I haven't seen my exact situation on this site so far. What I want to do is project a video onto a 3D plane and view it orthographically, but have the plane's surface with animated bumps giving a sort of lensing effect to the image surface.
It's easy to have a plane and then several sphere objects, but the problem seems to be that I have to apply a material to the plane to project the video, and if the sphere objects break the surface using the same material, the results would be mapped to each sphere AND the mesh - not what i want.
So i have two choices, it seems:
Make it so the shape of the deformed mesh is joined, similar to Object/Join into one material but be able to animate the positions and settings of each sphere while keeping one material for the whole joined object. not sure how this could work. maybe using the Compositor? Sort of like a Union effect in Inkscape when two paths converge? not sure...
Or, have my plane's inside vertices be modified by multiple sphere objects poking through and making it look basically like a tablecloth with bumps. I don't want the edges of the plane to move, just the inside vertices. I don't need physics per se, but I do need deforming tips or tutorials related to this. it seems ridiculously simple but i'm just not seeing it. most deforming tuts do not involve planes and frequently involve the outside boundaries changing. it's sort of like a softbody or cloth simulation but i don't need gravity or the extra bunching up. i might be able to do it with armatures but i have to move/animate the locations of these and it seems parenting to the plane mesh could lock the bone to a specific location on it. i've tried Mesh Deform, Simple Deform and Hook but just not getting it. help would be appreciated!