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A Bump In The Road ” 3d modeling training “

Well it has been a few weeks since the last post, would love to say that this is because I was so busy either on a job or using my new Cinema 4D skills but then I would be lying :). I have been busy watching tutorials and doing exercises but I have hit a major stumbling block. Truth is this has been kind of a frustrating period for two reasons.

1.Work is real slow always seem to happen around this time, actually one small job right now and its on spec meaning of course I won’t get paid…

2.The second reason for frustration would have to be my fear that I have wasted the last month or so learning the basics of a software that I cannot use.

Here’s the deal. I already use a lot of 3D in my work. Sketchup for modeling is central to what I do for set design and even finds its way into my Themed Entertainment work. Modo is great for rendering what I build in Sketchup. My idea in advancing my 3D knowledge was simply to add more capabilities and keep myself occupied productively during what appears to be a long down time.

In the tutorial I was following you build a flying craft which was a good subject as it allowed the instructor to demonstrate most of the tools in the software and was fun to build. I stopped working alongside however at the mid  point as it went into rigging and animation which while very interesting are not my focus.

My little craft in its completed form and rendered in side Cinema 4D with very basic lighting. I like it definitely feel I learned something. Would have been nice to add some cut lines to add 3rd read elements but otherwise good.

Flying Mothra

Flying Mothra

Side View

Side View

Rear 3/4 View

Rear 3/4 View

Rear View

Rear View

I choose Cinema 4D as I had heard and read many times that it is a powerful 3D package yet still is accessible to non computer geniuses which certainly describes me. On its positive side are lots of powerful modeling animation and even rendering tools. On the negative side would be a hefty price tag, over $4,000 for the full package and a somewhat lack luster reputation among the serious 3D packages. I figure I can get a discounted price due to my previous purchase of C4D many moons ago so why not give the new version a try. It is a fun piece of software and I do find it much easier to wrap my head around then the others I have messed with in the past; Modo, 3D Studio Max even Alias way back when… I found a great tutorial series which I wrote about earlier and highly recommend, don’t think I feel asleep once ” except during the part on rigging ” but all in all very good. I recorded the sessions so can go back and watch again and I know that will be impossible in China.

The tutorials can be kind of fun every once in awhile I thought this was a cute little easter egg during a lesson on sculpting in Cinema.

whats that there

whats that there

The problem is this. I cannot fit the work I produce in Cinema 4D into my pipeline. My hope was that I would be able to use Sketchup as my basic building program like I do now and then when I needed something more organic I could jump over to Cinema and knock it out there.

This would be great except… Cinema doesn’t want to play. All 3D programs have their own proprietary file formats but then they will also export to other universal formats so people can do what I am describing. For SU and Modo this turns out to be the OBJ format which works fine I can bring anything I do in SU into Modo and render it till the cows come home. Cinema also exports to OBJ so I figured no problem right?

Wrong, first off Cinema doesn’t have a good OBJ exporter which means that when you do export it none of your files info goes with. All that time you spend adding materials is gone since you get a base model with one material. OK no problem I can try the other file formats like FBX, DAE, well no luck for me. So what to do?

I have this cool little flying craft and a floating base station that I have spent time on and would love to see rendered.

When I export to Modo my geometry came in fine but without the textures I have no way to render it here except to go back and redo all the texturing. On the plus side all the geometry is there and its in correct position just no materials…

Flyers base Overhead View

Flyers base Overhead View

I was able to render it in Cinema with pretty good results Of course there is no lighting here but I can see it could be nice…

Rendered In Cinema

Rendered In Cinema

Rendered In Cinema

Rendered In Cinema

The Issue is that I need to be able to render it along with items brought in from SU and I still feel that the renderer inside Modo is superior for me as its speed is quite good and at least I know how to use it.

After a bit of searching I found a plug in by this guy for Cinema called Riptide which supposedly will solve this issue. I find it a bit strange that a $4,000 program has to use an added plugin to do such a basic function but whatever it solves the problem will gladly pay the $50.

