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09 September 2004, 07:18 PM
Thanks Alan, I saw the Master and Commander DVD. Crazy comp work going on there - as you say they were literally looking at tonnes of sea footage and selecting things like "oh that wave crest looks nice", cutting it out and comping it in.

Luckily we'll be dealing with calm waters, with some mild ripple action for the most part. Only in a couple of quick shots is all hell breaking loose, and I think the edit will save a lot of hassle there.

I'll keep you posted in case anything interesting should come of it.

09 September 2004, 11:48 PM
ah cool, never seen the DVD, I can't stand russel crowe, annoys me enough when I meet american girls who are like "wow you're an aussie..." and start to talk about russel crowe being the "coolest".
Yeah don't get too ambitious with the comp work but it definitely opens your eyes to ways to work around stuff, not always having to do 3d etc.

I've got a bucketload of mud and water simulations I'm doing right now, but it's more particle effects than body's of water etc. so not the same stuff, but still a headache (50+ effects in a week...kill me!)

09 September 2004, 12:25 AM
I did some testing with AURA last night and thought I'd post it. I didn't spend any time on the smoke color, it's just the black and white default colors. So far I've focused on the dynamics of the jet passing through the smoke. Still some tweaks to be made, but I'm making progress...

Here's a screen capture of the animation:

And here's the video (I know the jet is moving too slow...I'll fix that next round):
Download video (


09 September 2004, 02:56 AM
[QUOTE=amckay]ah cool, never seen the DVD, I can't stand russel crowe, annoys me enough when I meet american girls who are like "wow you're an aussie..." and start to talk about russel crowe being the "coolest".

Would you prefer them to talk about the aligator guy. I cant remember his name now. But he is crazy and too hiper, lol

kool test u did, great work.

here is a quick explostion test i did with aura. I know its slowed down so much, that is because I had an error at fram 30 everytime i try to work on it. but hey, it looks kinda kool.

this link here------->

09 September 2004, 06:20 PM
You're talking about "Crocodile Dundee" played by Paul Hogan.

Both tests look cool, exept that they seem to be at the wrong scale... both appear like something in the scale of a lit candle, and the smoke resulting from blowing out a candle (although darker and thicker).

09 September 2004, 06:23 PM
i know his name now

steve irwin, that crazy guy

09 September 2004, 05:29 PM
Ok, since Jeff posted his AURA stuff I might as well too.

Everytime I'm in AURA, I'm learning more stuff. I just can't wait for pflow compatiblity with AURA in future builds, will be kick ass when it happens.

Fire+Smoke tests

(these were early tests)

Candle Flame
I'm rendering a new version of the candle flame with lot less turbulence and a new flame shader. As of now looking at the render moving along, it looks so much better. The thing that I didn't like is it looked more like a torch flame than a candle flame. Anyway, it was rendered in Brazil, enjoy.

09 September 2004, 06:11 PM

i was wondering if you people have a good solution for doing an ocean spray effect not so much the dynamics of how the particles move but the texturing and lighting aspect. What do you think would give better results: Standard shape facing Max particles, afterburn octane shader.

I have tried using tiny cubes and lots of them for the spray, with a high specular but they aren't turning out to well, they are all blown out to white and the specular is lost. I was using cubes because they are faceted and I want atleast some of my particles to twinkle in the sunlight as they spin around. Just wondering if anyone has done something like this before and could shed some light.

Allan :rolleyes: (just kiddin)

i saw an effect for the film Eldorado that Brandon Davis did , there is a scene where a helicopter flies through a waterfall and is all covered with misty particles, is what I am kinda after.


09 September 2004, 06:20 PM
Hey guys,
I would like to give props to everyone in this community to contributeing to such an excellent thread. THis shit is dope.

A couple things.
On those fluids, i recently downloaded glu3d. from ( And i was seriously impressed. Especially its intergration with pflow, how i can turn a event or a selection of particles into a fluid sim. Thats just so rad. I spend a lot of time in real flow, i really like it, but i just cant take the damn sim times, they drive me nutz, if anyone has optimiztion techniques id luv to hear them, i have to make blood pour outta spinnin rubix cube for a school project.

I just got AURA, still awaiting my auth code tho :S. It looks beautiful. It would be very very very nice if they tied it in with PFLOW. I would luv to have like a flaming blob mesh and do sumthing like napalm or sumthing. but maybe that werks neway.

Allans DVD is amazing. Mad respect.

