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Thread: What is the best way to animate a slithering snake ?

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    What is the best way to animate a slithering snake ?

    As above.

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    Super Member inkpen3d's Avatar
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    Super Member kolby's Avatar
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    Trailer plugin is your friend. Simple, fast and easy to use.

    http://www.dstorm.co.jp/dsproducts/F...t/Trailer.html
    System info: CPU: Xeon X5680 RAM: 12GB DDR3/1333MHz MB: Asus P6T WS Pro GFX: Asus GTX 750 Ti / 2GB OS: Win7, LW2018.0.7 x64

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    That looks pretty tedious.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blackmondy View Post
    That looks pretty tedious.
    The Trailer plug-in may be the way to go, but if the tools in Modeler and Layout are used effectively the Spline setup is pretty easy. Modeling a good-looking snake is the hard part. Attached is a sample scene, where the (very simple) modeling and Spline setup took about 8 minutes. Here are the specific steps:

    In Modeler:

    1. Make a "fake snake" - a 50-segment cylinder down the Z axis with its nose at (0,0,0)
    2. From the Back view, use Edge selection to Copy-n-Paste one of the longitudinal edges
    3. Using Polygon selection, lasso the pasted edge's polygons (50 2-point polygons), and move the poly chain it to the center of the cylinder
    4. On the poly chain:
      • select 2 points from the snake's tail towards its nose
      • press "]" to select the points to the end of the poly chain
      • press CTRL-P to create a curve
    5. Select the Curve and press Setup=>Convert Skelegons to convert the curve into 50 skelegons
    6. Using the Polygon Statistics panel delete the 50 2-point polys and the curve
    7. In Layer 2, use Add Points ("+") to add points along the path you want the snake to slither
    8. Press CTRL-P to create a curve, which will be used for the Spline in Layout
    9. Save the two-layer fake snake, send it to Layout


    In Layout:

    1. Load the fake-snake two-layer object, if not already loaded
    2. Select Layer 2, use Setup=>CurveToSpline to create the Spline
    3. Use Scene Editor to select all the nodes (bones) created by CurveToSpline
    4. Using the Object Motion panel, in the Controllers and Limits tab, set all nodes to have Spline Control on Heading and Pitch
    5. Using the Rotation numeric panel, set all their Banks to 0.0
    6. Select Layer 1, and use Setup=>More...=>Convert Skelegons to Bones
    7. Use Scene Editor=>Selection=>Select child items (recursively) to select all the bones created by Convert Skelegons
    8. Using the Object Motion panel, set their Spline Control to the Spline created above
    9. Select the top Bone (usually Bone.000 (1)), and use its Z position to slither the snake down the Spline


    Obviously, modeling a better looking snake would take a while, but the trick of using an Edge converted to a Curve converted to Skelegons and then using bulk-selection in Layout's Scene editor makes the setup fairly simple. At least once you get used to it!

    mTp
    Attached Files Attached Files

  6. #6
    I'm not 100% sure, but I think you could get a decent snake model from Daz3d or other model sources. Animate as in the previous poster's example above.

  7. #7
    Registered User Oldcode's Avatar
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    Talking

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesCurtis View Post
    I'm not 100% sure, but I think you could get a decent snake model from Daz3d or other model sources. Animate as in the previous poster's example above.
    Yes you can. Download DAZ for free, load the snake model you're interested in, then export it to OBJ. You can import it directly into Lightwave and save it as a LWO. Bring the snake model into Layout and give it a series of bones along the length of the snake's body. Then use this Spline Control tutorial to see how you can animate the snake to move along the spline, which can be shaped with any kind of path you want. You use the Spline Control option in the Object Motion Options panel to have the spline control the movement of the bones, which will control the snake.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHAtN-gpyh8&t=266s

    Snake Coming Down from Tree.zip

    Here's a short clip of a snake coming down from a tree that I did using the same technique.

    Hope this helps,

  8. #8
    That is all well and good. But snakes don't move that way. Just in case you are interested how they actually move first. That is all dependent on what you want to accomplish. People viewing this will know it instinctively even if they can't tell you why. The spline method is not how they actually move. Unless it is dead and you are pulling it with a string through a flexible moving pipe. Then the spline method is fine.

