In the motion graphics industry the goal is always to build cool things as simply as humanly possible. Whether its to make your project easier to work in or change … Working smarter and not harder is kinda a no brainer.
It’s the bane of every mograph artists existence when he or she builds a project only to realize the things that took all that time and effort could be solved with a plugin or script some super genius made. And in the C4d industry people are sharing the love everyday by developing things that not only speed up the workflow, but they share or sell that noise so the masses can be equally awesome. Here is a list of plugins that myself and some totally rad friends of mine (which you should follow on twitter, I’ll link them below) use on a regular basis to stay sane.
SHOW ME THE PLUGINS
First on the list is the Kern Effector (link) … This piece of magic allows the user to kern MoText (and only MoText) in C4d rather than importing an Illustrator spline and having to adjust in another program to correct things. It’s super easy to use (… here’s a linkie poo to to show how awesome this is) and the last awesome thing is it’s free
Yes majority of the plugins I’m about to describe to you are 100% free (BUT you SHOULD throw these people some spare cash because it’s just good karma) …
SHOW ME THE PLUGINS … AGAIN
Next on the roster is Hangover (link)… Now before you wander to the bar to drink away the pain, set this little bad boy up to send you either an e-mail or text (growl) notification to let you know the render finished or totally failed. The email portion is totally free but to get iPhone notifications you’ll need to purchase the Prowl (linkie) for 2 bucks. Both methods are super rad, so if you want to essentially “set it and forget it” this is a great plugin for you. It’s also fo FREE!
For the client that wants animated arrows (ugh arrows) the ArrowMaker plugin (linkie) is pretty much a one stop shop to streamline that process. Pretty much you just have to make your spline or Illustrator path and click the ArrowMaker plugin button. It give you the option to extrude, add to a mograph cloner and add a spline to deform to automatically. Once you do that it’s up to you to animate that start and end growth. This awesome plugin is also free.
Now if your a fan of deformers (like I am) you’re gonna love this … The bend deformer is a great and powerful tool but sometimes setting that thing up is kinda a pain in the butt … ESPECIALLY if say for example your object isn’t zeroed out and just sitting on the floor. The PyBend plugin (linkie) automatically sets a bend deformer to the selected object regardless of where it is or how it’s rotated. It will create the boundaries based on the object, but once it’s set up tuning it to work perfectly is pretty damn simple. Still Free. (FYI this plugin just upgraded to be more awesome but version 2.0 will cost some cash)
But what if your like “well Mike the bend deformer is cool but want to use a bulge deformer” I would tell you to not interrupt daddy whiles he’s talking and to use the EasyDeformer plugin (linkie). It does the same thing as PyBend plugin but you have the option to apply a Bend, Twist, Bulge, Shear and/or Taper deformer. Price = $0
The next piece of C4d magic is the Solo Plugin (linkie) … You know how you can solo layers in After Effects so you can either focus on one thing or to speed up your RAM previews, we’ll guess what, this is kinda like that. The Solo Plugin allows you to add a solo tag to your object so you can solo an object with a simple mouse click (no more clicking the traffic lights of 50 f&@*in layers) and bring it all back with a second click. This plugin does go a lot deeper (check the pixellab for more deets) but it’s definitely an invaluable tool to any mograph or 3d artists arsenal especially if your working with complex scenes. El Freeo
I’m finding that I use the ground plane to help keep all of my animations flat and a little more “organized” more and more with my last few projects and this little ditty came in handy. It’s called “Drop To Floor" (linkie) and this plugin sets the selected objects minimum y coordinates to 0,0. It also respects the objects size so it will never break the ground plane. These guys also make a bunch of other plugins (also all buttons have ninjas on them … How cool is that!) that you guys should check out (linkie) and see what works for you … this plugin is free.
Now if your a mograph artist odds are you like to break shit (c’mon who doesn’t like breaking shit) then you are in luck because here are 2 FREE break shit plugins:
First up is Xbreaker (linkie) and this little slice of heaven immediately gives you the option of how many pieces you want to break your object in (randomly of course … if you want control of the chunks you might want to go a little knife happy with the knife tool … just saying). Once you customize the settings to how you see fit hit break now.
