Creating Light Cycle Effects in 3ds Max - Part 7 - Particle Explosion

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7 min

Creating Light Cycle Effects in 3ds Max - Part 7 - Particle Explosion

In this tutorial, learn how to set up a particle system. You will experiment with the system, by blasting a light cycle into thousands of pieces as it running through the light trail of another. You will be using an event-driven Particle Flow or PFlow system to that end. The process of setting up the PFlow system is spread between this movie and the next to keep the movie lengths reasonable.


  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2012
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2012 or higher.


00:00:00 --> 00:00:06
In this movie, you use a Particle Flow system to shatter a light cycle into thousands of pieces.

00:00:06 --> 00:00:12
This should take place at around frame 257, as one light cycle hits the light trail of the other.

00:00:13 --> 00:00:20
Before you create the system, you need to extend the animation.
You will need more than the 40+ remaining frames to view the full effect.

00:00:21 --> 00:00:27
Go to the Time Configuration dialog and extend the animation to 600 frames.

00:00:28 --> 00:00:36
Also, go to the Material Editor and in the Stadium View, enable Show Map in Viewport
on the Ground material.

00:00:36 --> 00:00:40
This will make it easier to see the various components you are about to add to the scene.

00:00:41 --> 00:00:49
To create a Particle Flow system, go to the Create panel, under Particle Systems
and choose PFlow Source.

00:00:49 --> 00:00:53
Click & drag anywhere to make a rectangular shape emitter.

00:00:53 --> 00:00:59
The size of the emitter usually dictates the flow of particles.
This can be seen at the beginning of the animation.

00:00:59 --> 00:01:06
However, since you want the particles to emit from the blue light cycle,
the emitter size is not really relevant.

00:01:07 --> 00:01:14
Particle Flow is event-based, and to see the default definition,
press 6 on the keyboard to open Particle View.

00:01:14 --> 00:01:22
At this time you have a standard PFlow definition, with default operators for Birth,
Speed and Shape among others.

00:01:22 --> 00:01:26
Obviously, this default setup hardly works well for our needs.

00:01:26 --> 00:01:31
First you need the particles to travel with the light cycle and adopt its shape.

00:01:31 --> 00:01:37
So, instead of a Position Icon operator that places the particles on the rectangular emitter,

00:01:37 --> 00:01:42
drag a Position Object operator to replace it in the event.

00:01:43 --> 00:01:50
Select and then right-click and delete the Speed and Rotation operators.
You'll redefine that behavior a little later.

00:01:51 --> 00:01:54
Highlight the Position Object operator you just introduced.

00:01:54 --> 00:02:00
Although you added it to the event, you still need to define the objects
that will act as emitters.

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Click the Add button and select the body of the blue light cycle in the viewport.

00:02:05 --> 00:02:10
Because the wheels are hierarchically linked to the body, they will act as emitters too.

00:02:11 --> 00:02:18
Because the light cycle is animated and you want the particles to travel with it,
enable the Lock On Emitter option.

00:02:18 --> 00:02:22
A handful of ticks appear on the light cycle.

00:02:25 --> 00:02:28
Highlight the birth operator.

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The default is set so that particles appear between frames 0 and 30.

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Although this works fine in this case, you really only need particles to be "born"
just shy of the impact point.

00:02:45 --> 00:02:55
Change both Emit Start and Stop value to frame 255. Now ticks are only visible
from frame 255 onward.

00:02:55 --> 00:03:04
To create a convincing effect, you will need more particles. Set the amount to 2000.
You can now see more ticks on the light cycle.

00:03:04 --> 00:03:07
Those ticks are only a representation of the particles.

00:03:08 --> 00:03:12
Their shape and form is defined by the Shape operator, currently set to a cube.

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Try a test render to see the lego effect of 2000 cubes on the light cycle.

00:03:19 --> 00:03:24
Of course, you really need the particle effect to show AFTER the light cycle collides
with the light trail,

00:03:25 --> 00:03:29
So, right-click the Shape operator and delete it from the event.

00:03:29 --> 00:03:37
The particle system is still there, as shown by the ticks, but now won't render
due to the absence of a Shape operator.

00:03:37 --> 00:03:44
The idea is to transfer that base information into a new event,
one that's triggered by the collision with the light trail.

00:03:44 --> 00:03:50
For that, you will need two elements: One is a Collision operator to send
the particle behavior to a new event,

00:03:51 --> 00:03:56
and Two, you need a physical object to be defined as a collision object in the operator.

00:03:57 --> 00:04:00
You'll start by creating a physical collision object.

00:04:00 --> 00:04:07
Go to the Create > Space Warps panel and from the pull-down menu, choose Deflectors.

00:04:07 --> 00:04:10
Click the Deflector button and enable AutoGrid.

00:04:11 --> 00:04:18
With a click and drag, create a deflector aligned on the yellow light trail
so that it works as an obstacle for the blue light cycle.

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Disable AutoGrid when done.

00:04:24 --> 00:04:30
In the Particle View window, add a Collision operator to the event,
and highlight it to see its properties.

00:04:30 --> 00:04:35
As before, you need to define an actual object for the operator to be of any use.

00:04:35 --> 00:04:40
Click the Add button and select the deflector object you just added to the scene.

00:04:40 --> 00:04:48
Usually, you use a deflector to bounce particles off of it, but in this case,
you actually want the particles to go through.

00:04:49 --> 00:04:56
So set the Speed option to "Continue" as you're using this operator
simply to pass along information to a new event.

00:04:56 --> 00:05:03
Add a spawn operator to an empty are of the particle view. This creates a new event.

00:05:07 --> 00:05:13
Make sure the Display operator of the new event has a different color
from the first to differentiate the two.

00:05:14 --> 00:05:18
The Spawn operator multiplies the number of particles based on your input.

00:05:19 --> 00:05:29
With a default Offspring value of 1, each original particle is split in two
and you now have 4000 particles instead of the original 2000.

00:05:30 --> 00:05:37
By connecting the Collision operator of the first event to the second event,
you pass along information and behavior data.

00:05:38 --> 00:05:42
Notice how the particles become blue after the collision takes place.

00:05:43 --> 00:05:48
They also marginally break out based on the Divergence value of the Spawn operator.

00:05:49 --> 00:05:57
Still you haven't defined a shape for the blue particles yet,
and therefore no particles would render at this time.

00:06:02 --> 00:06:05
Add a Shape operator to the second event.

00:06:07 --> 00:06:15
Set the shape to the Diamond Long option. This looks like a stylized shape
that would work well for this scene.

00:06:16 --> 00:06:21
Of course, as always, you can experiment with other shapes as well.

00:06:22 --> 00:06:28
To define the size interactively, set the Display operator to Geometry.

00:06:28 --> 00:06:34
Go back to the Shape operator and adjust the size. A size of 3 should be adequate.

00:06:34 --> 00:06:41
You can also enable the Scale option and set a variation value
so that all particles are not the same size.

00:06:45 --> 00:06:50
Add a Spin operator to ensure the particles aren't oriented the same way.

00:06:51 --> 00:06:57
Adjust the Spin Rate and Variation accordingly. The higher the spin rate,
the faster the rotations.

00:07:06 --> 00:07:09
The particle motion is already reasonable but you can make it better.

00:07:09 --> 00:07:15
In the next movie, you'll slow it down a bit into a slow motion effect.

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