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In Getting Started with Reactor in 3ds Max, Steve Nelle shows how to create realistic dynamic simulations that have objects recognize, collide and react to coming into contact with each other in 3ds Max animation projects. This course includes a detailed explanation of both rigid and soft body dynamics, reactor's various collection types, using constraints and soft body modifiers, and how to adjust and control a dynamic simulation's accuracy. Four start-to-finish projects are also included in the course, which show practical techniques for breaking objects apart, creating cloth simulations, adding rippling water effects to a scene, and more. Exercise files accompany the course.
The Reactor controls and commands can be accessed in a handful of ways: Through the Animation pulldown menu at the top of the interface, dropping down to Reactor, then accessing the commands that are displayed to the right. Over in the Command panel, you can also access the Helper's tab, clicking then on the dropdown menu that starts with Standard, choosing halfway down Reactor. There's also a handy Quad menu that you can quickly access by holding down the Alt and Shift keys then right-clicking in any viewport, each of the commands you see having something to do with setting Reactor up.
The method of access that many animators choose to use starts by putting your mouse on the far right-hand side of the Main toolbar. In the empty area just at the right-hand side of the Render teapot, you then right-click. When the menu opens up, halfway down you choose Reactor. Now this brings up the Reactor toolbar, which many times works best after accessing by docking in one of a couple different places in the interface: Either up at the top below the Main toolbar, you can get at there by simply dragging with your mouse then letting go. Or in a location that I'll be using in a large majority of our videos in this title, over in the left-hand side.
Again, to position, you'll simply drag it in place, then let go of your mouse. We'll come back to the toolbar options in just a moment. There's also a collection of Reactor features and options under the Utilities tab in the Command panel. Here you can not just set up the parameters for both previews and keyframe creation, but there's also various other settings for simulation optimization and controlling which physics engine in Max you choose to use when running your simulations. We'll be going back and forth in here quite a bit as we get to our projects.
Over the course of this title, we will be accessing quite a few of the Reactor commands using the toolbar that we have now docked over on the far left edge. With that in mind, let's now take a look at the way things are laid out on the tool strip. The Reactor toolbar is basically divided into six groups, with the individual groups or categories separated by small horizontal bars. The topmost group in the toolbar are your collections, five different types in total. Max refers them as collections because they will hold or contain a list of the objects that will be evaluated in a certain way during the simulation.
We'll be going over how each collection works in detail in the next video. The second group, nine in all, contains your forces, which are elements that can be added to a scene to affect the object or objects that have been placed into a collection. Next category down, the third section of the toolbar, are your constraints. Constraints are used in Reactor to lock down or constrain an object in some way during a simulation, like a nail holding down a canvas tarp or a hook securing the end of a rope.
The fourth group holds the very-important Reactor modifiers. There's three different ones: Cloth, Soft Body, and Rope--each being assigned to an object in a collection to determine how that object will specifically act during the simulation, responding either like a piece of cloth, a strand of rope, or a geometric object taking on the characteristics of a softer deformable surface. The fifth group contains just one icon, but it's a big one.
It's called the Property Editor, and it's where you go to set up your physical properties for an object. You'll be spending a ton of time in here. And finally, the sixth group way at the bottom contains the solving and calculation utility, the Preview command, and the control that you'll use when wanting to create the actual keyframes for your scene once the simulation has been tested, tweaked, and is ready to be baked in-- in other words, when you're formally ready to commit to what you've done. So that will give you a quick rundown of how and where your Reactor tools are found.
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