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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.
When working with the MassFX dynamics system in 3ds Max, one much-missed feature is the ability to bind objects together with a virtual glue that can then be broken or resolved under certain conditions. This lack is one reason why additional stimulation effects tools such as RayFire are so popular with 3ds Max VFX artists. When working mParticles we do have just such a feature set available to us in the form of the MassFX glue and solvent operators.
Over the next two videos, we want to run through a basic effect that makes you solve the glue operator. Now, to start with there are a couple of important steps we need to take in order to fully set up the scene geometry that we will be wanting to work with. First, let's select the rail geometry we see here and then jump into the Modifier List. In here, we want to apply a PFlow Collision Shape modifier. As already noted, this modifier gives us the ability to have ordinary scene geometry interact with mParticles. Now we do of course need to make certain that this modifier is activated.
The next step is to run through exactly the same process, but for our stand geometry. So let's select it, apply the modifier, and then make certain that it is activated. With those steps taken, let's press the 6 key to open up Particle view. The first thing we want to do here is drag out a new MassFX Flow into the event display area. As well as the flow, this of course also creates a MassFX world and Birth Grid in the scene. These appear more or less at the world origin, which is certainly not where we want our Birth Grid to be.
To place it more appropriately in the scene, I am just going to press the H key to pull up my Select from Scene dialog, and the making sure I have the Helpers filter set to show, I am going to select the Birth Grid and click OK. To position it, let's enable the Move tool and come down to Coordinate Display area at the bottom of the 3ds Max UI. Here we can enter values of X: -230, Y:-1960, and Z: 1045.
Going back to our MassFX flow, the first tweak we want to perform here is to select the shape operate and in the 3D dropdown, let's the Shape to 20 sided spheres. We can also set a size of 28 millimeters rate here. Next, we want to select the Birth Grid operator and make certain that the Grid Size is set 260 millimeters. This will help us control the spacing of particles as they are spawned on the grid. As we want to create long thin strands of spawned particles, let's put a check in the Non-Uniform Grid Option.
Now, we can leave our Length value here set to 100%, but we want to set our Width to 80 and our Height to 10%. We only want a single slice of our particle grid to show. The next parameter to tweak is Icon Size, so let's scroll down a little and set the values here to a Length of 100 millimeters, a Width of 3300 millimeters, and a Height of 1814 millimeters. This puts the top row of our particles in close proximity to our rail geometry, which is exactly where we need it to be.
This step also helps make sure that the spacing between each column of particles is greater than the size of the particles themselves. As the Glue operator in mParticles will take distance between particles into account, this should stop the different strands binding together whilst ensuring that the particles within a single strand do bind. As we have set our particle display geometry to spheres, the next thing we need to do is click the MassFX shape operator and set the particle collision mesh to the same shape.
Currently it is set to collide as a box, which would clearly give us unsatisfactory results. Let's switch this over to Sphere. The Conform to Particle Shape option is on by default, so we can be sure that the collision mesh will be the same size as the graphical mesh on each of the particles. With the basic scene setup in place then, in our next video we are going to move on introduce the glue operator into the system and set about creating some glued particles in the scene.
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