I want to create a tunnel full of animated clocks

I want to create a very-surreal tunnel filled with identical animated clocks. I’ve built the clock, animated it, and placed all of the parts into a Group.

I then created an empty and specified “Group” on the Duplication menu … presto, now I’ve got an animated clock spinning there, too.

But what I want to do is to have a three-dimensional tunnel made of those clocks … without having to laboriously duplicate that empty and place the clocks one at a time. I’d like to be able to, say, create a mesh cylinder and specify that a group instance should be spinning at the location of each vertex in that cylinder, oriented along its normal-vector (facing inside). But “Group” duplication only works with objects and places only one duplicate there.

“Hope springs eternal,” so I tried using a small plane and then using the Array modifier, but when this is done I still see only one instance of the group, at the original location of the object.

Is there any easy way to get what I want? Yeah, I know that I could duplicate the empty, arrange the duplicates into a circle, then create more duplicates of all those to build a tube, but that’s going to be a lot more tedious work.

I thought about a Python script that would use a cylinder as a reference . . . creating linked duplicates at each point and with the proper rotation . . . but I haven’t managed to get it right yet. :angry:

How about using a particle system?

If your clock is grouped, put a hair particle system on your cylinder choose the clock group as your object and if you want them a specific way you can weight paint where you want them to appear.

Well, so far what I’ve wound up doing seems to actually be working fairly well – I’m doing it by hand. I used a mesh circle, duplivert, and “make duplicates real” followed by “make single user” to create a ring of objects, then dupligrouped the clocks to each and adjusted the rotation of each one by hand to face inward. Then, I simply selected the ring and alt-D duplicated each one, sliding it vertically downward. Select two rings, repeat the process. Select four rings, repeat and so on.

I then decided that it looked better if I rotated every other such ring slightly, and scaled them to slightly different diameters, giving the arrangement a sort of “checkerboard spiral” look.

As I hoped and expected, the effect is very creepy and surreal.

would it not be easier to dupe the clocks into an initial ring and then use an array to dupe them down the tunnel?

Try Dupliverts.

Yes, I am using dupliverts … and what I’ve had to do is to arrange a set of empties into a ring, duplivert the clock onto each one, then make linked copies of that ring, hand-arranging them vertically. And it actually worked out okay because I found myself varying the arrangement a little more than I thought I would … scaling the clocks, and so on, to create a more three-dimensional cloud of clocks.

Every one of the clock empties is, of course, a duplivert of just one animated clock which is off-camera in the blend file.

(But now I’m thinking about duplicating that clock so that I can depict the clocks spinning at slightly different rates … we’ll see.)

It came out looking delightfully creepy, as I’ve said before. Just the thing for my lead actress to fall down through on her way from youth to old age … :slight_smile: