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MAX animation constraints for a telescoping rod

I'm sure that some of the more seasoned animators here have dealt with a thing like this before...I can't seem to find much documentation on Max's animation constraint system to get myself oriented, so my head is full of ideas that are probably not even applicable to the program. What I have rigged up now is a simple hinged door and a pair of pivoting support rods on either side that have been constrained with a "LookAt", aimed at a dummy object linked to a part of the door where it attaches. This works without problems (as you can see in the beginning and end frames below) and collapsing it to linear keyframes should be smooth sailing into the sim.

The issue I face right now is getting all of the rod's segments to collapse proportionally into one another as the door is "pulled" into its closed position, while keeping both ends at their respective anchor points. I'm just not sure how to rig this without creating a hierarchy loop, which is what seems to happen every time I try to animate something mechanical.

If anyone can help I'd greatly appreciate it.
 

Attachments

Animate the upper part to pivot looking at the connection point on the door. Each segment gets linked to that upper part and has a linear animation to slide out.
 
Animate the upper part to pivot looking at the connection point on the door. Each segment gets linked to that upper part and has a linear animation to slide out.
So you just slide them all in manually, one at a time? Seems like it would involve a lot of guesswork and tedious frame-by-frame adjustments, since the sliding motion is not linear in relation to the door.

Of course, the only time I've ever animated a system like this was in Inventor, where constraints are applied to surfaces and kinematic solvers are automatically added so that the machine can physically work. Maybe Max just doesn't have these capabilities.
 
That's what I did. It was not overly difficult as there were only three rods to do.
BTW, you have mail. ;)
 

hairyspin

Resource contributor
Maybe Max just doesn't have these capabilities.
Max has terrific animation tools with Constraints of various types and Solvers aplenty, they're just not supported by FS. Reducing an animation to keyframes once it's working always has to be done.

I've used the Limb Solver lately, after a tip from delivery guy, to great success.
 
Max has terrific animation tools with Constraints of various types and Solvers aplenty, they're just not supported by FS. Reducing an animation to keyframes once it's working always has to be done.

I've used the Limb Solver lately, after a tip from delivery guy, to great success.
I seriously need to spend some time experimenting with that stuff. Rigging is the one thing I haven't had much practice with, probably because FS's limited animation intake didn't motivate me to try more advanced techniques.
 
Ive become slightly good at it. You attach (Hierarchy) the inner to the outer, then another inner to that inner, etc. Now, you rotate the main outer 'base' on its pivot point which you have aligned its Gizmo to. You set your Rotation setting to 'Local' and also 'Move' command is 'Local', and you start animating. Usually you can get away with 3 or 4 animation points. Sometimes they mess up and you need like 5 points in one small area, etc. But keep animating. I aim the outer cylinder as best as possible, then slide out the inner cylinder up to the bolt point (other pivot), then again move the Animation slider to another point, move again, outer cylinder first, then inner(s). Continue till done.

Having your Gizmo's precisely aligned is most important. Using 'Local' to move them makes it so easy. Everything slides and rotates on their local Gizmo settings, so it makes it quite easy.

REMEMBER to reset Scales or you will need to backstep and rescale before doing this.
 
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