Happy New Year!

Posted in Cinema 4D, Medical Animation, Uncategorized by Joel Dubin on January 13, 2016

Wishing all a happy and healthy 2016.

I’ve been working on some new shots for a new reel for MadMicrobe.

This one depicts a tight bombing run and pull out over space squids a dendritic cell; a component of the immune system whose role is to process any harmful antigens it comes in contact with, and then present fragments of those antigens on its surface (the little dummied-down spheres) to T-cells which. Through a cacade of events,  these T-cells will trigger the production of antibodies from plasma cells, which will then help the immune system seek out and destroy these antigens.


In other news, I have picked up a few new bits of software that I am excited to add to the creative arsenal.  I am working with Solid Angle’s Arnold Renderer using the plugin for Cinema 4D and loving it so far. Will post some images when I have something worth sharing. I’ve also finally gotten TurbulenceFD which is one I’ve been wanting to get for quite awhile. Still much to learn.

Cesar Vonc has released an update to his useful and fun Pro3durale plugin for Cinema. Proc3durale 2 has many more features and is much faster than before. Here is a sort of stylized depiction of trabecular/spongy bone which I was able to create after  about 30 minutes of play. Thanks for looking.



MadMicrobe IDs with X-Particles

Posted in Uncategorized by Joel Dubin on November 23, 2015

Just a couple of x-particles 3 experiments which turned into promo idents for  MadMicrobe.



X-Particles is available through Insydium LTD and can be purchased HERE.


Fall 2015 catch-up!

Posted in Uncategorized by Joel Dubin on October 6, 2015

The gaps between postings are getting longer and longer.

For those who might have come back to check on the blog now and then, I apologize for this! 2015 has been quite a whirlwind. After starting Mad Microbe Studios, I’ve found myself buried in work. Which is a GOOD thing, however, its also nice to have a moment to come up for air and just do some fun things here and there.

In the past 7 months we’ve gotten to work on several shots ranging from 4K to 8K for a Nat Geo full dome/planetarium  film that will be running at various science museums around the US, about 200 40 foot hologram animations for an event in Spain celebrating the launch of a new pharmaceutical company, a few science animations and some micro medical shots which will be used in an upcoming Sci Fi feature film. I hope to be able to share more about some of these projects here and on my company website Mad Microbe Studios.

Until then, here is a hodge-podge of  experiments I’ve posted on Vimeo over the past few months. Most involve my favorite Cinema 4D plugin: X-Particles….

X-particles worms. Just a test using particles emitted from the coiled tubes. Particles are traced using the xpTrail obect. And then I applied the xpSplineMesher to the trails to get the worm-like tendrils. Light/shadow settings and SSS could be better. Its a bit flickery!


Golden Crown. After downloading some great metal shaders from Donavan Keith at Cineversity, I tried my hand at molten gold. I also happened to catch up on Game of Thrones last spring  :) (prior to creating this). X-particles liquids.

Here are the shaders. You may need a Cineversity Subscription.


Another x-particles spline mesher test. xpSplineMenher is one of my favorite tools in XP3.


Very annoying cloned hand animation. Play it loud.


ARNOLD for C4D! Here is the first and last test I’ve had a chance to try using the great new Arnod for C4D render engine along with x-particles. Your usual fare of swirling particles. Really want to sink my teeth into Arnold some more.


A little XP landscape flyover with growing XP-trails that I had fun with.


And one last test using trails to wrap onto the surface of an asteroid.

Will post more as soon as possible.

Thanks for coming by!

MAXON NAB: Build a complex immune cell using X-Particles and Cinema 4D

Posted in Uncategorized by Joel Dubin on May 2, 2015


I’ve returned from the wonderland that is Las Vegas and back into the grind.
It was great getting to meet and hang with so many great artists as well as the Maxon US gang.

I am now very happy to be able to share my presentation at NAB this past April.
A special thanks to Maxon USA and Cineversity for making this and all of the other fantastic artist presentations available to the public.
In this presentation, I walk you through how to use the fantastic plugin X-Particles 3 to build a complex immune cell, specifically a B-Lymphocyte or B-cell.

I prepared a short clip of the finished piece (below) that I break down in the tutorial:


Be sure to also check out Nucleus Medical Media artists Heidi Sinzel and Elizabeth MacDonald’s great presentation as well.