Riptide

Riptide

Cool now we are getting somewhere. I DL the trial and start messing with it  sure enough it allows you to export much more info then the native cinema function materials and much more if needed. I decide to export the landing pad first just to get a feel for it and it works flawlessly.

Landing Pad in Modo

Landing Pad in Modo

Next comes the flyer. I am a bit concerned as its much larger file size then the landing pad and I am new to Cinema so no doubt I have made mistakes. Sure enough there are issues with Ngons since I have no choice I just tell it to export anyway and it does but the file is freaking gigantic. It went from 25 mbs to 4 gigs. Okie…… obviously something is really screwed up.

I am sure its my fault but still would like to try some more. I decide to break up the model in Cinema and export as pieces this technique works for me in SU as that program has such a weak ability to handle large files. Sure enough it does allow me to export the wings and I am able to load them into modo there they are sitting with my landing pad.

Wings by themselves seem to have no problem

Wings Alone

Wings Alone

The problem is obviously in the flyers body section. I go back and start looking at the file seeing what I could consolidate and in retrospect I think this is where I went wrong. I have a feeling that when I collapsed th geometry down in Cinema it somehow had the opposite effect then intended. Instead of making it cleaner it just made it infinitely dense.

As you can see in the wireframe view here the flyer is very dark and what that means is it will have too much information or be too heavy to work with. I think this is because of the sub division smoothing inside Cinema.

A bit Too Dense

A bit Too Dense

OK I am at a decision point here. from what I am seeing so far  my basic premise can work, you can generate work in Cinema and bring it to Modo for rendering however so far the only thing I have had success with is something I could have modeled in SU only about 10 times faster. I think the flyer may be a lost cause this go around but I still have my cool floating station base thing I designed for it and its forms are more complex and should be a good proof of concept for the Cinema to Modo pipeline idea.

The base by itself may be possible. see how dark the mesh is for the flyer.

Floating Base

Floating Base

So back in Cinema I take the time to assign unique basic materials to all the different pieces of this thing as once its in MODO that will be the only way to differentiate the parts. I am gonna leave out the flyer for now as its causing issues. I am pretty happy with the results in Cinema its an interesting structure and I look forward to making some illustrations with it all this 3D is making me miss painting…

Overall view

Overall view rendered in Cinema

I break the model into pieces so I can export the sections I am hoping this will allow me to get the results I want.

OK now we are having some issues again. It seems the for some reason when I bring the geometry into Modo its relative position is changing this might have something to do with the crazy non reality based measurement system they use in Cinema. Again not a disaster as I can move the pieces manually in MODO this time but it will cause an issue for real work as it needs to be exact.

Wrong Placement - Wrong geometry - Wrong Size

Wrong Placement – Wrong geometry – Wrong Size

Now we are having a real problem. Not only are the sections coming in at odd positions but the actual geometry is being altered. This is unacceptable my sections are all over the place and some have even changed their size… I wonder if this is somehow related to the OBJ export plugin as without it the geometry came in correctly but had no materials.

Wrong Placement - Wrong geometry - Wrong Size

Wrong Placement – Wrong geometry – Wrong Size

About the only thing that is working here is that all my materials came in not a nice feeling…

Wrong Placement - Wrong geometry - Wrong Size

Wrong Placement – Wrong geometry – Wrong Size

I am sure there are a great many reasons for what I am experiencing here and I am sure that if I spent another 6 months learning about Cinema I could solve the problems but you know what? I don’t have the time for that. I need a program that I can use now, not a year from now…  So in the end I must put Cinema back on the shelf. Pretty  disappointing  but maybe later, after I can find the tool I need for work we can go back and figure out what I did wrong. Of course by that time I probably won’t care too…

There are other options out there, Rhino 3D look somewhat promising and I could just bite the bullet and learn to model in MODO, decisions decisions…

I do not feel that my time was truly wasted here though.  Like Edison supposedly said about inventing the lightbulb no mistakes just many ways not to do something…I am already noticing a change in the way I think about things in Sketchup and this must be because of the stuff I learned for Cinema, so progress has been made just a lil hard to see from here…

In the midst of all this I did find a very cool little program which I am having success with, will tell you about it next time…

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