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Part III: A Project-Based Approach to An... > Animation with Expressions

Chapter 15. Animation with Expressions

In this chapter you will learn how to use expressions to enhance and simplify your animations. Expressions are the individual pieces that make up a special subset of animation known as procedural animation. In its simplest form, an expression links one item’s motion to that of another by using a mathematical formula. At its most complex, an expression could make virtual worlds rise and fall with the touch of a button.

In LightWave 7, there are several ways to harness the power of expressions. A true expression is a mathematical formula that defines the behavior of one item by the behavior of another item. In LightWave 7, working with expressions is available through either LightWave’s built-in expressions or the Expression plug-in. In this chapter, you will use LightWave’s built-in expressions to accomplish certain tasks for which they are uniquely suited. In fact, everything accomplished in this chapter could be done using this method, but this is not necessarily the fastest or easiest method to accomplish your goals.

A true expression requires you to define behaviors using formulas that could be quite lengthy and complex or involve an amount of programming knowledge. To free you from this burden, LightWave provides plug-ins that automatically handle these situations. Although technically not “true” expressions, these plug-ins are used to carry out the same duties of an expression, but in a simpler manner. Although true expressions are broad enough to deal with almost any situation, these plug-ins are made for specific jobs.

Although this chapter uses these expressive plug-ins, along with true expressions, you should realize that all these plug-ins are a form of expression and should be thought of as such. This chapter will instruct you on the following:

  • Using Cycler

  • Using ChannelFollower

  • Using LightWave’s built-in expressions



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