How to build Joint Chains for Spiral Growth with Cinema 4D and Xpresso

June 23, 2010

I’m so excited to present the first tutorial from the hyper-talented Mike “The Monkey” Senften. Well, not a tutorial exactly, but 45 minutes of pure knowledge about how to use joints, hierarchies, and Xpresso to build natural structures that are great for spirals, curls and golden section goodness. This is definitely a bit more advanced then most of my tutorials, but you should be able to follow along. This is the first of what I’m hoping to be many more tutorials from Mike. The way that his work blends science heavy technical thinking and dead-sexy design chops makes him so perfect for this sort of thing. Plus, he is so passionate about this stuff isn’t he? Please leave any feedback you have about his presentation style or his hair cut or anything really in the comments.

Some words from Mike
“It’s 45mins of me geeking out on spiral growth. If that interests you then grab a whiskey and come along for the ride. The purpose of this video is not only to share some of the methods I use in my work, but also to gauge people’s reactions to the pace, focus, content, and style of the presentation… so please, feel free to comment.”

Joint Chain Examples From The Monkey

Update: Adam Swaab’s Batch Rename Plugins
Batch Rename Objects
Batch Rename Tags
Batch Rename Materials

Tutorial Focus:  , ,
Software:  ,

  • F****!!!!! That stuff is blowing my mind and far beyond any measurable berzerkness! No, honestly, I really like it although IΒ΄m still watchin it meanwhile ^^

  • oh holy crap! screw work, im watching this now!

  • nice ^^ but i like to learn more in for exemple… characters and bodypaint

    • This creature called the World Wide Web will kick your ass with million tutorials on that HAHA enjoy it! πŸ˜‰
      Just jokin!

    • I’m just commenting to criticize is not the intent of the blog? kkkkk loving the tutorials but it’s good that ta avendi variations because we c4d users suffer from specialized sites for us ai the 3d max’s and maya’s are wining.

    • Nope, actually – BP tutorials are a rare breed out there… the only good one i know of is 3D Kiwis DVD series.

    • I agree Caio. not enough BP and character tuts out there.not for version 11 anyhow.

  • This site gets better and better every day! πŸ˜€

    Thanks a lot for this great tut!

  • this deserves a joint, ill smoke and come back to enjoy mike’s screencast!

    cheers and thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    keep them comin!

  • you should upload more of these tuts and make some this complicated.

  • Beautiful very very in depth but also easy to follow…I especially like the drink in hand. was it Johnny Walker red and water?

  • wow this one is crazy ! πŸ˜€

  • The Monkey rules! such a good presenter and humourous too.

    Really enjoyed this one, could do to know what the nodes mean in the espresso editor, its something that I’ve been interested in.

    Nick, is there any chance he could do a quick tutorial on how he made the floral wrap up on the example?

  • Excellent Video! Cheers Mike

  • Thanks Nick! thanks Mike!
    I really liked the tutorial, It was a bit harder to follow sometimes, but I definatelly prefer to lose that if we get more to learn in less time (the good thing about video is that we can watch it as many times as we want).

    PS: Golden section rules! I try to use it as much as I can!

  • Hey Nick and Mike,
    You guys ever thought about doing a project together and then putting out a tutorial set like

    I think it would be really dope.

    Great tut by the way, Mike. Great pace, I might need to rewind a few times but it’s very engaging.


    i can’t seem to find the batch rename plugin but there are a few things on his “technical repository” that may come in handy.

    • Yeah, I was going to say the same thing. Anyone out there know where you can get BatchRename? That alone was almost as cool as the tutorial! πŸ™‚

    • I eMailed Adam.
      He said he took it off his site, but he’ll have it back up later tonight or tomorrow. I’ll post a direct link when I hear back from him.

    • Alright guys… Adam said I could go ahead and post his Batch Rename plugins on my site (there are 3… one for Objects, Materials, and Tags). Just unzip them all and throw ’em in your plugins folder. That was my bad. I should have checked before I mentioned it. Please don’t send him a bunch of eMails, he’s mad busy. Thanks.

      EDIT: Links updated in the main post.


  • Wow. Mind = blown. Thanks Mike! Thanks Nick! Unparalleled instruction.

  • Awesome tutorial! I think both you and Nick do a great job of explaining and moving through tutorials at a good pace that don’t dumb down things too much, but instead, challenge us to have to keep up. It’s a hard tightrope to walk. Thanks, Mike!

  • Absolutely awesome! Great tutorial. Thanks for going quickly and covering a lot of ground. I really like how this was a more advanced tutorial and look forward to many more from Mike πŸ™‚

  • Jonny MunΓ©var June 23, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    This one was an awesome non-tutorial. Lots of very valuable information. Thank you guys!

  • Very nicely done. Pace was excellent and your explanation of why things were done was spot on. Great tutorial.

  • YEAH!! the master is speaking!
    thanks a lot mike, it’s amazing! hopefully you liked it just as much as we did, because i cant wait for the next one!

