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Falling letters

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Tibor Bernscherer
Falling letters
on Mar 30, 2011 at 9:51:36 am

Hi Cows,
I'm having some animation issues with a new project, I'll try to explain it. I have a plate with letters on it, like a title business plate on a wall. I'd like the letters to fall off the plate. Well, not all the letters but some of them. Obviously they have to interact with each other and the floor. I was advised to use nCloth and boost up the rigidity so I did but it didn't work well, they fell through each other and were bouncing on the floor. It was funny but far from realistic. I watched several tutorials but they were all about cloths not rigid bodies, the ones with objects weren't tutorials but demonstrations only. The question is, how can I get them to interact with each other, how can I add a random gravity so they fall individually not all together at the same time during the animation? I'd also like to add a little tweak to them, the last letter would be hanging on a pin for a while before it falls. I know, it's a quite complex project, it is for me anyway. Do you have any suggestions (even tutorials) ?

Thanks


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keith mcgregor
Re: Falling letters
on Mar 31, 2011 at 4:06:30 pm

How good are you at hand animating dynamics? You could do it that way or you could try making them rigid bodies and collide with the floor and each other. As for the gravity being different you could set the damping different for the ones who fall later, or have the mass different for each. There will be some fiddling with it as with all dynamic sims but you'll get the hang of it. Also, check here to see if there is a tut that's close to what you're trying to do: http://www.wonderhowto.com/how-to-use-dynamics-with-maya-software-by-making...
And be sure to check out the other dynamics tuts to see if they are any help.
-Beef

Reality? What did you make it?


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Tibor Bernscherer
Re: Falling letters
on Mar 31, 2011 at 6:15:48 pm

Hi, thanks for the quick reply. I tried the rigid body, I was advised to do so and here's the result. Looks awful:) I don't really understand, why the letters are falling through the plane and if you look at the very end, one letter falls into the camera as well. Weird.







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Paul Roper
Re: Falling letters
on Apr 1, 2011 at 2:56:41 am

Personally, for just four letters, I'd hand animate them. In the time it'd take to set up the dynamics and for Maya to do all the calculations, you could have set the keyframes and tweaked them to make everything perfect. And 'reality' is often not how you'd imagine it - sometimes it just looks better when you cheat the rate of descent, bounce, etc. Plus you can more easily (using the graph editor) get rid of that 'floaty computer simulation look' that dynamics can sometimes produce.

And then there's the satisfaction of having animated it 'the old fashioned' way; REAL animation as some people would like to say!


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Tibor Bernscherer
Re: Falling letters
on Apr 2, 2011 at 10:54:20 pm

I'd might need to be a better animator:) I made up a minute long animation before with keyframe from the 1st frame to the last one, it was an absolute nightmare. The movements were OK but the impacts and the fallings looked fake as hell:) Thanks anyway. I'm getting there though but I have to say, it's not easy at all, much harder than I expected it to be and the result is quite random. Not as predictable as modeling or even lighting.


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Steve Sayer
Re: Falling letters
on Apr 7, 2011 at 8:59:46 pm

I have to respectfully disagree with Paul here; I think this is a perfect task for dynamics. The simulation can always be baked and then tweaked by hand afterwards to achieve the artistic feel of hand animation.

Those letters look pretty smooth; do they have bevels on them? If so that may be part of the problem. Your approach should be to create very simple blocky versions of the letters--that letter 'L' should have 14 polys in it, maximum--to turn into rigid bodies. Then the higher-detail, smoothed letters can be parented under the invisible rigid bodies and they will inherit the motion.

Another thing to check is that the center of mass for each object is actually near its centre. That slow swinging behaviour we see at the end may suggest that the centers of mass aren't actually where they should be.

Beyond that it's difficult to troubleshoot... in general rigid bodies SHOULD work just the way you are expecting them to; I don't know why you're seeing the glitchy behaviour that you do.

-Steve


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Tibor Bernscherer
Re: Falling letters
on Apr 8, 2011 at 4:19:17 pm

Thanks Steve, I'll try the poly letters, the ones I have are all bevels. I've seen it working just fine, that's why I didn't really understand, what had happened with my animation. It's cool stuff anyway, I'll just have to find a way to superimpose the animation with the real footage. Probably in after effects?


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Steve Sayer
Re: Falling letters
on Apr 8, 2011 at 9:09:30 pm

Definitely try it out with simple geo. Also make sure you delete history on the objects before you turn them into rigid bodies. It should work smoothly and easily.

As for changing the timing of the falling, I believe there's a 'Start Time' attribute on each rigid body... set it to the frame you want that object to start falling. If I'm wrong and there's no such attribute, look into constraints. A Barrier constraint placed underneath will prevent them from dropping. As for the last letter, a Nail constraint and a couple of keyframes should give the swing-and-then-fall motion you're looking for.

Hope that helps.

-Steve


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Tibor Bernscherer
Re: Falling letters
on Apr 9, 2011 at 9:15:31 am

Thanks, I'll try them at the weekend:)


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