How to Animate and Control Lights and Dynamics with Xpresso In Cinema 4D Part 1

February 10, 2011

In this tutorial, I show you how to recreate this excellent piece by KORB for MTV. In the video, I will show you how to model and texture the bulb, set up the room, and prepare the lights for animation. Then, we will setup a basic Xpresso rig to control the dynamics and the lighting up of the bulb to go along with the music. We will also go over how to light and render the scene without GI to make it look as photo real as possible while keeping render time down. Lastly, we will hop into After Effects to do some quick compositing and add some depth of field.

This is my longest tutorial yet. Over two hours in two parts. I’m really excited about this one. Let’s rock it!

Finished Render

Mentioned In This Tutorial
Korb MTV Spot
Robertleger’s Xpresso Training
Hello Luxx’s Custom Forces With Modynamics
Download my Cinema 4D r12 Layout
Thanks to Mike The Monkey.

Watch Part 2 Of This Tutorial

Tutorial Focus:  , , , ,
Software:  ,

  • Amazing… like always ;D

    • man in c4d r11.5 i could figure out how to connect objects,but i dont know what to do with that theres no ” respect dynamics mass” i anyone or you could help me what can i do instead i d be really greatful πŸ™‚ thx

  • Yeah great as usual. Looking into Xpresso is my next thing.

    If your looking for great work that you could base some tutorials on Zeroing has some great scenes in.

  • amazing!!!! very nice!!

  • looks awesome, there is something about the use of that effect which is pretty spooky to me too πŸ˜€

  • Now, THIS is a tutorial! Love the in-depth stuff that I can dive into for hours. Thanks for all the time and effort you put into these!

  • Wow your really pumping out stuff!

    The productivity is never ending! πŸ™‚
    The gorilla ftw!

  • Great tutorial! And a nice bonus with tips on rendering without GI.

  • Awesome… thanks πŸ™‚

  • Just great as ever! Thanks a lot for your time.

  • Squarepusher!

  • ths is next level DOPE !

  • i cannot apply the rigid body tag to the cylinder, but as usual only to the cloner object (and so i can’t get the weight effect).. is it because i work with broadcast r12 or something else?

    • A work around could be place that bulb cylinder into a cloner of its own, but with a clone count of 1 so no extras are generated. Same for your weight cap. Then just treat that cloner buld as Nicks regular bulb and get that and its parts grouped and put into the other cloner that makes tons of them.

      Works or no dice?

    • well, it works, and thanks for that.. but i think to have other limitations with broadcast edition, like connectors, that doesn’t allow me to make the same steps.. but, hey, that’s exactly what Nick usually say: try to make it on your own. so, next time, i will try to fix problems on my own before asking help πŸ˜‰ however thanks again for your reply!

  • Nice…but we want cities! πŸ™‚

  • ”I feel my hair is grown since the beginning of this tutorial” was so funny… nice tutorial by the way. THX so much

  • Very cool tutorial, well done. Best teacher ever!!!

  • This is looking incredible. Looking forward to viewing it.

  • Thanks for this long tuto nick.
    Just for information, there is an option to change the center of mass of a dyn object in dyn tag->mass->check custom center and in this case use the Z value to push the center of mass.

  • Awesome tut. Looking forward to part 2!

  • It’s not difficult πŸ™‚

  • hey
    I just watched livecast from yesterday and this idea came up for 5 second project price… /hope i will enter it soon/
    if You’d fund lightkit in bits as price, in example soft box for first win or i don’t know for being in first five and then ring light rig for second time you make to finals.
    This way You don’t have to ship stuff and we’d have a chance to win some sweet tools.

    Great work on educating me in C4D, thanks a lot.
    keep it up

  • Great tutorial Nick
    But hey 2 hours? πŸ™‚

  • thank you so much , wow really needed it ,

    cheers from morocco

  • Heinrich Friedemann February 10, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Squarepusher rulez!
    Hey Gorilla! Keep on keepinΒ΄on, and thanks for your doings!
    Greetings from Germany

  • Something I did prior to this tut. Can’t wait to go further with your tut.


  • You have fulfill my learning quota of the day. GREAT tutorial!!!

  • Cool tutorial Nick! Big thanks!

