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Animating Lamps Properties

Here we are not going to talk about moving lamps, rotating them, etc. – this is nothing more than object animation! Let’s just remember you about constraints, especially tracking ones, which might be very useful to track a character with a spot, for example…

We will rather see what lamp specific properties you can animate. All the relevant F-curves are gathered in the LampAction set of the Graph Editor window.

Note that lamps can, as well as materials, use textures – and you can animate how these textures are mapped to their lamps (e.g. to simulate «gobos» in a discotheque… or complex shadows, like tree leaves cast on the ground, when you have no time to use raytraced shadows). However, as this is nothing more than a sub-set of the material’s possibilities, we won’t detail this topic here – read the material animation page. And obviously, you should have already read the lighting chapter!

As of Blender from 2.5 version, Everything is animatable. And about keyframing and actions see more here.


Let’s illustrate this with a flying torch deep in a cave.

We won’t detail the cave and torch creation – the first one is an deformed icosphere with Subdivision Surface and Displace modifiers, and the second one, a cylinder scaled and subdivided several times in its length, with a particle system to materialize its fire.

The torch will be the only light source of the scene. Add four Point lamps, all using the same lamp datablock. Place them around the tip of the torch, and parent them to it. Give them an orange color (e.g. (1.0, 0.8, 0.4)), a short Distance (2.0, but this depends on the size of your cave!), and an Inverse Square falloff. Also let them cast ray shadows (soft shadows, if you have enough computing power…).

Right click on the Energy parameter and Insert Keyframe to create an Fcurve, then open the graph editor to edit the keyframes. You can for example start at zero (no energy, the scene is whole black), give a short and intense flash (10 over a few frames) to simulate a sort of lightning lighting the fire, then back to very low (0.25), and then a gently varying curve over the rest of the scene, to simulate the irregularities of the flames.

You might also use the same animation to control the particle system emmission, to synchronize the quantity of particles with the luminosity of the lamps.

Once your torch is flying, you should get something as shown below – you can download the blend file File:ManAnimationTechsLampExFlyingTorch.blend.

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User Manual

World and Ambient Effects


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Stars (2.69)

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