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So I made a sphere which rotates and scales and changes color. I wanna use it as a particle, which I can do.

So now I have a stream of spheres which rotate and scale in perfect sync. What I want is each sphere to begin rotating and scaling (from its own frame 1) at the moment it's duplicated.

A stream of spheres each growing and scaling sequentially.

How do I get an object to wait until the particle system duplicates it before animating?

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  • $\begingroup$ In my imagination there's a place to check [x] instatiate with offset from global timeline and furthermore [x] use a new instance of material so it only changes its own color. Ahh. Imagining. $\endgroup$ – ball2000 Oct 21 '14 at 23:55
  • $\begingroup$ So... what I'm gonna end up doing for my rocket exhaust, is just have the rocket drag an actual train of my beautiful exhaust objects out of the ground using "Follow Path" and try to have them spin at just the right speed so each differently-colored traincar seems like new exhaust instead of part a moving train. Because particles made me cry. Yes I've seen the rocket exhaust examples they aren't the 'look' I want. $\endgroup$ – ball2000 Oct 22 '14 at 2:34
  • $\begingroup$ Turned out ok ball2000.net/rocket.html (do people read these?) $\endgroup$ – ball2000 Oct 22 '14 at 7:45
  • $\begingroup$ Some people do. BI or cycles? I'm thinking of particle lifetime in cycles to distort uv mapping. $\endgroup$ – sambler Oct 22 '14 at 8:02
  • $\begingroup$ I tried cycles yesterday and I just couldn't even. So I guess it's Bl :) @sambler $\endgroup$ – ball2000 Oct 22 '14 at 8:41
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I'm sorry to say that this feature, which was started on in 2011, was "nearly complete" in 2013 yet still seems like a distant dream. Some of the changes necessary for these updates were dependent on the dependency graph update, though. The depsgraph branch has had a lot of progress lately. Perhaps reading about dependencies will explain why things like this don't presently work out of the box; e.g. why you still can't "animate everything" as the 2.5 project advertised.

The latest update I can find in the same vein is that Lukas wrote a patch that allows you to use a particle's age to update a shader.

The best thing you can do to participate right now with in-progress projects like this is to get in contact with the specific developers that are working on the relevant infrastructures, and show them the problem you're trying to solve. Let them know you're interested, try their test branches, test out experimental versions, etc, and if you're feeling bold, look at their code.

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  • $\begingroup$ Anything more on this yet? $\endgroup$ – VRM Oct 16 '15 at 20:14
  • $\begingroup$ Lukas's blog hasn't been updated since 2012. You could dig through his twitter and find clues that he's still interested, but that doesn't guarantee activity. twitter.com/lukastoenne $\endgroup$ – Wray Bowling Oct 23 '15 at 15:22
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If you are up to a lot of work this is possible in Blender. You will need to create a group of objects (your spheres). Each sphere will become a particle and emitted in reverse order, you can adjust the order but just be mindful that by default it is last created first emitted.

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Giving each particle a particular property - in my example a different color but you might change or offset an animation. This is when you make the calculations to time everything to the particle emissions.

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In my example I have 8 spheres to be emitted over 24 frames (1 every 3 frames). Maybe someone can give you a better example of how to change the color on larger sets... Offset animated color change over many objects?

I recently did this with a butterfly animation that has 1200 butterflies.

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Because the flapping of the wings is looped over 10 frames I required 10 butterflies in the group offset by 1 frame. I then created 3 particles so that not all of the butterflies took off together. As I didn't want the butterflies to be flapping whilst landed I removed the cyclic animation and manually repeated the flapping from after particle launch. Prior to particle launch I slowed the flapping of some and turned the flapping off for others. I then timed and rendered the 3 particles separately giving each particles their own seed value.

But yes a magic button that can "Use Animation of object as starting life of particle" will be a nice feature.

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It's probably too late but I just did a similar thing with butterflies. I made a butterfly, animated it with shapekeys, changed the min & max values of the keys to -1 & 1, then I added a keyframe for the shapekey on frame 0 (you do not care about the value). In the graph editor I added a 'sinus' modifier on the key value and voilà, the butterfly moves the wings in a loop. The magic thing with this method is that you can now use the butterfly as a particle, the loop won't be sync for all the butterflies since the movement of the wings is not hardcoded but calculated (I think).

Only one butterfly & only one particle system, but many many variations...

I didn't tested it, but if it works for shapekey values, it should also work for bone rotations, or translations.

Now I'm trying to make them landed at start and fly away when a dummy comes close to them...

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I think you would need multiple particle systems with each firing at the desired frame. Set each one for the object you want for that particle system. If it set to start and stop on frame 10, only one object will emit at 10. You just need to time the emitter so it comes out right. You can fine tune the frame to 3 decimal places.

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