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Simulating the crowd

From: 3ds Max 2014 New Features

Video: Simulating the crowd

When we're populating a scene, once we've run that initial first sim, we'll probably identify things we'd like to fix and we'd like to tune the look of our people most likely as well. I'll start out by adjusting the look of the people. In the display section on the Populate menu we can drop down and choose Stick Figures, a Custom Skin, a Crowd Skin, or a High Res Skin. Stick figures are particularly useful for showing the flow and incidence of people with a very low hit on display performance. They draw as wireframe stick figures and they move nice and fast in the scene so you can gauge where they're going and how they're flowing Custom skin people, let you add your own skins in, so you can take the existing textures as a template, for example, and draw your own textures for these people, simulating maybe stylized people or people in a certain uniform.

Simulating the crowd

When we're populating a scene, once we've run that initial first sim, we'll probably identify things we'd like to fix and we'd like to tune the look of our people most likely as well. I'll start out by adjusting the look of the people. In the display section on the Populate menu we can drop down and choose Stick Figures, a Custom Skin, a Crowd Skin, or a High Res Skin. Stick figures are particularly useful for showing the flow and incidence of people with a very low hit on display performance. They draw as wireframe stick figures and they move nice and fast in the scene so you can gauge where they're going and how they're flowing Custom skin people, let you add your own skins in, so you can take the existing textures as a template, for example, and draw your own textures for these people, simulating maybe stylized people or people in a certain uniform.

A crowd skin is a medium res group of people. They're good for, as the name suggests, lots of people seen from Medium to far distances in a crowd, where we need the idea of people in clothes but not any really high res details. For people that will pass very close by, or in close proximity, we need the high res skin. When we click on High Res Skin, it'll take a minute and then create the high res skin on the people. And then these people will have, much more resolved clothing and facial features. This does come at a hit and display performance.

So if you're using high res people, make sure you run a preview animation, so you can judge whether they're walking at the right speed. In terms of adjusting where the people go, we'll probably find places where, maybe two people seem to walk right through each other, between idle area and a flow. I'll go into a top view and adjust my idle area as I saw where a group is too close to a lane line. I'll select the idle area by clicking on it, and it's called idle area 01. I'll click on the Modify Idle Areas button.

Alternately, I can add or subtract to an idle area from the Create Idle Area section. I've got my brush size up And this idle area brush will let me nudge areas of this idle in, pulling it off that lane line to avoid collisions. We can see the groups retargeting and moving around as I brush the idle area. I can also edit a flow in the same way, right-clicking to exit, modifying the idle areas, selecting the flow, and clicking Edit Flow.

I can move and reposition as needed. I'll pan over just a bit and move a little bit of this flow by selecting one of the cross-bars and pressing W for move. And redirecting it, so the people flow straight through the arch instead of walking through the wall. I'll pick on the other side and move this down as well. So that the people have to flow into that arch in the center. By adjusting the idle areas and flow, we can really make the people appear to move through and react with their environment.

I'll go back to my camera so I can see it. And run that simulation one more time. For speed, I'll switch back over to the crowd skin. And click on Simulate. My people resimulated quickly. What I can see is that that group is closer to the initial wall and hopefully will be out of the traffic lanes. The people appear to be walking through the arch and a shaded view may show this better. I'll press F3 and hit Play.

Now I've got people walking. And except for the lady who's about to walk right through the wall, they're in pretty good shape. I might want to nudge down or reconfigure my lane lines just a little bit there, as the flow passes through the arch. But the idle area of people are behaving much better. As long as nobody's really walking through, well except for that gentleman in the black shirt, I'll be in pretty good shape. I can even adjust the idle area further. Or, change the incidents of groups of the density, to reduce the possibility of this lady being, well, walked right through by that gentleman.

We can adjust our idles and our flows to nearly infinite degrees. Putting our simulation in place to populate an area. And making a scene believable. Where there's random people doing people things in a crowd. And there's nothing that is obviously off. They simply are there to fill that area. And they do a great job with it.

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3ds Max 2014 New Features

16 video lessons · 2623 viewers

Adam Crespi
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