I'm trying to recreate this rig from this video
Parent your object to an empty and rotate the empty. So, in details:
- Create your object, put its origin to its geometry, create 2 empties at the exact same point, parent the object to one of the empties, let say the cube.
- Give your object a first Simple Deform modifier, Twist mode, Angle 360°.
- Give your object a second Simple Deform modifier, Bend mode, Angle 360°, with the other empty (here a Plain Axes) as Axis. Now when you rotate the first empty (Cube) on the Z axis it should rotate the way you want.
Combined with what previous users have mentioned, you can probably use the Instancer (used to be called Dupliverts) to accomplish this effect. A twist, bend and then have a sphere parented to to the cylinder use emptys to control the axis points for your modifiers. In the Object properties tab under "Instancing" uncheck "Display Instancer" I've put together a blend file that you can check out