"Sisyphus Engine No. 1" physics based marble machine animation

  • December 05, 2016
  • 370 Downloads
  • 5 Likes
  • Blender 2.7x
  • Render: Cycles
  • Creator: Hammers
  • License: CC-BY-NC
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Description:

I'd like to share the final scene file of my physics-simulation-based marble machine animation, in case it is useful for others to dissect and learn from. You can see the rendered animation I made of it here:

https://youtu.be/5LC8PYq_VS0

The scene contains 56 balls, 32 constraints, 10 drivers and exactly 2 keyframes (on the big gear's parent empty). It uses the bullet engine for the rigid body physics work. The simulation potentially could continue forever: at one point I had it going for 2000 frames without a hitch, but at some stage an adjustment I made, meant that the stairs would occasionally lose a ball. Ouch! Ah well.

I was especially interested in simulating small objects 'to-scale' to avoid that 'slow-mo' look that a lot of simulations get, when the scale and timing have to be fudged. These balls are 16mm in diameter, and using 240 steps per second in the rigid body world settings, they simulate pretty realistically and stable. If you're interested, I'm happy to share the sprawling .pdf document that was the journal/notebook I kept as I was creating this monstrosity. It includes lots of sketches and ideas, as well as prototyping and test results from when I first planned on making this in Maya, and goes into some detail about why Blender was just better :) The document is not designed as a tutorial by any means, but might be useful if you're exploring this area. Just PM me and I'll share it with you.

The file includes several excellent CC procedural wood materials by Dale Cieslak available here on Blendswap, as well as an HDRI from the CC-attribution sIBL archive "Factory Catwalk" http://www.hdrlabs.com/sibl/archive.html. The Steampunk/Lovecraftian pressure gauge texture is based on an image shared by Herbert West at http://herbertw.deviantart.com/art/Metaphysical-Gauges-335601199

Comments:

  • RikSavage profile picture
    RikSavage

    Blender crashes upon opening

    Written December 05, 2016
  • Hammers profile picture
    Hammers

    Hi Rik, I've changed a couple of settings to see if that helps you. If you get a chance would you mind testing again? Cheers!

    Written December 05, 2016
  • RikSavage profile picture
    RikSavage

    Whenever I append the objects individually, the Boiler and EngineCylender objects appear to be the culprit.

    Written December 05, 2016
  • Hammers profile picture
    Hammers

    Interesting. The only significant thing they have in common is the particle systems I used for the rivets I think. I'll do some testing and maybe message you back, to save too much debugging stuff here. If anyone else has tested this to confirm please chime in though. Thanks.

    Written December 06, 2016
  • Lomar profile picture
    Lomar

    This thing is beautiful, I love it!

    Having a problem, however. When I try to render an animation, the moving ladder and several other pieces abruptly change position and orientation (effectively disappearing) at frame 2, and remain there, making an animation impossible. Naturally, a marble machine needs to be animated. I can't seem to find the problem. Is it just me?

    Peace.

    Written December 23, 2016
  • Hammers profile picture
    Hammers

    Hi Lomar, thanks for taking a look :)

    I remember having this problem doing my own renders ages ago. I believe it is an issue with the Rigid Body Cache becoming corrupted for some reason.

    For now, if you go to Properties Panel>Scene Tab>Rigid Body Cache, then 'Free Bake' and 'Bake', and wait a few minutes you should get a nice shiny clean physics cache that solves this problem, and animates the whole scene. Just a bit of physics weirdness I suppose. I'll try rebaking and reuploading, but this may just be a necessary step from time to time.

    Let me know how you go!

    Written December 26, 2016
  • Lomar profile picture
    Lomar

    Success! Thanks for the clear instructions. A new bake fixed everything. (Ok, still losing the occasional ball off the stairs, but at least the structure is there!)

    Again, great job! It might even inspire me to create something similar. I need to learn the physics engine and I love marble machines!

    Peace.

    Edited December 26, 2016
  • Hammers profile picture
    Hammers

    Ah great news. Yes I found that after about f600 I tend to lose a ball. Very tiny adjustments in unexpected places have butterfly effects everywhere in this machine ;)

    If you are keen I'm happy to share the pdf journal I made (just random notes to myself really) as I was making this project. Probably some useful info in there if you're keen on figuring out more of how this went together and what settings were most critical to the physics. Just PM me your details and I'll send to you if you like.

    And don't forget to upvote or like or however it works, to help this blend get through moderation. Cheers!

    Written December 27, 2016
  • tonkiwi profile picture
    tonkiwi

    Great. Motivates me to try some marble physics myself.

    Edited December 27, 2016
  • Mikel007 profile picture
    Mikel007

    Wow, awesome. Thank you for sharing it and a happy new year.

    Edited December 31, 2016
  • wax profile picture
    wax

    Very nice scene. I couldn't resist to do a 360 rendering test with sheepit (It doesn't support driver, that's probably why there's some bug in the animation).

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaG_CTPWtYc

    Edited January 09, 2017
  • Hammers profile picture
    Hammers

    Hey that's really cool @wax! It's probably not a huge deal to replace the drivers with keyframes if you feel like it at some point too :)

    Written January 11, 2017
  • eddyraul profile picture
    eddyraul

    Wow!!! I saw the YouTube video. Love it

    Written February 06, 2017
  • Hammers profile picture
    Hammers

    Thanks eddyraul! Glad you liked the animation. Now have some fun with the .blend too :)

    Written March 15, 2017
  • Reitanna profile picture
    Reitanna

    it looks real!

    Edited February 01, 2018
  • Wally7 profile picture
    Wally7

    Fantastic, how do I pm you to get your pdf file. Wally

    Edited June 27, 2018
  • Hammers profile picture
    Hammers

    Hey Wally, Here's a link to the pdf journal for the Sisyphus Engine. Like I said, it's kind of a random collection of notes to myself during the creation, and not any sort of tutorial, but you're welcome to it for study purposes :) Glad you like the contraption!

    Cheers, Stephen. https://www.dropbox.com/s/hlp3mo5mr2xhuwe/SisyphusJournalHamacek.pdf?dl=0

    Written July 02, 2018
  • rdghg profile picture
    rdghg

    @Hammers your file is down can you plz reupload, thanks

    Written October 06, 2019
  • Blendamental profile picture
    Blendamental

    I never seriously considered using Blender for [Rube Goldberg/Mousetrap/PythagoraSwitch] mechanisms. Seeing your result is strangely satisfying. Laying the video to Steve Reich's music was obviously a great choice. Although I don't care to read the "sprawling" PDF at this time, I can appreciate that there is one. It's always inspiring to see people making use of Blender in unique and creative ways, and this is definitely a shining example. Blend on, you crazy diamond.

    Written May 25, 2019
  • rdghg profile picture
    rdghg

    Hey, do you still have the file? links are down sadly..

    Written October 06, 2019
  • Hammers profile picture
    Hammers

    Sorry, haven't been around much recently. I see now that .zips are no longer allowed for files. I'll have to dig out the file and pack all the images and reupload. Just in the middle of a big project for now, but I'll try to get this back up as soon as I can.

    Written December 04, 2019