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Tutorial: Stacking MoGraph Effectors in C4D

Joey Korenman

Here's how to utilize MoGraph Effectors in Cinema 4D.

In this lesson you'll learn all about some of the MoGraph effectors available to you in Cinema 4D. There's an infinite amount of possibilities you can create with these tools, and we're only going to scratch the surface, but by the end of this lesson you'll have a good understanding of how to start using this powerful tool set in your own work.



Tutorial Full Transcript Below 👇:

Joey Korenman (00:17):

Hey there, Joey here for school of motion. And in this lesson, we are going to take a look at a cool technique. You can use with some of the MoGraph effectors in cinema 4d. The idea here is to get you more comfortable with the MoGraph effectors and how they work. So you can start using them in your projects to pull off really complicated looks and animations with minimal effort. Don't forget to sign up for a free student account. So you can grab the project files from this lesson as well as assets from any other lesson on the site. So now let's jump into cinema 4d. Alright, so we're in cinema and I have a, uh, I have a blank project here. I'm going to set this up to be half HD, nine 60 by five 40. Um, I usually like to work at 24 frames a second.

Joey Korenman (01:04):

Um, and then remember when you change the frame rate and cinema, you have to change it in your render settings. You also have to change your project settings, which you can bring up by hitting command D um, and change that's 24 as well. All right. So now, um, you know, you saw at the beginning of this video, uh, kind of a preview of the effect we're going for here. So I'm gonna kind of walk you through my thought process, um, when I was building that, and hopefully that'll help you get a better grasp on how Mo graph works and how you can, um, you know, stack effectors and do different things to build these complicated effects. Um, so what I wanted to do is basically have these cubes animate on in some really cool intricate way and build a sphere. Um, so what I, the first thing I did was I created a sphere, um, and I left it as a standard sphere.

Joey Korenman (01:57):

There's a whole bunch of different kinds of spheres. Um, but I knew that what I was going to essentially do was clone cubes on every single polygon, uh, of this sphere. Um, and so leaving it as the standard kind of helps because it's already sort of set up with, with square polygons on the sphere. So you're kind of already starting with the right shape. All right. So, uh, move this back to zero cause I just nudged it. So the next thing I'm going to do is, uh, create a cube and I'm going to hide my sphere for a second and I'm going to make the cube smaller and, uh, you can always resize these things, uh, later on, but it's nice to start kind of with the right general size. All right. So I made this cube 50 centimeters in every direction. Um, so now if I add a cloner to the scene, so if I go up to MoGraph cloner and I drag the cube into the cloner, you can see by default that cloner set to linear mode, and that's not what we want, what we want is object mode.

Joey Korenman (03:00):

Um, so object mode basically puts clones onto another object. So my cube will be cloned onto whatever object I tell the cloner. So let's switch this to object and you'll see. Now we have a little spot down here to add an object. Um, and I'm gonna drag this sphere down into here and you'll see now we've got a whole bunch of cubes cloned onto the sphere and it looks really funky and it's overlapping and it's not exactly what we want. This is a few reasons. One is, um, the cloner right now. Um, it's D this distribution setting here is very important when you're an object mode. So this tells MoGraph where to put the clones on your object. So right now it's saying, put a cube on every Vertex of that sphere. So we turn the corner off for a second. Turn the sphere on the Vertex is, are the points.

Joey Korenman (03:58):

Okay? So it's putting a cubit every single point, and that's not, I mean, that's fine. That's not really a big deal, but what I really wanted was for it to just put one on every, uh, polygon. All right. So there'll be a lot less of them. Um, all right. So let me hide the sphere again, turn the corner back on, and I'm going to switch this distribution from Vertex to polygon center. Okay. So now we have a few less clones, but it still doesn't look right. Um, so then the next thing we need to do is make the sphere bigger because what's happening is these cubes are overlapping and that's why you're getting this weird funky look. So if I click on the sphere and just increase the radius, you can see now the cubes have enough room and they're separating. Okay. Um, and I kind of want a little space in between them so that there's no weird intersections, even at the top and the bottom of the sphere where they're closer together.

