Nonlinear animation allows you to take complex animations and group them as a single object providing the ability to move them in the timeline, duplicate, scale, even position in 3D space hiding the complexity of the animation layer as you use it as a base layer.
Let’s use a very simple example. Create a rolling ball. Because we are going to exploit the ability to copy and modify the animation as a unit, have your rotation occur in some fraction of your composition total time. For example, create a composition that runs for 5 seconds, 150 frames. Create a sphere, add a little material color for fun, (I always do!), then create a simple roll animation in the first twenty frames. Enter a key (‘Ctrl click’ the checkbox next to parameter) at the beginning of your clip, for the B (bank) rotation value. For our purposes this is the X value of our ball rolling horizontally. At 40 frames, enter a second value of 360 for one rotation for our ball. At the top of your left hand side model menus, you see the layout menu button which lets you choose standard Cinema 4D work spaces.
Right under the ‘startup’ layout is the animation layout. Choose this to see the expanded animation timeline and other animation resources. Add one more key to your ball for it’s X position at the beginning of the clip. If you play your clip now, your ball will complete one rotation between frame 1 and 40. With your sphere highlight, under the animation menu, choose ‘Add Motion Clip’ with the default options. You will see your sphere listed under the motion clip ‘Hierarchy’ box. Take a look at your animation layout now.
Under the controls for your timeline the empty ‘Motion Mode’ box now had a folder underneath and the frames you designated are highlighted to the right. Click the highlighted area and the ‘Motion Clip’ properties box appears under your attributes. It presents several options. Try setting the ‘loop’ value to 2. Now play your clip.
Without entering any new keyframes, you duplicated, looped your original animation. This might not leave you breathless but what if your animation contained 100 keyframes? And you were able to duplicate it all with a single stroke? That’s worth looking into.
When you created loops for your animation, you will see 3 sections on your animation timeline with a vertical line delineating them. You can drag this line and increase or decrease the length of time for your loop. As you move it to the right and left you see the name of your motion clip percentage increase or decrease. You can do much more by creating nonlinear animation. This ability to reduce your keys and complexity lets you create more sophisticated animations. We’ll look at some more possibilities in the second part of this introduction to nonlinear animation using the Cinema 4D motion clip.