Image above. A similar effect can be achieved with edge split and armature. The mesh started as a cube. This technique alone is a bit difficult.
Image above. Single Armature, two bone chains, no weight painting.
Image above. Separation of faces. Edge Split was applied. Vertex group created basis and key1 which is scaled smaller. Bind armature to key1. Display basis. Keys inspired by comment by Adrians Nellis.
Easier to control.
Image above. One armature, four bone chains. No weight paint with brush, thus you see some vertices in undesired places. It seemed best not to have a weight paint exercise. Weights were modified with [limit total] value 1 in weight paint mode. No artist merit here. The first frames numbered <= 103 have the same shape key values. Only the highest numbered frame has different shape key values. Shape keys are not required for discontinuity of faces, yet changing face size is convenient. Dotted Lines....
- Create Mesh
- Mark Sharp and Apply Edge Split
- Scale Faces Smaller by .5 in edit mode. Different faces have space between them.
- Armature Modifier is parented.
- Create Shape Key, Basis and Key1. Key1 scale Larger by 2 in edit mode. (2 * .5 = 1). This visual appears to eye as closed surface.
- The two different Keys minimize manual painting and promote easier parenting to intentionally produce surface discontinuities.
- Use Key1 influence 1 full strength