Joey Korenman (04:51):

So something like that. Okay. So there we go. So that that's working pretty well. Now, what I really want is for each of these cubes kind of randomly, and one at a time to animate on in some really funky, intricate way arranging themselves into this sphere. All right. So now, you know, when, when you start out with MoGraph, I mean, the, the, the thing that you always start playing around with first is effectors. Um, so, you know, you could try to use a plain effector and, you know, let me just do it as I'm talking here, we could, we could take a plane effector for example, and we could, um, set it to adjust the Z position of these clones. Right. And that's, you know, that that's the correct movement. Um, but what if we wanted it to shoot out and then spin around and then zoom back in all the while scaling up and then scaling back down as it lands in position, also with some point animation stuff happening, and then we want each clone to animate at a different time.

Joey Korenman (06:03):

Um, it's hard to do that by animating just, uh, factors. Um, now there's, there's two main ways to do this, and I'm going to show you one today. And in another tutorial, I'll show you a different way. Um, but the, the way that I found that works the best for this, um, is to put all of your animation on your cloned object, and then you can use effectors to offset the time and you manipulate a few of the options and you get exactly what you're looking for. So let's turn the corner off for a second. So, um, you know, when you're, when you're working on an object, that's going to be cloned. Uh, the, the axis of your object is very important. So if I turn the corner back on and I T and I want one quick thing I have to note is that if you're in, in this cloner, um, by default, it has this fixed clone option turned on.

Joey Korenman (06:58):

And what that means is that when you put your cube into the cloner, it completely resets all the position, scale rotation of that cube. So if I move this cube, you'll see nothing happens. That's because the fixed clone is on. If I turn fixed, clone off and then move the cube, then you'll see all kinds of interesting things happen. So what I can do with this is if I now move the cube on Z, it moves in and out sort of in relation to the clone or two. So I can use that to my advantage. And if I, you know, now, if I were to rotate that cube, all of the cubes rotate, okay, so this is how we're going to animate what we want our queue to do. All right. So let's turn the corner off again. Um, so I want to show you guys that you can, you can animate position scale rotation on these things, but you can also animate other things.

Joey Korenman (07:47):

If you have deformers and things like that, you can use those and create these really complicated animations. So what I wanted to do was some point level animation, just to show you guys that that's possible too. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to click the cube and hit C to make it editable. Um, and what I'm going to do, what I was thinking was it would be cool if as the cube lands, the surfaces of that cube, sort of, uh, inset a little bit, and kind of carve themselves out, create these little grooves. Um, so the way I'm going to do that is go into polygon mode here, and I'm going to select all the polygons, just hitting command day. All right. And then I'm going to use the, uh, extrude inner tool, which is M w um, and if you guys don't use these modeling hotkeys, this is how I model, um, if you hit em and you gotta make sure you don't move your mouse accidentally, cause then it goes away.

Joey Korenman (08:40):

So if you hit em, it brings up a list of all your modeling tools. If you hit you, it brings up, um, you know, some mesh tools you can use if you hit P it brings up snapping tools. So there's the, these are all little pop-up menu, so I'm gonna hit em. Uh, and if you look down towards the bottom, you'll see a extrude inner is w so with this menu up for hit w it brings up the extrude inner tool. All right. Um, so with all of these polygons selected, if I click and drag with the extruded or tool, you'll see that it extrudes, uh, but parallel to the surface of all the faces of these cubes. So, um, it actually doesn't change the topology at all. It's just sort of adding a little bit more geometry to this for me that I could then use in another way.

Joey Korenman (09:27):

All right. So I like the way that looks, then I'm going to hit M again and I want to use a normal extrude. Okay. So that's a T so M then T now normal extrude. If I click and drag, you can see what it does, right. It creates this kind of shape. Okay. Now I want to animate from this shape to this to, sorry. I want to animate from a boy undo a bunch of times here. I want to animate from this shape to this shape. Okay. So the way to do that is you have to have the same number of points on your starting shape and your ending shape. So I can't just put a key frame here and then put a key frame here by dragging the extrude tool. Because when I drag this tool, it actually creates new points. Um, so what I need to do is actually extrude this thing by zero first.

