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Particles, Tracer, Xpresso. Oh My! Simon From Man Vs Machine is Making Tutorials 115 Comments

My good buddy Simon is also doing some excellent advanced Cinema 4D tutorials in between doing killer work for one of my favorite studios, Man Vs Machine. In his words… “Just interesting ideas that i come across when i try to solve problems at work.”

C4D Particles

Tracer Object Techniques

Mograph Point Deformer

Point Level Animation

Xpresso & Set Driven Keys

About Simon
Simon Homedal is a motion designer/3d artist at Man vs Machine before that he was a student at hyper island in Sweden. You can see his work on his site

Comment Rules

This is a friendly community. Please treat everyone with respect. We don't all have to agree, but we do have to be nice. Criticism is fine, but rude comments and name calling will be deleted. Use your real name and don't be spammy. Thanks for adding to the conversation.


  1. bardo

    hello simon, i was doing the 2nd. I added an emitter and then a tracer , and then the tracer inside a sweep nurbes, so i have some lines coming out from the emitter, what about if i want to had some the formers to the lines, like you did for the matrix in the firts tutorial?

  2. great work simon your good at what you do …
    im a beginner cd4 user and this was a very good help for my music video project..and also short movie..i will recommend you to my friends who are also fans of greyscale gorilla

  3. javi rey

    Hi Simon, where can i watch with good quality this videos??

  4. amanda

    I really liked the 1st video on particles, is it possible to put an animated object as the particle? (such as a bird flapping its wings, so that you could have a flock of birds?)

  5. Carlos

    Hi Simon. I was wondering if there’s a way to constrain the length of the spline (Tracer Object Techniques). Let’s say I want to have one of the cubes hanging and swinging from one end of the spline. Great videos by the way.

  6. I wonder why nobody asked about the Scripts he used… I cannot get to read some expresso nodes due to the low quality. Somebody has them? Thanks

  7. I’ve followed simon’s tutorials since day 1: They’re awesome, because they’re short but full of interesting techniques and approaches. Sometimes that’s all I need to get started again! πŸ˜€

  8. MVM and Simon both do such amazing work. The Syfy idents which MVM worked on are one of the things which rekindled my interest in 3D.

  9. Sameer

    Amazing.. Love to see more tutorial from you. keep it up

  10. When a quick rigging tutorial ??? XD
    i’m waiting for long ,…..

    thank’s for all your work Nick !!

  11. Thank you so much for your time and your well appreaciated availability explaining these useful techniques!

    These tutorials are great!
    Well explained!

    Hope you keep releasing more great ones!

    Have a great day!

  12. Chris

    Wow, now that was an impressive demo. I wish this guy was working full time on cineversity!

  13. very nice stuff simon.
    i just passed through character animation for 3ds max in my school and as c4d is my favorite program i see how easy is to apply what ive learned into c4d

  14. hamsonb

    Awesome work on your site! Those spiderwebs on the chiller project are insane!

  15. Andreas

    Great! Clearly & inspiring stuff.
    Thank you very much.

  16. pixel

    Thanks… this is great πŸ˜€

    Do you can make tutorial about animation comercial..


  17. yeah boyyy! Simon has really some tricks going on. Thanks for Sharing big Gorilla..

  18. fasteddie

    Holy crap – this is awesome!!!

    Thanks and please make more! πŸ˜€

  19. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am that you put out these tutorials! Wow, I love your work, outstanding, and thanks so much!

  20. Tomaz Mrevlje

    Hey man great tuts, definately learned a lot! Thanks, keep em coming, i know there’s a lot of us out there that really apriciate this!


  21. What a great ressource here !
    I love this kind of simplicity & weirdness in the same clean explanation. Powerfull tips and easy to set up.
    Thanks Nick for this links. And Man Vs. Machine seems to be a great company.
    I noticed that GSG is going to give us advanced tutorials & ideas towards TP and powerfull stuff on Mograph asap, isn’t it ?
    So, I’ll stay tuned !

  22. Rayne

    You’re reel is very nice, haiha. You have obviously put your time to much use learning. That is very commendable.

    If I was to venture one suggestion? Okay, you have learned a great many different techniques. Perhaps now, if you were to combine them all into one single visual project now would be the time to try this.

    I don’t mean produce yet another reel of clips – I mean something which depicts a theme of some kind that illustrates a story, an idea immediately with lots of visual interest.

    99.9% of the work you are teaching yourself to do isn’t about simply creating or replicating cleaver 3D effects – its about making an effect through your own unique visual style.

    Your reel as such shows exactly what you are – a young chap showing that he is setting out to learn 3D motion graphics and having successfully wrapped his head around how to do certain things and package that all together. It’s a very mice reel. Very comendable.