  • Thanks for pulling this off. I don’t mind a long one every now and then. Like you pointed out so much to cover and hey I dig how deep you get into it, not just giving values and expression away like clowns jumping around at the circus. The nutcracker for my was the X-presso part. Never thought about all the details and the ranger-mapper! Keep up the good work Nick! πŸ™‚

  • I had seen this MTV spot and loved it.
    Thanks for doing this Nick, great tutorial!
    It’s great to see how you do things and then back out, just to show process, I find it helpful.

  • best hour in my life..or you know what i take this back bets hour was the 1st time i had sex…this is the best 2nd hour in my life..hahaah..just jokin…good stuff nick. love the xprsso part..wherer is the xprsso. hahah

  • Great one! Can’t wait for the second part!
    And it aint that hard to do, just have to know how everything works and then your fine πŸ™‚

    • @wesley: With NET Render you have to cache the dynamics!!! In the dynamics Tag there is an option for that, it’s called β€œbacken” in german, I don’t know what they call it in engl.

      Then you have to save the whole projekt and then netrender works! Had the same problem and was totaly pissed of!

  • facebook problem mentioned in livecast:


    Have you noticed that you are only seeing updates in your newsfeed from the same people lately? Have you also noticed that when you post things like status messages, photos and links, the same circle of people are commenting and everyone else seems to be ignoring you?

    Don’t worry, everyone still loves you and nobody has intentionally blocked you. The problem is that a large chunk of your friend/fan list can’t see anything you post and here’s why:

    The “New Facebook” has a newsfeed setting that by default is automatically set to show ONLY posts from people who you’ve recently interacted with or interacted the most with (which would be limited to the couple of weeks just before people started switching to the new profile). So in other words, for both business and personal pages, unless your friends/fans commented on one of your posts within those few weeks or vice versa – you are now invisible to them and they are invisible to you!!

    HERE’S THE FIX: Scroll down to the bottom of the newsfeed on the homepage and click on “Edit Options”, click on “Show Posts From” and change the setting to “All Of Your Friends and Pages” Note: This is the fix for personal pages but I am unsure of whether or not the business pages are set up the same way.

  • Nick! You’r making this world more shiny and joyful. Look up πŸ™‚
    There is so many possibilities now that brings light around us! Thanks to you for each tutorial.
    Great blog ever Nick the Gorilla.

  • Thank You! As usual, you are very professional πŸ™‚

  • I’ve not seen this one yet, but…thanks, and thanks again for the generosity you put in all those tuto, Nick ! Peace !

  • Oh damn! I tried creating this when you published the preview, but I didn’t figure out the weight thing. Was trying to tell the attractors only to attract 1 cap. This solution with the fixed connector was a pretty sweet solution!

    Nice tutorial, Nick! Very in depth!
    As always: High quality education!
    Keep it up!

  • Great work as always!!

  • Somehow the connector doesn’t keep the weight and bulb connected on every occasion (most of the time after colliding). Very strange…

    • You have to go to the rigid body tag then collision and at individual elements choose “top level” and not “all” or the objects would not connect…

  • Great work Nick.. this was my first foray into expresso, and you made it quite painless! thanks for the never ending flow of great info!

  • Thank, man, your are the light!

  • Thanks Nick, youΒ΄re great

  • thanks Nick

    but dam 2 hours just to make a 6 seccond thing, lets not forget the rendering time.

    Overall very good tutorial.

    • Yeah, it’s long. But seriously, two hours for six minutes of animation is nothing. How long do you think the original KORB piece took to make? Probably days. There is a lot of trial and error that I eliminated from the tutorial as well. Let me be clear. Commercial animation like this takes days to produce, not minutes.

      That said, look for shorter tutorials coming soon. They may get you more into the program before tackling some of the long ones.

    • A couple of the 5 sec projects have had me going all day for 2 weeks including render time. So I fully agree with Nick, a couple hours for 6 seconds is peanuts. In fact if someone told me they only spent 2 hours on piece with out showing it to me first I’d have very low expectations. And further more if someone showed me a really rad piece and said they only spent a couple hours on it I just wouldn’t believe them.

      Something to note for people learning which I felt I needed to do also but realized the pit falls,

      When you manage to pump out a piece that is you and others consider “COOL SHIT” don’t lie and say it took you 1/4 of the time it actually did. Start putting these false completion times on your Vimeo posts and eventually it will bite you. When hired for a project people will expect the same quality of work or better in that time frame. If you’ve been B.S’ing how long it takes to do your work it will be obvious right away to them.

      I don’t think faster is better, and I also think that when people talk about really fast turn a rounds they are usually in a team environment where multiple people work on a piece at once.

