Hey everyone, this is my first post since I’ve been back in England!  In these dark depths of winter I really miss the summer I spent over in the US as a Bit Films intern; nice weather, good food, great crew.  Since leaving the states I’ve been hard at work at college, and on various other projects, but now and again I get enough free time to work on Tube.  Something which has been on my to-do list since B-Conf is feasibility tests for crowd simulation and auto-walking, and combinations of the two.  

I’ve always struggled to set up Blender’s boids sim exactly how I needed it for ground based creatures (trying hard not to give anything away about the film here!), especially in the case of collision critical simulations when its important that two bodies don’t get tangled up together.  Coupled with this I know that for Tube we will need more direct control over the ‘boids’ and being able to explicitly direct them and override the ‘boid brain’ is a must.  On top of that we need more than just fly, walk and sleep actions.  It seemed that rather than trying to strap something on the back of Blender’s built in boids, it might be easier to code something more specific (and more limited in scope) for a few scenes we have to animate, so I started out on a now heavily WIP crowd sim.

There used to be an auto-walker script for blender 2.4x.  I came up with my own algorithm before finding it, but did end up mimicking a few of the features (leg sequencing for one) though my implementation had to be completely different because of the way the rest of my code works.  It only walks, as such, not runs, yet…

A couple of weeks ago I tested out the code and rendered a couple of demo crowd shots.  Then I got completely carried away and implemented a few special effects using PIL and the ‘scribbler’ algorithm, and generated sound from the fcurves of hundreds of marching spiders.  The project uncovered a few pitfalls and some more work still to do before the crowd sim is production ready, but enough of the worrying, here’s a demo video!

“Spiders” auto-walking and flock simulation for blender from Josh Wedlake on Vimeo.

Here’s the video on youtube where the compression is slightly nicer at the larger sizes.

  1. Hey Josh! I used the html editor to embed the code, seems to work, with the caveat that switching to the wsywig editor on this post is going bork it :/

  2. josh :

    hey bassam, thanks for that! its exactly what I tried about 20 times this morning… maybe its a google chrome thing? cheers

  3. So awesome.

  4. thanks fateh! always great to have the producer’s seal of approval! also I saw cornucopia on the Bit Films posting… is that the film you told me about in the summer? are you guys starting production? very exciting stuff.

  5. No that one is TOP SECRET 🙂
    Cornucopia is Chris Perry’s new movie in development.
    I’ve been following your progress updates; nice work with Less than Three and the Hunter S. fish!

  6. wow man, that’s very fricking cool! 😀 Can’t wait to see it in action in the short!!

    And..hmm Bassam. You need to poke me with a stick whenever you want modelling!! I keep finding other stuff to fill my schedule lol

  7. […] do before the crowd sim is production ready, but enough of the worrying, here’s a demo video !Continue reading on the Tube blog.http://vimeo.com/19078611 Share this article GA_googleFillSlot("BN_Content_468x60_below_post"); […]

  8. David :

    Will the crowd sim code be released as open source. I’ve been thinking of getting crowd sim working in 2.5x for a project and this might be a good thing to use and extend if it’s opened to others.

  9. riftmaster :

    Is this going to be released (the scripts) ?

  10. Jarred :

    Fantastic! Spiders are so appropriate for scribbler 🙂

  11. @fateh ahh lucky i didn’t spill any beans! Thanks for passing on the blogpost to BN & for the still addition! I’m surprised but glad you like Less Than Three… maybe only the broken gags save it from being too twee a caper! I’m working on some different (trying not to say ‘edgier’ or ‘darker’) stuff (that you might also have seen WIPs of on my blog) for my final diploma film (getting a two month head start on the rest of the class!). I’m busy re-boarding and completely rewriting the ending at the moment after feedback from a few trusted people (not my tutors who have drunk too much disney flavoured koolade to think straight) but when I’m done (hopefully next week or the one after) I’d love to run the final boards and script past you for final comment before I commence production. Also have you seen ‘fantastic planet’ or ‘allegro non troppo’ and are they worth watching in full?

  12. hi David, and riftmaster,

    I’m not planning a public release on the website right now but… the algorithms used are explained here:
    …though both those docs are to some extent out of date, but do contain some interesting points and are probably worth reading if you’re considering coding yourself. At the moment the code is very heavily WIP, uncommented, unfinished and buggy/inconsistent in places. In particular the boid brain will be completely rewritten when I get a chance. If the docs don’t tell you enough about the algorithms I’d be happy to send you a big bundle of scripts (about 15-20) which make up both parts (assuming that’s cool with Bassam) but sadly I really can’t support them at this time due to college work, applications for a masters degree and so on. I also worry you’d spend so long trying to get my scripts working that it would simply be a waste of your time! If you still want the code comment back here and I’ll send it your way.

    The code definitely will be released in its finished state (with docs) either when or before the movie is completed. As for when that will be I can’t say for sure,
    best wishes, Josh

  13. @josh my tastes are pretty varied, but i think you are right about less than three:) it is also cool to see your animation coming along. i hadn’t caught wind of your new project yet, but that’s exciting — of course i’d be happy to be your reader. just email me when you’re ready. i actually discovered fantastic planet’s great soundtrack first and then its cool animation. i don’t know the other one; b says it’s good. you might also look up elli vuorinnen, whose nice shorts we recently discovered.

  14. […] bassam on Jul.22, 2011, under production Hey folks. a while back Josh Wedlake wrote a script for autowalking, which we would need to put together crowd scenes of cockroaches in the subway. The time has come […]

  15. […] to appear in credits. Thanks to everyone else with help and suggestions. Hey folks. a while back Josh Wedlake wrote a script for autowalking, which we would need to put together crowd scenes of cockroaches in the subway. The time has come […]

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