The Vanitas Project is the Team Edwards entry into the Dynamic Machines Computer Graphics contest.

Contest Series History

In late June 2021 I was made aware of a contest/challenge on a popular YouTube channel which focuses on computer graphics art. The contest was called the "Alternate Realities CG Challenge" and entries had to fill in a scene around a simple animated figure walking as if pulling something heavy.

There was one before that too.

When I saw these I thought, wow, that looks like fun! I would love to do something like that.

On July 10, 2021, I noticed that the channel had created another challenge, called Dynamic Machines, and this time, I wasn’t hopelessly late to the party! I brought it to the attention of my son at the time, and we agreed that we should work on an entry together.

The deadline was August 1, 2021, so that was enough time for a pretty serious project, but not something that would drag on forever.

Dynamic Machines Contest Concept

The concept for this Dynamic Machines project is that each entry will have a chrome ball enter in an specific place at a specific time and exit out a specific place at a specific time. When the entries are stitched together, the idea is that it will create a giant Rube Goldberg machine where each entry is one part of the ball’s massive journey through an amazing collection of diverse scenes and situations.

We completed an entry that we are very proud of an this project site documents our journey making it.

Dynamic Machines Rules And Details

These points were all made in contest rules and videos. My comments are in parentheses.


"August 1st, 11:59 PM PST" (Uh, you’re in PDT until Nov 7! I know, it’s confusing.)


  • 1080 wide x 1920 high (Portrait video is an abomination!)

  • 450 frames - "0 to 449" (For god’s sake, why 0 counting?)

  • 5 cm ball (Hopefully not changing the contest kit is sufficient.)

  • "Chrome" (Specifically mentioned as such.)

  • Frame 113 is where the ball must drop using gravity (The 114th?)

  • Identical ball must leave exit port "…between frames 335 and 340…" (Does this mean 337th, 338th, 339th, and 340th are valid?)

  • .mp4 (Container.)

  • H.264 or H.265 (Codec.)

  • 30FPS exact (Not 29.97 or whatever.)

  • 1/180 shutter setting (Hopefully not changing the contest kit is sufficient.)

  • Do not change camera’s 50mm focal length (Hopefully not changing the contest kit is sufficient.)

  • No camera shake.

  • No titles or floating text credits type stuff

  • Do not resize the box.

  • Decorating the "play area’s appearance" is ok

  • "Sound design is highly encouraged".

The Idea:

  • Does it feel unique?

  • Does it function?

  • Does it work in a creative way?

  • Do you have a theme or style?

Visual Appeal:

  • Lit well and rendered properly?

  • Distinct colour palette? [sic]

  • Artistic composition?

Animation & Clarity:

  • Easily trackable ball?

  • Natural flow?

  • Follow the laws of gravity?


  • Winners Announced (Top 3 US and Top 3 International): Aug 14th live

  • Top 100 Dynamic Machines Montage: Aug 21st

  • All Renders Dynamic Machines Montage: Aug 28th