  • WOW! Rise of the apes totally!!!
    Thanks a lot Mike for the great tutorial. And thanks Nick for getting Mike on board… You guys rock! πŸ™‚

    Look forward to more awesomeness ahead…

    Thanks again.

  • I’ll drink to that, Monkey man! Keep ’em coming, I love it when things get technical πŸ™‚

  • Sir Monkey, I owe you a bottle of the finest Whiskey available (or at least a bottle of brew ;))

  • Since the Da Vinci Code we all could have known about the Golden Section ;-P.

    This Tut is great and challenging! Looking forward for more.

    Keep up the good work!

  • WOW!!! … I want to get to that level

  • Great stuff Mike! I’m going to tinker some more with Xpresso, that’s for sure.

  • Well, Mike, not bad for a starter, you go smoothly, hoping your audience clings to the wagon. If they fall off, like I did, well its video so we just rewind and try catching it again. Very narrative, not to much sidetracking. Some rudimentary script might help to keep you on the tracks. But we are so grateful that you take the effort of sharing some of your knowledge and experience with us. THANKS

  • wow man, some pretty deep stuff there, very informative, just a suggestion but would love a video tut or run through of the time tracks, progressive keys scripts etc, that stuff blows me away! nice one anyway, keep em coming!!

    • yes this would be great or just a free download of the Progressive Keys and Simplify Keys script would make life so much easier …
      but i somehow unsterstand maxon with this … but please MAXON intergrate that hot shit !

  • I couldn’t help giggling like a teenager over the fact that this is a tutorial on rolling joints.

    Awesome stuff, thank you.

  • the_monkey- Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. You too Nick. Many out there would love to charge an arm and a leg for the things on this site.

    I agree with many of the comments made above. I’d love to see how you put together the bullet vs. mic piece. Maybe indepth Scripting???

    Thanx guys.

  • Eugene Opperman June 23, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Hi guys

    Absolutely amazing stuff, this skill can definately be utalized in 1000s of different ways, a definate solid layer on the Cinema foundation of necessary skills.

    Thanks Mike, hoping to see you on our screens soon. And Nick, your site continues to provide endless resource to all of us!

    Many Many thanks!


  • Major thanks on taking the time to make this tutorial, Mike.. It was extremely informative.

    I’m glad to see you’re interested in making more intermediate to advanced tutorials. Not enough of those out there! Keep up the epic tuts, Nick and Mike!

  • ok watch the video

    ok the cinema 4d how help me? is allwars easy for that? ok only cubes flying and dinamics word for broadcast?

  • Great stuff, really great to se how other artist work with cinema4D, super great tutorial… but the expresso part was a bit quick… it would be great if you could explain what the different expresso “boxes” do and why you need them… or maybe Nick could make a tutorial on that ?

  • Outstanding, Mike. Saw you present at NAB and knew this would be good – wasn’t disappointed. Had to rewind some parts over and over but loved the pacing and the topic – more, please!

  • Awesome there was alot i couldn’t keep up with but pause + rewind are awesome too

  • Am I missing something? I canΒ΄t see any tutorial? If I click the photo… well… I see a photo.. Can someone tell meif I am missing something?

    All the best


  • Really pleased to see a tutorial from the_Monkey on GSG.

    Thanks for linking up the Batch Rename plugin too.

    Looking forward to future tutorials!

    • Really enjoyed the subject and the use of XPresso. The reasons for why you did things provided further insight and therefore better understanding.

      The style was great, although I wasn’t sure about keeping the window of yourself on screen all the time – but I guess it’s another form of communication and it didn’t get in the way of the interface.

      My main criticism – and this is pretty minor – would be the quality of the encoding; this could have been better, I think.

      Overall: Awesome and as I said before – “Looking forward to future tutorials!”

    • Thanks for the crits. I really need to record a smaller frame size so I don’t have to zoom around all the time… I’m hoping that will help with the encoding issues. I’ve never encoded anything this long for the web and it’s definitely been a learning process.

      The recording of myself in the corner was more for me to see where I got hung up on this first run and it will be unlikely to show up in the future. I was just too lazy to encode the recording twice. πŸ™‚

  • Am I the only one who cant see this video? I can see only jpg of preview and nothing more

  • My God I could have so used this a month ago. I had to rig an octopus, first time.

  • Your mind is amazing Mike. I have seen some of your sound stuff and I love the math you use to create art!The combonation is great.

  • germany just won an important game at the world cup, so i may have had as many more sips of beer than the monkey had whiskey. Nevertheless, this has totally blown my mind. And it was so much better than the stupid soccer game. Thanks. Both of you, monkey and gorilla, have such a great way of presenting and teaching – you demand concentration and challenge the listener but at the same time do not hold everything for granted – meaning you do not skip too many steps and let us keep up – even if those of us who are not professionals (,yet ;))
    by the way – living in fucking brooklyn and staying inside 10 hours for recording a great tutorial on a beautiful sunny and working free day – instead of enjoying breakfast or dinner or a beer somewhere at bedford avenue, that demands an big extra thanks!
    best from germany
    ps: now that i get more sober, i think i will watch the tutorial a second time πŸ˜‰

  • Excellent tutorial. I thought the pace was great.

