The effect of creating a realistic animated cable has long been sort after for users of MAX and most 3D programs.
I came up with the following solution after a conversation with Jarno Cordia (www.3dluvr.com/mccordia). He showed me a work in progress animation he had done which had a perfectly animated wire/rope effect. I asked him how it was done, and he said he used the free Sim cloth plugin (www.chaosgroup.com) and a lot of experimentation.
My attempts at trying this before had not been too convincing, but knowing it was possible gave me a challange. By the next day I’d recreated the effect, and on comparing notes we had done it exactly the same way.
The problems I’d encountered when first trying the effect with Simcloth was how to maintain a cylindrical "rope" without it collapsing in on itself and becomming ’ribbon’ like. Hours of playing with the bond range and bias gave better results, but there was always crimping and folding which ruined the illusion.
I was reading through the Sim Cloth help files and something clicked when reading about the bond range. If every vertex is pulling on the other equally then it stands to reason that a triangular prism cannot collapse inwards......