Incorporating external mathematical model of a mechanical system in animation


I’ve been playing with Blender for several months now - doing some modeling and simple animations. I have a quite specialized animation question now…

I’m trying to make a realistic-looking animation of a car, moving on an uneven surface. I’d like to tell you how I roughly plan to do it, and would like to get input if you see a better/easier way.

OK, I have modeled the car, articulated the wheels, etc. I have the mesh for the uneven surface, and the [projection of] the path the car will be taking. What I plan to do is to:

  1. Write some Python script to “export” the surface mesh and the path to file, that I can process externally with other program.

  2. Build a simple math model of the movement of the car over an uneven surface - I’ve been doing similar modeling many times as part of some research, so that’s not a problem at all. The model takes into account speed, terrain, behavior of the suspension, etc, and calculates the position and rotation of each wheel and the car body, including things like skidding, banking due to turns and acceleration, etc. What goes in is the terrain mesh and path, what goes out is set of positions and angles for wheels and car body.

  3. I get the output of (2) and convert the positions and angles into IPO keyframes. I guess this is doable with Blender’s Python extensions?

  4. Render.

I’ve been thinking and this is the best approach I could come up with. Maybe I could get away with importing and exporting if I can write the model in Python, but I’m not very comfortable writing in Python yet. But it is an option, if you think this will simplify things.

Any other ideas?


  • Alex

Klopes wrote a similar script way back when:

He may have updated it since then. I think that one was written for py2.1 so it won’t work for Blender 2.44. Anthow, it’ll give you the basic idea.


Thanks, that might come handy.