3D Engineering Visualisation in Cinema 4D by CMG Designs


CMG Designs has been producing some fantastic animations of 3D Engineering machinery for years using Cinema 4D. Check out their work here!

Founded in 2009, Irish company CMG Designs is a 3D studio which focuses on high-quality work at affordable prices. Whilst their work covers product, architectural and engineering visualisation - all of which looks great - it was the engineering animation work that really perked my interest, from a story point of view. You see, visualising how complex machinery works in an animation creates a whole host of issues, including:

  • Creating the 3D model itself
  • Applying materials and logos
  • Creating additional scene content including items used by the machine
  • Visualising the model to the required level of realism
  • Animating the model in a way that gets across the points the client wants to make

When you consider the above, it's hard to find a piece of software that will do everything. So artists may rely on two or three pieces of software: One might create the product, one the animation, and another the rendering. Some general-purpose 3D animation software, like our own Cinema 4D, can tackle all of the above tasks, or it can quite happily play friendly with other applications in a software pipeline. At CMG Designs, Cinema 4D is the hub of their creative pipeline, which also includes VRay for Cinema 4D for rendering and Adobe After Effects or Photoshop for final compositing.

Whilst I've been aware of CMG Designs' work for years, much of the interesting animation work has been created for clients whilst under NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement). However, more recently, they have managed to get the OK to show off some of the work they've created. So, without further ado...

AMS - Aluminium Extrusion Process Animation

The above is a movie showing the process involved in extruding aluminium using this massive extrusion plant works for AMS (Architectural & Metal Systems). AMS produce high-quality aluminium items, including windows, doors and curtain walls. They wanted CMG Designs to produce an animation which would help their clients and potential clients get a better understanding of the process and abilities of their extrusion press.

The animation was worked on by Cian McGrath at CMG Designs. It took him around two months to complete due to the complexity of the project, and he had to create the entire model from scratch in Cinema 4D, having only a 2D ground plan and photographs to work from. Cian visited AMS's site many times to get a complete understanding of how the entire process worked.

As you can see from the movie, there's a lot of control needed to ensure that the metal gets cut and adapted as the animation progresses. Cian made use of a number of Cinema 4D features to realise this project, including the parent constraint tool (a new feature in R18) to move the aluminium billets from one machine to another, and the layer manager to organise all the models in the scene. Due to the sheer amount of information in one project, Cian was concerned whether Cinema 4D would be able to handle it, but he said the software coped fine.

Tomra 5B Sorting Machine Animation

Ever wondered how come packets of vegetables look so great nowadays? It's thanks to sorting machines like the Tomra 5B. These machines give you options on what goes into a packet and what does not. For example, you could set it to filter out green beans that are below a certain size or beyond a certain curvature. Naturally, this type of machine is of interest to many producers and harvesters. However, it's a struggle to show off their benefits clearly unless you recreate it in a 3D environment. By doing so, you can show exactly how the system works by zooming into areas not possible using conventional filming or the real-life product.

As well as Cinema 4D, CMG Designs also used Adobe After Effects on this project to great effect, to create all the informational parts, such as the 'single object inspection,' which helps convey what the machine does in an interesting, visual way.

Autosort Flake - Detailed Animation

This is another great example of how a 3D animation helps a viewer understand how a piece of complex machinery works, and what its benefits are. This is another animation created by CMG Designs for Tomra Sorting Solutions.

As you can see from the animation, Cinema 4D is capable of handling thousands of objects with full control over speed and generation. It makes use of Cinema 4D's Dynamics toolset to help ensure that the flakes fall realistically.

Valve Checker Animation

Created for Design Pro Ltd, this movie shows a valve checker in action. The animation style shown would be impossible to achieve in real life, and would be dangerous to even attempt.

As the movie shows, Cinema 4D can handle any type of animation you can imagine. Your only limitation is your imagination.

The above movies from CMG Designs are great examples of what can be achieved with Cinema 4D for engineering visualisation. To see more, visit CMG Designs' site here. If you'd like to have a go yourself, grab a free trial of Cinema 4D below.

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About the MAXON Blog

Welcome to the official MAXON UK Blog. This blog provides the most up-to-date official information about MAXON, its products – in particular its flagship product Cinema 4D – and the Cinema 4D community. You can expect to see posts from a wide variety of MAXON UK employees.