Although there is no denying the fact that many of the extremely cool effects that have been created in 3ds Max using Particle Flow are by their very nature extremely complex in their construction. It is good for us, as newcomers, if you like, to remember that all complex systems, particle flows included, are generally just large collections made up of smaller components. With each component part, of course, contributing something to the creation of the whole effect. The goal of this chapter is to introduce us to and help us understand the role of the component parts that can be found in a typical 3ds Max particle flow.
In this particular video, we're going to focus on the particle flow operator, which for all intents and purposes is probably best thought of as the basic element from which all particle flows are constructed. In fact an analogy that we can use is that of a building block or brick. Whilst a single brick on it's own may not be tremendously useful, except possibly as a door stop or paper weight of some kind. As soon as we start to combine a sufficient number of bricks into a construct, well, now we see something quite amazing happen.
The creation of an object that isn't a single object at all. And, whose total usefulness far exceeds that of the individual pieces, are bricks from which it is made. Unlike the simple brick, however, the particle flow operator is not just a static entity. Even the simplest of particle flow operators has a core logic, or intelligence, that defines its function inside the system, and exposes a number of control parameters, giving us, the user, a measure of creative control over how that operator is used.
Going even further, most of the parameters made available can even be animated, extending the creative possibilities even further. Now, all of that having been said, the operators available inside of particle flow rolls within the system. And so, often times will depend greatly on particles in order to be able to do their job. For instance, an operator designed to control the transforms, that is, position, rotation, and scaling of particles, can have no affect at all if an operator birthing the particles hasn't, first of all, placed particles inside the flow so as to be transformed.
This interdependency is, in fact, a key part of how particle flow and indeed most powerful simulation systems work with each operator in the system, being evaluated in a linear flow like progression. This approach means that we can simply step or walk our way through the effect that we want to create, deciding with each new step just what it is that we want or need our particles to do next. Then it is just a matter of choosing the appropriate operator or operators to help us accomplish that task.
Now, one thing that we will need to keep in mind in connection with particle flows is the fact that, just like 3ds Max's modifier stack, the actual ordering which we place our operators can oftentimes have a big impact on the resulting effect coming from the system. Some times the difference will be so negligible as to be unnoticeable, but at other times, the order in which we place our operators may alter the affect being produced in a very significant way. So be prepared to do a little experimenting with the order in which operators are sometimes placed inside of an event.
One nice feature of operators as seen inside a particle flow event is the fact that we get this visual display giving us, not only the name of the operator itself, which of course is something that is completely customizable, but we also, inside of these parentheses, get a readout of that particular operator's most important setting along with it's current status. So for instance, in the display for this shape operator, that has been renamed shape main collision, we see that the current shape option has been set to display 3D hearts.
Now this means that without having to first of all select the operator and go into its parameters, we straight away at a glance know exactly what this shape operator will be doing for us. Operators then are the basic building blocks from which we construct our particle effects one step at a time, with each operator in the flow building sequentially on the work of the ones that come before it. Of course operators aren't the only elements that are used in the creation of a completed particle flow.
And so in our next video, we're going to move on and take a look at the role that events also play
- Deconstructing a flow
- Making use of events
- Creating a standard flow
- Reusing effects
- Adjusting the Birth, Speed, Shape, and other operators
- Making tests that create events
- Creating rainfall
- Setting up a Splash system