Jason Fletcher
Motion Designer
PACK ⬕ Cursor Swarm
- This pack contains 69 VJ loops (114 GB)

Sometimes when I see a piece of news skyrocket, I imagine all the billions of people using a computer to digest the same thing. I had this idea of watching a bunch of mouse cursors flocking together and glitching out. So I found this great cursor model and started experimenting.

I have always wanted to explore the Flight node within a MASH simulation of Maya and so this was the perfect opportunity. I thought that I would need to animate a leader for the flock to follow, but I just tweaked the Separation, Alignment, and Cohesion Strength attributes to my liking and there was emergence. I was surprised to learn that I could link any type of dynamic field into the Flight node and I found the Air Field to add the natural kind of turbulence that I was looking for. Also the MASH Orient node (set to Velocity) was critical for having each entity pointing in its correct movement vector.

It was interesting to see how the same simulation changed by simply increasing the total number of total entities (points) from x1,000 to x10,000 to x50,000. For the x1,000 experiments I could utilize the cursor 3D poly and I didn't run out of VRAM. But at x10,000 I had to switch over to using a 1x1 polygon plane, map a image of a cursor onto it, and this enabled me to increase the total count past x200,000. But the visuals got too crowded past x50,000 and so I limited it to that. But I was astounded of how far I could push it.

Since I was using a MASH simulation, the Trails node was an interesting thing to play with especially given the initial inspiration. The Connect to Nearest attribute was exactly the style I had imagined for an extra render layer to jam with in post. The "LinkSolo" scenes kinda took on a life of their own.

After looking at the renders, I was struggling with how to add the glitchy effect I was yearning for. Finally I tried doing some slit-scan experiments and struck gold. For all of the "Flock" scenes I rendered out versions with and without motion blur. Since I used the RSMB plugin to generate the motion blur, it sometimes glitches out and I think it's perfect in this context. But I could see some people just wanting it straight and so I included both options even though it added so many GB's to the pack size.

The "Grid" and "Tumble" scenes were an experiment in trying to make a complex but interesting matrix of cursors. At first I tried working directly in After Effects until I realized that Maya MASH simulations were once again perfect for the task. Also working in Maya allowed me to tuned the max rays in Redshift so that there was no aliasing of the very fine details in the distance. The slit-scan technique again proved to be wild for these scenes.

Released September 2021