Tuesday 2 August 2016

YPGTTO: An Unexpected Journey

This wasn't the intended post for today. Lets just say that I royally messed up rendering / compositing and leave it at that!

It seems that there is a new version of Maya every few months. The latest offering, Maya 2017, has been out for about a week and I have to say I'm enjoying it immensely (save for one little upset on the rendering side of things).

I mention this because I have been playing around with one of it's most recent additions, the motion graphics toolset, AKA the MASH plugin that Autodesk acquired from Mainframe.

One of MASH's features is specifically designed for creating flocking effects... I bet you can see where this post is going now!

Take a look at this:

It works like this:

Each note has a pre designated spot on the staves. The circular guide acts almost like a paint brush in that I can paint along the staves to make some of the notes land, stay for a short duration, then take off again to join the rest of the flock.

For this test I have only created one type of note, but it is possible to add more into the mix. The positions of the notes on the staves are randomly placed, but I believe it would be possible to manually place them if we wanted to mimic a real section of music. (although that would be rather painstaking)

There a plenty of parameters that I didn't touch in the flocking simulation so I'm sure the effect can be customised and improved further.

So to conclude, what I have demonstrated is a way to animate a flock of objects on mass, that can come to rest and then take off again. Of course, we will still need bespoke character rigs for our hero characters, but I'm sure this is going to be a useful technique to continue to develop for the project.

For the next post I hope to be able to continue from where I left off last week.

Ethan Shilling


  1. Interesting stuff Ethan. I'd like to see if we can make the effect more abstract. I'll try get some sketches up to explain my point, but essentially, how can we make these flocking forms feel like an abstract form that still maintains some qualities of birds flocking. And should those notes be abstract themselves, or more akin to the specific musical notes of the piece. Looking forward to seeing more :)

  2. Yes, I too would like to see how far we can push it!

    It would be good if we could better control the flock so that the mass of 'birds' (or whatever they are) can form specific shapes (so it's more artist driven)

    I don't exactly know what the 'birds' should be, whether they are a random assortment of musical notes, or shapes derived from musical notes, or maybe something more abstract... I guess this will become more clear as our ideas mature.