  • Thanks, I don’t think I’ve watched a more enjoyable tutorial. I really like the ‘rambling’ style – that’s what it feels like when you’re learning/playing, not too goal focused, just trying stuff out.
    Also wanted to say that you can get spirals out of the bend deformer, just rotate it a little in relation to the object. It won’t give you that beautiful logarithmic falloff though πŸ™
    Thanks again.

  • Hi, man
    That was a really amazing lesson!
    Please, keep up the good work!!

  • Just my notes during the tutorial;
    First off, I understand the screen trade-off using the front facing camera in the tut, but the way you and Mike talk to *me* it works really well. It removes the sitting trough [another voice].

    Second, Mike, don’t appologize πŸ™‚ this was one of the best tutorials out there. And in the great filosofy of Nick: Teach why and flow, instead of click here and there. I come here to see the more indepth stuff. So it is okay to focus on advanced stuff.

    Third; Love to hear more about Da Vinci’s Golden Ratio. I’m a scientific guy and know what it is and how nature applied it, but never seen it apply in 3d graphics. (again don’t appologize to go in to that stuff)

    Forth; I need to know more about expresso. I see it happening, but I don’t understand why. Not a lot of information (basics) on that around on the net.

    Fifth; Alcohol seems to help you talk to yourself πŸ˜‰

    Sixth; You’re a genius. great move Nick! Another angle on motion graphics is always welcome πŸ™‚

  • Great tut, man!
    What about your layout?
    It’s really cool how you got your icons aligned to the right.
    How do you do that?

  • truly epic! loving the sacred geometry shit..

  • I thought that hair looked different…

  • Marteinn Einarsson June 23, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    I’m really diggin’ this! I’m terrible at math, still lovin’ it.

  • I’m really digging the idea of showing a tool-based tutorial instead of
    an end result focused one. I think your approach and Nick’s fit together
    pretty well.

    Your pace was great and if I miss something I can always rewind.
    That was a great first, so keep it up. πŸ˜‰

  • nick this is amazin.
    seriously real deep mind frying shit.
    this guys real good teaches alot of alot in those 40 min. i am pretty much a beginner talkin about animations so this stuff while amazing is way over my league, i can barely know where xpersso is nor do i have ever touched the character menu. this is better than good, again, yet throws beginner like me in the animation field a bit too deep in the water.

  • Dude, the monkey is like some OBI-Wan, Einstein, Super Science Monkey, What the heck?!..Probably some of the most creative displays I have seen yet. Wow man…All I can say

  • Awesomeness! Can’t wait to do it. I’m on this site like every day now!

  • nick, this site just clicked up a huge level

    no longer just shiny primitives.. you are giving us the ultimate primitive. the monkey!

    i hope this is the future of monkey on gorilla action

  • The monkey and gorilla up to some tricks! awesome tut especially for newbies like me starting out. Realized now there so much more to C4d than just animating by keyframe.

    You guys should do more tuts together. passed on the greyscale site on to some of my class buddies even they in awe!!!!!

    Well done guys
    from South Africa

  • nice tutorial hope to see more about expresso

  • Now that is what I’m talking about! Mike is a grrrrreat asset to the site. Thank you for this awesome tutorial Gorilla and thank you Mike. Love the style of the tutorial…

  • Hey Nick, I am a Big fan of you!!!! I always check your blog for mind blowing tutorials.
    You made me to get in deeply to Cinema4d.
    Monkey is rocking!!!! please ask him to do more tutorials…. keep rocking Nick.

  • Hi everyone,

    Xpresso question:

    Suppose i have 10 Root joints, how i can control the PSR of each one with only “1” controller ? Then from that add “random” to have different “movement”.

    Dont know if i’am clear in english, i’am a froggy.

    Thank you both, you rock.


  • It was superb.
    I mean the way you explained everything was simply perfect.
    We’d love to see some more tuts from you.
    I told my friends about this tut and they too said that it was a really nice tut.

  • really, really, really great. Like the depth pace and complexity. Also really good to have an insight into such a great xpresso workflow, its been baffling me for weeks. I Would love to see more and judging from the comments above, I guess so would everyone else.

    Really appriciate you sharing guys.


  • Amazing tutorial! Helps me a lot to open my mind into new techniques in cinema 4D.
    Deeply hope to see more of these tutorials, which have so much of value information and so well explained!
    Mike please keep on rocking at Greyscalegorilla!!!!!!

  • really thanks fot that nick…we all say thanks to you and the monkey…both of you are amazing designers…thanks for share your knowledge

  • Dude… My brain is all ower the floor! This is mindblowing. Where to start? I feel so small…

  • Thanks Mike and Nick!
    Mike this is pretty complex stuff for me right now, but i loved the way you presented it..looking forward to more.

    you could also try the mohawk πŸ™‚

  • Awesome Tut, awesome Tutor! More of awesome please!

  • Mike, have a Chivas on me!
    Thanks so much for sharing this, I really like having this more complicated learning material around. Big up!