And many more inspiring demos from a number of artists can be found here from
Michael Rosen, Alan Demafiles (Demafleez), Steven Messing, Craig Whitaker, Mike Sentfen (The Monkey), Colin Sebastyen (MoveCraft)

MadMicrobe featured in MAXON’s 2015 DEMO REEL

Posted in Uncategorized by Joel Dubin on April 29, 2015

WOW is that our stuff in MAXON’s 2015 demo reel!

I’m quite honored and humbled to have my work so prominently displayed alongside the work of such talented and legendary Cinema 4D artists such as:
Kevin Aguirre of CAKE
Brett Morris of Here’s his personal website
and Robyn Haddow Here’s her personal websbite (Love the Flash and Arrow graphics!)
And the amazing Alan Demafiles DEMAFLEEZ

And of course several others.
NAB was a blast and will be sure to post more soon about the trip to Vegas.


What’s that playing at the Maxon Booth?

An Exciting New Chapter: MadMicrobe and NAB

Posted in Uncategorized by Joel Dubin on April 5, 2015

Well, its been over a year since my last post. 14 loooong months to be exact.

In that time, there have been challenges, both personal and professional to deal with, but some achievements I am very proud of as well. The good news is I am now looking forward to sharing more of my work and Cinema 4D tips here on a more regular basis.

So what have l been up to?

Goodbye 3FX
This past March, after a lot of thought, I decided to leave my position as Director of Animation at 3FX, where I worked for almost a decade. I’ve learned and experienced so much during my time spent there and what a great team of artists, animators, and management-type folks to have had the chance to work with. Jody, Rocky, Mitch, Gary, Kartik, Luke, Doug, Josy, Jessie, and Cory, I’m gonna miss you.

Now moving forward, here are some new developments:

Hello MadMicrobe Studios!
First, I’m excited to announce the launch of my studio: MadMicrobe

MadMicrobe Studios will focus on production of science-themed animation and motion graphics for broadcast.

Here is my 2015 reel:

MAXON at NAB 2015
I’m also quite honored to have been invited to be part of MAXON’s star-studded line up at NAB this year in Las Vegas. I’ll be presenting some Cinema 4D medical animation methods via live-stream on Tuesday April 14th. If you are going to be there be sure to come by and say hi. If not, then you should be able to watch it here on C4DLive.

The presentations are usually recorded as well and then posted on Cineversity and/or Vimeo as well later on.

Thanks for visiting –hope to be back soon.

Neuron, Oligodendrocytes and Microglia

Posted in Cinema 4D, Medical Animation by Joel Dubin on February 14, 2014

Lots of big words. Some cells of the nervous system for an animation project rendered in Cinema4D R15 using the physical renderer.


Some recent work: Cellular environment and organelles.

Posted in Cinema 4D, Medical Animation by Joel Dubin on February 5, 2014

Worked on a project recently in which part of the animation took place within the cytosol of a cell. I needed to build some organelles including the nucleus, endoplasmic reticulum, golgi and mitochondria. Here are some images.

Look dev for the Nucleus and ER:


Then built some Mitochondria:


Made some tweaks,and then incorporated these together into the cellular environment:


And a final render with a bit of cytoskeleton around the edges of the image:


Thanks for looking!

-Joel Dubin

Vector Professional: A quick way to make neat stuff

Posted in Cinema 4D, Medical Animation by Joel Dubin on February 4, 2014

Just picked up a license of Paul Everett’s new plugin and as all of Paul’s plugins, it has become immediately useful. VP is more than just an improvement to C4d’s built in vectorizer spline object, which for me always produced dodgy, unreliable results. Paul’s generator gives the user much more control of every nuance of the generated vector object,which can be built from an imported bitmap or animation sequence, producing animated spline/vector objects. Paul added a useful feature (which he seems to be doing almost daily!) allowing the user to reference any UV shader (static or animated) to use as the source for your vectorized object. And for me this is where the fun began.

Using Biomekk’s Enhance 4D shaders, I loaded a procedural hexagon tile (see screenshots below), and from that a hexagon patterned mesh was created. After making the result editable and preparing for cloning, I used mograph cloners to duplicate the tile so it interlocked many times. Then subdivided the results and added displacer deformers to get some organic randomness to the mesh, and voila!: another way to create tileable cells. I should mention that VP has built in extrusion controls, so I could have kept the whole thing procedural without making the original results editable. I just chose to do that as I wanted a little more control.

