Animating BB-8 With Cinema 4D And Signal
If you did not spend the last 30 years on a uncharted island, you probably heard about this thing called Star Wars. A couple days ago the 7th episode came out and introduced to us BB-8, a new spherical droid. Right after being introduced in the trailer, quickly became a fan’s favorite and the fastest selling Star Wars toy.
I became a little scared that BB-8 was just an attempt to replace R2-D2 or to sell merchandising, but in the end his place in the movie was totally justified and it did gain my affection. I stumbled upon this free model of BB-8 online, that is pretty accurate and seemed like it would look great in motion.
The first step was to build the floor. It is a simple plane with a tiling sand texture on it. A noise is used to have some details and displacement gives the relief. An FFD deformer is then applied to slightly curve the plane and hide the hard edges. Finally, Signal is used to offset the texture over time, creating the illusion of movement.
Then, three layers of mountains are built using the default Landscape object. Two of them are repeating so they can loop while moving, and a third, distant one is static. By offseting the two first layers a parallax effect gives a lot of depth, and makes the furtest-back mountain look distant rather than static. Each mountain is being moved at the same speed as the scrolling floor with Signal.
The Parallax effect is reinforced with foreground objects, as well as a repeating fence between BB-8 and the landscapes, all being moved at constant speed with Signal. Here’s how it looks from a different angle:
Next, BB-8 needs to be animated. For that, 4 Signal tags are needed. One drives the body rotation using constant motion, one drives the up-and-down motion with random noise, one drives the head position and the last one the head’s rotation, both with random noise as drivers.
It’s now time to put all the elements together, and make sure everything loops correctly and stays in frame. To make the motion seem more dynamic, two more Signal noises are added to the camera’s position and rotation.
Then, the scene was lit using a directional light and an ambiant light, as well as ambiant occlusion. It was rendered in the Cinema 4D Physical renderer with both Depth of Field and Motion blur. Finally, color correction and lighting effects were added in After Effects.
I did a few couple of high quality stills, and added some grain in Photoshop:
And that’s it! All it took was a couple of Signal tags and built in effects to make this little guy come to life.