  • “It doesn’t hurt to know more…”
    …well, my brain is throbbing right now!
    Seriously, really enjoyed this and liked how it challenged me; the lack of constant hand-holding through a process – I think anyone who had a go at this would come up with a different end product and learn a lot along the way. (I will do just that once my brain has recovered!)
    It has made me realise I need to swot up on Xpresso as those sections lost me. I could copy what you’ve done but I don’t understand it, you know? For anyone in a similar boat, I’ve heard that RuiMac’s COFFEE book is very good:

  • This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for! A simple and understandable examination of joints.

    Thanks so much for this one.

  • Hey guys,

    I really love this tutorial.
    I really hope that the monkey and gorilla will work more together!

  • Is there no limit to this blogs greatness.

  • Love the tutorial.
    Just did something very similar to your basic joint chain to knot a Vuvuzela 3 days ago:

  • Mike, congrats on your first tutorial.
    I like the free form way you took us through the tut.
    I wouldn’t change your presentation style for your next tutorial.
    You’re a natural at this, and it’s a great way to learn!

  • Awesome tutorial guys – keep the advanced ones coming!!

  • THANK YOU! this stuff is so awesome – its easy to find a lot of tuts that show how to use all of mograph and all the other cinema tools, but its hard to find strong intermediate resources that reveal such clever and sophisticated techniques – THANK YOU THANK YOU

    cant wait for more!

  • Hey Monkey-

    love the tutorial and i hope to see more from you and the gorilla.

    question: after the xpresso steps (around 20min into the tutorial), everything works fine, only, my joint chain is now 100cm off of world zero. being the axis nazi that you are, i was hoping you could help me figure out why it’s not at world zero. do i need to fix this BEFORE i make the xpresso schematic? or can i cancel the position connection from the ‘root’ to ‘joint.01’, move the coordinates back to world zero, then reconnect in xpresso?

    this problem doesn’t completely kill my work, but it’s a nuisance. the axis nazi in me doesn’t like it.

    • You may remember I did it the “wrong” way first to show you why you need to feed data to all the joints EXCEPT joint one. If you followed me doing it the wrong way you can simply correct it it by selecting just the first joint and setting it back to 0,0,0. Remember you only want to start offset and rotation from the second joint down (well… not always, but in this example).

      If you were to build a more proper Xpresso setup you would actually add a node to make sure Joint 1’s position was always 0,0,0. As it is now, it’s free to roam, which has it’s advantages (if you know that it’s free). If you prefer it locked you have that option.

      If you want to lock the position just know that you can’t use the Joint 1 node that’s ALREADY in your chain because it’s being fed by the hierarchy. Just make a new one (by dragging and dropping the object into the Xpresso editor) and create a Constant node with value of 0. Feed that into Joint 1’s position and rotation (but not scale).

      Also make you you set up your hierarchy correctly. I fixed the mistake after the fact (and left it in to try and show how to problem solve the issue), but that may have been more confusing in the end. Sorry.

    • restarting and trying again straightened me out. starting to get xpresso. thanks for your help! maybe it’s because i didn’t have a whiskey nearby? next time.

  • The Monkey, that was an awesome tutorial! Hope to share a whiskey with you later in the future, haha. I was looking at your 2004 sketchbook and was wondering how you did the liquid and the smoke themes. The liquid was cool when it came out and then soaked into the floor.

    Can’t wait to see more from you here!

    • Excellent tutorial full of great stuff. I would like more in depth explanation into the expresso nodes and really what they are and why chosen. That’s the hard part, is realizing “why” you need “what” expresso node to do what you need it to do.

    • OhBeOne… The liquids from that 2004 sketchbook were done with Thinking Particles. In fact, I think it was a tutorial that actually came with the Thinking Particles manual (back when C4D still came with paper manuals). Believe it or not, that animation has very special significance to me because it was what inspired my first discoveries with audio driven time remapping. The Artifaks piece was pretty much born out of experiments revisiting that first sketch from 2004.

      This sketch will likely be the source of my next tutorial. That way I can show you liquids and timetracks in a single run. That may need to be a two part-er just because of the volume of information that needs to be covered, but I love the effect and I’m proud of the research.

      If you’re referring to the blue smoke… that’s just animated noise.

  • Thanks you so much for putting this up, I enjoyed it very much…
    and now please excuse me, I have to watch it again and try it out πŸ™‚

  • Awesome explanation about joints! The Xpresso part is harder to understand why you used each of those things, it would be great to have a more in depth tutorial about it!!

    Thanks for it!

  • oh shit. that was a great tutorial. fast paced, go go go attitude, had to watch it about 3 times to stick it into my brain. thanks a lot, looking forward to the next one…

  • Mike – I’d be curious how you would add some soft IK dynamics to this controller. I’ve played around with soft IK the using the joint tool before -but not with xpresso.

    Any ideas?