Joey Korenman (10:18):

So I'm gonna hit M T brings up the extrude options, and I want to offset this thing by zero centimeters. Okay. So now I've just done that. So even if I render this, you'll see, it still looks perfectly smooth. However, with these faces selected, if I use the scale tool, I actually can scale this inward and, and there's still, you know, polygons inside there. So what I'm going to do, I could just animate this using standard point level animation. I'm actually going to use a pose morph tag, um, because that makes it a little bit easier to animate. So w the way you use that is you, uh, you right. Click on your cube, and you are going to add a it's in the character tags. It's a, this one here, PO pose morph. All right. And when you add this tag, um, the first thing you have to do is tell it which options you want to morph between, and you can morph a whole bunch of different things, and I'm going to more points.

Joey Korenman (11:17):

So point level animation here. So that's all I'm going to click. So what it does is it adds a base pose, the base poses, whatever your object currently looks like. And then it also adds pose zero, which is sort of the, the first pose that you're going to morph to. And you can have multiple poses in this case, we're only going to have this one extra pose. So making sure pose zero is selected. I'm going to scale these faces in or like this. Okay. That's great. So now up here where it says mode, right now, we're in edit mode. If I switched to animate mode, you'll see that now I have a slider for pose zero. And if I go like this, you can see that. Now it's animating between my start and my end. Um, and I'm also going to delete this Fong tag here, because you can see it's smoothing out my object, which is not what I want someone delete that, so I can get these nice hard edges.

Joey Korenman (12:09):

Um, so the reason I did this is because one great thing about this pose morph tag is you can actually go past a hundred percent and it will keep moving those points inward on whatever path they were going. Um, so if I wanted this thing to kind of bounce a little bit and then pop out, that'd be really easy to do. Whereas if I was just using point level animation, you know, clicking this button down here, adding a PLA track in the timeline, it wouldn't be as easy. So that's why I use this pose morph tag. All right. So what I'm going to do for now, I'm just going to leave this off and we're going to come back to this in a little bit. Um, so when this thing animates on, um, what I want it to do is fly out from the center of that sphere growing on as it does that.

Joey Korenman (12:54):

Okay. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to go back into object mode here and on the first frame, um, I want that cube to be set way back in Z. Alright. Probably something like, I don't know, let's try three 50. Okay. Um, and not just to check if I turn the cloner on, you can see that actually that's, that's the wrong way. That's not the way we want it to go, uh, that expanded the sphere and I want to contract it. So let's go negative three 50. Okay. And you can see now all of those cubes are kind of bunched together in the middle. So that's what we want. Cause they're going to fly out at us like this. Okay. So minus three 50.

Joey Korenman (13:39):

Okay. And I'm going to put key frame there, turn the corner off again. Um, all right. So what I wanted to do is fly out and kind of bounce and settle a little bit. All right. So, um, we're starting at three 50. Let's go forward eight frames and we'll have it overshoot. So it's not going to go back to zero. It's going to go maybe to one 50. Okay. All right. Now we're going to go four frames and we're going to go minus 75, then we're going to go three frames and we're going to go 32 frames minus 10, two more frames, zero. All right. Um, and if it looked like I was just kind of randomly picking values, uh, I wasn't randomly picking them. Um, I'm gonna, I, I hit shift F three to bring up the timeline. Um, and if I hit space bar and then click on this H to expand this, you'll see, I deliberately tried to create something like this where it's like a decaying curve.

Joey Korenman (14:46):

Okay. And, uh, when you look at it in the graph editor, it's a lot to see that you're, if you're getting what you want. So let's just preview this move really quickly. All right. So, um, I'm going out too far. Initially. It feels like it has to, it has to snap back too quickly. So I'm just gonna move this down. All right. Uh, the other thing I'm going to do, um, is, is adjust these curves a little bit. I want this, this cube to shoot out. I don't want it to ease out the way it is here. I want to shoot out like this. And then every time it gets to a new point, I want it to hang there a little bit longer than it does by default. So I'm going to stretch out these handles so that it moves quicker, but then every time it gets to a new position, it's, uh, it's hanging there for a second. So now let's check this out. All right. That's better. Yeah. It's actually not too bad. It's sort of, I think I may need to adjust the timing of this a little bit Closer. Usually I have to tweak these for a few minutes to get them to feel really good. All right. And I think we're almost there.