Great plugin and Im looking forward to discovering more things I can use it for.

Screenshot 2014-02-03 23.25.49

Screenshot 2014-02-03 23.48.14

Screenshot 2014-02-04 00.08.20

Screenshot 2014-02-04 00.07.56

Sub-poly Displacement Experiments

Posted in Cinema 4D, Experimental by Joel Dubin on January 25, 2014

Just messing around with SPD using a shader from the Biomekk Enhance4D procedural shader set. Rendered using C4D Physical Renderer in R15. (click on each to see full size)





Greebler Addict

Posted in Cinema 4D, Experimental by Joel Dubin on October 21, 2013

One of the things I love most about art, and visual media in general is complexity. I love getting lost in an image chock full of minute detail, whether it be a computer generated image (or SEM) of a blood clot, a detailed pen and ink panel from a graphic novel, or the pitted surface of a huge spaceship in a sci-fi film. I’m easily awestruck by complexity of detail and scale.

I strive to apply such detail to all the work I do in the field of medical animation, and whatever other types of cg artistry I find myself involved with. Detail generally takes a lot of time and focus. But sometimes a tool comes along that literally gets you most of the way there with a push of a button. Robert Templeton who develops plugins for Cinema 4D under the name Koroyume offers a plugin called Greebler which kind of does just that. I have had my eye on the plugin for a few years, but because I don’t do a lot of scifi vfx modeling in my day-to-day work, I put it on my wish list for a later time. A recent post by Robert in which he shares some personal hardships made me consider trying Greebler out, and I’m glad I did.

What ensued was a weekend of enjoyable experimentation, and a bit of geeky scifi fun. The plugin is easy to use, fast, and allows for users to create custom libraries of “greebles” and “nurnies”; terms used in the practical effects and cg vfx industry as well to describe the detailed panelling and chunks of metal machinery applied to a spaceship model or cityscape to add that extra level of complexity and realism. Just think of the Deathstar from Star Wars, or really ANYTHING from Star Wars and you get the idea. Getting back to the mentioning of “custom greeble libraries” I should mention that Greebler comes with built in ready to use “stock” greeble shapes with loads of parameters for tweaking.

Here are several images that came out of my initial Greebler playtime.

Five minutes after installing:

Below, I added some tubing on the surface–everything esle is Greebler.


In my last post, I talk about X-Particles and include a sample of liquid poured into a bowl. I took the skinned liquid, made it editable, frozen in time, and tried greebler on the surface of that object. Here are the results after dropping the object into a radial cloner and adding some antennae.

greebler liquid8

greebler liquid2

The results have a bit of that Gigeresque organic, yet mechanical feel, ala Alien or Prometheus. When I get a chance I’ll see if I can build some custom greebler libraries as the basic geometric obejects dont hold up well up close.

greebler liquid6

greebler liquid10

greebler liquid

And just a few more…

more greebly


So now the weekend is over, and time to get my head back into the more organic, biological work I do for a living, but it’s fun to take a detour now and then. Thanks for looking!

[Postscript: Still at it. Help.]

I’l just keep adding to this post as I come up with interesting results. Here’s another one. Some sort of big pipe thing. You can click on the mage to see better detail.Check back if you’d like!

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 10.59.30 PM

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 11.12.03 PM

Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 11.27.04 PM

Added 10/31/2013. Testing with VRAY 1.8. Still kind of a VRAY newb!
Just rearranged a few already greebled models.

Greebler city vray

And another VRAY 1.8 test 11/8/13. OK I think need to move on to something else…


X-Particles 2.5 Beta: some tests

Posted in Cinema 4D, Experimental by Joel Dubin on October 21, 2013

I’ve been on the beta team for X-Particles, a particle plugin for Cinema 4D by the folks at Insydium Ltd. for about a year now. It’s been a real pleasure watching the plugin develop from the inside, and I’m continually in awe of the skill and talent demonstrated by the development team on a daily basis. X-Particles, which is currently at Release 2, with version 2.5 right around the corner, is destined to be the must have plugin for pro c4d motion graphics VFX (and medical) artists alike, if it isn’t already.

Among its many features, X-Particles Pro includes fluid dynamics, something that many C4D artists, myself included, have hoped would find it’s way into the software’s feature list for years. While there is still some growing to do in this area of the plugin package, I can say that this growth has accelerated greatly since version 2 was released, and I think many will be blown away by how easy fluids are to work with as well as the quality of the results in the upcoming 2.5.

