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Simulating Flocks, Herds, and Swarms using Experimental Boids Particles


boids.jpgBoids particle systems can be set to follow basic rules and behaviors, something close to artificial intelligence. They're useful for simulating flocks, swarms, herds and schools of various kind of animals, insects and fishes.

Blender's Boid Particles in Action:

For many more details, go here. Be sure to check out a step-by-step tutorial, created by olivS, on How to setup a prey-predator relationship using Boids particles.

The new particle system can be tested by installing one of the experimental builds available at

Note: Do not use experimental builds for mission-critical projects or files. Although tested, they are still unofficial releases and are subject to change at any moment.


  1. This is great, I had no idea it was being integrated into blender. But now I can make penguins march though my cities just like in batman (read the paper to see which one)

    P.S. Is this page just displaying strangely for me or is it for everyone?

  2. nope displaying weird for me (firefox, win vista).

    on subject very cool, handy for animation :D
    think this could help some of the movies out there a lot ;)


  3. Very nice :D
    "Schools"... also Human schools, when the kids leave it and go home ^^

    The text field, I'm writing in, stretches over the whole width of the page O.o
    The Youtube vid is on the right side of the page. next to the small preview pic and the title....
    usually, it should be beyond that.

    Oh, and the navigator line went down on bottom of the page... I guess, the rest tries to fill out the additional space to the right...
    What happened?
    (Using FF and XP64)

  4. Hmm. It's hard to tell how much animation the birds themselves have. Can the individual particles be instructed too? Say, to change their animation cycle? I'm thinking that, for crowd simulations, you need characters to walk, look around, argue, climb over each other, etc.

  5. back to normal layout :D
    good :)
    fast fix :D

    Lee: I think, they don't have any.
    The rules are something like:
    follow the green ball
    avoid the red ball
    avoid other birds
    and then, the standard rotation, how they usually should fly :)

  6. So, if i'm correct you make a model, for example a bird, a walkin man. with an animation then you call it with the particle system and voila you have a walking crowd etc?


  7. Hahaha, I love it! This is just something that animating by hand would take ages! Plus, this way it even looks much more realistic.

  8. Boids were used extensively in the Lord of the Rings movies. I saw a little 'making of' that provided a little detail of how they did it. It was like kram1023 said, they would set up some basic rules and let it run. They even set up a 'scared Orc" routine where some of the Orcs would run away from the battles.

  9. This looks like a great way to simulate aerial dogfights, such as those in world war II. I'm gonna have to look into that.

  10. Joe -- LOTR used MASSIVE, which is a full-on crowd simulation system. As far as I know, there is no support for variable animation in the BOIDS physics in Blender. It's just another way of animating the particles. Well, not "just" -- it's very cool.

  11. well I think the dog fight thing would work if they are used for the distance shots. all we have to do is figure out how to get the little particles to shoot.

  12. Rui Paulo Sanguinheira Diogo on

    You can pick the particle objects out of a group which can consist of differently animated (and of course differently shaped) objects. So if you are doing something very simple you could do something similar to mass battle scenes with quite a lot of variety. With Massive you could assign different behavioural patterns which could go far beyond simple boid behaviour. That's of course not possible with a boid system which (as the name implicates) just calculates boids behaviour! ;)

    In fact: I've played around with it for an article for the german Linux Magazine (issue 12/07) and it's extremly cool!!! Unfortunately there are still some bugs (or my build wasn't good enough - I don't want to blame Janne for it) - meaning that some files I've created cause segfaults after loading.

  13. I think even when this is of course not what they use in feature movies with complex hord simulations
    the new addition still provides a very good tool.

    think about under water scenes with fishes, or yeah birds. versions back you would have animated them by hand.

    this saves animators a lot of work now.

    pretty good addition.

  14. Agreeing with Kernon.

    Boids are interesting. Blenderpeople is interesting (though confusing too).
    Mixing these two would definitely a great idea.

    Maybe for the future open movie (project Shnozberry) :)

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