Joey Korenman (16:19):

This one's just feeling a little, little much. Okay. I can live with that. Cool. Um, all right. So now, just to see what that looks like, let's, uh, let's turn the corner off for a second. So if we go to the first frame, you can see everything's really, really tight. And as we move through, they pop out kind of bounce back like this. Okay. Um, now when you have a lot of clones like this, it can, um, it can really bog down your machine and it can be hard to preview stuff. Um, one thing you can always try is go to options and turn on enhanced, open GL, depending on your graphics card, that might speed up your previews in this case, it's not going to, and I think that's because the bottleneck here is not actually my graphics card. It's the processor having to do all of this math to make this cloner work.

Joey Korenman (17:12):

Um, so one little trick I do sometimes when I have setups, like this is I'll set my resolution, um, I'll lock the ratio and I'll go down, let's say six 40 by 360. So it's a really small size. Um, and then I'll set this output to manual. Let's just say 30 frames. Um, and I'll turn on the software render. Um, so now if I hit shift R and just hit, yes, cause I don't need to save this. It will very quickly build a software preview, you know, and just, just a few seconds. Um, and then you can, you can play that and see it in real time. Okay. So in terms of the speed, that those things come out, that feels pretty good to me. I'm happy with that. The balance, you know, it could be better. I could work on that, but for the purposes of this tutorial, I'm not going to all right. So I'm going to turn the corner off again. So we have this nice, you know, bouncing in animation. Um, the next thing I want is to scale this up as it's coming in. Uh, so that's easy. All I'm gonna do is go to the first frame, set the scale to zero, and then I'm going to go forward to this first position, key frame, and I'm going to set it. Let's make it overshoot the scale a little bit. So 1.2, let's say, all right. And then as it snaps back, it will shrink down to one.

Joey Korenman (18:42):

All right. So now if we preview that, okay. That's kinda cool. All right. Um, now let's, let's make this even a little crazier. So as it's shooting out, maybe it rotates kind of banks, 90 degrees. Um, so let's come here, let's put a key frame on the bank and then let's go forward and maybe right there is where it, it banks 90 degrees. All right. So you can see, we're just kind of slowly building up this animation. Okay. Um, so now what else could we do? Um, we could, um, maybe once it lands it, then hangs there for a second.

Joey Korenman (19:35):

All right. And then it rotates on the pitch. So really quickly, like six frames rotates forward on the pitch. So negative 90. All right. And then it's going to snap back in Z a little bit. All right. So we'll bring it back in a little bit. So let's say minus 50. Okay. And I haven't tweaked the curves on this. Let's just see what this looks like. Okay. So you've got this interesting thing. It pops out, it spins, and then it almost adjusts. It almost looks like a puzzle piece kind of locking into place. All right. Um, so now let's check with the cloner and see what we've got. I'm going to, I'm just going to save this really quickly just in case. All right. Let's do that same, um, that same software preview. And I need to up my frame range here a little bit since now we've got more animation.

Joey Korenman (20:39):

All right. And don't worry that these are all popping out at the same time right now, because we are going to take care of that in the next step. All right. But, uh, timing wise, that's pretty cool. You know, it pops out really quickly, it rotates fast and then it sort of settles back into position. Okay. Okay. So, uh, now we've got this move that we like, um, and we've got the basic setup. Uh, the last thing I wanted to do was a little point level animation. So maybe what we do is as this cube settles back into position there, that's when the point level animation happens. So as it's settling back, we're going to put a key frame on this pose, morph tag right here, go forward until the last, and then it's going to go past a hundred that a one 20 and then back to 100.

Joey Korenman (21:36):

All right. So if we watch this, okay. You can see that you've got this pretty intricate little thing happening in every cube is going to do that. Okay. Um, all right, owners back on, and this is what we're going to end up with. All right. Um, now just to set the scene up a little bit, so, you know, we can check our renders and stuff. I'm gonna do a quick little setup here with a background in some lights, um, and for the background, I'm actually going to use, um, the scenery preset, which is a, an object preset that school emotion will begin selling very shortly. Uh, the plug-in is more or less done. We're just trying to build up, um, our preset library for it, so that, um, you know, if any of you guys decide to get it, you'll have a lot of options right.