Still awaiting petes book, anyone have that?

ANy word on a point renderer, i thought i heard something about brazil 2.0 haveing that ability. Or that might have been that brazillion feature, that should werk with particles to tho, they had scenes with like 1.8 trillion polys.


09 September 2004, 07:13 PM

I got my copy of Pete's Deconstructing the Elements and have to say it is excellent. Pete breaks the book into different sections, fire, water, earth and air. Each example is well thought out and is the kind of stuff you want to learn. Its nice to because he takes you all the way through from modeling to texturing to lighting and rendering. Between Allan and Pete I am finally getting to feel comfortable with Max, coming from a Maya background.

09 September 2004, 07:22 PM
Trying to fix my new setup, so havent been doing any 3D for weeks. Kind of annoying. My last one was killed by lightning, so I got an FX-53 and P4 EE to play with. The EE is up and running, but the FX-53 is.. Well.. Struggling with beeing new :)

Since Aura beta was released, I thought it would be nice to make an Aura uploader for you guys, so this is located <- there

Keep up the good work, and I will start working when I get this metal thing working.. *grr*

09 September 2004, 07:23 PM

I have tried using tiny cubes and lots of them for the spray, with a high specular but they aren't turning out to well, they are all blown out to white and the specular is lost. I was using cubes because they are faceted and I want atleast some of my particles to twinkle in the sunlight as they spin around. Just wondering if anyone has done something like this before and could shed some light.

Allan :rolleyes: (just kiddin)

i saw an effect for the film Eldorado that Brandon Davis did , there is a scene where a helicopter flies through a waterfall and is all covered with misty particles, is what I am kinda after.

I read Brandon Davis' breakdown of how they did the Intermedia logo, and he did exactly that - using cubes to get the twinkling effect (in conjunction with afterburn for the foam on the crest). Perhaps you need to spend time tweaking your shaders or just play some more with it ?

I'm going to try something like that soon for a project I'm working on.

09 September 2004, 08:13 PM
I've been away for some time now, but i'm still alive (luckly)

Ok, since Jeff posted his AURA stuff I might as well too.
Everytime I'm in AURA, I'm learning more stuff. I just can't wait for pflow
compatiblity with AURA in future builds, will be kick ass when it happens.
Fire+Smoke tests

(these were early


Candle Flame
I'm rendering a new version of the candle flame with lot less turbulence and a new

flame shader. As of now looking at the render moving along, it looks so much better.
The thing that I didn't like is it looked more like a torch flame than a candle flame.
Anyway, it was rendered in Brazil, enjoy. Hey there Tyler,

The flame animation is looking pretty good, you just need a new shader as you said.
The 'blinking' light is an animated omni or is it AURA that does that automatically? btw,
nice SSS in the candle.

I did some testing with AURA last night and thought I'd post it. I didn't spend any time on the smoke color, it's just the black and white default colors. So far I've focused on the dynamics of the jet passing through the smoke. Still some tweaks to be made, but I'm making progress...

Here's a screen capture of the animation:

And here's the video (I know the jet is moving too slow...I'll fix that next round):
Download video (

Jeff Its looking nice, i just think that the 'hole' should open after the plane passes and
maybe some smoke should be dragged by the plane.

To be honest I was planning to cut a new reel when I left DD in December, which was
after Blade 3 was out so I could show that material etc. Obviously I've left DD a
little early now etc. It'd be great to cut a reel with all the new stuff I've done the
last two years for Paramount, Blur Studios, Frantic Films, Digital Dimension, Ambience
etc. As my current reel I cut back in October 2002. Although in the end I don't think I
can recall the last time I used my reel to find work.. so kind of wonder whether it's
worth doing

You've got to cut this reel for us fanboys!
I'm now downloading the Dawn of War Demo just to see the opening cinematics :thumbsup:

09 September 2004, 08:25 PM
yea that sounds real cool man. I wanna get my basics down, im in my third year, ive been useing max for 6 years so i want to find a place that might be able to use my skills next summer. cant wait till i get that damn book! :D

09 September 2004, 08:45 PM

i was wondering if you people have a good solution for doing an ocean spray effect not so much the dynamics of how the particles move but the texturing and lighting aspect. What do you think would give better results: Standard shape facing Max particles, afterburn octane shader.

I have tried using tiny cubes and lots of them for the spray, with a high specular but they aren't turning out to well, they are all blown out to white and the specular is lost. I was using cubes because they are faceted and I want atleast some of my particles to twinkle in the sunlight as they spin around. Just wondering if anyone has done something like this before and could shed some light.