    Now combine that experience and learning – tell a story visually that runs for about the same duration (no longer) that focuses on illustrating either a thought or idea that conveys itself immediately and interestingly.

    Take the word IDEA (for example) – what does it mean? What does it involve? Think about the process undertaken in working that out – visualise it. Show it.

    You could of course consider the word SHRIMP, instead.

    Lever less than funny that word….

    But, hopefully you take good heart and give it a bash. Great start point. Now take it further.


  23. haiha

    thanks a lot Rayne. It’s the first time i made a real Reel. I will think carefully about what you’ve said.^^

  24. Fredrik

    This is awesome stuff man. Great work looking forward for more in the future.

  25. Steve

    If someone would have asked me a week ago how much of C4D I master, I would have given them a greater number than I would give them if they asked it now…..

  26. MikeC

    It’s a shame you don’t post non-mograph tuts anymore.

  27. Rayne

    :)… Well. If that was you’re first time at cranking out a show real it really doesn’t show. Very nicely edited, presented and put together. You clearly have an aptitude for learning this kind of thing and trying it out.

    Now, like I say – focus on telling just a simple story, or illustrating a thought, mood or idea. Something cohesively visual and then consider all the ways you can flesh that out knowing the the things you clearly have learned.

    Effects have their place – but it is story and visual style that really matter. Think just as much about 2D art work styles that you really like, that genuinely impress you – bring them to life, make them live. Pick a mood and a theme that excites you, that interests you – that way, as long as you’re interested, the viewer will be also.

    And above all else, keep it simple. The means to impress stem from ones own innate ability to understand the world around you in terms that other people see it – but see it yourself in a way that only you can and make others understand through what you visually show – the way you frame a shot, the way you light it – the focus you place on whatever’s going on.

    As a visual designer you are the eyes of the audience. They see and understand through you.

    Y’follow m’drift?

    That, in a nut shell, is what company’s pay for.

    More importantly: that, as an artist, will keep you active and busy for life.

    I think you understand the jist very well. Now is just the time to give yourself the space and creative freedom to explore that side of your ability more.

    Don’t worry so much about how – focus more on what looks good, and why.

    Why is the only question you will ever need in this life or any other. There’s always a reason for everything – even synchronised swimming.

    R πŸ˜‰

  28. Awesome tuts Simon! just one thing,could you improve a bit the capture quality please, it would be easier to follow. ThankΒ΄s!!

  29. That will come Dekar. I just moved to a new place last weekend, ill have a better connection soon so far I’v been uploading from my phone so I havent invested in a plusaccount.

    sorry about the bad quallity

  30. Arthur

    Could you please post a link for that Expresso script?

  31. oh god… can I have a few more hours so that I can cope with all the tutorials provided on the net?
    Too fast + too much! πŸ™‚
    Anyway, amazing tutes here!

  32. Thanks for pointing this guy out Nick!

    only watched the first tut, but damn that’s awesome!

  33. Joe Ski

    Simon, these are great! Thanks for sharing and please keep ’em coming!!

  34. haiha

    Well Rayne. Thanks alot alot. Can I get your skype or yahoo, cause i really want to talk to you more. I’m new so ^^ you know, i want to learn and improve.

  35. Digiboy

    Great!!! Your english is very good (more than mine sure!) and your tutorials are really good!!!! *^_^*

  36. Just been watching Simon’s tutorial ‘Tracer Object Techniques’. Great job. Also like the speed at which he explains things, clear and quick. Only 1 thing though. I would recommend at the point where he converts the tracer object between 2 points to a plain Spline he should have changed the interpolation of the Tracer object before breaking it up to a Spline. That way you can easier make the afterwards created Spline Dynamics work. Now he goes a tedious way subdividing the resulting Spline, interpolating, tweeking the thing. Not necessary.
    By the way his English is perfect so he should not worry about that.

  37. Tvandang

    This is awesome stuff. Gone where no man has gone before!

  38. Hi
    first, great “little” tuts πŸ™‚

    second : i tried to applied the first tut but i have a pbm : when i make a render i have no objects… i dont know if im clear enough
    but thanks for help !

  39. Hi everybody. Just want to inform you that a new tutorial is up on my vimeo within a few hours, encoding it atm, its all about creating dynamicsplines. Using spline dynamics / softbodies / cloth !

    check it out !

  40. love these quick tutorials….these are things i have never seen before and will help me greatly!!

  41. tiredofglossyballs

    Yes! Stuff we can use that we can actually use that also encourages creativity rather than carbon copies!

