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Why simulate and not animate?

From: Creating Simulations in MassFX and 3ds Max

Video: Why simulate and not animate?

When it comes to adding motion to objects in a 3D scene the question of whether we should animate or simulate may be one that we need to ask. Not of course that getting the answer will be simple or straightforward. The correct approach for any given project oftentimes comes down to the questions of time versus cost, versus benefit. One consideration, for instance, could be the number of objects that need to be animated in a particular scene or shot. If we all need, say, a single child's ball to come bouncing down the staircase and then come quickly to rest at the bottom, well a good animator should produce a fairly decent and believable result in a pretty short timeframe.

Why simulate and not animate?

When it comes to adding motion to objects in a 3D scene the question of whether we should animate or simulate may be one that we need to ask. Not of course that getting the answer will be simple or straightforward. The correct approach for any given project oftentimes comes down to the questions of time versus cost, versus benefit. One consideration, for instance, could be the number of objects that need to be animated in a particular scene or shot. If we all need, say, a single child's ball to come bouncing down the staircase and then come quickly to rest at the bottom, well a good animator should produce a fairly decent and believable result in a pretty short timeframe.

But if we need two hundred balls to come bouncing down the staircase, all with individual behaviors, all interacting and colliding with each other and the general environment, well, as you can imagine, that would take an animator a lot longer to create--if indeed it could be done with the required level of complexity at all. In such a case, simulation would probably provide us with a more suitable option. Another question that may well need answering could be, how realistic does the motion of my animated object or objects need to be? We may for instance be given a shot that involves a number of laundry items hung on a clothesline drying in a gentle breeze.

If this is designed as a cartoon-looking shot it is more than likely that our animators could pull this off quite convincingly using standard animation tools inside an acceptable timeframe. If, however, these items are to be seen in a photo-real setting, all of a sudden the believability of the cloth motion becomes supercritical. Given the complex and oftentimes subtle nature of cloth motion especially when affected by wind and other elements, the time required for an animator to attempt such a re-creation would perhaps once again make simulation a much more attractive option and will most likely give us a superior end result.

Time may also be a big factor when it comes to the question of whether to animate or simulate. More often than not these days, shots in production are given the shortest possible completion time frames. Because missing a deadline really isn't an option, it may will be that we simply don't have the time available to take the manual animation route, even though we may have the talent available to pull it off. And finally, unfortunate as this may seem to any artist who naturally wants to produce work to the highest possible standard, oftentimes it is the cost of a particular shot that will be the major consideration. Even if we do have the time available to animate a shot, the question of what it will cost in terms of man hours to dedicate one or more animate just to the production of a particular effect may well be the deciding factor in the end.

Time of course is money in the commercial world, and the ability to shave perhaps a number of days of the completion time for a project could make a big difference to its profitability. So whilst the question of whether to animate or simulate is, generally speaking, not going to be as simple or straightforward to answer as we would like, hopefully some of the thoughts in this video can just get us thinking in the right direction. If there are lots of objects in a shot that need realistic or natural motions and behaviors applied to them, or if we have a limited time frame and/or limited budget with which to work, well, we may want to seriously consider the value that can be added to a project if we use the simulation tools available to us.

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This video is part of

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Creating Simulations in MassFX and 3ds Max

51 video lessons · 2492 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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