View Full Version : Flocking animation in Maya

01 January 2011, 01:22 AM
Hello all

I am trying to create a flocking type animation in Maya 2011 on a mac. Simulating a school of fish and having them react to certain objects such as fear from a predator of swarming towards a piece of food.

Looking online such as creative crash there are scripts but they either are for Linux and Windows or dont really do much more than particle goals which can be acieved with standard tools anyway from what I have found, but I may be wrong.

Tools such as massive would be the obvious solution but this is a student project so it is beyond my means plus it would be nice to achieve the result using tools I am already familiar with.

Is there anything within nParticles that can be used? I have played around with curve flow and particle goals and fields but I don't feel that I have the control or natural effect I am looking for.

Ideally I would like to create some sort of intelligence for the particles so they react to each other whilst remaining as a unified group. So if one particle is attracted to a goal it can communicate this to its neighbor particle so the group moves not based on a blanket proximity to the goal but on the communication from one particle to another.

I am not sure if what I am asking is beyond the means of Maya, I have just sort of gotten started on this project. Any suggestions or help would be much appreciated or if any of the points I have made are incorrect let me know.


09 September 2011, 01:16 PM I'm after the exact same thing, -a school of fish, quickly and simply, on Maya 2012 on a mac.

Does the answer exist..??

Derek Wolfe
09 September 2011, 05:17 PM
years ago, there was a plugin called brainbugz.
It worked very well.
Not sure what the status of that project is currently.

09 September 2011, 03:10 PM
out of the box maya is not capable of this type of flocking behaviour without a ton of expressions. If you are a student and need a quick turn around i would suggest Dereks has and easy interface etc.

If you want to learn how to do it with maya then you will need to know expressions, and a ton of math.

I have seen it done beautifully using fields only too but that was more of a chaotic swarming not really a reaction to predators, or food.

May i suggest the "if it looks right then it is right" approach. Set up a swarm rig that is simple enough that it behaves like a swarm, then on a per shot basis massage the behaviour until you get what you want. In my experience this happens 99 percent of the time way more than creating a system that is intelligently driven to behave like a real animal(s).

good luck

09 September 2011, 03:44 PM
there's some boids plug-in floating around but nothing close to what you'd want. You can ask the miarmy guys to beta test ? The place I'm working at right now has its own in house crowd sim for maya but it's commercially sold

Expressions can go far but aren't very modular and get slow. You should look around for some python boids example and see if it's applicable to the structure of maya.

Particle wise there's intersting things that can happen when you use particles as sources of fields ('apply per vertex' toggled on) but it can go haywire pretty rapidly.

09 September 2011, 02:49 PM
I've recently created a flock using nParticles and attaching them together with springs. Using a high air density I was able to pull a few particles and the rest would follow like a flock.

In order to pull the massive amount of particles I had to use goals.

I added expressions that made the birds flap faster when their velocity was faster.

10 October 2011, 10:05 AM
Just a simple system with Particles and Fields.

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