The development of the scales yesterday has given me enthusiasms for the technical side of Maya. The task I looked into today was making the coral/organism that would chase after our fish. Originally the plan was to use coral, but there were a few scenes that involved the coral reaching out. I looked up some source material and found some similarity to the tendrils of sea anemones. Which were a lot more flexible. But the stuff on the storyboard was still distinctly coral.
Initial attempts at a cleaner model involved joints at every lateral edge, but I discarded this as a control group would have 30 different joints to manage.
To cut down the number of joints, instead of one joint per lateral edge I looked into one joint for every two lateral edges, which halved the original number. Still quite a few but now much more manageable.
The final parameter I added was a length control. Unlike the others, this one control affects the entire skeleton, which could really help with any scenes of the construct launching itself at our hapless fish.
I didn't forget the coral though, and looked into methods of construction. I've had ideas about making a model like this before and although I had a more advanced version that is now missing, I have developed a fairly sound method of reproduction. My plan is to work in a blendshape that will have the coral branches growing from a point of origin. I might simplify the geometry as the shapes get smaller, but right now the current shape is a hexagon which might make things a little tricky.