  42. simon

    Thanks Simon, I Learning a Lots,
    Please Continue Your Tutorials.

  43. Pit 4

    As I can do this in cinema 4d? It looks interesting. I am thankful for the help and I apologize for my English, I use a translator to write this.

  44. Mosterdsausje

    Keep up sharing the knowledge, it’s very much appreciated! Also bigups to Nick for giving next man’s a chance to shine. You lots are the reason my wife hates me right now for spending so much time on my pc… lol.

  45. Cheebachops

    While working on a freebie music vid for a friend i found myself playing with tracer a lot. I discovered a way of using hair instead of the traditional sweep nurbs (which creates huge poly counts),so render times are super fast. It’s not as simple as just dropping a hair object into the scene which was my first thought.There is some strange tweeking that needs to be done in order to get the hair to beahve like geometry. If enough people want to know how i did it,i will try to do a tutorial,so let me know.

    ps. sorry the music is crap,made it myself just so i had something to animate to.

  46. Rayne

    Yeah. πŸ™‚ I gathered you started off with MoSplines in (Lifted) then got to experimenting with Hair due to polygon count issues in the text test short you were running – that’s the actual project you’re trying to sequence right, isn’t it? Where you got the idea to try Hair.

    It’s an inspired approach, really. Nothing less than. Keep coming up with idea’s like that and you’ll start giving the Swiss Army a run for their money….

    Please don’t tell me you come with a handy attachment that allows you to open wine bottles, pick your teeth after meals and fend off marauding Italian tourists all in the one shot.

    I’d have to sell you on Ebay if y’did…

    R πŸ˜‰

  47. David Hong

    holy crap this is some amazing stuff
    thanks so much for sharing your knowledge simon!

  48. Kerry Mortensen

    Thanks for the tuts. Interesting information.

  49. These tuts are great Simon, just one thing Iknow the tuts are supposed to be quick which is cool, but i think u need a lil more balance between quick ans slow. While watching it I’m feeling overwhelmed very fast, even when I pause and go back sometime you are still clicking buttons and setting up things so quick it makes it difficult to follow. No doubt you are a expert with cinema in order to move around so quickly and be so knowledgeable in the program. But great job I like your tuts! And Nicks as well! Thanks Nick!

  50. richard

    WOW…this stuff is great, manvsmachine have a lot of amazing animations…this videos rule OK! MORE OF THAT PLEASE πŸ˜›
    Thanks Simon, Thanks Nick.

  51. peter

    Great tutorials, very professional and advanced! No easy stuff like almost all others. Keep up that good work mate πŸ™‚

  52. Your video tuts are dope, but can you please boost the quality? Full screen is kind of blurry. Everything else is rad.

  53. Hampus

    Thanx so much for your awesome tutorials, they really helped! iow, Tack som fan!

  54. Hamid

    Hello Simon,
    First thank you for all those great tips… now I started to love the Tracer and Delay effector πŸ™‚

    The expresso you used to get the global matrix of the cubes, what nodes does it use… I can see (Hierarchy, Object index, and 2 objects) but the node that outputs the matrix I can see it…
    Thank you

  55. Rayne

    The trick is to boil the water properly. Don’t bother with a pot or anything like that. Just drop a bog-ordinary tea-bag into a Mug Object. Boiling water into Mug-Object. Add your milk afterwards.

    You might be tempted to noodle out a way of simplyfying that using Xpresso – whatever you do, don’t.

    That only really works for Coffee.

  56. angel

    to chrome don’t “like” the vimeo’s videos…(I can’t see it neither when I use chrome) try using other navigator…or found it inside vimeo page (nick always post his videos inside his channel I don’t know if these videos are here too)

  57. Yeah, lots of good rigging tuts out there. No need to pressure Nick. Chris’s Hydraulic Arm was a quick rigging tut that was just posted last week, did you not see that? Robert Legers site has a good quick one. Also Nick has said many times Modelling, Rigging, TP are not his bag of goods. If they show up here it will be from others recording the tuts so don’t hold your breath for to long.

  58. sorry, i just watched the end of the first tut and i see that you “answered” my question πŸ™‚

    sorry again πŸ˜‰

  59. Rayne

    Well. Hurry up then, spit-spot! I’m in a taxi driving over there right now. I’m on a meter, y’know. I asked the taxi driver before getting in: “Is this cab free?” I asked him. “Yes mate, gouge me oi’s aht wiv’ a pencil if it ain’t.” he replied. Well, we just cleared Oford street and I caught a look at the meter. He lied. Plus, I didn’t bring a pencil…

  60. Rayne

    About bladdy time. I had to use a pen-knife in the end…

  61. Rayne

    Well, y’know…. For the longest time Walt Disney used to just draw stuff pretty much in the exact style of everyone else, over and over and over. Wasn’t even very good at it. And then, one day he started hiring people who could both draw and innovate and….