Joey Korenman (22:26):

Out of the box without having to tweak anything. Um, so I'm just going to drag this in, um, and, and the scenery object, it's, it's really like an infinite environment with tons and tons of options to, uh, to build any kind of world or look you want. Um, so I'm gonna, what I need to do is move this whole set up here because, uh, the scenery object is, is on the floor. So what I'm going to do is take the sphere because all these clones are cloned onto the sphere. So if I move the sphere, they will follow, I'm going to move the sphere up so that it's above the ground. Okay, cool. Um, and now I want a dark environment. Um, so what I'm going to do is click on the scenery object and the scenery object has a whole bunch of options here.

Joey Korenman (23:13):

Um, so I'm gonna change the floor color to something really dark, maybe like an 8%. Um, and then I'm going to add a little bit of a gradient to it. Um, and then I'm going to add a little bit of vignette too, because that'll help fade the ceiling down a little bit. Um, so let's see what we have so far. Okay. All right. That's pretty good start. Um, all right, so now I'm gonna add some lights, um, and I'm just going to do simple three-point light setup. Um, and frankly, just to save time, I'm going to use the built-in and see, I have the, uh, gray skull HTRI light kit. I could use that, but I'm going to use the built in, um, lights set up the three point light drag that in. And the only thing I don't like about this is that the FX light by default is yellow, which I don't want.

Joey Korenman (24:11):

Um, all right. So let's see what we got. All right. So the shadows are a little, little nutty here, so let's just move, let's move. This affects light, so that it's closer. And it's a little more on top, on top of this object. All right. And then our main spotlight, that's not a bad spot for it. And then our fill light. Um, just want to make sure it's not casting shadows. All right. Cool. And then we've got our main spotlight and our effects light. I'm going to change those two areas, shadows. So we'll get a little bit of a nicer shadow. Okay. So now we're getting kind of a cool look where the shadows are, are way too harsh here. Um, and that's just because of the position. So the, uh, I'm gonna change both of these lights from spotlights to Omni lights. Let's see if that helps.

Joey Korenman (25:09):

All right. So I liked the way the lighting's looking. The shadows are still a little funky. Um, I'd probably want to tweak that. I think if I just bring everything a little closer to the light, that would probably help. Um, but, uh, but as you can see, you know, we're still, we're getting like a nice look here. We're getting like some, some darks and lights and stuff, and that's really all I'm going for. Um, and then in the, um, in the scenery object, I'm also gonna turn on, uh, floor speculars. Um, so we can get a little bit of a light hit off of that, um, as well as reflections. And I'm going to leave the reflections on blurry for now, but I do want to see a little bit of this object reflected in the ground. Cool. All right. That's looking pretty good. Um, and there's, there's a whole bunch of other options in this.

Joey Korenman (26:00):

You can actually create different textures for your floor and things like that when it's ready. I promise you guys I'll do a whole video on it and I'll show you. Um, but you can see how quickly we were able to build this, this infinite environment, um, you know, and get something pretty awesome looking right out of cinema without having to really do anything. Um, one thing I want to check is that as these things fly out, they don't intersect the floor. Um, in the, uh, in the one I rendered out at the beginning of this video, they did, because I didn't check that before I hit render. Um, so I'm just going to do a quick little jog through, and you can see they are intersecting the floor. So that means I just need to raise the sphere up a little bit more.

Joey Korenman (26:47):

Okay. Maybe even a little more just to be safe. Okay. That should do it. Um, all right, there we go. Um, all right. So now the next part of this is going to be randomizing, the timing of these things coming out. Um, Emma, she had to do that right now. So when, um, you know, there's a bunch of different effectors and all of them can affect, or most of them can affect, uh, the frame offset on your clones. Um, now in order for the frame offsets to work, um, there actually has to be key frames on these clones. So that's why I actually key framed the cube itself and didn't use a plane effect or something like that, because if you do that, the time offset features won't work. Um, so what I basically want to do, if you think about it, it makes sense. I have this animation on one cube and I've cloned that one cube, you know, a hundred times or however many there are here. Um, and what I want to do is have each of those cubes slipped in the timeline by some random amounts. So they all pop out at different times. Um, and so the, the obvious effector to use, uh, is the random effector. Um, so what we're going to do is grab a random effector.

