Dynamics in Maya 1

Bowling Alley

And so, here we are again, at another corner of Maya’s skill set, this time looking into Dynamics.  This one, seeing as I am completely inexperienced with Dynamics, will actually be from a lecture I went to, using the same example that I was shown, however afterwards I’ll see if I can jump off the deep end and really get stuck in Dynamics.  First things first though.

The Process

Ok to begin with, you’ll need a basic model of a bowling alley, I got mine from my lecturer, so the bowling ball actually looks like a bowling ball, however if you’re feeling lazy it is essentially just a sphere, ten cylinders and a plane with a cube cut in half at the end for the ball to hit against.

Check out the workmanship, not only the ball but the pins too!

So, you’ve got your models.  The next thing is to set your animation options so that you get more than the default ten frames, at least I think its ten…  I could check, but on a machine that cost over a grand, Maya still takes over sixty seconds to open, and we all know about the nerds attention span…

Ok then!  You want to go to Window>Settings/Preferences>Preferences.  Under the categories, choose Settings and make sure your “Time” is set to 24fps.  Then select Time Slider, which is found underneath Settings, and set your settings to look like mine, although in hindsight, I originally set my total animation length to 360 frames, as shown in this image, however I revised that after playblasting because there was about ten seconds of nothing at the end, and so I changed the length to 200 frames.

Playback and Animation End should be around 200, depending on your animation, not 360.

The next task is to get your objects to be affected by “world physics”, so gravity really. We will begin with the bowling ball.  You need to select the bowling ball and apply a gravity field to it, which can be found under the dynamics tab, in Fields>Gravity.  Applying the field will affect anything you have selected, so make sure its just the ball.

I went bowling lots in my youth. This actually happened to me once.

After applying the field, hit the play button and you can watch your bowling ball miraculously fall through the floor of your alley.  Not really the desired effect, and so we need to get Maya to recognise the ground as the ground.

Maya has two ways of making object interact with each other, Active and Passive Rigid Bodies.  An Active Rigid Body is affected by other Rigid Bodies in the scene, and can have its stats changed after colliding with another Body, such as speed, direction and spin, however a Passive Rigid Body remains constant, although it can still effect Active Bodies. For example, the floor of this bowling alley with be passive while the ball with be active.

Animators, most of us have Non-active Rigid Bodies.

OK so firstly select your ball again, and apply an Active Rigid Body to it, you can do this by going to Soft/Rigid Bodies, and hitting the square next to Create Active Rigid Body.  This will bring up this option box.

If only the real world could be altered like this, I'd apply an active body field to myself with bounciness set to over 9000!

Most of the attributes in this menu we can ignore for now, unless you personally wanted to experiment, however I will change it later.  You should give your ball a name, as this is always good practise, even if we wont be relying to heavily on names in this animation.

Now, we need to apply a Passive Rigid Body to the bowling alley, and so we do much the same.  Go to Soft/Rigid Bodies>Create Passive Rigid Body,and hit the option square again.

De Ja Vu.

And once again, the attributes in the window are mostly ignorable, just give the alley a name.

Particle collision! A box that needs to be pressed...

Now that you have a ground and an object to put on the ground, you can press play and watch your ball very slowly roll around.  Magic.

"So, what I've been doing for the last half an hour is learning how to put something on the ground?"

Now it is time to set up the statistics (weight, bounciness etc) of the bowling ball.  If you move your ball a little above the bowling alley and hit play, you will see it is far too bouncy to be a realistic representation of a bowling ball, and so we need to change that.  If you select your ball, then go to the attribute editor and select either the BowlingBall Tab, or the RigidBody1 tab, depending on your version of Maya, I’m running 2009 and so I have a RigidBody tab.

Increasing the balls mass, very mature.

Here you can change the settings of your bowling ball to whatever you want, if you want it to bounce more, then change its bounciness, however for a realistic representation I found that setting your mass to 5.0 and your bounciness to 0.05 works well.  You should also change the Initial Velocity of the bowling ball as well, otherwise your bowling ball will not travel down toward the pins like it is intended.  Feel free to experiment again, however I found that setting the Initial Velocity to about 40 works (or in my case -40 due to my orientation).  Finally you should put some Initial Spin on your ball, otherwise when it travels down the alley it wont be spinning, which will look very strange indeed.  I found that 300 (or -300) works well.

If you hit play now, you can watch your bowling ball hurtled down the alley towards the pin, then vanish through the pins, only to hit the back wall in a huge anti climax!  Well, we need to make the pins Active Rigid Bodies as well then.

Making your Pins active and rigid...sickening.

You need to select your pins individually and apply an Active Rigid Body to each one, otherwise Maya will have a fit.  Play with the Mass and other options if you want to, as the default options are a touch too bouncy and not quite heavy enough to look realistic, however not as bad as the bowling ball, although I kept mine the same in this version of the Bowling Alley.

If you hit play again after adding all the Active Rigid Bodies to the pins, you can watch the ball strike the pins, and then see the pins float off in random directions, like the are individually contained in a vacuum.  I suppose really they are, as they have no gravity field applied to them.


To apply the gravity field to them you can select all of them as one group, then if you edit the options of the gravity field itself, it will be applied to all the pins evenly.  You can get to the gravity field in the same place as last time, by going Fields>Gravity, or you can hit the button on the shelf, it looks like a green circle, with the letter G and three arrows pointing down.

Red + Brush Tool = less frustration.

OK, so that should be everything for the basic setup of your Bowling Alley.  You can hit play and watch Maya choke as it tries to render the scene, or you can use a Playblast to see your scene in realtime.

To create a Playblast go to Window>Playblast, then choose a place to save the file to.  Maya will do a quick Playblast render and then open the file in your default movie player.

Here is mine!

Now, if everything worked properly, you are free to change anything you want!  I played around with some textures, and ended up creating some sort of Bowling with the Sun animation.

Here is a quick Playblast.

Now admittedly that didn’t look too much like a Sun, in fact it looks like a giant orange bowling ball.  But, here is the full render.

A little more realistic anyway!  Enjoy.

About opinionatedalex

Less opinionated than one might think.
This entry was posted in 3D Modelling, Digital Media in Practice and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Dynamics in Maya 1

  1. Pingback: Bowling Dynamics in Maya | Odbr's Blog

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