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Animating Materials

Changing Parameters in C4D By Ko Maruyama
There are several parameters that most C4D users are comfortable animating.  Obviously position, scale and rotation, the basic transformation attributes are easily modified and animated, but what happens when you want to animate a texture.  You have multiple options.

In earlier versions of CINEMA 4D, and even the most current version of the software, the most obvious way to animate between two textures would be to animate the entire material.  Before you create the animation track, it's a good idea to have at least two materials ready to go in your materials manager.

Let's start with a simple leaf (download the spline project here).  You can use C4D to create a simple spline, or export it from Photoshop.  For ease of use, I've provided the Adobe Illustrator project, but you can use any object that will accept a material.  If you need help creating an object from the spline, check out Rob Garrott's tutorial on AI-C4D here.



The first method will be to animate between two separate materials.  I've created two separate materials; one red and another different one that is green.

In the parameters for the tag, you'll note that there is an animation icon (little open circle) next to the Material name box.   By "CTRL-CLICK" on the small grey circle icon, you can modify the icon into a filled red circle.  You probably know by now that this represents the fact that there is a keyframe at this point in time, for this parameter.


Open the Timeline window (Shift-F3) and view the ANIMATED OBJECTS (in the window's pulldown options, select FILTER->ANIMATED OBJECTS.  The Material Tag should show up with all of the other animated properties that you have in your scene.

Move the playhead to another point in time in your timeline.  I'll move mine to frame 30.

Using CTRL-CLICK on the track named "Material" will allow you to add a keyframe to the track directly.  In the Data Key Properties, you'll notice that there's a material option there.  Simply drag the alternate texture into that string window to modify it.

During modification in the editor window, you may not be able to see the change occur by scrubbing the playhead, but you'll see it in the render.


Alternatively, you can skip the Timeline window, and simply navigate to another point in your timeline, then change the material in the tag's Material parameter.

Use CRTL-CLICK to create a keyframe for the newly introduced material modification.


The second method is to animate between the individual parameter modifications in a single material.

For this example, I'll use a single material named "solo".  Each of the parameters can be modified individually over time.  Using the practice of creating a keyframe, moving to a different point in time, then modifying the parameter, and adding a new keyframe will create an interpolation between the two sets of data between those keyframes.

Because this animation is completed within the individual parameters of one material, it is visible in the editor as well as in the render.

Don't forget, every parameter that have these small grey circles will allow you to animate the values (some on/off, some interpolated data).

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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
Related Keywords:animation tutorial, cinema 4d, C4D, ko maruyama, material options, morph color


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