Allan :rolleyes: (just kiddin)

i saw an effect for the film Eldorado that Brandon Davis did , there is a scene where a helicopter flies through a waterfall and is all covered with misty particles, is what I am kinda after.

thanks I think you should mix both (Afterburn and Standard particles).
I did a test using shape facing particles (with motion blur) with a radial gradient in the opacity map and simple low density afterburn volumetrics. AB and the particles fade with age.


09 September 2004, 09:10 PM
monkeydonut- well the thing is I have been playing with the settings and I am having trouble getting it to look right, thats why I am asking for some help. I saw that Intermedia tutorial from Brandon Davis too and it explains alot, (thats where the idea for using cubes came from) its just that he realing wasn't doing ocean spray, he was using particles to create a curl for the wave, it is sort of the same thing except when you look at how large those particles are he used, he was trying to fill in space so it looked like a solid barrel. Where what I need is smaller mistier particles coming off the top of the wave. So the problem is that because I need to use tiny particles and so many of them they total up to almost pure white and the specular disappears, no more glistening. So yah I am going to keep at it, just hoped someone add some insights.

I guess I could try to use two different pflow systems one with tiny particles and another with larger ones, where the specular would show off more. BTW can attributes in Pflow be connected using expressions like have velocity drive opacity or emission rate. I'm sure there is a way just don't understand Max script syntax yet, the learning curve on 3d never ends does it....goes on and on... :)


09 September 2004, 09:30 PM
KaMe whats up

thanks for the response I have been following this thread for awhile and have learned alot from your examples so thanks for that.

I checked out your example looks pretty cool, would be nice to see it rendered against a sky texture to see how the particles look against it. In your video the larger particles are the AB ones, interesting idea have to give that a shot, did you use the octane shader for that?

I wish I had the money to get Allans DVD series on Afterburn looks really awesome, also there is a great example of thin smoke that i think could be used for misty effects. I'll play with max particles and AB and see what I can come up with.

09 September 2004, 09:46 PM
still waiting on my auth code, for aura

can anyone speak to render times? painless/painfull/or deadly. =)

09 September 2004, 10:08 PM
hey thrasherstudios,
i can't render it agains a sky texture 'cos i don't have the max file anymore, but it is really simple to set up, you'll be able to make it.
I used the raymarcher and a high step size (to avoid long render times), but you'll probably want to use Octane shader for this, you can get the same results with faster rendertimes.

I would also like to hear about AURAs render times... Hope it doesn't compare to ABs low density raymarcher with shadows :scream:

09 September 2004, 10:19 PM
Yea thats a good question, what are auras render times like, pheonix render times were off the charts. does aura go through a simulation time?

09 September 2004, 10:35 PM
Hey Hey KaMe, long time no see man! In that render, I had one omni light as the initial illumination and then another for the blinking. Not sure if i'm right about this, but if you use Vray with AURA you get a lot more options opened up like GI and stuff so maybe you could have the flame automatically cast light.

Heres the newer version of the render, still not quite there yet. The main problem i'm having is constricting the flame to a certain aree so it doesn't go up so high, candle flame is usually low. Though, I turned down the turbulence a bit but I think i'll turn that off because whenever I see a candle it's hardly even moving that much. I put a new shader on it and I like it better than the last one.

EDIT- To what DepleteD and KaMe were saying about AURA render times. Well basically the long part is the solving. In the animation above it was doing 35 sec a frame which isn't bad. But again, it also depends on your cell size which is the detail of the fluid mesh. Also remember that AURA isn't particle based, it's fluids so it calculates it completely differently.

09 September 2004, 10:44 PM
ahh thats nice treed, im hyped about that aura, those bastids at chaos dont seem to werk weekends! no auth for me, maybe try and work with the color of the flame a bit more. Its looking so rad tho.

09 September 2004, 11:01 PM
The shader is a lot better, you just need to tweak the color now (candle fire is more bluish).
And for making the flames not go up so high, why not just scale up the candle so the flames look smaller?

09 September 2004, 01:40 AM
Hey, here is what i did in realflow, the 2 fluids are supposed to make a sphere, and flow around it, i use atractor and a noise demon and they collide with a sphere.( the attractor is moveing around inside it.)Anyone have control tips for this program.

O yea the sim took 30 mins for 276 frames. not to many particles, maybe 25000 if that.