    • Well keep in mind that this is an FK rig so if you want IK you’ll have to create a system where you can switch back and forth between them. Like so…

      Also, if anybody is looking for something more challenging to dissect, there is a dynamic chain that uses constraints rather than FK or IK that’s included in CS_Tools. Under CS_Examples > theMonkey > CS_BassFish. It was created with a technique that uses sequential delay constraints that I first saw described by Kai Pedersen in his “Boing” tutorial over at Cineversity.

    • Okay, now that I know that “FK” is “forward kinematics” – that’s making more sense. I’d be curious to know how you did the sample you just posted.

      And while I’m thinking about it, why isn’t there a “soft fk?”

  • I’m also curious if there’s a way to clone objects with mograph using this joint chain setup. I haven’t been able to find a way.

  • Mike,
    Thank you very much.

  • *struggling along* until at 35 mins EXACTLY !!
    I’m hooked !
    Thanks Nick and thanks Monkey.

  • Just wow. I have just recently started seriously playing around in C4D to enhance things I was doing in After Effects (I actually found this site through videocopilot) and XPresso was kinda one of those scary unknown things in the program,lol. This helped me ALOT to understand it a little better, thank you. This site has been one of the best sources on the subject I’ve found out there. I love how its entertaining at the same time as you are learning something. I loved the rambling about the golden ratio stuff. If thats what happens after not even one whiskey, I’d love to sit down and get hammered with you,lol god knows what I may learn. As far as crits on the screencast, everything seemed great however I like how the program Nick uses shows the buttons he is hitting as he’s going along. I teach at a design school here in PA and its easier for my students to see what Im doing as opposed to me saying “hit ctrl+j on your keyboard”. everything else was top notch man. Hope there will be more to come from Both you and the Gorilla. Thank you both.

  • Excellent quick run through a lot of instruments and techniques that were new to me!
    My first experience with XPresso – such a powerful tool! Having prograaming background I feel it the right way to do repetitive tasks and involve the beauty of math.

    Thanks a lot for the superb tut, Mike!
    Thank you Nick for bringing Mike in!

  • Dear Axis Nazi,

    I am grateful for this wonderful piece of info!

    Good job already!

  • Mike.. This is one of the best tuts that I have ever seen after starting off with C4D! Its total knowledge overflow!
    Looking forward to the next “liquid Tutorial”.

    Thanks Nick for this endeavor…You rock!

  • What can i say mmmhhh.
    Damn m8 this is great.


  • Wow. Excellent tutorial. Especially the golden thing confused me.

  • That’s awesome! Looking forward for more tuts from you Mike! Thanks guys.

  • Thanks for the great tutorial. Looking forward to see more like this.

    It’s not too fast paced by the way.

  • Thanks for the excellent tutorial.
    Could you do a tutorial on time tracks i really loved the way you used time tracks in your NAB presentation.I’ve been trying but couldn’t get it right..It would be helpful.

  • Simian-power activate!
    Mike great tutorial! Love the format. Nick thank you for sharing this on your site.
    Also Thanks for Posting the Batch Renaming plugins..

    Things I liked.
    -You showed us multiple ways to do the same tasks. First the “Oldshool” aka long-way. Then explained there was an easier way with Xpresso.
    – You weren’t trying to recreate something already done, you showed us the value of Joint Chains and left the creativity and use up to us.
    -Your Pace was moderate, and you explained things well, your personality shows through and you didn’t talk down to the audience. (this was a little fast for me. But don’t stop.. I’ll just go back and re-watch this as many times as I have too)

    Things I didnt like:
    What took you soo long to make a tutorial? I’m positive your a busy dude. but you left this whole forum frothing at the mouth for more.. hehehe (granted Im very new to C4D just started learning it last Nov.) stumbled upon your Presentation at NAB this year, And Have been, learning as much as possible ever since.

    Question: (You knew there had to be some..)

    In your project layout. Are those nulls set up as your default start up? the +======+, Lights, Scene, Library. stuff?

    Also how did you get the object icon to be on the far right of the object menu?

    Xpresso — is there any reference material out there? where can I learn the basics? You seem so adept at creating expressions its frightening. 8)

    Whens the next one? Thank you..

    I stopped the movie and had to try out some stuff when you got to the golden ratio portion..

    Just a quick test. my blocky scorpion.

  • hey…dude, you rock. I really dig tutoriales that are not so start to finish product. Tutoriales about really really specific funcions are cool…now its playtime.

  • Absolutely amazing stuff, thank you to Mike and Nick. I keep coming back excited, wondering whats next… Now this!

    But, a bit of help if you have time, I have a problem and cant work it out at all..

    When I convert the joints to a spline, the spline follows the movement just fine, but the end of the spline aligned with joint 13 stays locked to the original starting point of joint 13, so Im left with an ugly string tying the spiral end to the source point, like in this picture:

    Its driving me nuts as Im dying to render something out with this πŸ™‚

    Once again, thank you. In such an expensive industry, this site is a godsend.

    • Did you have joint 1 selected when you were doing everything at the start?

    • Nvm, possible something to do with the D And N in the Instance expresso, or perhaps you assigned the wrong joint to the instance

    • I worked it out – somehow I had added joint 1 as the reference for the hierarchy in the 2nd Xpresso table. Swapped it for the root, sorted.

