Background: Essentially I'm doing some stuff with cloth and multiple pinning groups, and moving those groups around via empties which the cloth is hooked to (so, a person picking up a napkin in both hands and then moving their hands together). This requires me to move the empties while animation is running, as if I move the empties before running the animation (or let the animation loop) it applies the empties' location as a pre-animation position, which results in stretching the mesh by displacing the vertex groups and results in ugly bad behavior.

However, I'm not actually looking for an animation, I just want a single frame after cloth physics have had time to run. So ideally I wouldn't be time-limited in how long I have to tinker around with moving the hooks based on however long I set the animation to. Is there a way to accomplish this? Or would my best bet just be to lower the FPS of the animation and crank the number of frames way up to give myself more time to tinker around with positions?

  • $\begingroup$ Can't you keyframe the position of the empties? 'i' Register at frame 0, jump to frame 3000, move the empty, 'i' register a new position. $\endgroup$ – Nathan Jun 21 '18 at 16:27

Unfortunately, this is not possible. The simulation is geared towards having a 'start' point and moving on frame by frame, storing the result in the Cloth Cache so that it can be replayed at a later point in time - there is no facility for a 'continuous' simulation. Even if there was, you would have the difficulty of stopping the simulation at the desired point in time and capturing the 'state' - currently this is achieved by simply scrubbing back through the frames until you get to the desired point and then 'applying' the cloth modifier to capture that frame from the cache and apply it to the mesh (or as a Shape Key).

So, yes, your best way forward is to increase the length of the simulation to give you enough time to tinker with the pinned vertices to get to the desired state before pausing the simulation to capture your 'frame'.

However, that said, once your cloth simulation has been baked you can use the Particle Edit mode to manipulate the mesh manually - this could be a way of achieving your goal. ie, run the simulation to get it 'almost there' and then use the Particle Edit to 'comb' the cloth (and the paths each vertex takes) into shape (as you would with Hair).

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