Help with approaching Rube Goldberg Machine

I’m making a digital Rube Goldberg machine and so far, I have Blender game physics partially doing what I want, but there’s parts that I still cannot do in the game engine because I have no more experience than changing some of the settings and pressing “p”

Since the Rube Goldberg machine is almost purely a physics and kinetic based thing, is using the game engine the best way to go or should it be animated a different way?

This is an example of a Rube Goldberg machine:

Unless you want it to actually operate in the game engine, I’d recommend doing it using traditional animation techniques, i.e., get in there & keyframe that sucka! :smiley:

If you need a “physics look” to some parts, then set up the game engine and bake the physics to keyframes. Or use Soft Body or Cloth or Force Fields, depending on the needs of your Rube’chine. But keyframes give you absolute control – and, it must be admitted, absolute responsibility for getting it right.

The power of keyframes over physics sims is that you’re not limited to what the sim can accomplish, and by no means are any of the Blender sims complete physics solutions. They are good approximations but no more, and help immensely when trying to solve some particularly difficult animation problems (such as Cloth). But their strength is also their weakness – they are only physics sims. In many cases what they can produce lacks that spark of “life” that a competent animator can bring to even mechanical objects using keyframes. Rube Goldberg’s crazy inventions were intended to be humorous, and that requires a deft touch at the animation controls when you’re animating usually inanimate objects. Physics sims may be acceptably accurate for many uses, but they are rarely deft.

Is there a “guide to” or something that will help me do this without making the movements too sharp? I mean so the animation looks smooth and stuff.

Hi Datawraith,

I agree with chipmasque’s comments and would like to help by adding my own…

If you’re relatively new to animating within Blender, suggest breaking down your Rube’chine into discrete sections that can be worked on in isolation of the entire machine. Watch this interesting TED Talk by Adam Sadowsky and you’ll see some specific examples of how you might approach the construction of your Rube’chine. In short, multiple teams worked separately to create the various segments that were ultimately hooked together in the warehouse for filming of the OK GO video. I’m over simplifying here of course. “Our enemy was physics… and she’s a cruel mistress.” -Adam S.

Making the animation smooth is the easy part since Blender uses soft curves for its keyframe animation motion paths. The tough part is mixing the smooth arc of a catapulted bowling ball with the sudden thud of it landing in a bucket. By default, the motion path will decelerate and the bowling ball will float to a soft landing as if it retro-rockets. This is where the “deft” referenced by chipmasque comes into play. Mixing the baked physics with the personality of Rube’s drawings.

Start with a single, straightforward element and practice getting it working to your satisfaction. Then make a second small component and add on from there. A working 1 or 2 piece machine will be much more satisfying than a giant contraption that doesn’t work at all.

Good luck!