09 September 2004, 04:19 AM
i like the candle Tyler. My only crit would be that the scale is much too large for a simple flame. It seems to have a much more 'torch' appearance. The color isd pretty dead on for a standard candle.


09 September 2004, 02:44 PM
:) hmmm...looks like the thread went away from actual particle flow subject.. anyway,
Allan, here are the samples of the smoke i was working on.. nothing much i guess.. but would like your comments.
Done with standard particle flow system.

original footage: (

with smoke: (

note: compressed with divX codec.


09 September 2004, 02:53 PM
Hey Allan, just got your turbo squid dvd - good stuff.

I was working on a huge space born explosion, with raymarcher+explode daemon, but the render times were hideous (sphere size is 200-->4000 rendertime 5-15hours). After watching your tutorials I redid it in octane shader with a central omni, and it looks better and renders in 15 secs. However, there are separate firey tendrils shooting off from the main explosion body, and I want the heads glowing. So I tried making just the trails raymarcher+explode daemon.. now it looks right, the tips are glowing and it's the effect I want, but the render times are up again (though not as long as originally).

Is there any way I can make a script to generate x omni lights, where x is the number of trail heads and bind the omnis there (bearing in mind I would want to set the omni's multiplier, colour and attenuation properties)? This way I can use octane shader and get the same effect without the massive render times.

09 September 2004, 04:17 PM
:) hmmm...looks like the thread went away from actual particle flow subject..

You know what, I didn't even think about that when I posted my AURA test....I just associate this thread with F/X in general (which is wrong on my part) apologies for going OT with AURA stuff. :thumbsup:


09 September 2004, 10:21 PM
The main programmer, and Jesus Pedrosa are both ex employees of Next Limit, so it's no wonder glu3d can do what real flow does, but actually go that extra step and better it. Jesus is a great artist and I think their main intention is to push a solid and powerfully flexible product onto the market that goes a lot further than NL tends to want to go in terms of quality and ease of use. Although it's a shame glu3d doesn't get the props that it does deserve.

Haven't touched aura... but it's a raymarcher shader so unless you're doing low density renders or self shadowing then you should get okay render times.. smoke would get lengthy, but voxel fluids calculate more efficiently.
Phoenix render times were quite good back in the day, considering what they were doing. Phoenix is still a pretty damn good plugin for cheap 3D fire.
those are old crummy renders from '99/2000 - was just trying to break away from the generic look phoenix tends to put it, but never finished it as I needed to tweak the movement a little but just couldn't find the time.

to do splashes of foam, you can mix both a thin body of vapor and lots of fine particles, ideally lots of lil spheres all together with a turbulence or two to give it's motion as it drops should give you a nice splash effect.

RE: Maya, maya's still great, I'll honestly say there's a few times I've gone "damn I wish we had maya for this project" but still max is so much easier to use to build complex effects. Kind of funny, a lot of my friends at Digital Domain, ILM, Weta etc. all prefer max over maya, and maxscript over mel - I'm somewhere in the middle. Still my maxscripts are about an 8th the size than my mel scripts ; )

Hi Monkeydonut, I'd say check through the discreet 3dsmax forums and this thread, I posted somewhere the basic principles behind making that kind of script as it comes up often. I WILL write something down the line for it. But basically you just need to put the lights (already made, don't 'create' them in the birth script) in an array and have their position follow each particle.

RE: Aura etc. I think this threads great because it covers so much, it's very pflow specific but does touch off onto other stuff, I don't see there being a problem in that as I think this thread is becoming one of the best max fx resources on the web, I just hope someone goes through and compiles all of this stuff into something more easy to navigate down the line!

Artiza - that looks great! Very subtle and very nice motion!

Sorry I haven't been too active, I've got something like 75 effects to do in 8 days so things are a little crunchy right now ;)

09 September 2004, 07:44 AM
Thanks Allan, I kind of hacked together a solution. I animated the attenuation limits of a light with +7 multiplier out just ahead of the trail tips, and animated the limits of a -7 multiplier omni just a little way behind. It works, but I still want to redo it via the scripting method, but I am new to scripting.

