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  • C4D Goodies

    Posted by Chris Smith on April 24, 2006 at 6:49 pm

    Hey All, I made some null/Xpresso objects to make my life a lot easier so I thought I would share:


    Don’t need any modules that I know of, but you probably do need at least C4D 9.5 for “CS_Daylight”.

    1. “CS_Daylight”

    What for: I find myself constantly needing the simulation of sky and sun lighting but with a key light as well. Just like on film shoots, it’s pretty standard to put the sun to the back of the subject (as a rim light) while using either large 12 x Muslin screen for bounce or blowing HMI’s through diffusion as a key light. Well setting up a few infinite lights is easy, but the results are very harsh. The Sky object is nice for BG look and for reflections or some GI, but for non-GI I find the default lighting on objects to be once again harsh. To me the sweetest looking lighting is a Sky dome area light for the blue sky ambiance, And a large partial dome as an area light for the rim light so it’s really soft and wraps around objects. Then an even smaller semi-dome as a keylight. Well, this can be built easily using the C4D 9.5’s ability to turn any poly object into an area light. However, Once built, the Open GL view isn’t remotely accurate to what you get when you render. Everything is blown out with the wrong light direction.

    So I wanted an object that I could add to a scene and have an instant build of a sky dome with partial domes for Rim light and key, be able to control their relative intensity mix, have an Master intensity. As well as other controls that make it simple to set up and tweak. But still have the Open GL interface be accurate.

    This is why I made this “Daylight’ object. In the editor it uses an array of omni lights that are roughly matched to the rendered results of the area lights. So you can set the controls intuitively in the editor display. Then when you render, the omni lights don’t play, but the area lights do. The result is a very smooth, natural looking render which roughly matched what you see in the editor. You can in seconds add daylight lighting to the scene and quickly tweak it to match regular daylight or sunset tones.

    In the editor most of the objects are hidden. But there are arrows and circles to show how big it is and what direction the rim and key are pointing.


    Key Level: Relative mix of the Keylight
    Rim Level: Relative mix of the rim light (Sun)
    Sky Fill: Relative mix of the bluish sky dome
    Key Bias: Rotates the key light around the center of the world to offset the angle of the key for a more modeled look.
    Rotation: Rotates the entire rig so you can quicly dial in the angle you need.
    Size: Rescales the entire rig from smallish to pretty huge.
    Master Intensity: Self Explanatory
    Sky Colors: This dials in the amount the lights take on Sky/Sun colors. 0% is all white, 100% is full coloring.
    KeyColorMax: This sets the max that the keylight takes on the sky colors. Often the keylight isn’t quite as warm as the sun so this is where you can bring it back a bit to a cleaner tone like film set lighting often is.
    SunColorBias: The sun defaults to what I think is a daylight sun color, but this slider will swing the hue a bit on both ends. For example for a more sunset tone swing it left to make the sun colors more orange than yellow.
    SkyColorBias: Same with the sky dome. For sunsets, swing it to the right to take more of a purple tone than sky blue.

    2. “CS_KinoSquare”

    What For: I have always liked KinoFlo lighting. Especially when used in reflections. You see it on almost every hip-hop video on MTV. Tubes reflecting in sunglasses, Glow on the face, etc. You can get a decent approximation of this look with area lights in C4D. The look is still there in the way light hits the objects, but Especially with some reflectivity, the look of the tubes in the reflections gives it a really nice touch. I also wanted a set and forget lighting rig that is very flexible and artistic looking. So I made “KinoSquare”.

    What it is: It’s a square of lighting tubes as area lights. Try making a floor object and throw some primitives in there. Make a material with some reflectivity and throw it on the floor and objects. Add KinoSquare to your project and just have fun tweaking the sliders. You’ll find that it looks awesome with almost no work on your part.


