Anatomy and Art

a blog by Sara Egner

Archive for the ‘C4D’ tag

The Enzyme Substrate Complex

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So, some of you may remember my recent post, “Molecules Molecules Molecules.”  Well I’m really psyched to be able to share the animation that inspired that post with you all online now.


Enzyme Substrate Complex from sara egner on Vimeo.

I’m excited to get to show a little bit of the kind of work I’ve been doing lately over at Sapling. And I’m glad I get to share this one in particular because I know it goes just that extra step beyond the kinds of videos you find on this subject out there. And I’m loving that we get to make things like that. I get to work with biology experts. And when things get really really tiny, no one says, well that’s really just chemistry at that point – don’t worry about it. We just talk to a chemist about it. And if I hit a technological glitch, we have those kinds of experts around too. And I’d thought that my move into grad school was going to be a move away from all the video work I used to do. But here I am drawing back on all of that experience to make things like this now. And of course my whole little fascination with ATP comes in to play with this one. But that would be a whole other story. And this writer is winding down for the night.

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May 8th, 2012 at 10:12 pm

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So, I’ve been doing a lot of work in Cinema 4D at the new job lately (with Sapling Learning), and most recently that’s been getting to make bugs and make them fly.  Basically we’re animating a classic genetics example with different colored bugs, and what this has meant for me is that I’ve been able to make one of the more complex models I’ve done to date with this program in making my little bug to begin with, and then I’ve also been able to get into joints and IK rigging with the program.  This was something I’d done once before in 3DsMax, but not really had a lot of experience with.  The main thing I wanted the joints for was the flapping of his wings, but by giving him a spine I was able to turn his head and body a little as well and the little guy that much more life.

I had some difficulty for a while with getting the joints to work correctly.  I wasn’t able to use any of the templates, so in the end I just used the joint tool and ctrl-clicked my way through the construction of wings.  You then go through and place the IK chains which will define how your object moves as a whole.  Cinema 4D will automatically assign your object a skin tag which will allow you to get more natural looking movements.  To set up the wings I used a linked symmetry in modeling the joints.  It was great for modeling, and for recording the keyframed animation of the wings flapping, but that later proved problematic when I tried to move my bug around the scene.

What you’re seeing there is my poor little bug’s right wing being pulled off as he moves away from the Z axis in an attempt to keep that linked symmetry across that axis.  Naturally I was convinced that I’d made a huge mistake and there was no getting out of it without undoing at least a day’s work.  But it wasn’t the case.  As it turns out, when you select the individual joints themselves that are doing the mirrored symmetry, you find a tab that allows you to adjust that symmetry.  And because my model had a spine, I was able to change the symmetry from world to object and select a joint in the spine as that object.  So I didn’t loose my joint structure, or even my keyframing of the flapping.

Being free to roam a 3D world again, I was able to make copies of my bugs and draw splines for them to fly along.  In the end it all looks and feels a little like designing a roller coaster.

It’s strange, modeling in so many layers.  Conceptually I sometimes have difficulty getting my head around moving the skeleton and taking the bug with it, vs moving the geometry, or the hypernurb or skin itself.   It’s easy to get confused (well, it is for me anyways).  But I have to say that I think there is something to all these rumors of Cinema 4D being more intuitive than other competing programs.  Sometimes things just work.

Oh, and one last note for all the rookies out there like me…  My art director suggested a couple changes, one of which was giving my bugs some eyes when she saw what I had going.  So I did, but had a little trouble with them falling right back out of my bug’s head when they would fly.  There was no binding or boolean that was quite going to get me around this.  But having that spine in place saved me again.  I made the eyes a child of the last joint that controlled the head’s movement and that did the trick perfectly.

I’m pretty well on to After Effects with it all at this point (time to make it pretty, and also bring the focus back to making it a clear and understandable example of the principles it was created to display in the first place), but I just wanted to get a few notes down here as to process and getting unstuck as problems come up.  I’m finding that whether or not any of you readers are using this blog to work your way out of tricky spots in animating, I seem to be coming back to it to remind myself of things more and more.

Written by Sara

March 31st, 2012 at 2:05 pm

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Animation and 3D capture software

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So, last Friday, I had a little time in the morning to watch a tutorial.  My co-worker, Alex, had recommended this one, and she was right.  For those of you learning Cinema 4D like I am, this tutorial not only gets into UVW painting and pelt mapping, but is also a really great modeling tutorial.