Assuming it then goes something like (modified from bobo's site)... with 20 identical lights trailheadlights01-->20.

on ChannelsUsed pCont do
pCont.useposition = true

on Init pCont do
global trailheadlights = $TrailHeadlight*
-- trailheadlights.pos = [0,0,-100000] (I guess this could be 0,0,0 and doesn't matter too much) - commented out now.

on Proceed pCont do
partcount = pCont.NumParticles()
count = amin #(partcount,Trailheadlights.count)
for i in 1 to count do
pCont.particleIndex = i
Trailheadlights[i].pos = pCont.Particleposition

on Release pCont do


This is in a script operator in the particle event containing the particles I want to bind the omnis to.

edit: edited the code, it seems to work as I scrub through the animation, although the omnis seem to lag behind slightly?? When I render the omnis don't seem to be there, then on cancellation of the render they have disappeared from the trails until I scrub the animation slider again??

edit: commented out the line putting them at 0,0,-10000 as i figured this is why they kept disappearing, sure enough it works, and the renders are good, but at least in the viewpoint they still seem to lag behind? The renders are great though, will try to post a pic later.

another edit: I've got a strange problem with the render. The explosion goes from frames 660 - 760, and everything is great until frame 693, whereupon the central fireball (fireball and trails are 2 different systems) stops rendering as an afterburn volumetric, and instead it seems like it just renders flat black where the proxy spheres are? Is this a bug at all, because from frame 692-693 no real change in any variable occurs... it just seems to suddenly render wrong? Anyone else ever experience this ?

09 September 2004, 04:18 PM

im having a problem when i go to render out my particle effects. My ram is being devoured by Max, never seen anything like it, but it goes to the limit of my ram capacity and then crashes. Granted I am doing a pFlow sim that is using a whole lot more particles than I normally would do but isn't ram only used for cacheing particles in the viewport, I mean for the most part.

I didn't think that Max would have to put into ram every single frame calculation for the particles, because when you start the render it is a frame 1 and then the next frame knows where that last frames particle position is, and same for the next and so on so on...could be wrong about this though, thinking in Maya terms here guys not exactly sure how Max handles particle rendering.

Like I said i never have seen this before so I am thinking that the scene is maybe corrupted or I have some setting enabled that I shouldn't. BTW i was using a cache for the pFlow system so I could see how they look in the viewport, but before I render the particles I turned this off.

Any ideas


09 September 2004, 06:18 PM
well i have been working on this problem and I think I know what it is, i am emitting more particles than my ram can handle.

But the strange bit, which I don't get, is this, if i use a cache for my system then I can emit particles at a rate of 25,000 per frame or second in the viewport with no problems, I still have plenty of ram, oh and I do have my viewport particle count up to 100% so it matches the render count. But when i go to render i can barely render more than 3000 particles per frame before my ram is eaten up and Max crashes.

So whats the difference here between the ram used in the viewport cache and the ram used at render time, am i missing something?

well I tried switching the particle emission to total instead of using rate, I am emitting 50,000 particles total and having the same problem eating ram max crashes. I don't understand when i did Allan mckays disinegration tutorial I was using a total particle count of 250,000 particles and had no problems with my ram.

I am using a volume select to select where my particles are emitted from could this be the problem?


09 September 2004, 08:07 AM
I am using a volume select to select where my particles are emitted from could this be the problem?
Hmmm... maybe there is the problem.. why don't you use position object operator with surface location and density by material?

09 September 2004, 01:26 PM

It's hard to say what's the problem without seeing the actual scene. Is there a way you can upload the scene? You can also send the scene directly to my address

A particle system in PFlow can be constructed with different operators, in numerous combinations, so it's better to see the scene.

Oleg B.

09 September 2004, 05:12 PM
Ok, now i got stuck.. maybe it's simple but i just can't seem to find the solution.. each time i try i endup getting lost.

What i want to make is to have born particle on a object with lets say animated noise modifier, and those particles are moving along the surface in random directions. note, i don't want the particles to fall on a object like rain tutorial..
i need them already stuck on the surface...
is it possible? I'm sorry if it's simple question but i just can't solve it :sad:

09 September 2004, 06:46 PM
----> ArtiZta

i dont think that it is possible whit the standart operaters but i got some promessing results whit the lock/bond test operater from Particle flow tools demo,

maybe you should try that out

09 September 2004, 07:02 PM
how do i get the demo off the site...
is there any other mirror sites?

09 September 2004, 07:20 PM
here is the link

09 September 2004, 08:45 AM
thanks... I can see it in my max... have to learn how to use it though :)
btw, what are the limitations of the demo? hyenen.

09 September 2004, 12:23 PM
as far as i now the only limitations is, you dont have all the operaters as there is in the original one, there was not a license/copyrigth file when i donwloaded it. or any other file explaining what the limitations was........