Here are a few of my tests.

This short “teaser” began as a simple test of the upcoming “Move Over Surface” modifier. Particles are simply emitted towards a sphere, which the particles then land upon and traverse the surface of. A very common need with particle work, but was missing in X-Particles until now. I switched on fluid dynamics and was liking the way the particles flowed towards and onto the surface. I then used the Skinner generator object to mesh the particles, applied materials and lighting, and shot the scene from several angles.

What would make the results of that test better, would be the addition of wet maps on the surface of the metallic sphere, and better particle meshing, both of which hav been included since this clip was rendered. Xparticles 2.5 now includes wet map generation as well as two new particle mesh algorithms: Fluid, and Zhu-Bridson.

Below, I drop several million particles into a torus object. The particles are rendered with its’s proprietary particle shader. The particle shader and render engine in 2.5 have been enhanced by the development team to render in a fraction of the time compared with version 2.0. Partciles will also render using the C4D physical renderer, and render with refraction and reflection. This test not only demonstrates ray-traced rendering within a transparent, refractive object, but also illustrates some of the improvements in fluid/liquid dynamics.

Here are two more tests. A viscous pour into a half of a sphere. The first is the particles alone. the second is the meshed version of the same scene.

Hope to post some more tests soon.

To wrap up, I should say that this release is just amazing. Not the beta-fanboy hyperbole “amazing” but the fast, useful, jam-packed and affordable kind of amazing. So many areas have been improved since 2.0 and many new features have been added. XP is a lot of fun to work with and provides the c4d community an affordable arsenal of cg weapons that will aid not only your standard particle needs, but motion graphics, visual effects, and even modeling needs, for instance, using the skinner (XP’s meshing generator) in conjunction with particle painting allows for organic sculpting without the need for the outdated cumbersome and poorly topologized metaballs. If anyone has followed the development of similar 3rd party toolsets in other packages and thought, I want that too”, well there’s no doubt you’ll be getting that with X-particles. Already looking forward to version 3.

Thanks for reading.

Earth Renders and the International Space Station

Posted in Cinema 4D, Space by Joel Dubin on September 13, 2013

This was just a little exercise in space animation (astromation?) which is something I’d like to do a lot more of. I downloaded the excellent ISS model from NASA’s site for this test. The file can be found here: NASA ISS model

For the Earth and moon I used high res maps from NASA’s Blue Marble site.

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 12.25.54 AM

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 9.55.21 PM

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 11.11.18 PM

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 12.21.19 AM

The cloud map was composed of two separate 21K maps, which needed to be stitched and cleaned up. The cloud file was too large to save at 42K x 21K so I reduced it down a bit, while still retaining detail. Its the cloud maps that seem to break up the most when rendering closeup, orbit shots of the Earth, so the high res maps were important. For the atmospheric glow and shading on the Earth model, I used Michael Welter’s great free plugin shader Atmosphere (make sure you donate to his site if you use any of his plugins!).

Michael Welter’s Awesome Atmosphere Shader

Heres the very short animation test. Theres a bit of flicker on one of the solar panels–looks like I might have some overlapping geometry there. Good enough for a test.

The Glomerulus > Bowman’s Capsule > Nephron > Kidney.

Posted in Cinema 4D, Medical Animation by Joel Dubin on September 10, 2013


A recent animation project has provided me the opportunity to build one of the most interesting looking structures within the human body as far as I’m concerned, the glomerulus: a jumble of capillaries within the nephrons of the kidneys responsible for filtering urine from the blood. I have actually gotten the chance to build this intricate and beautiful micro organ two times before: once about 8 years ago and then one more time maybe 5 years ago. In both situations I needed to resort to kind of “shorthand” representation of the structure, partly due to time constraints (always a challenging factor in medical animation) but to be totally honest, mostly due to lack of know how as to how best to model it at the time of the projects.

This time, I really wanted to take a step back before diving in and figure out the most efficient and most accurate way to approach the modeling process. After studying several scanning electron microscopy images online, as well as looking at how other medical illustrators have approached it, I decided to begin by building the intricate multi-tentacled octopus-like cells called podocytes separately from the capillaries that they wrap around.