    Though you could with some study animate something approximate. But the spline method falls short on the physics side of it. It just does not happen that way. Look closely at some of the examples:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbxaC2-o0Gs

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CchyctRFrQ

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FU3CWXDQ5rs




    This might give some ideas about how to actually rig it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4q7UhqE-ZeM

    Not saying this is not possible with the spline thingy, but at least not looking correct from the samples shown.

    Another rig sample:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUjsNrw3KGw

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    Quote Originally Posted by Surrealist. View Post
    That is all well and good. But snakes don't move that way. Just in case you are interested how they actually move first. That is all dependent on what you want to accomplish. People viewing this will know it instinctively even if they can't tell you why. The spline method is not how they actually move.
    ...
    Well, yes they do. In the reference videos, there are plenty of instances where they are moving as if they're on a spline. For example, in the first video referenced, at 0:08 to 0:58, 1:11, and 1:26. The spline method will work fine in many instances unless you want to model the "concertina" or "side-winder".

    Here are other examples of real-life snake movement where the spline approach would work fine:

    https://youtu.be/oj2BE6qwTK0
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OE-ngBhX6lA
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bfMK40aEVeY

    In some cases, you'd want the path drawn for the spline to be more "serpentine" than the example I posted, and lift off the ground in places for the "weight redistribution" referenced in the videos if desired, but in the videos above, the weight distribution is very subtle if it exists at all (the snake locomotion studies indicate the weight distribution is to increase speed, but is not *required* for locomotion). In addition, the nodes of the spline could be animated up and down and side-to-side.

    The bones in the neck and head section could be animated separately for the "searching" type of motion by removing the Spline control from them (they're still parented to the bones on the Spline) and key-framing their rotation as desired.

    mTp

  10. #10
    I never said they were not moving "as if on a spline". We can all see that. What I said what this is not how they move to achieve that appearance. And the difference is subtle. As well as the controls you really need are not there.

    And I also said I thought that the spline examples shown did not approximate it close enough. But improvement could be made there using the spline tool. If you want to more closely approximate the reality of a snake movement you'd have to move beyond the spline trick and give yourself a better rig.

    My opinion. Though I think you could get pretty close using the spline trick for most situations. Depends on what you want.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MonroePoteet View Post
    The Trailer plug-in may be the way to go, but if the tools in Modeler and Layout are used effectively the Spline setup is pretty easy. Modeling a good-looking snake is the hard part. Attached is a sample scene, where the (very simple) modeling and Spline setup took about 8 minutes.
    mTp
    Thanks for the detailed tip

  12. #12
    Super Member inkpen3d's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackmondy View Post
    That looks pretty tedious.
    Really? Apart from modelling the snake, you could set up that whole rig in under 5 minutes!
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    Quote Originally Posted by inkpen3d View Post
    Really? Apart from modelling the snake, you could set up that whole rig in under 5 minutes!
    It's unnecessarily tedious. The trailer plugin does away with bones completely and I was able to set it up under 5 mins.

    Don't know about you, but I always find navigating bones in Lightwave a very big pain in the rear, just like navigating plugins.

  14. #14
    I believe Lightwave was used to create the 3d (and snake shots) in this Nike commercial years ago.
    http://www.digitaldomain.com/work/nike-speed-chain/

  15. #15
    Eat your peas. Greenlaw's Avatar
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    By far, I think 2015.3's Spline Control works great for snakes. So does DP Spline Deformer. Both are easy to setup and use.

    If you want to see some examples, checkout my Asylum reel from a few years ago (2013-2015): http://littlegreendog.com/2017/03/23...emo-reel-2015/

    All the icky, wiggly lampreys and the alien tentacle scenes were animated using either or both of these tools.

    Basically, you want to set up your path and then animated the critter though the path by pushing it along its z-axis. You can get quite a lot out of this without animating the path itself. For example, when the tentacles wrap around the soldiers, I just preset the paths around the soldiers and then the tentacle slides through it. The path doesn't actually animate until the tentacle needs to lift the soldier off the deck. Easy peasey!

    DP Spline is probably easier to setup. Spline Control gives you more flexibilty but you'll need to use a bone chain with Spline Control. If I recall, I used DP Spline for most the Bermuda Tentacles stuff, and Spline Control for most of the lampreys (Blood Lake,) and the Sharknado 2 scenes I created.

    DP Spline can be downloaded from here: http://dpont.pagesperso-orange.fr/main_en.htm

    Spline Control is built into LightWave. There are many excellent demo scene for it in the content.

    Hope this helps.

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