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Constructing a MassFX Ragdoll

From: Creating Simulations in MassFX and 3ds Max

Video: Constructing a MassFX Ragdoll

One very nice feature of MassFX is the fact that animated characters can participate in simulations as either dynamic or kinematic rag dolls. Using the Dynamic option, a character come both affect and be affected by other objects in the simulation. Using the Kinematic option, a character can affect the simulation, but cannot be affected by it in any way. For example, an animated character could knock down an obstacle on its way-- maybe such as bursting through a prefractured window--but a large box falling on a Kinematic rag doll character would not in any way alter its behavior in the simulation.

Constructing a MassFX Ragdoll

One very nice feature of MassFX is the fact that animated characters can participate in simulations as either dynamic or kinematic rag dolls. Using the Dynamic option, a character come both affect and be affected by other objects in the simulation. Using the Kinematic option, a character can affect the simulation, but cannot be affected by it in any way. For example, an animated character could knock down an obstacle on its way-- maybe such as bursting through a prefractured window--but a large box falling on a Kinematic rag doll character would not in any way alter its behavior in the simulation.

To demonstrate how easy it is to create and edit a rag doll and its parameters, we have in our scene, as you can see, a simple character hierarchy created using standard 3ds Max bones. Now, although this is clearly a bipedal character, it does not have to be in order for a rag doll to be applied. We could use any set of linked bones in any kind of character configuration. We could just as easily have used a biped rig here, as the rag doll system will work very nicely with that also.

We cannot, however, currently use rag doll on a cat rig. To apply the rag doll, all we need to do is select any bone on our character, go up to the MassFX toolbar, and from the Ragdoll flyout, invoke either the Create Kinematic or Create Dynamic Ragdoll commands. In this instance, I want to create a dynamic ragdoll. Once the option is chosen, you can see we get an entire system of dynamic rigid bodies and constraints all applied to the bone hierarchy and all set up to generally mimic the range of motion found in the joints of bipedal creatures such as humans.

Straight away of course we can run the simulation. As you can see, our character falls dynamically to the floor. The constraints setup maybe a little off for our particular character setup but as an initial pass, this is not a bad start at all. And of course we can easily go in and refine the set up using all of the modifier and constraint options that we have worked with so far in our course. In this particular case for instance, we might want to get a better fit of our collision meshes of physical shapes to the bones.

We can do this by first of all deselecting what we have as our current selection includes constraints, and then we can switch our Selection filter to the bones and drag a selection around our character. Then, in the Multi-Object Editor, we can set our Physical Mesh Type to Convex instead of the default Capsule. This of course gives us a much better fit of the collision mesh to our bones. If I just switch over to our main camera view by using the C key and selecting that option from the list, you can see if we do at some point need to get back to editing our Ragdoll global properties, that we actually have a Ragdoll icon in the scene.

This was created when we added the ragdoll to our character. This can be selected like any regular 3ds Max object. Of course we will first of all need to alter our selection filter. This time I am just going to set this Helpers. Then when we select the Ragdoll icon, you see, we once again get access to all of our Ragdoll global parameters. With our Selection filter set to Helpers, we could also drag a marquee selection around our character and select all of the constraints in our ragdoll.

This means of course that we can edit all, all groups of them, again inside the Multi-Object Editor. Being able to edit multiple constraints, or indeed rigid body options in this manner can of course be a huge timesaver when we're working with a complex system such as a ragdoll. One thing we may find, if we have to work with a number of ragdolls in our scene, is that our viewport refresh, or frame rates can become a little sluggish. Oftentimes previewing simulations that have lots of constraint helpers constantly being redrawn can do that.

If we find ourselves struggling with this, we might want to disable the display of helpers in our viewport. We can do this of course by coming to the Display tab of our Command panel and using the Hide by Category and Helpers option. As you can see, creating and editing a MassFX ragdoll is a fairly straightforward process. Of course if we're wanting to set up an extremely accurate system, maybe for something like close-up digital double work, then we will need to spend quite a bit of time tweaking constraint settings, along of course with a judicious amount of trial-and-error testing.

But as with everything we've seen so far in MassFX, with good planning and attention to detail, we can get some very nice results from the system inside very acceptable time frames.

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Image for Creating Simulations in MassFX and 3ds Max
Creating Simulations in MassFX and 3ds Max

51 video lessons · 2483 viewers

Brian Bradley
Author

 
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  1. 3m 27s
    1. Welcome
      58s
    2. Working with the exercise files
      46s
    3. Setting up the 3ds Max project structure
      1m 43s
  2. 39m 20s
    1. Why simulate and not animate?
      3m 38s
    2. A look at gravity and drag
      3m 55s
    3. Understanding volume, mass, and density
      3m 45s
    4. What are Newton's laws of motion?
      3m 20s
    5. Finding believable frames per second and substeps
      3m 5s
    6. Understanding the difference between rigid and soft bodies
      3m 28s
    7. More about rigid body types
      3m 32s
    8. How collisions are calculated
      4m 35s
    9. Learning the difference between concave and convex meshes
      6m 24s
    10. What is a constraint and how do we use it?
      3m 38s
  3. 24m 20s
    1. A look at the MassFX and the 3ds Max user interfaces
      5m 52s
    2. Exploring the MassFX workflow
      5m 14s
    3. Discovering ground collision and gravity
      4m 49s
    4. Adjusting substeps and solver iterations
      3m 43s
    5. Using the Multi-Editor and the MassFX Visualizer
      4m 42s
  4. 44m 11s
    1. Breaking down the shot
      4m 51s
    2. Setting up the launchers
      3m 59s
    3. Setting up the drop system
      4m 30s
    4. Prepping the cans
      3m 33s
    5. Refining the simulation on the launchers
      5m 9s
    6. Refining the simulation on the colliders
      6m 5s
    7. Baking out the simulation for rendering
      5m 37s
    8. Reviewing the simulation with an animation sequence
      5m 3s
    9. Adding an animation override
      5m 24s
  5. 33m 32s
    1. Adding a rigid constraint and creating breakability
      8m 3s
    2. Creating a moving target with the Slide constraint
      4m 47s
    3. Creating springy targets with the Hinge constraint
      5m 59s
    4. Spinning targets using the Twist constraint
      4m 57s
    5. Creating crazy targets with the Ball & Socket constraint
      4m 58s
    6. Constructing a MassFX Ragdoll
      4m 48s
  6. 36m 51s
    1. Applying the mCloth modifier and pinning the hammock
      5m 55s
    2. Setting up the hammock's physical properties
      5m 39s
    3. Working with the mCloth interaction controls
      6m 14s
    4. Attaching the hammock to animated objects
      4m 5s
    5. Putting a rip in mCloth
      6m 14s
    6. Using mCloth to create a rope object
      4m 53s
    7. Creating a soft body object
      3m 51s
  7. 14m 47s
    1. Adding forces to a simulation
      5m 27s
    2. Putting forces to practical use
      5m 33s
    3. Using forces with mCloth
      3m 47s
  8. 35m 27s
    1. Walking through mParticles
      4m 38s
    2. Using fracture geometry
      6m 0s
    3. Creating breakable glue: Part 1
      4m 19s
    4. Creating breakable glue: Part 2
      5m 19s
    5. Creating a gloopy fluid: Part 1
      4m 14s
    6. Creating a gloopy fluid: Part 2
      4m 41s
    7. Adding forces to mParticles
      6m 16s
  9. 1m 5s
    1. What's next?
      1m 5s

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