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Bouncing Ball In LightWave 3D Tutorial
Added: 2004-11-06 | Views: 18243/26199 | Software: LightWave 3D
Before you start: Press "d", and make sure "Show Handles" is turned on.

1. Begin by creating a sphere about 2.5 meters in diameter, like the one shown here. Make sure it has a surface name like "ball" (press "q" in Modeler).
2. Next, add a "Null" as shown*. When you are asked to name the null, call it "Ball_Controller".



*Nulls? A null object is basically a point. They will not render, but Nulls are used constantly as a spare pivot point or axis, as a "target", as a placeholder, or as a "dummy" in some other capacity.

3. Select the ball object, and press "m" to open the motion options panel for it. Set its parent to be "Ball_Controller", as shown.



4. The ball now has (effectively) two pivot points or two "axes" all for itself. To make this useful for ourselves, let’s
  a. select the "Ball_Controller",
  b. go to a side view (press 1 or 3),
  c. choose "Move Pivot" from the "Action" menu,
  d. grab the big green handle on the null, and
  e. move the null down until its center is resting exactly at the bottom edge of the sphere, as shown.

 

  f. Finally, press "t" to turn "Move" on (or otherwise turn off "move pivot" – "move pivot" is very dangerous if used by mistake).

5. Add a large box to serve as a "ground" for our ball to bounce off of. Position the box so that the top of it is level with the grid in Layout*. Make sure it has a surface name like "ground".



6. I like to position my camera at this point, and save the scene, and save all objects. You should have something similar to the image shown here.
7. Now we are ready to animate. Let’s begin by setting the ball up on top of the ground (we don’t want to dip it through the surface of the ground, after all). Make sure you are still in frame "0", and Move the "Ball_Controller" up until it rests at the very top edge of the box (the ball should then rest on top of the box, as shown below).



8. Now select "Ball.lwo". Press , and type a frame number of "20", and press again (or hit "Ok"). This will copy the ball’s "0" position to frame "20".



9. Now, press "f", and type "10" in the requester – this will take us to frame 10. Make sure you are in Move mode, and drag the ball straight up (usually grabbing its green move handle will do this nicely). Move it up about its own diameter, and keyframe it there ().



10. Test this – set the last frame value to "20" as shown here, and hit the "play" button – the right-pointing arrow in the lower right hand corner of the screen (just above the "step" setting). If all has gone as planned the ball should move up and down in a very steady, rhythmical fashion. Too steady, in fact. The ball is currently moving at a steady speed.
11. Open up the Motion Graph for this fella. Select the channel "Ball.Position.Y" in the "Channel" list. Right click on it, and choose "Show Speed". This will add a new item to the graph which is "Speed". You may want to adjust the graph view-port to see the speed curve more clearly. You will notice that the Speed curve is a bit jagged. Select the first and last keyframes on the curve, and set their "tension" settings to "-1". This should cause the ball to accelerate as it nears the ground, and seem to slow as it nears the top of the arc.
12. Before you leave the Motion Graph editor, set "Post Behavior" to repeat – that will cause the whole bounce loop to repeat forever (i.e. beyond frame 20).
13. Play back the animation, and the weighting should look much better.



14. Now set the frames in the timeline up to, say 80 (remember, we set it to 20 before – turn it back up).
15. Select the "Ball_Controller". Move it to one corner of the view (the ball should follow) in frame "0", and keyframe it there. Move it to the opposite corner of the view in the last frame you have showing (80), and keyframe it there.
16. Play back the animation. You should now see the ball bounce smoothly (and repeatedly) across the screen, with the illusion of weight preserved in each bounce. The image shown below shows the motion path for the first bounce.




Important note: The author is not or may not be a natural English speaker and there is a high chance of mistakes in every way. Corrections and comments are welcome.
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