What about a Mograph module for Blender?

Since I’m not a developer and I don’t know python, I’d like to have a clue from a developer.
How much it would be hard to develop something like the Cinema 4D Mograph module?
I know it may sounds as a not much clear question, so let me go a bit deep into the matter.

First of all, the thing is that I’m getting so accustomed to Blender that now I’m feel strange when I have to use C4D and it’s difficult to me to go back to Cinema 4D.
Never thought I’d said this one day, but I find the Blender interface easy, clear, fast; also, the time needed to setup lights into a scene is ridiculously short. The quality of the render engine is simply great. The node system is powerful and professional. And the list can goes on…
But I still have to use Cinema 4D, mainly due to its Mograph module, that’s an incredible easy and powerful tool for motiongraphers people.
(you can imagine my headache when I’d like to tune up the final render in Cinema thinking to have a node-system that simply is missing in C4D…)

Ok, switch back on the main matter.
An example of what I was trying to accomplish is shown below.

As you can see the effect after all is not such complicated: just random movement, scaling and rotating on the several faces, up to build the entire structure. Something I’ve thought to use to get the same effect in Blender is the Build modifier, but unfortunately it’s pretty basic.
Sometimes ago I’ve seen a movie posted here by an user, and if I’m right he built the script himself to get this kind of transition to assemble a gazebo. But I’m not finding that post anymore…

Now, this effect is just one of the several that one can create with the Mograph tool. The randomness, the cloner tool, the effectors (formula, step, etcetera) are really fun. Other examples of what I mean is the tesselate plugin, even if this tool is part of the DiTools plugins, a great suite by a great developer, Remotion.
Here’s some easy and quick examples about DiTools Tesselate and Mograph Cloner:

While it’s true that there are several scripts that can mimic in some way the Mograph features - I’m thinking for example to Scatter and Drop, Tesselate, Big Numbers, Blendgraph, Suicidator City Engine, Audio Analysis - it’s also true that often is not as easy to setup these scripts, and the interfaces of python scripts it’s sometimes pretty messy (for some scripts the animation side is a nightmare, as it happens with Tesselate)

I know that this matter is deep and complex and that the Blender community and the devs. is focusing on several others improvements. Luckily we’re getting others gap filled by recent developments (GI, Volumetrics, SSGI, etcetera). Anyway the Idea to have one day something like Mograph or Ditools developed for Blender it’s a cool dream.

First of all, can we please stop using “professional” as a word for “good”? It’s starting to drive me up the walls…

I’ve heard a lot of good stuff about mograph, and seen some nice examples too, but I’m still not really clear on what it is. I’m probably not the only one here, so do you think you could maybe elaborate? It mostly seems like a tool for procedural animation. Is it node-based or something?

Now, for that fracture example, I guess use particles, explode and make the animation play backwards in post? The clone stuff could be duplicated with duplifaces and time offset, but you’d have to set it up manually. The tesselation stuff could be done with shape keys or something, but again, manual setup. You can get some neat stuff of the same sort of style with the array modifier too (check youtube etc).

As nice as having a easy to set up system for procedural animation in Blender would be, I suspect your best bet at this point is someone setting out to do a set of python scripts with a unified interface for doing this stuff. To be honest, I think anyone who sets out to do complex motion graphics under tight deadlines in Blender would be hindered far more often by the poor type tools, the limits of the curve object and lack of easy masking and keyframing in the compositor*, just to name a few, than by this. :confused:

  • not a problem if you take your renders into another app for post, but you get the idea…

@astralpancackes: What are the limits of the curve object?

Well, to be honest I don’t understand why “professional” isn’t the proper word to talk about the level of certain features… Not sure if this can make the things a bit messy, as there should be something not professional about Blender. Simply there are things, in every app, that can cover most of the professionals demand and something else that may lacks these demands. But if there’s another word to better describe the quality of the node system in Blender, I’ll definitely adopt it.
From my point of view “good” isn’t enough :slight_smile:
But perhaps it’s due to a personal experience. I’ve never used nodes before Blender, since every time I’ve tried them in other apps I’ve found them quite hard to understand. The first time I’ve tried the node system in Blender I’ve found it very intuitive, but also more powerful than one can imagine at first glance. And while I’ve not covered all of the nodes possibilities, every time I need something more in the nodes I find it right there. Anyhow, this is just a point of view, nothing more.