      Solo artists can’t be turtles and work quickly also but obviously can’t do a complex 15sec spot in 2 weeks fully rendered the same way a studio can.

    • The two hours are very reasonable for a piece like this if you ask me. I also think the modelling can be done faster but the tweaking can really take much more time than the two hours.
      C4d is easy to use and really hard to master. Just finished the glass softbody balls tutorial. Modelling took me about 30 minutes, texturing and light maybe an hour. The animation also was set up very easily but tweaking it just the way i wanted with the lights, reflections, refraction levels and acurate behaviour when the softbodies stop in example took me a few hours all by itself. The rendering was a whole other ballgame, 1 frame took me between 8 and 15 minutes to render, wanted 300 frames so you do the math. It took 2 machines via netrender more than 24 hours to do the render. Guess what, when it was finished i found a glitch in the animation, looks like it skipped a frame ore something.. :'(
      Faster is not better, the quality of everything lies in the detail en thus the enourmes amount of tweaking, it always can be tweaked a little more.

    • 2 hours is seriously snack size.

    • @wesley: With NET Render you have to cache the dynamics!!! In the dynamics Tag there is an option for that, it’s called “backen” in german, I don’t know what they call it in engl.

      Then you have to save the whole projekt and then netrender works! Had the same problem and was totaly pissed of!

  • Thanks again Nick, I’m getting addicted to our blog – really appreciate you taking the time to do this tutorials for us. It sure helps a beginner like me πŸ™‚

  • Hi Nick!
    Awesome tutorial.
    I pass the same way doing this but started exect fron the circle cloner. And stoped at the weight of 1 side of the bolb. Did not know how to do that.

    By the way! You missed the best effect that this bold lights does in the movie. The are not shinig all the time when atracktor works. Instead they blinks every 0.1 seconds or something like that. Please. Include it to the second part of you can. I will also try fo figure out how to do it in the way that the object interacts directly.

    Best regards,
    Arthur Sheikhaliev

  • Entertaining and informative as always!

  • very cool cant wait for part 2 and the xpresso part really helped me out

  • Come on ! i cant whait for the part 2 ((:

  • WOW! That was a truly awesome tutorial Nick.
    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge.
    Part 2 can’t come soon enough.

  • Oh yeah! I love in depth tutorials like this one especially since there’s a bit of expresso involved. I was very impatient for the tutorial to come out and i see that it was more than worth waiting for! Thank you Nick!

  • WOW! awesome sir Nick…

    MTV Video:
    I think they use Sound Effector to drive the strength & luminance… ^^

  • Hey man, great work really,
    love the tutorial.
    One question though, I can not get the Bulbs to fall when I try to animate it, probably because I cant turn Dynamic to ON in the Dynamics body tag. All I get is Off and Ghost any ideas how to enable it?

  • Hey Guys,

    Another great tutorial, has anyone got anyone got any work arounds for the weight and connectors? I’m still running 11.5 so any ideas, that would be great.


    • and how you’ve managed attractor to respect dynamic mass?

    • Nick,try fracture object instead of connector.i did that too same effect i think.—but still i dont know what elese can i do instead of respect dynamics mass :/im stucked on that.

    • Yeah we’re all stuck please help us… Thanks!
      There is no “respect dynamics mass” in 11.5, how can we do??

      • I’m having the same problem in Cinema R14. Can someone tell me where the, “Respect To Dynamic Mass” check box is located on the dynamic mass tag?

        This is really hanging me up.

  • I have one bulb that falls threw the floor every time, the other 19 are fine??

  • make the bulbs move by music effector. i’m so happy. Thanks Nick for the tut’s

    Fast render of sequence:

  • Yeah, XPresso! thx Nick!

  • love the tut but one question i have 11.5 and everytime i try to use the dynamic it splits the whole bulb apart and it only works on the cloner object of the bulb and ideas why i cant not have the dynamic interact with the whole bulb in 11.5?

  • Hi Gorilla,

    your tutorials are really helpful and i love you to give your feedback on some of my work.

    anyone else that could give me tips on how to improve would be very helpful. constructive criticism
    is also grateful.

