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"Happiness is a moving target."

Adam Lein

Rubiks Cube

The image seen here is part of an internal web site created for the National Council on Economic Education.  The design is similar to the guidebook's print based cover. 

The cube is an animated GIF that I created using both 3D and 2D animation programs.  First I modeled each block of the cube and named surfaces for future texturing.  Each block was named with a Cartesian coordinate corresponding to it's position in the completed cube.  Then a complex inverse kinematics chain was set up using center point nulls such that I can rotate different groups of blocks across separate axis.  Key frames were created that would change the inverse kinematics chain such that certain blocks could change their parenting structure in order to rotate with a different axis group.  Essentially, each axis group motion was assigned it's own unique inverse kinematics chain.  However, each axis group motion was also parented to a top level null which allowed me to add a motion to the entire cube while conserving the motions of the axis groups.

I animated the cube in a linear fashion, starting with the solved puzzle and rotating sections a few times until it was fairly altered.  Then I used a negative frame step to render the animation backwards including alpha channels for compositing.  

Then I used Painter to create a nice subtle sky-like animation for the background of the cube.  This was composited in AfterEffects where I could add spline based transparencies and my imported photoshop shadow.  Then the video file was rendered and I opened it in ImageReady to finally create the animated GIF, reduce colors, scale, etc.


Roher/Sprague Partners, 1999