      Thanks for trying to help Liam, much appreciated.

  • A small change to the logic: arithmetic progression in Scale, rather than geometric, helps for geometric patterns with equidistant rolls.
    Sample animation:
    I made Scale a function of Delta constant and the Index of a Joint: S = (1-i*d)/(1-(i-1)*d)
    Thus the lengths of joints would be, i.e. 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1
    In case of 90 degree angle, it would be squares, with constant distance of 2 between neighbor parallel segments.
    (Was just thinking of how to imitate a real carpet rolling in/out : )
    Thanks again Mike for inspiration and helping me to dig into XPresso!

  • Thats what tutorials should be like.
    Give me a “donate Bananas”-Button, i’ll hit it. Great. Thanks!

  • Thank you Monkey, I appreciate the joints.

  • Damn. I learned a lot just watching that, and hope to see more Simian Studies from that mad monkey. Just when i thought i was getting to know something in C4D….

  • great tut man! I would really be interested to see how you did the bullet effect with the curled bones and the debris on the sample animation. That shiznit was siznick!!

  • Way beyond my level of knowledge but fantastic all the same. I think this more open – eclectic – and challenging type of tutorial is much needed in a world of quick and goal orientated TUTS. Great site. Keep up the good work.

  • That was pretty dope. I waiting for long time tutorial like this. I even send an e-mail to Nick about this. Thanks you for that. And you are a really good teacher Mike. I can finally beginning to understand the logic behind bone and joints. But I have trouble with the how to use weight tools and how to apply properly to the character. I try to rig a car but I can’t. I’ve so much learn to do. But I can’t wait your next tutorials. Thanks again. Keep up to good work.

  • I just wanted to say that you are awesome, I think your speed is more than perfect in comparison to some other tutorials that goes slows just get me bored, you went straight to the point at all times, thanks for sharing your knowledge and this was beyond excellent! good job I love your work and you work flow.

    Thanks again for this

  • Hey thx monkey for sharing your technique!
    Very interesting stuff with joints… I guess that’s really a powerhorse I left aside for a long time.

    But only to share or whatever: There is another way in Mograph to bend like your joints do. My interface is in german, but I’ll give a try πŸ˜‰

    Just take a matrixobject and increase the “step-rotation”. Then change the input to “additive”.

    If u get that one in the tracer your really close to your result. The tracer feeds the splinewrap. So u can bend whatever u like to your spline.

    It’s not with that fine control, but a way u can get their fast.

    bests, JC

  • Now if there was only a plug in , some script that would simplify this whole process of Batch renaming, xpresso setup etc, and just leave us the juice it would’ve been great.

    Wish I could C.O.F.F.E.E

    • I’ll take problem solving over plugins any day (that’s where I think the juice is). πŸ˜‰

      That being said, a script has been made to do this and will be posted as soon as everybody gets the chance to do a little homework.

  • that was so far over my head but I loved it because of that. Thanks for that.

    You should make a DVD just on expresso. You would be rich. I would buy it.

  • o hell yeah, just rediscovered the mathgeek in me…….now i am gettin myself a single malt whiskey and freak out a bit….

    thanks for sharing mike!

  • Hi there, I know it’s a bit late to post a comment but I really need to thank you both for this great tut.

    It’s so easy to understand and so pleasant to hear somebody speaking about stuff like : golden ratio, etc.

    I’m very happy to come every day seeing what’s new and I can say 95% of all I learned about C4D comes from here.

    Thank’s a lot guys, we can say that this sharing will give a good level for designers, because I do think that we have to teach us each other to bring design better and better, the more we share the best graphic designers will be and so the more and more beautifull will be our cities, our tv’s our world…, it’s hard to explain my meaning in english but I’m sure youhave understand what I want to say.

    Thank’s !

  • I’m running 10.5 – there doesn’t seem to be a way to copy the User Data Interface (at 15:10 in the tutorial)? I don’t see that option, at least. Am I missing something, or is that an R11 thing? If so, uh, what are my options for 10.5?

  • Monkey> Where would you suggest learning more about espresso? You said you learned everything from Srek… I don’t know if that’s a joke, a school or etc.

  • Wow – this was very ummm… different.
    I have a couple of questions…

    1. Could you give a ran-down of some of the stuff you use in C4D to make your workflow more streamline/optimized. E.g I noticed a couple of plugins you had installed. The Xplode plugin that you mentioned last time (Artifaks)is pretty cool. Also, your scene seemed to have an “initial set-up” consisting of lights, a stage, etc. Please give us a small breakdown.

    2. What were your learning resources? School, mentors, tutorials, experimenting? Your stuff is seriously high level. I haven’t seen any other tuts on the interwebz delving into so much detail.

    3. What’s that you’re drinking? I think i need something like that to fry my brain-cells in preparation for your next awesome tut.

    Last, but not least. Thanks for this. It was def awesome. keep ’em coming!

  • THIS is awesome!!!! Thanks Mike!!