*Disclaimer* save before you do this every so often this can crash C4d and losing work always sucks … you’ve been warned.
Now it will automatically break the object, apply a crappy white texture, make polygonal selection tags AND put the object in a Dynamics tag. After that it’s all up to you
Second up is Thrausi (linkie) … It’s just like Xbreaker but you have some more options to customize your break. Like Xbreaker you’ll select the object and click the button and you’ll get a menu to set up your break, dynamics, materials and you can even bake the animation to save your self the headache of doing it later. Depending on your selections you’ll have a broken object in a fracture object to help animate later. You can download a free version but you can also buy a more advanced version for a little under 15 bucks (10 euro) and if you can afford 20 bucks you can get the bigger brother Catastrophe (linkie)
Next up is for the spline wranglers … It’s called Smart Outline (linkie). It creates an outline of a spline much like the “create outline” tool, but the plus is you can animate the offset and distance. Sadly its only accessible while editing a spline in pointmode so it is destructive (bummer) but hey … it’s free. Also the same site has some more free shit (linkie)
Wanna control your iTunes without having to leave C4d, now you can with iTunesCTRL (linkie). This gem creates a small dockable menu that allows you to change songs, pause and select playlist so you don’t have to click out of a project just to change that Lady Gaga, Nickelback or Coldplay song your too embraced to tell your friends you like (awkward look away) … still in freesville
So if your into matching colors and the Kuler scale is your friend the Blee plugin (linkie) links to the Adobe Kuler site and shows the color palettes that are on the site. After thumbing though em and you like one of them you can create materials (with the same color values and specular enabled) instantly … A nice add-on if you want to select your colors more accurately for free.
Now if you HATE animating multiple cameras (like I do) the SteadyCam Pro plugin (linkie) might be right for you. This used to be 100 bucks but now it’s free (THANK GOD) and it’s awesome … you can set up multiple cameras and with sliders you can use simulated steadycams (amongst other things) to tween or animate between them … By far a super rad camera and I use this plugin pretty much every day. This plugin is huge and it has multiple options, if you want more info a simple google search yields plenty of awesomesauce results.
The next bit of extreme awesome is Render Elements (linkie). Render Elements is a scene manager for C4d, even though that doesn’t sounds super cool or awesome. This plugin upon implementation will record all your camera, layer and render settings allowing you to set up multiple render settings in the same scene without having to save multiple versions (now thats rad) … The current beta version is 7.13 is ONLY available for mac and its compatible with version 12. Older versions are cross platform and work in versions 11 and 11.5. I could prattle on about how awesome this plugin is but I’ll let you discover its totally free awesomeness.
Now this is a recent find … it’s a script that automates unfolding polygons. A guy (slash god among men - https://vimeo.com/36915151) called Rown created this re-donk-ulous script that allows you to unfold polygons with extreme ease and control. It’s original set in german (if you speak german than you are set) but @wischie was nice enough to sacrifice his day and convert that sun’bitch to good ole ‘merican (a.k.a english) right here … It’s free but you should thank rown and @wischie for their hardwork.
Last but certainly not least is CSTools (linkie) … These are a set of plug-ins using Xpresso and UI objects that Chris Schmidt designed to speed up his workflow. In an act of awesomeness he’s sharing his labors with the world fo FREE. It’s a really amazing set of plug-ins and his site (linkie) has tons of information so get over their and check it out.
Some other awesome plugins that I’ve not yet found a use for but I downloaded them anyways … Selection Tools, Ivy Grower, Reeper X
And some more links to plugins I’ve heard about but haven’t explored yet … stab, NitroBlast, SplineGen, copy and paste polys, arch spline, Shadowcatcher, EnhanceC4d, Global Light Adjust, Control Center, multi target
WELL THE FREE RIDE IS OVER
Now I have only scratched the surface of the amount of free plugins that are out but now comes to the shit that costs money. Depending on your discipline, skill level and job requirement some of these plugins aren’t necessarily for you but here’s what I use.
