thinkingParticles may be used to create particle based crowd animations by using complex IK models as particles. All operators and conditions will also be valid for character studio biped and skinned meshes. thinkingParticles already offers powerful "follow" operators and also "avoiding" conditions, to create impressive crowd animations.
There are many ways to create complex crowd animations. Some systems use a really time consuming approach, that forces a "re-calculation" of a solution, for each single change to the system. Unlike particles, such crowd control systems need a lot of experience and processing power to be effective and usable.
thinkingParticles, on the other hand, uses a true particle system approach. This means that particles are used to "place" and manipulate the characters or IK-objects in a scene. The big advantage in using particles for crowd control, is Real-time Feedback! There is no endless waiting for the crowd solution to render. Adjust any parameter and watch the changes happen in real-time. In the example shown above, the characters are controlled by a standard Wind Space Warp. The direction of the wind is changed in the animation and the characters (particles) change accordingly. A simple Wind Space Warp allows you to control thousands of characters.
Understand, that in this animation, complex interactions between two animation sequences are happening at the same time. First, it's the particle system that "drives" the character studio animation, and second, the character studio animation controls the particle animation. When a walk cycle has ended, the particle has to wait until the next cycle starts. In the other case, the character has to walk as fast as the particle moves; when the particle stops the character animation has to stop. thinkingParticles does all this automatically, based on simple rules.
Note that while thinkingParticles is not a fully-blown crowd control system, there are some operators that are "crowd ready" and offer powerful features that you won't be able to find elsewhere. The thinkingParticles kernel offers a robust framework for more enhanced operators to control masses of characters in a scene! And don't forget, there's always the SDK available that allows you to program your own operators and conditions.
Below is an example of an "avoiding" situation for multiple characters.
Control the Masses
The geometry instancing has been greatly enhanced! A complete animation tree has been added to the operator. This animation tree allows you to create complex crowd animations in a rule based system! A character, for example, can have multiple animations within one single point cache file. The animation stored in the point cache needs to be "complete," including all possible transitions. The all new geometry instancing will ensure that transitions between the animations are smooth at the correct time. This new system is perfect for crowd simulations in a stadium or arena. For the first time, thinkingParticles' Advanced Animation Tree (AAT) technology allows you to control complex masses of characters with the ease of a few simple mouse clicks!
CA Scanline Production GmbH, a German effects house, uses thinkingParticles almost in every single project for TV and film. Their team of programmers has added so many extra nodes and controls to thinkingParticles that it has virtually become their very own power-workhorse, for all kinds of effects. From a massive crowd control system to fluid dynamics effects, thinkingParticles has proven to be the most flexible and powerful particle system for them.
Through clever use of thinkingParticles, it was possible for SCANLINE Production to render the impressive Stadium scene in the movie "Hero of the Gladiators". In a 15-minute special effects sequence 10,000 Romans have been brought to life with finalRender and thinkingParticles! Simple rules control the movement and clothing of each single Roman in the stadium.
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