One of my final 3D Uni assignments was to create a kinetic sculpture or Rube Goldberg machine. This is what happened… I hope you enjoy ‘The Sisyphus Engine”
I used Blender for the 3D work, despite having a good crack at Maya. The clincher was Blender's ability to handle animated concave objects within the Bullet engine, which don't seem to be catered for as well in Maya or Houdini, which I also tried.

For the technically minded, this animation has 56 balls, 32 constraints, and only 2 keyframes from which everything else is driven either by the physics engine, or in some cases (steam engine, cogs, big wheel and Archimedes screw) by simple expressions.

Thanks especially to denha for so much inspiration from his real machines.

Please also check out the Yale Percussion Group's performance of Steve Reich's Sextet. Amazing work, which I've brazenly borrowed this extract from, under the banner of ‘Educational Fair Use'. Please don't kill me Steve.

And Dale Cieslak's wood shaders available on were great to work with, and helped me get the look I was after.