I have a little problem I could never find an answer to. I’m not even sure if vanilla Blender has a solution for this, was hoping it does since I don’t like relying on external addons for my projects.
So I want to use a particle system to simulate a crowd of people. I have a collection containing one or more rigged characters, which I then reference as the render group of a particle system on a plane. The static model looks fine: I can randomize the rotation of each person, the size, even stuff like the colors of clothing using the random input in the materials tab! But I found no way to randomize the animation.
If I directly animate the character instanced by the emitter, the animation is applied to each character particle. This obviously looks awful since you don’t want a crowd of people replicating the same movements like robots: Even for an idle animation it stands out and makes for a fake decoration.
I’m fine with either of two options: Either make the each instance of the character play an entirely different armature action, or have them all play the same animation but from a different starting point and ideally at a different speed. The particle system doesn’t know about armature animations when rendering rigged groups, so what I’m probably looking for is a way to randomize the active animation of an armature based on its object instance or position. I assume the NLA editor may offer a solution but even it may require some trickery to do that properly. Anyone know the easiest route to achieving this?