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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.
With the release of 3ds Max 2013, the MassFX system added the ability to deal not only with dynamic rigid body collisions, but also dynamic soft bodies, particularly cloth in the form of mCloth modifier. Of course 3ds Max already has an extremely cloth modifier that can interact very nicely with characters and other objects in the scene. But that is not the same as having two-way interaction inside a dynamic simulation between soft and rigid body objects, which is exactly what mCloth inside MassFX now gives us.
In this video, we are going to step through the process of turning a simple 3ds Max geometric plane into a pinned cloth hammock that we can have interact with dynamic objects already present in the scene. The first thing we will want to do of course is select one of the planes that we will be turning into a cloth object. This has been modified somewhat in that we have added a gamut maker modifier to create extra faces, extra topology, and then we have finally converted everything into an editable poly.
With the plane selected, I just want to use my P key to switch over to perspective view and again make use of the Zoom Extent Selector tool to get up close. From this point of view, we can clearly see the single-poly nature of this object. In fact if we just use the F4 key to turn on Edge Faces, we can see how our plane's topology is currently looking. Now, to apply an mCloth modifier, we can again use any one of a number of approaches. In this instance, we can just come up to the MassFX toolbar and then clicking on the mCloth icon with our left-mouse button and holding, we can access the flyout.
We have two options available that give us the ability to add and also remove an mCloth modifier. Obviously I want to use the Add option at this moment in time. We now have an mCloth object in our scene. If I just run the simulation, because we have MassFX gravity applied, our cloth object reacts appropriately and falls downward. As our stand geometry has been set up as a static rigid body, once the two objects collide, our cloth naturally comes to a halt.
Of course, if there were nothing in the simulation with which it could collide, our piece of cloth would just keep on falling until we stopped the simulation. In this particular instance of course we don't want our cloth to fall at all; instead, we want to pin the corners of our piece of material in place and create a hammock that can interact with our dynamic sphere as they are launched in this direction. So if I just right-mouse-click on our cloth object, you can see in the Quad menu that we have the option to go down to a subobject vertex level in the modifier.
Once we go to vertex level, you'll notice that all of the available options over in the Command panel change completely. And if we just come across and scroll down a little way, you will see that we get an entire constraint section with which we can work. The one we will make use of here is the simple pin option. To show you how this works, let's just select at least one vertex in the vicinity of our upright pole and then zoom in tag using first of all, the Region Zoom tool, and then we'll make use of our Orbit tool.
At this point, it would probably be a good idea to use the F3 key and switch over to our wireframe view, just so that we can see clearly what is going on. To make our pinning look at least a little believable, we will probably want to select at least two vertices in the vicinity of this ball with which to work. More of course would give us a better effect. In this case, there are three or four likely candidates that we can choose. They could, however, perhaps do with a little editing before being made use of.
What I need to do is just move them around a little, so let's just select them one at a time of course, enable the Move tool by pressing the W key, and then just position them in a most suitable location--that is, a little closer to the pole or upright object that we want them to appear pinned to. We do of course need to be careful here that we are only moving along a flat XY plane; we don't want our vertices to drift up or down in 3D space. With our edits done, we can select a group of vertices and then over in the Command panel, we can click on the Make Group option.
It is the group that we will be assigning our constraint to. It is of course always a good idea to give our groups descriptive names, so in this case, let's use Front_Left_Pinned and then just click OK. Now of course, we are ready to apply our constraint to the group. As we said, a simple pin will work just fine for what we want to accomplish here, so let's click that option. Now, we have essentially locked our vertices in 3D space, although we have taken a little bit of time to make it appear as if we've pinned them to our pole.
We do of course need to repeat this process for the other three corners on our cloth object. We need to name out groups accordingly and edit the vertices as we go. With the editing completed, we can now switch back over to our target's close-up camera, we can hit the F3 key to get back into a shaded view, and then we can right-click our mCloth object and using the Quad menu, return to the top level of our modifier stack. Now when we run the simulation, our cloth object, as you can see, is pinned in place, and it clearly interacts very nicely with the dynamic rigid bodies present in the scene.
Something we will need to do of course is set up the physical properties of our mCloth object correctly, which is exactly what we will do next.
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