I began in Cinema 4D using the old metaballs object. I drew dozens of spheres from the top view to block out the interlocking “pseudopods”, the feature which gives the podocytes their distinctive look. I then played with the metaball settings until I got the tightest skin around the spheres, while keeping the resolution light enough to be able to almost paint the meatball shape in realtime.


I built about 4 or 5 variations of the podocytes at different sizes, some large and complex and some simple and small, so I could pick and choose the perfect fit for each section of blood vessel I would be wrapping them onto. In order to begin the wrapping process, I first needed to break up my tubules into small sections. Each cylindrical piece of the tube would need to be individually UV mapped, which I accomplished using the built in bodypaint UV tools. The reason I needed to UV map the glomerulus tubules was that I would be using C4D’s Surface Deformer to wrap the podocytes around the tubes.

This process, although tedious (lots of time spent UV’ing about 20 parts of the tubes) worked pretty well, but I still found that there were still lots of areas beween the separarately wrapped podocytes where there were noticeable gaps. I wasnt getting the feeling that the podocytes were continuous throughout the surfaces of the tubules. I then turned to the plugin Paint On Surface to draw the spheres DIRECTLY onto the surface of the tubules. This proved to be a MUCH MORE efficient way to create the podocytes, and soon realized that I should have done it this way from the start! Here is a VIDEO from the DNS plugin site showing how this workflow works.

If I would do this again, I’d probably take a stab at this via ZBrush which is probably the ultimate way to go for most complex organic shapes like this one. I actually just bought a license of Zbrush recently from a friend who no longer had much use for it, so I do plan on getting up to speed with it soon.

Sometimes you just have to accept that there just isn’t enough time or budget in a project to do things exactly the way you want to, but the results are still good and more importantly, your clients are still over the moon with the end product despite your feelings of not hitting the mark. In time however, and especially with medical animation, where the subjects tend to run in cycles, you will eventually have the chance to do things right.

Dead Heads

Posted in Uncategorized by Joel Dubin on May 30, 2013

Joren Kandel at Pixel Lab posted a link to a free 3d scanned skull model from the company Ten 24. Messed around a bit and ended up with this:


The 3D file is available as an .obj or zbrush format. You can get it from The Pixel Lab here:

or go directly to Ten 24 Here:

Mograph Monoliths

Posted in Cinema 4D, Experimental by Joel Dubin on December 26, 2012

cubes and cubes (00000)

Playing with an old file and tried rendering it using the Physical Sky in C4D. Added some post work in After Effects, mainly Red Giant Looks, Optical Flares and a touch of grain. Would love to render this out as a short animation clip, but unfortunately I am getting very long render times. This render was 90 minutes. Perhaps I’ll try baking the AO, and possibly the GI.

I have recently purchased VRAy for C4D so I will next try rendering it with the VRAY engine and see what kind of times I get.
I know this is just an experiment, but thanks for looking!

Cinema 4D Aerodynamics and Motion Camera Test

Posted in Cinema 4D, Experimental by Joel Dubin on December 15, 2012

Was messing around in Cinema 4D with no particular goal in mind. Decided to give the new aerodynamics feature a go which, like so many  things in c4d,  was a piece  of cake to set up. Added a physical sky, a touch of sub surface scattering to the paper whirligigs and used a tracer object on them to mimic dynamic trailing strings.  Rendered with the Physical renderer, and post work done in AE with a touch of Looks, OF and RSMB.

Flippy Lashes

Posted in Cinema 4D by Joel Dubin on December 2, 2012

Wasted render due to forgetting to turn off hair dynamics, so thought I’d play with it!

Fun with Proc3Durale

Posted in Cinema 4D by Joel Dubin on October 3, 2012

French Cinema 4D artist and developer Cesar Vonc has released a cool little python plugin which generates volumetric “swiss cheese” based on C4D’s noise shaders (as well as any 3d shader). Medical animators will especially find this plugin to be perfect for quick creation of trabecular bone matrix for your osteoporosis animation. But more than that, this plugin is just plain fun.

The plugin can be found here:
CODE.VONC Proc3Durale

For those whose knowledge of the French language hasn’t progressed beyond the ham and cheese croissant you ordered at Starbucks, the US strings can be found here in the Maxon forums on CGTalk
Just replace the french strings in the plugin folder with it.

Oh…and if you like it and plan on using it in production in the future, please be sure to donate via the paypal link on his page.

Some more experiments. Very un-sciency.

Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 10.23.24 PM

Lousy render

Posted in Uncategorized by Joel Dubin on July 28, 2012

Lousy render

Just a test render for a head lice project I’ve started. Yuck.

Random stuff I’ve been working on

Posted in Cinema 4D, Medical Animation by Joel Dubin on July 28, 2012

Just some shots from various work over the past year or so

Microfloaties Rig for Cinema 4D

Posted in Cinema 4D, Tips/Tutorials, Tools and Rigs by Joel Dubin on June 1, 2012

Microfloaties is a FREE* tool for Cinema 4D that lets you quickly add floating dust particles to your scene. It’s a rig fashioned from some of the mograph tools (cloners and effectors), some xpresso, and given specific user data to control the amount, size and speed of the dust particles, as well as the scale of the area they occupy in your scene file. Microfloaties requires Cinema 4D R12 Studio. You will need to have the mograph module and dynamics for Microfloaties to work properly. Special thanks to C4D-ers Dominic Faraway and Brett Morris for their feedback and assistance.

You can grab it here: MICROFLOATIES This zip file contains the Microfloaties C4D project file as well as a library file for use with your Content Browser in Cinema. If you wish to keep Microfloaties handy in your Content Browser, just drag the microfloaties.lib4d file into your Browser folder found within Maxon>Preferences>Library folders. Here is a tutorial to help get you started. Enjoy!

(*By FREE I mean feel FREE to make a donation if you have found Microfloaties to be useful to your work. Thank You :) )

To all who have been asking about adding functionality to allow the change of materials and cloner objects… Yes, I do intend to look into adding these functions to a future version of Microfloaties. For now, it is what it is :)

Invention USA promo

Posted in boards, Cinema 4D, Motion Graphics, Television, Uncategorized by Joel Dubin on December 6, 2011

Finished a spot for a new show on History called Invention USA. Had a short window of time to come up with the concept and go to finish, which I do admit consists mainly of a bunch of things that Cinema 4D does well (and fast), namely stuff falling on a floor and bouncing around. A little lazy perhaps on the concept side, but it was one of those situations where I just needed to come up with something fast, in the midst of doing 12 other things, and see how it flies. Client liked the concept so I went with it.

I gotta say though, when I'm in a tight bind, C4D always comes through for me. Setting up the dynamics required minimal effort. It just works. And the rendering was fast as well. I started off meaning to use GI and also tested the scene with the new R13 physical renderer, but because time was an issue (needed to go straight to finish in a very short amount of time) I went with the standard renderer. The still above was rendered with the new physical renderer, however the final shot (not shown here) didn't really look much different in the end and rendered in a fraction of the time. Hope to eventually post the spot. Some style frames also included below.

Cinema 4D R13 physical camera test: Lipid Monolayer

Posted in Cinema 4D, Experimental, Medical Animation by Joel Dubin on November 30, 2011

Just a test to get up to speed with the physical renderer in Cinema 4D 13. Wondering if it is viable for real animation work. The kind with deadlines.

I am currently getting ~8 min per frame rendering at SD widescreen. Only rendered a short sequence (130 frames) so I looped it a few times.

SSS was turned OFF as it was taking ages for the irradiance thing to cache (this was with optimized SSS settings).

I have 1 bounce for self illumination, AO on, motion blur and DOF on.

At the moment it looks like I still have some more optimization options to explore. Render times feel too heavy at the moment for long-form medical animation (usually between 4 to 10 minutes of HD animation) but maybe Ok for short shots for spots and such. We’ll see.

EDIT 12/01/2011

Continuing my experimentation. Removed sub-poly displacement and put SSS back in. Reduced settings significantly. see below)


Got much faster render times (~2min/frame). Still needs refining. Lighting is all HDRI now so could use a bit more directional light. Turned on reflections as well instead of using an HDRI environment map for fake reflections. Also added a second layer of phospholipids (now its a proper bilayer) and threw a couple of proteins into the dynamics group.

Camera Falloff Example

Posted in Cinema 4D, Experimental, Motion Graphics by Joel Dubin on November 12, 2011

What started out as a simple test to explain camera-driven shader effects in Cinema 4D to a friend in need, turned into, well I don’t know, THIS I guess. Staring at that Optical Flare in the hazy distance makes me ponder the meaning of existence. Then I just click on a cat video and I’m all better.