    Intensity: Overall brightness of the rig
    Rim Level: Relative brightness compared to the rest of the rig (usually looks great being a lot brighter than the rest as a backlight)
    KeyBias: Shifts the Front tube left or right to offset the angle it hits the subject for a more modeled look.
    Fill Level: Relative brightness of the 2 side tubes.
    Height: This moves the rig in the Y. Yeah you could do this with your move tool, but I find it much handier to use this slider for quick adjustments.
    Rotation: Rotates the entire rig to set the preffered angle
    Size: This one slider resizes the whole rig. Obviously you can make it larger for bigger scenes, but even in small scenes changing the size really effects the look of the lighting (especially scenes with a floor)
    Seen in Reflections and Seen in Render check boxes: This is just a quick convenient way to set these 2 settings to all 4 lights with one click.

    3. “CS_KinoTube”

    This is really just an area light set to the dimensions of a Kino Tube. I just made this so I’m not setting area lights to this shape from scratch everytime.

    4. “CS_HandHeld”

    What For: Handheld camera look. Yeah, you could use the vibrate tag, but I wanted something more specialized for the handheld look with easier adjustments for an instant effect.

    You’ll see that when you load it, it’s 2 nulls and a cam. This is for convenience. Since you want the cam over the same nodal point as the handheldnull (because a camera is on the shoulder of an operator and not some distance away) so the cam pos and rot are all set to zero. So the cam is parented to the handheld null for the effect, and the handheld null is parented to a null called “CamPosition”. So If you want to animate the camera’s general movement through space, then animate the “Cam Position” null.


    Amplitude: Amount of the effect
    Fequency: Vibration speed
    Pos_Rot Bias: Set all the way left, the cam only wobbles it’s position, all the way right only wobbles the cam’s rotations (Where it’s pointing). It defaults in the middle for a 50/50 blend.

    5. “CS_SineNull”

    What For: I find that so many things in nature move in sine like cycles with some random motion here and there. In Maya I was always writing expressions that involved sin, cos, and noise functions to do animation for me. In C4D these are in the Trig Xpresso node. So I wanted a null that would move using various combinations of sin, cos, and noise that you can parent objects to to aquire this motion.


    X_Amplitude: Er..Amplitude of the sine motion
    X_Frequency: You guessed it
    X_Noise: Assuming the master noise sliders are set to something other than zero, then this is how much X position takes on the noise.
    X_Cos (Checkbox): This makes it a Cos instead of a Sin. Used for creating circular motion. i.e X would be set to sin and Z could be set to cos so together the object moves in a circle.

    Then the same sliders mentioned above are also for Y and Z

    NOISE_Amp: Master noise amplitude
    NOISE_Freq: Master Noise Frequency. These sliders should be up for the X Y and Z noise sliders to work.

    Examples: Make a dog’s tail wag? Just add this object and set the X settings to wag speed and target the tail bone to it. Bug flying around? Parent the bug to this null and set arbitrary settings to all 3 Positions then add a little noise for more randomness. I even assigned a character IK rig’s hip, arms and feet controllers to be parented to a few of these SineNull’s and settings some Sine speeds made the character dance so realistically it looked like mocap (becasue most dancing is sin like movement anyways).

    6. “CS_ShakeNull”

    What for: Somebody in the C4D Cow wanted a simple control to make objects shake like an Earthquake effect for a piece set to music. I’m gussing for that intense look often used in Drum and Bass videos. So once again this isn’t rocket science (and yes you could use the vibrate tag), but I wanted it to be more easy to key and use.

    Shake!: Sets the amount of shake (all 3 Axis shake). Keyframe this slider up and down to bring the shake in and out.
    Amp_Max: Sets the overall amplitude of the shake
    Freq_Max: Sets the overall Fequency of the shake

    Chris Smith

    Chris Smith replied 18 years, 1 month ago 3 Members · 3 Replies
  • 3 Replies
  • Brian Jones

    April 25, 2006 at 1:55 am

    Nice! Thanks.

  • Joe Bird

    April 28, 2006 at 8:27 pm

    These look great Chris! Sorry for the delayed response, just returned from NAB. BTW, 9.6 and Mograph look great in person. Time to wait and squirm.
    Thanks again, your Kharma account has been credited.

  • Chris Smith

    May 5, 2006 at 1:04 am

    Cool. Man, I’m dying to get Motion.

    Chris Smith

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