View Full Version : MEL - implementing a crowd

06-13-2006, 09:50 AM
Hello all,

I'm working on a short film for a school project and need to animate about 50 people in a crowd, all walking down a passage way. i figure MEL would offer an easier solution than key framing 50 walk cycles, though as MEL is rather new to me, I'm not quite sure where to start. the best idea i have so far is to loop a procedural animation as a character moves along a motion path.

can anybody tell me if this is a good way to go about solving this problem, or perhaps point me in the right direction

any help would be most appreciated

thanks in advance.

06-13-2006, 03:20 PM
I'm not sure that mel is your answer. If you want to use mel to set the key frames, that's quite a bit of work. You have to track values in time for all ctrls, all channels, and tangent types. yikes. One way mel could definitely help would be if you were to create a cycle, export those animation curves and use mel to help you read and apply those cycles to various characters (assuming characters are same proportions).
Maybe also take a look at the trax editor??

06-13-2006, 03:49 PM
well, all the characters are not only the same proportions, their identical so exporting animation curves sounds like a good idea. do you think it would it be usefull (if at all posible) to have a few diferent cycles of curves to blend between, ie; person walking forward, person turning corners etc?

thanks for the reply too btw.....

06-13-2006, 04:15 PM
I'd say it's a judgement call. How many shots are you talking about? The more shots the bigger your library of actions etc. If it's only a few shots it may just be faster to muscle through it do only a few cycles and offset them.

06-13-2006, 04:48 PM
cool, i have a fair idea of how to tackle this now, thanks for the help:)

06-13-2006, 04:52 PM
You could duplicate the characters and create a "character set" for each. Using trax clips you should be able to do all the blending and combining of pre-made animations you require.
Search the Maya help for the clipSchedule command and you should get a good overview over what can be done using trax.

06-13-2006, 10:57 PM
you could also use particles instancing.

Well just my thought


06-14-2006, 12:48 AM
i like the idea of blending curve cycles, but particles would save time.

im not sure if its posible, but what about using particle instance and blending animation curves based on a particles orientation or something like that? just a thought


06-20-2006, 11:55 PM
i did a small private crowd project a few years ago, here is how i did it:
- created a particle sim that roughly matched the desired motion
- baked the motions of the particles out into paths (there is a script on my homepage)
- attached a procedural walking system driving a character to each curve (using the curve as a motion path)
- tweaked the paths to resolve collisions and make it look nicer
- done (not a very fast solution, but worked ok with the 50 characters i had)

I used completely procedural walking (but my creatures were a lot simpler to animate than human gait) - might be worth a shot, though. you might try mixing procedural animation with a keyframe animation - using the keyframes to drive an ik loc when the feet are moving, and planting them with a simple expression - you could also modify and warp the keyframes a bit to change the speed or the path of the motion (though this only works to a limited degree) -

some infos here:

the walking system

the crowd scene (example movie)

06-21-2006, 12:21 AM
hey artfish,

thanks for the in-depth reply, i think thats going to solve the problem, like you said, it'll be slow but it will work:)

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