So, I’m telling her how great this is, and she tells me that Greyscale Gorilla (the company that puts these out) is appearing that very night at a Cinema 4D/ live music event (SXSW, really brings all kinds of events out of the woodwork here in Austin.)

So I went, and it was a really good event. When I got there, a man named Nick (and unfortunately I can’t remember his last name) taught us a bit about using Cinema 4D’s cloner and animating spheres along a spline. I definitely learned a few things from that talk. And then the next speaker was a man named David Lewandowski who spoke about his use of Cinema 4D in a new music video. His talk was fun because it was the first time I’d seen anyone integrating this stuff into actual video to do special effects. And what really caught my attention was the 3D scanning software he was using to capture the actors’ faces into his 3D software and integrate it within the video.

Back when I was training with the craniofacial clinic at UIC, there was a lot of attention to 3DMD and working with CT and MRI data to get 3D data for both surgical planning and also facial prosthetic development. I have spoken with various anaplastologists over the last few years about this as well. So when this guy gets up and talks about how he pulled together this video on a shoestring budget and paid about $50 for some Russian software that he used to upload photos of the actors (all taken from the same camera), and got these seemingly accurate 3D models out of them, I had to ask him about it later.

He told me that the software was called Agisoft Photoscan, and that there is also an Autodesk product currently in beta testing called Photofly. The friend I brought with me to the event told me that some people are even hacking into their XBox 360 gaming consoles and managing to capture 3D data through the technology already present in those machines as well. I find all of this to be very exciting from the perspective of what potential it brings to a field like anaplastology where you have a strong need for accurate 3D information about patients, but not always the financial structure to afford the latest and greatest technology at every turn. This also opens the door to better international consultation. If all one needs on the spot is a decent camera and an internet connection, then better information can be sent overseas allowing for better preparation before a patient makes the trip in person. Possibly, you could even come up with a good temporary piece for someone to wear in the interim while they are waiting on their final prosthesis to be made.

I leave you with this short YouTube clip of someone playing with Agisoft’s software to capture movement.

And I’d better get going because there is another one of these little 3D get together’s tonight!

Written by Sara

March 13th, 2012 at 8:36 pm

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Thoughts and Work of Late

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Lately, I have been getting to know Cinema 4D.  And I think that I am finally starting to make some progress with it.  The other day I decided to model a DNA strand.  This is actually a pretty simple modeling design.  To do it, I used a cloner on a slightly flattened cylinder and then used larger flattened cylinders on either side, like a ladder.  The whole thing was placed under a null named DNA and then I applied the twist modifier to it.

From there, I’ve been poking around learning to render out of the program.  I’m familiar with the idea of rendering in passes from my previous work with both 3DsMax and also Maya.  I’m still getting the hang of the new system of doing things, but I think I’m going to like working with this program in the long run.

So here is the DNA I made yesterday.

Purple DNA with Logo

And then today, I started animating the models, and playing with some moving particles in the background, so hopefully soon I’ll have an animated piece to share from this!

It’s funny.  I had the pleasure of attending the Austin City Limits taping of Radiohead last night (and I swear I’m going somewhere with this and not just saying that to brag).  As I watched them play, I couldn’t get over how well rounded of musicians they were.  Back when I first started listening to them, I’d thought that they wouldn’t be a very good show live because I thought that most of what they did happened in a computer.  They are so technically proficient, and they use such a variety of instruments, they couldn’t possibly actually play all of those instruments live on stage, could they?  Oh yeah, they can and do.  And while I’m watching this, I’m thinking about the level that some artists hit where tools/instruments… they are just exactly that.  We spend so much time trying to learn to use these tools, to master them.  But for everything that comes with that, it’s what we want to do with that expertise that really matters.  I want to be the kind of artist who can use a multitude of tools.  I want to be the kind of artist who can pick up a new tool for the purposes of particular piece.  I want to reach that.

One of the things that has been so nice about working at Sapling Learning, is the sheer variety of what I get to do from one day to the next.  And as frustrating as it can be, having to switch tools when you know something else better, I love that feeling that comes when you start to get a handle on a variety of tools.  The focus, it shifts back onto your message again, where it was back before you knew how to do anything, only now you can get it out.

Anyway, I’m not quite there yet.  But I’m working on it.  Getting to work with a variety of subject matters really suits me too.  For all the times I’ve been told that this trait makes me unmarketable as an artist, I’m finding that it does serve me well in other respects.  Get ready, I may be on the verge of breaking out the paints here in Austin soon!



Written by Sara

March 7th, 2012 at 8:17 pm

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