Best practise: Molecular grid

Hi all,

[I am new to this forum. I hope I am posting in the right category here. My question is how to best approach a problem, so this might be touching animation/rigging also. If you feel I should move my question, please tell me also!]

I am looking to set up a grid of molecules (probably only one “slice”, so everything same y-value) with each molecule having a fixed “rest position” (red dots). They also might need a sort of vibration as you can achieve with noise in the graph editor.
Now another kind of (bigger) molecule is moving on a fixed path.

The (small) molecules should be affected and move away from it, affecting each other also.

But as soon as it is possible they should return to one of the possible “rest positions” (red spots).

Ideally it should also be posssible that the big one also stops in the end at one of the “rest positions” and the small ones thus rearrange on the grid. The small ones would then need to “switch positions”: the big molecule is pushing a small one so far that it pushes another small one, which is pushing another small one, and so on - until each is resting again on a point in the grid, but not necessarily it’s original one.

For I have multiple scenes I thought to

  • set up a general grid that I can re-use
  • bake different animations (manual animations of the big molecule, automatic reactions on the small ones)
  • refine them (for the molecules also have a rotation which I will have to add manually later)
  • and then render it.

Do you think this is a good plan? Which kind of forces (and maybe hints on strengths) would you suggest? Or would you adives to use a completely other approach?

Thanks for any hints!