Bouncing ball track animation

Last week after making the bouncing ball with weights animation, I was tasked to create a bouncing ball animation on a track. To make the track I simply used a combination of cubes, cones and doughnut shapes to help make the different obstacles for the ball to bounce on. The gear looking shape in the image below was made by using the doughnut shape, then extruding 4 faces, leaving a gap then another 4 faces all around the shape to make a gear looking model. The idea for this track came to me by thinking about various ball tracks that were on games so like mouse trap, when you a had a little metal ball going around specific parts of a track, but of course this is a bouncing ball. So to make it more interesting rather than just blocks I used the scale tool to have a mixture of various shapes for the ball to bounce on. I had to go from front and perspective view to help make sure the ball was in the right place. As in the front view the ball was fine but in the perspective view the ball wasn’t actually on the object.


To make the actual animation I needed to plan out how the ball was going to move, so I used the pencil tool in Maya to draw out a rough plan of where the ball was going to bounce to and the arcs the ball would make. Drawing out the arcs in the animation helped me to plan out the timing for the ball to go bounce effectively. I used my previous bouncing ball animations as reference to help me figure out the timing of the ball, for how long the ball takes to go from bounce to bounce. As seen in the image below it looks very roughed out, but using my graphics tablet allowed me to plot out the animation more accurately than with a mouse.


Furthermore making the animation I needed to make sure specific parts of the ball would stay the same for when I begin the squash and stretch of the ball. But before that I roughly plotted out the animation for the ball on where it would move to without the squash and stretch animation for the bounce (as seen below).

Because this is only a playblast of the animation the quality is not 100% great but it allowed me to see how the ball was moving and if the bounces followed the rough arcs I drew before hand. But I noticed in some places the ball was not bouncing in a natural way in, therefore I used the graph editor to make the arcs more rounded allowing that gradual rise and the dramatic fall helping to show the exaggeration of the bounce.


However looking over the graph editor I noticed I needed to go through and extend the arcs. This is because the ball moves to quickly and does not always move in the arc format, but instead sort of just rises and falls, not bounces. After looking at the issues I used the tangents to move the arcs to have more of a rounded shape and help to show the ball bouncing naturally. In addition I noticed when the ball hits the ground a bounces up it also moves in a curve, which is not a bad thing but it just did not look appealing to me in the animation. So manipulating the tangents and using the break tangents key I was able to move the arcs on the bottom of the graph to be more of a triangle shape. This means the ball would fall quicker because there is no arc to make the ball move slowly. Then the opposite can be said for the rise as the ball will move quickly as it bounces then gradually get slower as it gets to the top of it’s bounce.


This is the edited graph editor to help show how I have changed it since before adding the squash and stretch. As you can see I have altered the arcs to have more of a round shape at the top to make the ball move in that arc shape as it bounces around. I have also added the straight diagonal lines I mentioned earlier to help show how that has helped the ball to move faster, this can be seen in the final rendered video below.

Above is the final animated sequence for the bouncing ball on a track. I have fully edited the graph editor to help the ball bounce more naturally, whilst also adding that squash and stretch animation to help show the weight of the ball. Because I have made a squash and stretch animation in this sequence I have also added some smear frames inbetween the keyframes to help show the exaggeration of the bounce as it hits each object and bounces off it. Looking over the animation, I think it came out pretty well, as the ball looks natural as it bounces and slowly loses energy at the end of the animation. But looking through there could be some parts that can be polished a bit more to help make the arcs in the animation flow a bit better. Furthermore I could next time add some rotation as the ball bounces around, as I have done that as it rolls at the beginning but not so much as the ball bounces around the track.


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