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"Sisyphus Engine № 1" - Steampunk inspired marble machine animation, using Blender physics engine


Hammers writes:

My latest 3D Uni assignment was to create a kinetic sculpture or Rube Goldberg machine. This is what happened... I hope you enjoy "The Sisyphus Engine № 1"

I used Blender for the 3D work and simulation, despite having a good crack at Maya (which is the focus of the class). The clincher was Blender's ability to handle dynamic concave objects within the Bullet engine, which don't seem to be catered for nearly as well in Maya or Houdini, which I also tried.

For the technically minded, this animation has 56 balls, 32 constraints, and only 2 keyframes from which everything else is driven either by the physics engine, or in some cases (steam engine, cogs, big wheel and Archimedes screw) by single expression drivers.

Thanks especially to denha for so much inspiration from his real machines. Look his work up on YouTube.

Please also check out the Yale Percussion Group's performance of Steve Reich's Sextet. Amazing work and thrilling performance, which I've brazenly borrowed this extract from, under the banner of 'Educational Fair Use'. Please don't kill me Steve.

Dale Cieslak's amazing procedural wood shaders available on were great to work with, and helped me get the look I was after.

A couple of additional 'PBR' textures I created in 3D coat (steam piston, drive cog and Archimedes screw).

There are, of course imperfections I'd like to fix and I would love to do an 'extended mix' of around 2min. But I'd need some sponsorship from a friendly renderfarm for this to happen any time soon. Nudge nudge, wink wink.

Thanks for watching and have a great day!

Stephen Hamacek
aka Hammers

About the Author

Stephen Hamacek

Stephen 'Hammers' Hamacek is a freelance blender animator and 3D generalist based in Queensland, Australia. He is currently obsessively working on "The Love Me or Die", featuring the music of C.W. Stoneking.


    • Thanks! I'm really impressed by the flexibility and power of the bullet implemenation in Blender after doing this project. Glad you liked the animation.

  1. I love it! Would you happen to have the blender file available for the Ozymandias video? I am looking to modify it for a school project on the poem, and loved the video! Thanks a bunch. If you have it available, I would really appreciate it if you could send it to my email, [email protected]

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