How to Make a Dynamic Wacky Waving Inflatable Tube Man from Scratch

August 3, 2016


Rigging with Dynamic Objects

Hello everybody. Today we are going to build a wacky waving inflatable tube man! This tutorial continues from the theme of my recent Siggraph presentation about creating various dynamic ropes. I’ve become fascinated with the idea of rigging characters via dynamic objects and connectors. This tutorial fully explores that idea! We will be creating a fully dynamic character that will animate forever.

What we will be doing in this tutorial

  • Build a dynamic chain of cylinders and connectors
  • Use wind, turbulence, and friction to animate the rig
  • Automate the animation with Signal
  • Create and bind a mesh to the rig
  • Create and apply a face
  • Use hair to add dynamic tassles
  • Duplicate!

Tutorial Part I


Tutorial Part II


Where will you put your wacky waving inflatable tube man? Post yours in the comments!

Music from

Tutorial Focus:  , , , ,
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  • my glowing brain is just trembling about how extensive the tutorials in general are going to be in five years…..otherwise nice lesson.

  • A treasure of information as always…Great tutorial Chris!!!

  • Amazing Chris! Had no idea about the capacity of binding mesh to dynamic objects. I think you were looking for the looping setting in Functions -> track after.

    • That’s how I did it. I just used Track after.
      I have Signal at home but not at work, so I try to make sure I can always learn how to do it both ways.

  • I will check this amazing tut soon. BTW love your clean haircut Chris!

  • amazing! thanks 😀

  • It was easily the best of the Siggraph presentations, and now here’s the follow up.
    We’re very lucky to have him 🙂

  • Al Harrington, President and Ceo of Al Harrington’s Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man Emporium and Warehouse would be proud!

  • awesome as usual

  • You’re blowing my mind every time! Man, I think I’m in love 🙂 This is so good. Just a quick question, can’t the ‘follow position’ option in the dynamics tag replace the friction you added? Thanks a lot for all the knowledge you share.

  • So as I’m following along on the first video (7:55), as I’m arranging the the hierarchy, once I hit play, all the different segments spread out from each other and have tons of space between them. I’m not sure if it’s a bug, I tried it 5 times now and I’m certain I’m doing everything you’re saying, as it is extremely simple. Let me know if you know what’s happening! Thank you!

    • “So as I’m following along on the first video (7:55), as I’m arranging the the hierarchy, once I hit play, all the different segments spread out from each other and have tons of space between them. I’m not sure if it’s a bug, I tried it 5 times now and I’m certain I’m doing everything you’re saying, as it is extremely simple. Let me know if you know what’s happening! Thank you!”

      I am having this same problem and its driving me crazy. Can anyone please help me figure this out!!!

  • That was amazing, thanks Chris! i haven’t learned so much in 1 tutorial since the Cherry 7 Up one.

  • Before you added the Signal tag, you could not find the ability to repeat in the time dope sheet; it is under Function | Track after | Repeat after, menu commands. Which is useful to those without Signal. Building my WhackyWaver now! So much useful information–The tension tag I never noticed before.

  • Something is not working in Part 2 16:51 minute for me. Look at the video in this link, when I click cylinders it goes weird. Help me please!! 🙁

  • Thanks Chris, great & fun tutorial!

  • Just two words……. awe some. 😉

  • I think it’s very useful for my present work

  • Can some one explain how to get that loop with out signal?

    • Select both keyframes that you’re trying to loop.
      Look in your Properties Manager at the lower right.
      Under Properties, Choose Repeat from the After dropdown and under repetitions use a high number like 999.

  • Just curious – wouldn’t this be easier with cloth dynamics instead of using tube segments and connectors?

    • I was wondering that myself. I think it’s awesome how you did it. Learned a ton. But is he right?

    • I attempted this tutorial two years ago with lots of other techniques, cloth, soft body, spline dynamics, straight joints. Nothing seemed to give me what I wanted so I moved on from the idea until I realized I could do it this way. Not saying it’s not possible, but I tried a bunch with clunky results!
      Also the fancy way of dynamic rigging is my main goal of this tutorial. I don’t think most people need a Wacky Waving Inflatable Tube Man, but a lot of people might need a dynamic rig!

  • Is this tutorial possible in R14? What would I be giving up?

  • When I render the face, it doesn’t have an alpha channel. All my settings are right so I’m not sure what’s wrong

  • Chris, Thanks for another great tutorial. I had a problem after I duplicated the wacky Sams. They seem to have lost their vertex map functionality and the displacement became much larger. What could have caused that?

    • Oh, Hold on. I spoke too soon. I went back and recopied the other wacky dudes, named them Mam and Ham and they worked this time. I’m not sure what happened the first time. Thanks again. I also remember that 7 Up thing. I refer to it a couple of times a year.

  • Chris, Instead of going through that point cache method you used, I went to the Hair object in the object manager and under Hairs, I extended to about 7. The hairs went inside the tubes but were not visible from the render perspective. But it’s great to know your method too for other cases.

  • The unbelievable amount of time and effort people go through to avoid using joints. LOL

  • In order to Repeat the Animation.. In the TIMELINE.. U wanna go to Function->>> Track After ->>>>> Repeat After

  • All I have to say is … OMG. You are a master..

  • Fantastic!!

  • So i’m not sure what i’ve done wrong but two things are happening and i’m not clever enough to figure out how to fix them.

    1. When i hit play the individual segments don’t stay together as well as Chris’s does. Almost like there is a rubber band between each one and they separate quite far.

    2. When i get to part two and i place the Sweeps on the duped tracer objects it doesn’t look like the tutorials, it looks like its only using half of the tracer spline.

    • It sounds like you have to go into your project settings~Dynamics~Expert and set your “Steps per frame” to a higher value. Try 25 to start.

  • Hey Chris,
    thank you for this useful technique. I’m working with a different mesh and shape, that i want to bind to the rig I created after your tutorial. Unfortunately, it doesnt bind at all. Nothing happens. No weight tag and skin show up. I can’t really see the difference and why it doesn’t bind. If you have an idea, I’d appreciate it a lot. Thank you!

    • Actually kind of solved it.
      I did the same binding step in r18 and it worked like it’s supposed to. No clue why it didnt let me do this in r19. I saved it, opened it in r19 and moved on from there.

  • Actually I am having the same issue. Anyone knows how to solve it?

  • Having the same problem here in R20.
    I hit Bind… and nothing happens.

    I have a workaround.
    Manually add a Skin Deformer.
    Manually add a Weight Tag.
    – Add rigged hierarchy to Weight Tags Joints list
    – Click “Set Bind Pose”

    With Weight Tag selected…
    Goto > Character > Manager > Weights Manager
    In Joints Tab: Select you Mesh name.
    In Auto Weight Tab: Click… Calculate.

    Should be good to go.

    I’m not sure why this isn’t working in R19 & R20. My guess is that because we are not using bones, It no worky.

  • Give the project file please

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