I think that your description as procedural animation about Mograph is correct. Since English is not my first language it would quite complex to me to better describe what one can do with Mograph. But you can get a quick overview about it taking a look at the following links:
(this requires to be registered, the registration is free)

moreover these movies can be helpful:

and one for all:

The array modifier is a cool tool, but imho it lacks some smart features, like randomness (per size, position and rotation). Another tool that could be similar to Mograph Cloner is Dupliverts, but again there are several limits. Anyway I admit that I’ve not investigated a lot about Dupliverts… so it could me a fault of mine here.

Last but not least: this post is not meant as “Blender lacks this…” or “Blender need that…” Just wanted to hear what other Blender users may think about a motion graphics oriented tool like Mograph theoretically added to Blender.

Atom: Can I take that about the curve object back, actually? I had some problems a while ago trying to model some stuff using curves, basic stuff like joining two loose segments together, but playing around with it now I can do it with F with no problems. Not sure what’s going on, most likely just me.

(That said, improved Illustrator import, some sort of mirroring feature, magnet snap etc would be pretty nice…)

Hell, playing with the text stuff, even that’s better than I remember. Guess that’s 3 examples out of 3 that don’t really hold…

phoenixart: It isn’t really relevant to the topic at hand, I just don’t like the way the word “professional” gets thrown around the CG community. It doesn’t matter though.

And I’m sorry if I sounded overly negative in my post. I’d love some of this stuff, even though it would lead to even more pointless youtube videos of people showing off cool effects. :slight_smile:

I agree, the dupli system is REALLY confusing at the moment. I haven’t really bothered to figure it out, other than as a tool for cloning a lot of objects quickly. It would be nice to have as much control as possible over the duplicates. Use vertex weights to control the time offset of each clone, stuff like that.

Looking at those videos, it doesn’t seem like anything terribly special per se, basically just different variations and extensions of the object duplication idea. Most of this stuff would be perfectly possible in Blender at the moment, using duplis and/or particles, and some clever trickery. You’d just have to know what you wanted to achieve. If this was all presented as a nice interface for you, like it apparently is in Cinema 4D, you could basically just click stuff until you end up with something that you like.

Nope, it doesn’t sounded negative, just wanted to be clear. Sometimes I doubt I’m misconceived due to my English :smiley:

Looking at those videos, it doesn’t seem like anything terribly special per se, basically just different variations and extensions of the object duplication idea. Most of this stuff would be perfectly possible in Blender at the moment, using duplis and/or particles, and some clever trickery. You’d just have to know what you wanted to achieve. If this was all presented as a nice interface for you, like it apparently is in Cinema 4D, you could basically just click stuff until you end up with something that you like.
I’m not much sure about this even if the particle system looks very powerful to me: the paintFX work flow could do the trick. And that’s what I’m gonna try asap to see what can be done here to mimic the Mograph behavior. If it will fit my needs about randomness, growth, displacement, etc., it would be enough.

What is missing from Blender, that C4D has is sweet ass audio integration. Have you seen the way you can take a kick drum and drive some parameter? And it is not just cobbled together with some esoteric script. It has a full blown waveform editor with realtime feedback. I still can not get audio out of Blender on an XP system. That is to say in a final Quicktime rendered format. I recently tried out Blender on a Mac and lo and behold, audio and quicktime work just fine.

Also, the way C4D can stack things and simple re-arrange the node tree and your animation changes is miles ahead of Blender. Even other “professional” 3D apps don’t approach that.

@ Atom: yes, the audio integration is really good in Cinema as well as the object manager.

To stay on this topic, I’m continuing to try other ways to achieve what is possible to get with Mograph.
The particle system is pretty good, but not the solution.
One the most important limit is the growth parameter (thanks for the explanation Kernon http://blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?t=149109), that makes the particle paint fx totally useless for animation works, that’s a big fault to me: hope it will be filled in next rel.

