Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Major Project: nParticles 'Bee Swarm' Tests #1-5

After some discussions I had yesterday, I decided to explore the line When I see other people's bodies I see bees. After considering what I've been doing for some of my other lines in the poem (making them more representative rather than literal) I had a feeling that I'd be working with nParticles. Rather than creating realistic bees/a bee texture, such as yellow/black fur, I'm aiming to make a representation of bee swarms. This is because when I relate people to bees, I'm talking about how they feel like a chaotic, loud swarm or hive of constant movement. To do this, I set up a simple particle system with an instance attached to it (a black sphere). I don't want to make this over-complicated because I think the movement and clustering of the black spheres can speak for themselves. 

My experience on Red & The Kingdom of Sound has helped me with these tests. I tried my best to recall how we controlled the music notes, schools of fish, and flocks of birds...although I struggled to control the birds. Luckily, the orientation of the spheres do not matter which is what caused me issues with the birds.

After creating an initial number of particles, I created a Newton Field and played around with the magnitude, attenuation, and minimum distance settings. I then animated the newton field around the scene so the particles/spheres would follow it around. 



I also added a Turbulence field so the particles would have more movement and variation. I adjusted different settings on the turbulence as well including the magnitude, attenuation, frequency,  noise level, and noise ratio. In total so far I've playblasted 5 of my tests, the first three tests I had the emitter turned off after creating the number of particles I wanted and setting the initial state. I prefer test #3 because I added more particles than what I have in #1 and #2 and there's overall move movement.




For #4 and #5 I have the emitter on while also animating the settings on the Newton and Turbulence fields. I also placed the camera closer to see what it would look like up close. I do think I prefer #3 overall, but I plan to keep experimenting and see how the particles react to different settings and fields. I also need to tweak the timing, since the actual playblasts of this were very slow compared to what I was aiming for. This is because I was previewing it in Maya, where I have to play every frame rather than at 25 fps so the simulation calculates properly. The above tests were sped up to match what I was going for, but it is something I'll need to keep in mind in the future. I think it may also be interesting to see what other effects I could add to it possibly in After Effects. 


  1. Yep - aesthetically, this is going to work in that room of yours I think - and it might be worth exploring how you can create a big bristling sphere of them that disaggregates etc - just as a means of anchoring the entity to begin with and creating a visual rhyme with some of your other entities. Either way, this is going to be another disturbing addition.