I was finally getting around to updating my reel, and I wanted to add a P-51 Mustang model to the mix. The model is built in a way where every external panel is a separate polygonal object, so I thought it would be nice to see it come together like a living blueprint. This is a pretty common animation technique, usually reserved to show the inner workings of a device and how it all fits together. Since there is no automated feature like this in Maya, another Python Tool opportunity presented itself!
It can be very tedious to animate dozens or even hundreds of pieces to a very specific design – in this case, I wanted to make sure the elements on the inside of the overall object did not overlap each other, but rather followed each other in an organized fashion during the explode. I was also interested in having the ability to move a core around, depending on what looks best for different objects.
Since a whole new tool was now in the works, I added the ability to choose the type of exploding direction (see right) – from full 360 degrees, a hemisphere option (good if you have a ground plane), and an isolation in any of the three axis.
Introducing ObjectExploder for Maya!
ObjectExploder is a tool for Autodesk Maya that quickly creates multi-element exploding animation keyframes that offers completely customizable results.
Here’s the user interface breakdown:
Start with Generate Core to create a temporary blue sphere that serves as the vortex point where all animation will emit from. This allows you to explode from any point, not just the natural center of an object.
The Explode List shows you exactly what parts of your model will be included in the animation. You can edit the list anytime.
Exploding Options defines the direction of the exploded parts in relation to the Core. Full Sphere gives a 360 degree effect, and Hemisphere is a good choice if you don’t want any penetration in a ground plane. All three axis directions are included that should serve any necessity.
The Distance slider defines how far, in world units, the parts will travel from the Core. A Distance Randomizer is included to break up the uniformity of the travel, based on a percentage of your distance.
The Animation Options are a real time saver. Adjust the Start Frame to choose when the explode begins on the timeline, and dial in the Total Frames for your desired length of animation.
More procedural randomization occurs with the Animated Rotation and Animated Scale. These will add a additional spin or growth to all parts as they travel.
The Unified and Staggered Construction Build options help define how the elements break apart and reassemble. Unified denotes all parts break at the same moment, while Staggered creates an offset animation with all the elements. The ones closer to the Core will move last, and arriving back first.
A few more options come in the form of Linear or Eased Animation Tangents. Animators will be familiar with these terms – it’s the difference between quick starts and stops, or a subtle speeding up and slowing down effect.
Check out the video below to see the tool in action – and like always, I always welcome comments and thoughts!