DAT506 – Assignment Part 2 – Kaleidoscopic Loops

Brief: Your task within your groups is to produce a creative and engaging visual experience set to music. Creating a series of short 3D full-dome Blender animation clips; the content will be made suitable for playback within the Immersive Vision Theatre and mixed and adapted live using Resolume VJ software.

Immersion Vision Theatre at Plymouth University

The piece of music that we chose was Sandstorm by Darude. The title of this piece allowed me to establish a loose theme for  my Blender animation loops – particles.

I wanted to create animations that used Blender’s particle system capabilities, but not always in an orthodox way. To that end, I utilised the Cycles render engine feature of using an object as a particle in several of the animations below.


Loop 1 uses a set of animated spline objects to create an abstract animation loop. The spline animation is used as the basis for a particle system, emitted from within a containing cube. As the animation progresses, the splines extend; at the same time, the particle system is emitting more and more sets of spline animations. The camera flies through the enclosing emitter, immersing the viewer amongst the seemingly organically evolving environment.

Loop 2 takes the viewer on a roller-coaster-style ride through a claustrophobic tunnel. Along the way, the viewer encounters a mysterious glowing sphere, a myriad of coloured particles trailing in its wake.  A light attached to the very front of the camera is used to illuminate the tunnel just in front of the viewer, creating a feeling of anticipation and desire to know what lies behind the next turn. A second lamp, parented to the sphere, causes the sphere to glow and to cast its own light before it. The viewer sees this light before the object itself, adding further mystery to the journey through the tunnel.

The third loop uses some simple coloured objects as particles. The particles float and move, causing flashes of light as their illuminated faces turn towards the camera. A simple circular camera move, with the camera focused on the centre of the scene adds some space and depth of field to the animation.

Again, a simple grouped spline animation, combined with a particle system was used to create Loop 4. The animation has an organic feel, with the splines jerking and waving with what seems like a primitive sentience. The camera move takes the viewer into the very midst of the scene, so that you could almost reach out and touch the flowing armatures.

Loop 5 is the classic disco ball brought up to date (and no particles!) Volumetric lighting, combined with animated lamp colours and light intensity make this animation pop. As the fractured sphere rotates, beams of light shine through the gaps. A glare filter really helps to sell the brightness of the illumination.

Loop 6 is, perhaps, the most recognised use of a particle system. 200,000 particles are combined in particle and fluid simulation systems to create this skull comprised of grains of ‘sand’.

The final Blender animation combines a particle system and Blender’s dynamic paint functionality. Cubes materialise, grow, and cluster into the shape of sphere. Some simple material options and a two-point lighting system add drama to the animation. Strong depth of field settings ensure the animation seems to appear almost from thin air.

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