  • Sorry. I’m a little late to the party, but I had to post. EXCELLENT TUT!. I’ve been curious about joints and bones for a while now, and I’ev always felt intimidated by Xpresso, but you’ve really made the interface seem more user friendly. I’ll play around and maybe post something to the site. Again, GREAT JOB! Thanks guys.

  • Great tutorial. Don’t mind the fast pace, that’s what the pause and rewind buttons are for.

  • Great tut! looks like he had a few bong hits before the lesson

  • Great tutorial. I liked the fast pace, and even though I had no prior knwoledge of joints it actually made sense to me. Thanks a bunch…looking forward to the next one.

  • That was sick! I’ve never learned so much in such short time. I guess I’ll be watching this tut a few times more, so my slow brain could put everything at right places in my head.
    Thank you very much wise Monkey! Peace!

  • Whatta tutorial bwoy ! Now me nuh nuff to make a plant growin’…ahahah !!! you a de don inna modelin’ mike !!!

  • very very VERY nice bourbon. And a super-de-lux GREAT tutorial!

    thanx man!


  • Can I just fwd to the part where you remove the seeds and sticks?

  • Taught me a lot about joints. For the user data, I think one has to upgrade to R11 or above, because I couldn’t do it somehow to just click at the data rows and then make a group out of them. Anyway, this was a heck of fun to watch, giving me a new insight of things. More of this please. And the monkey rocks, very cool guy…cheers

  • I wholeheartedly agree with the last minute from Mike. Would love to see more of this in that sense!

  • Love the stuff on the Golden Ratio More Science!!! Professor! MORE SCIENCE!

  • AWESOME!!!! Nice to learn from a Genius like you!

  • perfect tutorial, thanx!!!

  • Thanks Nick! Thanks Mike!

    More. More. More.

  • Top tutorial! This gave a lot of new ideas to play around with. Hope to see some more of these from Mike… and from Nick also πŸ™‚

    Maybe a shower would do the trick β€” for the hair I mean πŸ˜‰

  • Donald McNicholl July 15, 2010 at 6:36 am

    Excellent stuff! So densely packed with solid information and tantalising hints.

  • Hey Mike,

    Really AWESOME stuff, man. Three thumbs up…
    I will try to use this concept in one of my current projects.

    Keep doin’ this stuff, man.

    Love your outtakes on Vimeo.

  • unbelievable. thank you so much.

  • What an excellent tutorial. You’re presentation style is fine Mike and the info is gold – pure gold. Off to watch part 2 and looking forward to it.

  • la verdad loco, es genial este tutorial, soy de PerΓΊ y esty comenzando a dominar el cinema 4d.. me da gusto que personas como tu, compartan un poco lo que saben, y personalmente u have a fan in PerΓΊ, now when u want to come, u have a new friend .. cheers

  • Great overview for someone like me who is new to cinema 4D but knows a bit about the fundamentals of 3D. I appreciated the re-iteration to look into things like golden ratios, and the point of knowing more over less is easily overlooked. Cheers!

  • Great tut mate. I would love to see modeling tutorials done by you. Also could you give me some advice or just a how would you do this: I have been using cinema for approx 3months. Modeling objects is a area I want to get into but after sniffing around youtube, greyscale etc haven’t gotten a work flow clear or tools clear. If I were to say for the next two months I want to get the concepts and hands dirty modeling in cinema, what would your program be.

    Project based, concept based? Maybe you could give me a two month program and I document the process and results for you to use online.

    Something I did:

    I love your math, physics brain behind the work and your explanations. Don’t ever feel that info is not listened to or needed. Just like your instructor said.

    Hope to hear from you. Thanks a bunch.

    • Thanks, Andelko! I’m not really into modeling, so don’t expect a tut any time soon. I’m not sure where good modeling tuts are either. Anyone else have a suggestion?

  • great stuff!!!!
    the monkey vs the gorilla πŸ˜›

  • Yup!

    Very nice addition to Nick’s already great tutorial series.
    This, perhaps more technical feel, brings another element to the table that teaches you a lot but above all makes you wanna go and learn all the other aspects of C4D that are still a bit hazy… perhaps not stuff you will necessarily use all the time but the point is you really wanna know now!

    Big ups to the new visitor on planet of the apes!


  • Mike, if you like a very neat movie about the golden spiral than check this out


  • hi, first of all, thax mike for this sharing. it help a lot.
    i would like to figure out somethng if you have time. my spline is ending up on a point that is not lead by the script, by the last joint.
    in other words the last point of my spline is anchored to something else and dont move with the rest of the joint…
    do you know by any chances what can cause this bug?

  • Such a great teacher… Iam a newbie and enjoyed that tutorial to the max, Thanks to the Monkey and the Gorilla u guys rock!!! I will be here now thats for sure! Peace everyone!

    From the Ethiopian Gelada

  • Okey I know its a late replay, but right now trying to recreate what your doing, its all pretty self explaining, but I’ve hit a wall so to say.
    At approximately 34 to 35 minutes in the vid, you change the coordinates of the “drag/scale/rotate-point” from the middle to the bottom left.