But I digress. I’m using the gradient shader in “3D spherical mode” set to camera space applied to cloned spheres. As objects come closer to the camera, they glow. Objects in the distance are dark. A nice way to fake fog in your scenes (and a lot of other things depending on which channels you use it in)

The radius value (below) determines the length of the  gradient effect (left to right, left being the camera which is at the center of the “virtual” sphere). I copied this shader setting into my diffuse channel to darken the objects in the distance.

I’ve done some post work on the clip above which kind of makes the camera falloff luminance harder to spot, but hopefully it makes sense. I got a little carried away.

I came upon this technique maybe a decade ago as described by CG/VFX artist Richard Morris (aka Jackals Forge of Gallerie Abominate fame) on his  website documenting his cg production process for the science documentary BodyStory 2 for BBC. Make sure you check out his work. Although his website is over a decade old, the work still looks great and the information can still very useful to those in the biomedical visualization field. The relevant information can be found in the “Dynamic Shading” section of the article.

Jackal’s Forge BodyStory 2 Tech. Click here for website/article

Cinema 4D R13 + SSS + Physical Renderer

Posted in Cinema 4D by Joel Dubin on September 10, 2011

Just got Cinema 4D R13 and thought I’d see if i could figure out some of the new rendering features, mainly the new sub-surface scattering system as well as the the physical renderer and camera. Struggling a bit, but challenges make this stuff more fun.

I was inspired by Maxon’s marketing image for R13 of the grapes by Marijn Raeven, which I’m sure many of you have already seen. Didn’t want to waste time modeling anything, so I did the next best (i.e. easiest) thing, and cloned a bunch of dynamic spheres and applied SSS. 13 minutes later I had this image.

Over the next few months I’ll see if I can reign in the times and quality to see if its feasible to use physical rendering in animation production, but in the meantime I think I will be sticking with R12.

Here is the first image I created. Its a model of a trichinomas (yucchy parasite). I chose it as I thought it would be a good object to test the SSS due to its general blobbyness. Its a starting point. Still a ways to go…

Of Blueprints and Beauty Passes. A look back at Factory Floor.

Posted in After Effects, Cinema 4D, Motion Graphics, Television by Joel Dubin on August 15, 2011

A few years ago I got to work on an episodic TV project called Factory Floor. You may have already seen my other posts about it earlier on in my blog. Yeah, I know, I’m milking it. It was not a particularly successful series (it only lasted one season) but looking back it was really a great experience overall, and I learned a lot about what its like to be involved in a TV series production. There were ups and downs, funny stories, sleepless nights, stress, and ultimately, a feeling of relieved satisfaction bordering on triumph when we delivered the last approved graphic call after a roughly nine-month period of working. I still marvel at how I and my then business partner R. Scott Purcell, our producer Bob Larkin, (and the occasional 1 or 2 extra freelancers) were able to turn around 100 graphics calls while jumping through all the usual hoops of a production schedule.

The image above is the beauty pass render for a piece of machinery called a pencil extruder. It squeezes out bits of lead that will be inserted into the pencil. Below is what the final call looked like after compositing (and thats CAULK GUN by the way. Get your head out of the gutter.;)

One of the things I really liked about this project was that it required me to QUICKLY build and rig dozens of mechanical objects, mostly factory machinery, but sometimes the odd item like cheese curds, toilet paper or potato chips. I’d get a script, and usually a rough cut of a given episode, and from the low res quicktime footage, as well as google picture reference, I’d need to knock out various models in a short amount of time. I’d usually spend no more than 5 or 6 hours a night researching, building a model, then get started on roughing out the animation timed to the corresponding piece of the rough cut. Each night I’d shoot to have a shot ready to go. After a few weeks, (and then months), the process was like second nature. Research, build, animate.

The style of the graphics was to resemble a sort of moving 3D blueprint. We developed a workflow right from the beginning in which we had a master Cinema 4D file which included all the shaders and lighting we would need in every scene.

The rendering and compositing workflow would go like this:

1. Beauty Pass. We would apply realistic shaders and textures to our models with a decent lighting setup and render this pass usually with ambient occlusion if rendering time allowed. We had a set of metallic shaders we would reuse again and again for the various pieces of machinery.

2. X-RAY PASS. We also developed a set of x-ray shaders using a variety of colored fresnel (angle of incidence) gradients loaded into the alpha channel of the shader. We would take our master project of the given scene and then apply these shaders and render that pass.