Joey Korenman (28:09):

Um, and by default, the random effector affects the, um, affects the position. So I can turn that off. And I always like to name my effector so random, and then I use a period and some descriptor. So this is random time offset. Okay. Um, and so what I'm going to manipulate here is this time offset down here. Okay. Um, so the, the amount I want to offset this, it depends on how long my animation is. So I'm going to pull up the timeline again and just take a quick look. So here's my, all my key frames on this cube, and you can see, they go out to frame 36. So if I randomize this by 36 frames, um, then what that's basically saying is at most, um, a cube will be delayed by 36 frames. Um, so, you know, you're going to get a little bit of a spread between all of the clones as they animate on.

Joey Korenman (29:07):

Now, if you made that 300 frame offset, then it would really spread out the animation and, and it would just take much longer. Um, so, you know, once you kind of wrap your head around what this is doing, you can easily time out animations, um, and, and kind of get the speed that you want. So to start with, I'm just going to put 36 frames. All right. And the first thing that you'll see is that we're on frame zero here, and, you know, some of these have already popped out and that doesn't make sense, right? If we set this back to zero, you'll see that nothing's because at this point in the animation, these cubes are all shrunk down to zero. Their scale is zero. So how come when we move this time offset up to 36 frames? Why do we now see clones? So the reason for that is that the random effector by default works in both directions.

Joey Korenman (29:59):

So it is offsetting these clones, not just 36 frames forward, but also potentially 36 frames backwards. So some clones actually start before the original clone, not just after. Um, luckily there's an easy way to change that. Um, and this is something that's, it's good to know about all effectors. If you go into the effector tab, there's this min-max section here, which is closed by default. They hide it from you. If you click on it, you'll see that right now, the maximum is 100%. So what that means is that the only effect that this randomized, this random effector has turned on right now is this time offset 36 frame time offset. So the maximum effect this effector will have in the, in, in the positive direction is 36 frames in the minimum direction. It's negative 36 frames because it's native 100. Well, what if we want the minimum to be zero frames?

Joey Korenman (30:59):

All we have to do is change this minimum to zero. Okay. You'll see. Now all those clones went away. So what's happening is it's only randomizing the timing in one direction now. Okay. Um, and so, because you know, this, isn't going to render very quickly unless I do a software render, that's what I'm gonna do. Um, and I'm going to up my frame range, uh, to 72 frames, and we're going to do a software under here, and we are going to see what we have, all right. And you can see that everything is popping out at a different time and everything, you know, all of these clones pop out, pop back in. Well, that's good to know. I should probably do something about that. Um, they're popping out, they're going back in, they rotate, then they settle and then there's point level animation. And all of this is happening in this offset animation, right?

Joey Korenman (32:02):

And it's, it's pretty interesting, you know, you can, and you can, the, sky's the limit here. You can use. Deformers, uh, you can use bones and you can do all kinds of crazy things. Um, you could get very abstract with this. You certainly don't have to do everything on a sphere. You could do things, linearly, clone things on to any object you want. Um, but the point is you can animate one object doing something really complicated, um, and then just clone it and using this random time offset effect, uh, you know, the way I showed you how to set it up, you can get these crazy effects. You could even duplicate the cube and have two completely different animations. One cube pops out one way and one cube does the complete opposite, but still lands in the right spot. And now you have a sphere with variations of what these cubes are doing.

Joey Korenman (32:50):

Um, so I hope that, uh, gave you a little bit of, uh, you know, maybe give you a cool idea of, of some effect. You can try. Thank you guys for tuning in. I really appreciate it. And I will see you next time. Thanks for watching. I hope this lesson gave you some cool ideas on how you can use the MoGraph effectors in cinema 4d to create complicated animations without a ton of effort and time. If you have any questions or thoughts, let us know. And we would love to hear from you if you use this technique on a project. So give us a shout on Twitter at school emotion and show us your work. Don't forget to sign up for a free student account to access project files from the lesson you just watched, plus a whole bunch of other sweetness. Thanks again. And I'll see you next time.

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