    Maybe its a stupid question, but “HOW?!?!?!?”

    If you read the above, i’m just in to C4D, using it now for about 3 to 4 weeks, but if it means anything; Great video, also watched part two before I started to recreate, and I’m digging it, love your “thinking”.

  • Thanks for showing up here with the Gorilla, the Monkey. You did well on your first time πŸ™‚ Also thanks for inviting the Monkey, the Gorilla πŸ˜€ Although the biggest lesson learned for me is that I have a looong way to go before C4D runs out of new features to offer πŸ™‚

    ? is a great number. Interesting stuff.

  • Thanks Mike,

    your tutorials are amazing. I’ve found myself using a lot of the techniques covered in many different aspects of my workflow. Thanks so much! I really prefer these types of tutorials much more than the usual straight forward ‘here’s a popular style and here’s how to make it’ ones (not knocking other tuts as they’re all incredibly handy, it’s just a personal preference).

    I’d love to know if you have any further tutorials planned for the future? Perhaps an extension of your NAB audio synching talk or further exploration of xpresso, perhaps thinking particles? I should really stop being so greedy!

    Anyway, just wanted to say a huge thanks!


  • I’m going through this site like backwards and forward again, and every time find something. This was total porn! Golden joints instantly on pentagons with some stuff on the rocks! Awesome! Thanks a lot!

  • so how do i get the spline to a geometry, if i dont want to do all the weighting? i mean no nurbs, i mean already existing geometry, like mike did with the “BIND” command in the animation menu. i want to apply that, for example, to an 1/8.shape of a sphere. how’s that working?
    thanks for replies!!

  • You are the GREAT !! YOU ARE THE MEN !!!! THX A LOT ! COOL !!!

  • sweet stuff


  • yo.. super awesome tips you got there..

    only problem is, that I’ve made the joint thingie twice, and each time I set the hierarchy reference to joint.01, there is no visible joints left except from in the center of the world – (I have scaled the Root null object to 1)

    therefore – is it possible for you to upload your source file, so I and everyone else can check it out to see what f*** is going on in there πŸ˜›



  • Do any of you guys have problems with animating the first joint in a joint chain? I get jitters when I try to animate ( mainly rotate ) joint root .. does anyone know how to get rid of this?

  • Hey monkey, great tut! I have one question…

    I would like to curl all the joints out, but one joint at a time. So lets say I start with a rotation of 60 degrees on the Y (so that all the joints are rotated wich makes a curl) and then want the first joint to rotate to 0 first, then the second, then the thirds, ect.

    I figured I should offset the rotation when it goes down one in the list. But how?

  • need moooooooooooooooooore

  • I’m having a very strange issue with this… see here

    If anyone can help… please do

  • Thnx, dude.
    I have been looking for tutorials which involve the golden ratio for ages.
    Would like to see a tutorial about proxies and baking in order to
    create high poly clones and fractals within c4d.

  • Super helpful. Thanks man!

  • Majoring in Computer Animation.
    Working on Student Films,
    Working at a Television Broadcast Company doing Motion Graphics.
    I have a ton to learn!

    • Whoops. Thought I was making some kind of profile – so I typed some stuff about me!
      On topic
      Thanks for somewhat explaining the math going on in C4D when it is calculating deformers and joint chains, this video was engaging and helpful.

  • Great tutorial, this is definitely the advanced way of bending things and a brilliant intro into joints and skinning. I just wanted to point out that you actually can make a spiral inwards with the bend modifier. If you give the modifier a slight rotation along the axis you are bending, then the bend will get smaller with each wrap around. You can also make different spirals similar to what is shown in the tutorial depending on which way you rotate the modifier.

  • You really rock, man!
    I’ve spent days searching for how to use joints.
    I experimented with them but couldn’t work around.
    You’ve blown my mind in a minute of tutorial.

  • I know this tutorial is old, so hopefully someone still sees this.
    Anybody have tips on time offsetting clones of this setup?

    I’ve recreated it and animated a simple plane curling up.
    I’d like to clone this plane and offset the time of the curl animation.
    So far I’ve tried using a Step Effector with Time Offset, but all the clones still animate at the same time.

    Do I need to bake this animation in somehow? Any help is appreciated.

  • Hey Mike, when I changed from Next to Down in my hierarchy all my joints disappeared from the view-port. Any idea why? I even try ctrl+z and they are still missing.

  • Wow thanks, I can’t believe I’ve missed this one for so long. It’s still very helpful and relevant 3 years later.

  • This tutorial is really help/useful THX!! But i stumbled across a problem. As i played around with what to put into the chain/Instances i realized, that i couldn’t hide the original reference (f.e. the original plane) when i start rendering things. Is there any clue/way how to fix it ?

    Thx again for all your work in C4D tuts!! And cheers.

  • why the Monkey doesn’t make any more tutorials?

  • Hey Mike, great tutorial-this should come in handy-very smooth in your voice over – oh and BTW, Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek, good taste in spirits-Craig

  • Still relevant!!! Thanks for the tutorial dood !

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