First up is PlaneSmart (linkie). PlaneSmart allows you to import a layered PSD file, then map the individual layers in Z space. With the imported file, you could then individually adjust or remove individual layers in Cinema. It’s excellent for mapping multiple images to magazines, photo mosaics, etc. Mike Senften did a great piece about it hurrrrr (linkie). Now you can only get this plug-in if your a Cineversity member which at first is 300 bucks (and 100 a year to stay active) but if you want to learn advanced C4d from the pro’s I’d recommend dropping the extra cash
For anyone that uses text or typography as a major staple of their work this plugin should be a no-brainer … It’s called Text Edge Effect ( http://c4dtools.net/text-edge-fx/). The Text Edge FX is a quick and east way to add custom bevels and edge to text beyond the defaults that C4d has. This isn’t only limited to type, anything that uses a spline can be altered to look even more badass. The controls are super simple and for 15 bucks you really can’t go wrong. Also this totally awesome plugin was brought to you by @eyedesyn and @SamWelkerTV so you should probably send them a thank you beer … just sayin
If your like me and you composite alot in after effects you probably use a buttload of object buffers … Buffer Booster (http://c4dtools.net/buffer-booster/) might be a good choice for you. @RagingClaw (and his brilliant mind) developed this plugin that adds object buffers to all of your selected objects and inserts them into your multipass automatically … which as we all know is a pain in the ass. Also for the staggeringly low cost of 10 buck-a-roo’s (or 2-3 beers at the bar) this is a plugin that you really can’t pass up.
Ok if you’ve ever worked with dynamics you know that its a pain to work with in a scene … it slows things down, can’t be effected easily, etc …. BUTTTTTT NitroBake (http://nitro4d.com/blog/donationware/nitrobake/) might be an awesome solution. NitroBake allows you to easily (easily being the keyword) bake your animations and export it into another software if necessary. You can use it with C4d objects, generators, TP, Mograph, Hair and Dynamics. It makes it’s all PSR or PLA animations and it optimizes the file so it’s easier on your system (which is super awesome). so for only 40 bucks you can have an easy to use solution for keyframe baking.
Next is TurbulenceFD (linkie) … a super swag-tastic fluid simulation plugin that integrates directly into C4d without having to go to another program. The days of unit convert and triangulated meshes are over, it’s super simple to setup and the level of control is incredible. The learning curve is pretty steep (maybe a 6 out of 10) but it’s truly an amazing plug-in and the level of detail and precision make this a must have for advanced VFX and Mograph artists … Now the downside it it’s 530 bucks, but you can download the trial to learn, it’s just watermarked.
Last but not least is VRAY (link)… VRAY makes your renders look extremely sexy with advanced calculations for lights, shadows, displacement and environments. BUUUUUUUUUT it destroys rendertimes … but it’s the sacrifice to make amazing looking renders. Now the learning curve for VRAY is extremely steep (like 12 out 10) and the refining process to maximize the effectiveness of the engine is a constant trial and error dog fight. And it costs a little over a grand … But at least your renders will be sexy.
WERE ALMOST THERE … IS YOUR MIND OFFICIALLY BLOWN
Now this is a lot of information and I appreciate anyone who managed to make it this far before going on a download frenzy ( god knows I would have been gone at Kern Effector haha). I truly hope that this helps everyone improve your workflow, try something different, share love for the people that develop these amazing plugins (don’t steal it, thats just bad karma) and in general help guide an already amazing community to become even more awesome.
I would also like to thank the crew that helped me wrangle all these plugins and showed me some new ones along the way … Follow them because they’re cool and super smart … did I mention they were cool :)
If you guys have any questions please feel free to comment or get ahold of me on twitter (@mrmikeflorio)!
PS I apologize for my horrible grammar … thats why I’m a digital artist haha