(below , the X-ray pass for the lead extruder call, a fire extinguisher, and a taser X-ray  right below that)

3. LINE ART PASS. We heavily utilized the Cinema 4D module Sketch and Toon to generate a bluish line-art pass on white. Although the S&T render method can give a big hit to your render times, we found that setting S&T quality to low and turning off AA sped up rendering times considerably and still looked great. Sometimes we would create custom overshoot and perspective lines and render these in yet another line art pass.

4. BUFFERS. Each animation would require us to hold and highlight a specific part of the object or machinery. When this occurred we would need to glow each part. To help with this we rendered object buffers for each part of the model. If a piece of the model was obscured in some way, like for instance, a battery or valve inside the main object we would render those pieces out separately in their own scene file.

Scott developed a a template in After Effects from which we would create each and every shot from. It included a blueprint overlay, background textures, labels and leader lines as well as a layered workflow to style the renders into that blueprint look which would need to mix with the textured background. Scott used the linear light layer pass which yielded the perfect look. We would also use feathered masks to accentuate certain areas, and bring out more of the beauty pass, line pass or X-ray pass as needed.

1. We would typically drop the beauty pass in first then apply the layer effects to mix it with the background texture.
2. Then we would bring in the x-ray pass, then mask out areas as needed, and fade it back considerably.
3. We would drop the line pass in and mix it a bit, set to multiply.

Below is an example of a typical AE Comp.

In the end the final look was nice, and completely in line with what was appropriate for the show, as well as being exactly what the producers wanted. I’ve recently gone back through the files, remembering how much time went into building them all. I thought Id share some of the pre-processed beauty passes and showcase them a bit, as much of the detail gets lost in those original blueprint renders. These are by no means examples of rendering excellence. No global illumination or linear workflow, just some simple down and dirty 3-point lighting and metallic shaders with a touch of AO.

I may continue to add more images to this post, so check back. I have tons of them.
Thanks for looking!

Playing with the Mograph Extrude object…

Posted in Cinema 4D, Experimental by Joel Dubin on July 7, 2011

Just a C4D doodle, playing with text and the mograph extrude object. Applied a shader effector to the extrude object  to alter visibility and scale of extrusion with the noise shader. Nothing groundbreaking here but fun to explore.

I think the GI looking text on the reflective cyc might be a bit overdone these days– so easy to do.

For reference…

A bit out of Character…

Posted in Cinema 4D by Joel Dubin on July 2, 2011

Five or six years ago I was contracted to design and build a character for an up-and-coming game company. It was really my first character gig, but was excited to dive in and give it a shot. Not sure if the game ever saw the light of day (not much of a gamer actually) but it was a fun project to work on and learned a lot in the process.

Never finished it completely–the boots were meant to be snowboard boots (Its Danté, the Snowboarding  Demon from Hell!), textures were never  refined and sub surface scattering’s a bit blown out. There are some anatomical problems too. Blah blah blah…

But thought I’d share anyway–just to show that it’s not always microbes and slime for me.


Procedural Modeling in Cinema 4D: McGuyver Style! Sneak Peak…

Posted in Cinema 4D by Joel Dubin on July 1, 2011

UPDATE: January 9, 2014
Its been 2 and a half years since I wrote this blog post, with the best intentions of recording a video tutorial to explain how to build the procedurally tiled cellular surface shown below. Well, as with many ideas I’ve had for this blog, life and work kind of got in the way of all that, and I just never got around to it. As consolation I thought I’d at least share the file with the c4d community, so other artists could pick the file apart and hopeful learn something new…maybe pickup a workflow that could benefit someone on a project.

It just came to my attention today that another cinema 4d artist has used the file, pretty much as is with a few very minor modifications, and has passed it off as his own for a medical animation project that he is crowd funding on Indiegogo. This is a no-no. I can’t believe I have to actually say this, but any scene files I have shared here, unless stated otherwise, are not to be used for commercial purposes, but for educational use only (Microfloaties is Ok to use for whatever you want). You are not going to get very far in this business if you can’t actually create the work you display on your website yourself. A very short-sighted business strategy.

Anyway..back to the blog:


Working on a tutorial that will show you how to create this tiled cell image below with nothing more than a rubber band and a paperclip. Actually, a sphere, plane, and a disk primitive. Plus a little help from some Cinema 4D generators…

Took it a little further….


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