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Cinema 4D Techniques: XPresso Lite, Part 2

Working with set-driven keys By Ko Maruyama
In a followup to last week's simple guide to using XPresso in Maxon's C4D, this week we'll look at the practical advantages to XPresso in 3D animation production. While C4D has made the ability to script attributes very easy to understand, it remains an overlooked treasure in the current standard package. The use of drag and drop techniques is all one needs to start accessing the advanced controls. Similar to Adobe After Effects' Expression pickwhip executions, Maxon has provided "click this" operations that will help you to add XPresso formulas to your project. If you're new to XPresso, this will definitely help you ... and change the way you think about animation.

I'll preface this walkthrough with a sidebar about another favorite application: After Effects. In After Effects 5, the good people at Adobe decided they would introduce a new way to perform the actions once delegated to the script-heavy MotionMath. Their answer was Java-based expressions. Unfortunately, After Effects users are predominantly design-minded, not code writers. So Adobe came up with a little tool called the pickwhip which would allow users to link the attributes of animations. Knowing that motion designers have already found an affinity for Cinema 4D, Maxon was simultaneously conjuring up a similar work path for its 3D users. If you're familiar with After Effects' expressions, listen closely: Cinema's XPresso is even easier and just as powerful in its own right.

In last week's installment, XPresso Part 1, I covered the manual insertion of attribute controllers through XPresso. This is really the basis of how XPresso ("XP") manipulates the paramaters of attributes in your project. However, there is an easy way to add XP control without ever seeing the XP window.

The ability to have one parameter control another parameter can be described by a set-driven key. Agghhh! "Set-driven key. It already sounds too technical." Technical or not, it's easy. All this reference implies is "one attribute (the driver) acts as the controlling agent over another parameter (the driven)." It can be set up with a few mouse clicks.

Not being the first to draw a relationship from lightswitch to bulb, I've set up a simple scene. Note the cube on the right. We'll light this with our set driven lightbulb.

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