    Oh, no. You’re absolutely right. My bad.

  62. Rayne

    Yes, you could fake an effect like that out very easily: find yourself a nice blocky “digital” font – – drop a MoText object into your scene, apply your font to your lettering and the whole thing is extruded for you.

    Large advantage with MoText – it works well with all manner of deformers as well as physics. Play with it – experiment with the fracture object and explode deformer – break the lettering up, make it look as if made of light emitting panels overlaying each other.

    Many, many good tutorials on this out there – should be at least a couple in this little lot – – plenty of things to try out.

    Really all you have to do is sort yourself out a suitably “holographic” looking texture. Play about with glow, transparency, the luminosity channel and sort yourself out an a TV lines image file for an alpha channel.

    Lay materials over each other at varying levels of transparency – you’ll get a richer, deeper effect that way.

    And, basically, have fun with it. Let me put it this way, you’ll find you’ll be able to accomplish a far more interesting visual effect without a faction of the hassle the people that did this had adopting the method they used.

    Certainly, it’s all very cleaver on paper and when you know what’s going on – but visually speaking, doesn’t really produce the punch they could have got just doing the lot in C4D and not vaginaring around with whatever the hell they clearly thought they were acomplishing.

    Sometimes its entirely possible for creatives to have far too many thoughts.

    Still, if it was for Apple – I hope they charged them a raddy fortune. Twice. And then once more for luck.

    ????? ? ???!


  63. Rayne

    You, Mr Chops, interest me strangely. Some elaboration regarding method wouldn’t entirely be amiss.

    Like Lifted, btw.


  64. Cheebachops

    The method is difficult to explain without creating lot’s of confusion,settings made in sequence then removing hair from the calculations.

    Thanks for the comment on “lifted”.It was done in short test scenes while trying out various fx ideas, so none of it is really an end product (but it was for free, so no complaints from Ika).

  65. Cheebachops

    The hair trick works great with mospline too,but i guess you’ll have spotted that in the “lifted” vid.

  66. Cheebachops

    Yeah that was a starting point, later used in “lifted”, but the one in the link has dual tracers and matrix. Im sure when some clever artists, with a bit of spare time could create something amazing!

    When i get better at character animation, im going to use the tracer/hair to form a moving person (tracer animation along poly loops of a figures geometry, looping).

    Oh, i do have small spoon attachment, but it’s got a hole in it.

  67. Rayne

    I shouldn’t worry, happens to the very best of people.

    Don’t hold off until you get better at doing a thing the hard way – motion capture’s probably best. If you don’t have MotionBuilder or something actually useful like that, you can always rig something up in something free like Daz Studio. Doesn’t have to be great animation, just motion on an animated figure mesh. DS ships with a lite version of animate, you could just drop a few basic blocks into its timeline, bake the animation out as key-frames and that way you can export the BVH. Pretty sure there’s an FBX exporter plugin for the thing knocking around somewhere, that’ll do the lot for you, mesh and all. Being something actually useful I guess that’d be something you’d have to folk out on but, its a crap load cheaper than MotionBuilder and Daz Studio itself is absolutely free.

  68. Cheebachops

    Done some quick tests already on a static character and found i’ll need to create a very smooth edge flow in zbrush to make the job easier.The free model i tried was poorly made and was causing a scruffy looking tracer path.

    By animating the off-set on the matrix i got the nice flowing motion i was looking for, the end result is somewhat similar to the tron edges effect, but fully responds to dynamics and effectors (got to love the matrix).

    Looks like this is going to be a major project, build clean mesh, select edge loops, create splines from them,clusters….see you next year!

  69. Rayne

    You’re welcome. Sorry she’s nothing more bespoke, but for test purposes should do okay. Let me know how you get on. Interested.


  70. Cheebachops

    Don’t have the plugins used for the rig. but the edge flow looks smooth.
    There are a few dodgy bits, but i don’t need to convert every polyline, so i can avoid the tri/ngons parts.


  71. richard

    hahaha you are right…I did the same…and I was thinking WTF…what keys combination he pressed, where he clicked for that??? …but nice info tutos!…and yes, he is fast…good work Simon.


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Comment Rules

This is a friendly community. Please treat everyone with respect. We don't all have to agree, but we do have to be nice. Criticism is fine, but rude comments and name calling will be deleted. Use your real name and don't be spammy. Thanks for adding to the conversation.