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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.
One of the advantages that Reactor has over many of the other dynamic simulators on the market today is the speed in which it generates its previews. During the normal workflow process, it's not at all unusual for a simulation to take a healthy amount of time to plow through all the calculations necessary in order to create an automatically generated series of movements. Unfortunately, the longer you have to wait for your results, the less interactive the process feels. In this video, we're going to take a look at how Reactor has done away with those lengthy waits.
I'm using a file named Simulation Preview to demonstrate how a preview in Reactor is performed. Once a simulation has been set up and the evaluation process is set to commence, you can access Reactor's Preview window in one of several ways. Using the Animation pulldown menu at the top of the screen, you can drop to the bottom, choosing Reactor, then the command Preview & Animation. You could also access the Preview Command using the keyboard/mouse shortcut of Alt+Shift+Right-clicking, heading to the lower right-hand side of the menu when the dialog opens.
Another option would be to head over to the Utilities tab in the Command panel, opening up the Reactor commands, then sliding into the section entitled Preview Animation. From there, you'd simply click on Preview in Window. Or as a fourth option, using the Reactor toolbar which we've positioned over in the left-hand side of our screen, you could go to the bottom of the commands, then choose the second icon up. After a moment then once the calculations for your simulation have been made, if no errors are found, the Preview window will open. The window allows you to view and interact with your simulation in real time.
By default, simulated objects display using either the Perspective or Camera view from your scene as the orientation for the Preview window. Your left mouse button can now be used to rotate the view. The middle mouse button, when held down, will allow you to pan. If held down and rolled back and forth, will give you the opportunity to zoom in and out of your view. To start the simulation playback, a couple of different options. In the Simulation pulldown at the top- left corner of the window, you could choose Pause/Play, or you can simply press the P key on your keyboard.
Let's go ahead and play things through. To stop the preview, you simply want to press the P key again. When wanting to reset the animation, type R. So, P to play and R to reset. If there is something in your scene that needs changing, you can easily do that and then run the preview again. Now in order to make those scene changes, you'll first have to close the Preview window. I am going to take the yellow cylinder on the left-hand of my screen and move it up just a tad.
Then I'll go back in and run another preview. Up at the top of the Preview window, there is another couple options to be aware of. Under Display, you can change the way the Preview window appears visually, choosing between things like Shaded or Wireframe, and how the preview was lit. In the Performance category, Reactor gives you controls for both your simulation's accuracy and preview playback speed. The substeps setting determines just how many calculations are made in generating what you see. The higher the number of substeps, the more accurate the playback.
That higher number though does come at the expense of a longer calculation time for your preview. Under the Max pulldown, Update Max comes into play when you have any objects in your simulation that over a period of time assume a resting position. In a situation like that, you'd allow your preview to run to the frame where the objects are resting, or in a relaxed state--like a piece of cloth--then you'd click Update Max. We'll be looking at how all that works when we get into a few of our projects. So that's pretty much what's happening in creating Reactor previews. Now, a preview is not permanent.
It in no way creates keyframes for your simulation. For the actual baking-in of your keys, once happy with your preview, you'll move on to a new command. We'll take a look at how you go about creating those keys in our next video.
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