    Thank You

    Alex Michael

  • a question if i may, nick?

    i’ve only been learning c4d for ~8 weeks, and i haven’t actually got to this part yet, but in the dynamics body tags’ force tab, you have cloner1 exclude attractor2, and cloner2 exclude attractor1.

    is there a reason you did it that way? vs changing the mode to *include*, and have cloner1 include attractor 1, and cloner2 include attractor2?

    i don’t actually know if that would accomplish the same thing, hence my asking. but if so, seems that’d be easier to keep track of in your head for bigger animations, if you had loads of object/attractor pairs.

  • Great tutorial Nick! Do you or anyone else know how you could do this with just Modynamics? I can’t figure out how to keep one end of the lights on the ground without Dynamics…

    • Don’t have R11/11.5, but think there was a setting to offset the center of mass within the old dynamics tag.Try adjusting this to shift the weight to one end.

    • Thanks for the tip. I gave it a try, but it doesn’t seem to work. I may be doing something wrong. The whole light still lifts at the same rate.

    • Kevin:

      The center of gravity method will work (just did for me in 11.5) just make sure you’re shifting it on the proper axis, and shifting it a large enough distance. It helps to turn off the cloner object when adjusting the parameter.

    • John,

      Thanks for the head up. I have been trying it, but with very limited success…I’m getting a little frustrated. If you would be willing to share a project file with me I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you for your time.


  • So awesome! your great! I learned a lot with this tutorial (and itΒ΄s second part) as always.

    Thank you!

  • this is class nick following this tut learning me alot of stuff love your work in deph in any of your tutorials just what us newbies are looking for so thanx an keep it up

  • Thanks Nick, great work.

    However, in each of my cloner systems, 1 out of the 30 clones splits and the weight falls out. All the others are fine, just one acts all weird, falls half through the floor, and the weight part falls out and spins crazily. Anyone have a clue what is going wrong in my scene?


  • Hey Nick, this tutorial of Lights/Dynamics seems awesome!-was wondering, since it is 2 hrs. long, will it be on line for a while?-I need to fit this in, is it possible to make it available for a download, so I can watch it when I can fit it in my schedule?-thanks in advance!

  • u can download it if u have firefox theres a add-on called ant video downloader which i found today check it out

  • Hey man awsome tutorial but i got stuck at the rigid body tag. i have cinema 4d R11.5
    and if a add a rigid body tag the lights doesnt move so can you help me out

    Grzz becanti

  • Great tutorial. Going to apply some of the things in here to another concept I had which uses a bit of your iPhone Panaram with text in location tutorial.

    Random question for you Nick. What hair product(s) do you use? πŸ˜‰

  • Hey Nick! So glad you dropping an Expresso Tute…I think you should do more expresso…

  • Wonderful tutorial!
    Thx for sharing!!!
    Here my test!!!

  • “Set initial state”! Oh thank you Nick for showing me that, I was just so used to make everything fall and set my renders a few frames after! ; )

  • How would you hook the brightness up to a song in like a sound effector or something?

  • thanks again Nick πŸ˜‰

  • why didn’t you use sound effector to get things moving by actual music ?

  • man in c4d r11.5 i could figure out how to connect objects,but i dont know what to do with that theres no ” respect dynamics mass” i anyone or you could help me what can i do instead i d be really greatful πŸ™‚ thx πŸ™‚

  • MAN u RoCK ! 0.o

  • Great insight into Cloners and effectors however, is it possible to control actual lights with Sound Effectors? Not just the movement but also the brightness?!


  • Very nice tut Nick πŸ™‚ THANKS FOR THIS !

  • hey Nick i hope you are doing well.Thanks for these tutorials and videos.I was trying to do the other part of that video but i can not control the speed of spheres,tried lots of things but didn’t get the same result.Will you please guide my how control the speed of spheres.

  • Hello

    I have a question.

    I use cinema 4d 11.5. But do not find it anywhere on the toolbar of rigid bodies you have in the interface.

    Single meeting – right click – MoGraph tags – body rigid.

    that of connector can not find it

  • Great work Nick, but am surprised no one has asked this question before now..i am using C4d r11.5 and when i try to add the rigid body tag to the bulb nothing happens because the color of the tag does not have the white little all on it instead its blue ,but when i add the rigid body tag to the Cloner Object it works fine and then when i play the animation the bulb moves but the caps separate from the bulb even after making the caps a child of the bulb please help!

    • Version 11.5 of dynamics works very different than 12. It’s a whole new system in fact. One main difference is that dynamics only works on clones.

    • I also I have these problems, the dynamism of cinema 4d 11.5 do not work the same as with cinema 4d 12.

