See How to Simulate Thousand of Balls in Blender

Nicky Kolk from nicky.animations talked to us about creating 3D simulations and shared how the Did I Add Enough Balls project was created, detailing the steps behind the process and giving some tips for other artists.

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Hello, I am Nicky from nicky.animations and AndesAnimations. I got into 3D art and animation because of a 3D animation study I followed. However, as the study was actually quite bad, I mainly learned 3D animation and 3D art by following courses, watching many tutorials, and trying to create as much as possible by myself.

Creating 3D Simulations

For some reason, I just love simulations. It takes a lot of time to create them, as big simulations require extensive calculations, but when created correctly, you can achieve amazing results. The software I use to create these kinds of animations is Blender. However, one day, I would love to learn Houdini, as Houdini is the king of simulations!

The "Did I Add Enough Balls?" Project

While I was working on the subway train, I randomly came up with the idea to fill up the subway trains with balls, and the goal was basically just to create something unique and something that looks good. I chose Blender for this project since that is the only 3D software I can work with. For the metro station, I modeled and textured everything myself. 

The Production Process

In creating simulations, a lot of things can go wrong, as the entire scene and all the objects in the scene must have the right settings for the simulation to work correctly. If this is not the case, then you must recalculate the simulation. In the case of this animation, it can take up to an hour or even longer depending on your CPU. 

To create this animation, I first created all the models for the animation. When those were finished, I could animate the subway trains. Afterward, they were filled with balls and the simulation was calculated. 

If you also want to learn to create rigid body simulations, I just advise you to follow many tutorials. And when you feel ready to create a simulation yourself, just go for it. It might be hard to create, but just keep on trying.

Rendering, Lighting & Post-Production Settings

For rendering, I used the Cycles render engine, which makes everything look great. However, Cycles is very intense, especially for animations like this. If you want to render in Cycles, a good GPU is required.

For the lighting, I simply used 1 sun lamp. To create the shadows of the clouds, I created volumetric clouds that move in front of the sun.

Tips for Artists

3D simulations are amazing, but if you want to create very big simulations, they require a lot of time and a very good computer to create. If you're interested in creating simulations like mine, I would just start small and try to get an understanding of how simulations work. Once you have a solid understanding, you can try to make bigger simulations.

One tutorial that I really think could help you get started with rigid body simulations is by Polyfjord:

Nicky Kolk, 3D Animator

Interview conducted by Theodore McKenzie

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