. Okay. So we're going through. We got our sweep "+" signs. Our cubes. Yeah. So the next thing I think would be to add some lights in here. If we go ahead and take these out and just throw a light in's going to be way too many. That's definitely a shocking amount. That's still way too many. So we're going to put in say 20. So just enough to give it sort of some variation between different sections of it. We're going to throw a little shadow on here. Maybe we'll do...actually, let's just do this. Nope, that's a little dark. So maybe we need some more lights in that. Still a little dark. So why don't we change the...take off this shadow, and then maybe change this visible light to volumetric. And that gives us kind of a slightly more look. Maybe we'll drag these down a little bit. I don't know if these lights are super big. I think this will give us a little more...still kind of looks like crap. I think if we change these lights to be a bit bigger, that might give them like a little more of the look we're looking for. No, that didn't do it either. Okay. I'm not really sure why these lights are kind of not affecting this, but I think what we can do is sort of put in some other textures that will give a bit of lighting to this in terms of like...maybe put in...change this to...we can kind of change the color in the atom array to a blue. That will give us a bit more color as well. Yeah, but I think from here, it's kind of just styling different sort of elements to dial in the exact look that you want based on kind of the style of the person you're looking or making visuals for. What you're kind of going after. Yeah. I'd say that's about it.
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