      The rigid body only works well for me objets cloner

      Holukay need to install cinema 4d12


  • Thanks Nick and Airam will definitely hit the stores and r12 then.

  • i think one thing to take notice on too, is it is more than just being on version 12. NIck uses studio. I myself am using 12 but am using the broadcast edition, which still has some limitations.My rigid tag only works on cloners, not the actual shape. Unless I am missing something let me know.

  • hi nick the gorilla, i have updated my c4d, but i came across and other issue, my attractors don’t work. pls what is the issues and cos of that…

  • Hi could i was wondering if you could tell me how to change the colour of the bulb to like a neon colour and have it looking really bright. I’ve try’d changing the gradient on the luminance to a neon colour but the the rendered image just seems to produce a subtle coloured bulb rather than a glow stick type of glow.

  • It’s ok i fixed it

  • Hi i was wondering if you could tell me how i would like make theese lights fall onto some text and scatter of it.
    Im sure it something to do with rigid body but when i apply this the text falls (when i press play) but the lights stay still.

  • could you please post you layout for 11.5 caz the one you posted doesn’t seem to be working for me

  • just wow nick u r the best buddy

    i like the sound huh


  • Great tutorial Nick! However cant seem to get the weight to work properly watched the section over and over, cant see that i am doing anything different. The weight acts like it is only semi connected and throughout the animation separates from the bulb but acts like its still connected. Heiarchy is like this: Cloner > Full bulb > connector (set to: (fixed) object A: weight object B: bulb) / weight / bulb …just as yours is…

    tried lots of adjustments and tweaks but now have become stumped. Any ideas?

  • How can you input electrical sound. This is a great tutorial.

  • Great tutorial, Nick! Thanks!

  • tried to find out how to do this in R13 Broadcast but not successful πŸ™

    Connectors are included in Broadcast

  • Always Thanks ! Nick !!

  • I put in the exact same settings and watched in for anything I missed but my lights are still not acting the same as yours…. :/

    • I got the weight on, but the lights don’t nod up and down, i tried increasing the weight and lowering/highering the attractor but nothing. No differences, nothing.

  • Robert Veldhuis June 11, 2012 at 7:24 am

    Hello, i have a strange thing in the R13 broadcast version, when i use the attractor and create a rigid body simulation tag on the bulb , the bulb isn’t attracted, maybe it is something silly i missed.

    Greetz and thanks for all the tutorials so far

  • hey Nick

    Im working on a final year project at uni and im trying to get a blob similar to this one that MTV created a few years back.

    Only im not sure how to go about it. Ive tried softbody and attractor to animate the blob moving but it stops rotating and begins to drag. Pretty much what im asking is how to create a soft body which i can make roll around and deform (or just roll up stairs or sit on a chair)

    Thanks in advance

  • Just wanted to extend a huge “Thank You” for offering these tutorials publicly. I’m very new to Cinema 4D as well as 3-D (less than a month), and have learned a lot following your tuts. They are fun and challenging! VERY much appreciated!!


  • Unfortunately, all the bulbs stick together and they dont act independantly. R14.

  • In C4D R14, I Can’t find the check box “Respect Dynamic Mass” in Attractor object. I’ve just “Mode” selector.

  • Very nice tech stuff.

  • Hi Nick,

    Great job at SigGraph man. Which presentation did you like? Did you see Oculus Rift? That was insane.

    Steve S.

  • Using R15 and my attractor does not have the “Respect Dynamic Mass” check box option. I’ve noticed many users posting about the same issue but don’t think anyone has given a direct answer yet. I have the “weight” object placed within the bulb just like in the tutorial but my bulbs aren’t jumping up yet. Is there a new “Respect Dynamic Mass” option or a work around for R15?


  • I briefly topped the tutorial for 1 sec to come here and say “you teach quite well, are very good at indicating how to’s. having fun with it thank you for continually providing free tuts. back to the tut.

  • sup Gorilla > could you shed light on the R15 equivalent to “Respect Dynamics Mass”
    in the Attractor parameters. > I get no respect from this attraction lol! Thanks

    • Listen up ppl i might found smthng to clear the “respect dynamic mass” issue.
      The mode option is actually what u need and the acceleration mode it s supposed to respect the obj ‘s mass .here u have a more explicit version

  • sorry! the “force mode” takes the mass into consideration

  • We’re looking exactly for this tutorial. Thanks for sharing GreyScaleForilla πŸ™‚

  • is this offline?

    cant see any video

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