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This course introduces basic physics simulation principles in Autodesk 3ds Max using MassFX, a system that makes it cost effective to animate rigid body objects, cloth, and particle systems. Author Brian Bradley introduces basic concepts such as gravity, drag, volume, and density, and how Newton's Laws of Motion can help you understand the interaction of objects with these unseen forces. Using the purpose built scene, Brian walks through the tools and features of the MassFX (PhysX) system, applying the principles discussed as he goes. Along the way, discover how to combine rigid bodies and constraints, mCloth fabrics, and mParticles geometry to create fairground-style effects.
As with the planning and preproduction phases of our simulation pipeline, taking the time to bake and then review a simulation is going to be an important factor, in terms of the quality we get from our final product. If we skimp on or even skip pass this stage, we may well end up with a substandard, maybe even unacceptable, final result. It is of course entirely possible to find that we have a perfectly good simulation at this point, especially if we are an experienced simulation artist. On the other hand though, we may find on close inspection that there are just one or two elements spoiling what we have.
In some such situations, rather than unbaking, tweaking parameters, resimulating, and then rebaking, we may well want to go ahead and simply add an animation override layer that will allow us to tweak those one or two elements just a little. As we have already noted from our review, we do have just such an element. Rather than have this single can seemingly pop out from behind the stack and then come to a somewhat odd stop, I would like to adjust the speed and final resting position just a little so that it doesn't draw quite so much attention to itself.
The first thing I want to do here is isolate the objects that I will be wanting to focus on. As I already have my can selected, I'm just going to hold down the Ctrl key and then add the stand geometry to my selection. Now, I can right-click in the viewport and use the Isolate Selection command. Something else that I want to do here, something that can be very helpful in terms of being able to work quickly and easily, is to switch over to an orthographic view. Now, I know that my stand geometry is aligned to my front view, so I'm just going to use the F keyboard shortcut to switch to that.
Now, we are ready to work with our animation layers. If we don't have the Animation Layers toolbar enabled, we can either follow the commands through the Animation menu to enable it or we could simply right-click in an empty area of a toolbar and select Animation Layers from the list. Once we have the floating toolbar, we may want to dock it to the user interface, which is exactly what I'll do here. Now first, most of our options are grayed out. This is because we need to specifically enable the animation layer system. We do this by means of this button on the far left of the toolbar.
Clicking it brings up a Layer Controller dialog. In this particular instance, the Position and Rotation options will be more than sufficient for us to work with, so let's uncheck Scale and click OK. Now, as you can see, the animation layer system comes to life and we can come over and click the Add Anim Layer button. We will of course want to give our new layer a descriptive name, so Can_Override should work nicely in this particular case. And we do want to choose the Default Controller option. Once that's done, we can click OK.
At this point, even with our animation layer system enabled, we can still scrub through our timeline so that we can observe the current animation applied to our geometry. We will be doing this so that we can determine just where we want to add our override keys. Frame 0 is naturally where we want to start, so let's enable our Set Key option. Before we add any keys though, I just want to make certain that we are only adding position and rotation keys. The fewer keys we create, the easier our data will be to edit, should we need to do so.
So, let's click on the Key Filters button and make certain that only Position and Rotation are checked. The final piece of prepwork needed here is to make certain that only our can is selected. With the stand selected, we would of course be adding keyframes to that geometry also. So, now that we're set up, we can just click the Add Key button while we are at frame 0 to add position and rotation keys there. And if we scrub forward with the Time slider now, I would think somewhere around about frame 59 is where we're going to want to add our next set of keys.
So, with the playhead parked there, we can again hit the Key button and then pushing forward, I think frame 73 seems to be just about where our can has finally come to its resting position, so we can add another set of keys here. Up to this point of course, all we've done is add placeholder keys to our animation timeline. We have set points that we either want to keep the position and rotation of our object as it currently is, or this is the spot at which we will want to make some alterations. In this particular instance, it really is only the last frame, the settled frame, that I need to make any changes to.
So, with our playhead at frame 73, I'm just going to enable the Move tool and then just pull our can back a little bit in the X axis. We'll of course want to then rekey its new position. Now, we can turn Set Key off. We can right-click and effectively un-isolate our scene. And if we switch back now to our main camera view, we can play the animation. And as you can see, our can doesn't look anywhere near as distracting as it did before.
The ability to somewhat post direct our simulations can be an extremely important and powerful feature. Being able to quickly add animation overrides using 3ds Max's animation layers means we can quickly and easily deal with slight motion discrepancies in our simulations without the need to go back into our simulation and rework all of its settings.
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