Blender doesn’t need a ‘mograph module’. Blender’s not sold in modules and it doesn’t have to make those sorts of artificial distinctions. I think what you really want is just better procedural animation tools. In which case you’re better off describing the sorts of effects that you want to achieve, and proposing ways that this can fit within the way Blender is working now, or could evolve to work in the future.

Yes, I’m calling it ‘mograph module’ just because I don’t know how to call it and coming from Cinema that’s something I’m missing and I’d like to imagine one day available in Blender. If ‘procedural animation tools’ is the right word I’ll adopt it.

About the effects I could try to render out some example from Cinema… maybe this could be useful to better explain the kind of fx I’m trying to achieve within Blender.
But a first example is right the paintFx work flow seen in the kernond tutorial: as you can see basically there are particles painted over a surface. That’s the most closer thing to the cloner fx I’m looking for (like a duplivert, but with more randomness). The limit with the particle is the missing of the growth feature.
In the other side one could say that building a paintFx scene is a bit longer than having a object A (the surface) and the object B (the particles) applying the second one to the first one.

There are other nice option and features: I don’t know if could have a sense to render out examples… after all it’s just something I’d like to see, but perhaps the community don’t need it so I wouldn’t sound bothering about this matter.

P.S. sorry for my English, hope it’s pretty clear :slight_smile:

That is why I wrote Blendgraph, the growth factor is derived from the ALPHA chanel of a driving animation. You can also use any color chanel to drive rotation, scale or positional offset.

To be honest I’ve tried it but not too much… I’ve found the setup a bit complex.
After having replaced the bgHero object with my custom mesh, something weird happened: the objects in the layer 1 appeared shifted. A part of that the animation looks jerky.
Atom, don’t want to sounds crude, I can only imagine how much effort and work is needed to develop scripts and this one looks particularly complex. Just wanted to give you my feedback…

Anyhow the difficult step seems to be the driving animation: assuming that you need a driving animation, it imply that all the rest of the animation will be decided at beginning by that animation. Therefore become hard to control the animation or decide to change something at certain point… dunno if it makes a sense Atom.

Maybe is just something that goes behind a script: as broken said, it’s about procedural animation tools and perhaps is something that should be integrated into the Blender core.

phoenixart I’m in the same boat, I really would love to know if something like mograph would become available in Blender, any updates from the devs ?

mr_projects, I haven’t read all his post, but it looks really promising. Dunno how much of mograph could be done with the upcoming particle system, but it seems we’re going to have a cool new tool to play with.

also f-curve modifiers will more than likely be of alot of interest to you guy’s, eh? :slight_smile:

phoneixart, Felix_Kutt
Yea these additions make every blender release more promising, I’m just wondering how deeply those additions are integrated

Fcurve modifiers

I’m guessing they’re pretty well integrated. :wink:

cool I better keep a good idea on the developments, this beast is developing so fast, don’t ya just love open-source :smiley:

@phoenixart: The concept of Blendgraph was to empower 2D motion artists, not 3D animators. While the oscilators and random generators can be used, it’s main power is the animated 2D sequence, generally prepared in After Effects. So, in a sense, it is a little bit like a boid system in the fact that can not control eaxactly which object appears where at a specific time. With those limitations accepted, you can use Blendgraph like a broad brush to deploy a series of objected in 3D space, sustain them, then remove them, all automatically with their layout pattern being derived by the image in the 2D sequence. One way to smooth out the transitions in Blendgraph is to activate the PreMul button for the image sequence. I was surprised at how much smoother my animations looked just by activating that button. But in an RGBA image sequence, you really are only dealing with 256 values. Perhaps that is the “grain” that you are seeing?

Sorry if the interface seems confusing, I tried to make it as straight forward as possible. The hero mesh was an add on for a specific task I was trying to accomplish at work.

I hope to re-visit Blendgraph after Blender 2.5 comes out and see how much of it can be salvaged and if there is a better way to approach automatic animation. Maybe 2.5 will have a better particle system that can be leveraged?

I believe that a .blend with a set of scenes each with scripts attached for an effect would be handy for this endeavour. A goto suite of motion graphics templates that you riffle through for your prefered effect, already setup to shoot out from renderer. Just tweak the elements (import art etc for all scenes) and variables for your animation.