procedural bike

I don’t often comment on videos but I think this is a good example of a video to comment on.

The idea of creating a procedural asset has advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that you can costumise it and change it to create lots of variation. This can be useful in situations when you need to fill a town square with lots of bikes.

However in a different situation there are disadvantages. Like if you want to ‘predict’ changes that are likely to come from a client for a shot in which you will see one particular bike. You never know what a client’s feedback will be and making a complex system would be a waste of time because most of the variables in the setup won’t be used. Changing a bike on the fly, destructively, without any controls would be much more efficient in that case.

The second point is that of the difference between a procedural asset setup and a rig. Because in many cases I think they are the same if not very similar. A rig is usually made for animation purposes, whereas a procedural model is made for variation and customisability. But both share the same feature of being changed and altered with the help of UI controls and sliders. In the case a bike the two are practically the same. A bike rig could have many controls to change the shape and size of the wheel, the handlebars and the frame – just like this Houdini example below. The main difference would be the UX and the interface. I must say that as much as I like this example of a procedural bike, it’s not as a good as a conventional rig because the controls are quite complex and do not live in the viewport. Also, it lacks some features for animation purposes and the general graph interface is quite complex and not suitable for someone who does not have the technical knowledge of the creator.

Never the less, there are other examples around of bridges and roads with crossings that are much better than what could be achieved with a deformable mesh. Having the option to change the mesh, it’s materials and it’s complete shape, based on a curve for example, can be very useful.