09 September 2004, 06:39 PM
I have not used the PFlow or PFlow Box 1 demos, so I 'm not sure on those.

OlegB: thanks for your help last week with hiding selected particles in my PFlow system. The Split Selected test worked perfect and did exactly what I wanted - thank you!

OlegB, I also have noticed your great new website - great work. Now, I went back in this forum's threads to find and download your cool PFlow Box 1 examples AVIs, but all those video links are now dead, and I do not see all those samples on your website -- are they all still available (and any new ones)? :wise:

09 September 2004, 01:16 AM

We are in the final phase of restructuring the web site. The animations will appear soon in the Gallery section, with some comments. The same is for the demo version of PFT: Box#1 and PFT: Freebies.

Oleg B.

09 September 2004, 03:47 AM
great new site oleg!

09 September 2004, 07:57 AM
cool finally ! 1am waiting for renders, I can actually READ this forum for the first real time in weeks! :)

*wipes eyes*

yeah everyone grab pflow tools - ammaaazing
I finish at blur studios in a few weeks which then I'll be able to start focussing more on releasing material again, and one thing will be lots and lots of pflow tools stuff.

I was doing some tests with building a procedural drool system (in a very backwards way) where I had some pflow tools operators controlling geometry deformations so there was litterally droll around a characters mouth that can stretch and well 'drool' down a mouth and dangle from the jaw, swing around and even break off if the character were to shake it's head too much. Very cool things can be done very simply now with the additional operators.

I'll put up some mud tests I've done recently for a project as well as some cool fluids stuff I did a few months ago since everyone's onto the fluid topic now. It's not aura but hopefully will still gain some interest

09 September 2004, 02:34 PM
Hey Allan can you share your thoughts about fresh Cebas pyroCluster 3.0? They always were really cool by the "words" and average when it goes to real things. They promote pC 3 almost like Afterburn killer and even offer some kind of exchange action. What do you think about it?

09 September 2004, 03:51 PM
pc3's suprisingly good... I tried to talk them out of calling it pyrocluster as it is pretty different to pc2... but they insisted on calling it pyrocluster assuming it actually had a good rep :)

I wouldn't really call it an afterburn killer, it has some nice things like showing rough volumetrics in the viewport which is kind of cool but not really going to change the quality of your renders in the end.

In the end a raymarcher shader is a raymarcher shader, I'll always stick by AB because Kresimirs a genius :) But pyroclusters getting to the point where if Cebas knew how to design an interface then it'd be almost identical to AB in terms of usability.

**edit: Actually two cool things. It works with Thinking Particles 2 (duh) and it works with Mental Ray. You can Cebas selling out pretty soon now their stuff is MR compatible and moving a lot of it over to maya... just wait.

**edit x2: Erka that's the coolest profile image thingy I've ever seen :)

09 September 2004, 05:23 PM
hehe, thx for the answer Allan :) I'm sure maya guys are waiting for Cebas stuff and dont know what to do without it ;)
ps: I'm getting a lot of various messages about my avatar :) somebody even wants me to change it - because they thinks its too dumb :) and other question to you. I have seen new dvd's from you on cg-academy site, and they theme looks pretty similar to TurboTraining one (except 3 cg-academy dvd's sould be more detailed), whats the difference?

09 September 2004, 03:25 AM (
That was a low res test I just found on my external HD.. A fluids test I did for 'a movie' that's out in cinemas right now.

I've got higher res stuff somewhere... but thought I'd throw it up


09 September 2004, 10:43 AM
Man, I've only read the first 20 pages and I feel I've gained a great deal of knowledge.

Allan, I have a personal question that you would be perfect for answering :). I was reading up on your bio. and noticed you were taking over the world before you were even 21, and myself being 22 now, this is a bit disappointing :D. I'm just another student in the land of game art and design, but my passion is definitely for visual effects. A lot of the course work leans toward the gaming side of things (of course), but I figure the 3D situations might transfer well enough into the vfx area. Do you have any thoughts on what I should do?

And not to totally derail this thread, what do you think about the greater deal of resources out now like your DVDs and the such? Do you think the people who are learning through these resources won't gain as much raw experience, as say, someone like yourself who did this stuff when it wasn't so "out there"?

Anyway, bless your energy and now, back to readin' 60 more pages :)

09 September 2004, 07:15 PM
Erka2 - your avatar is inventive and funny, but yeah, it could disturb some people unfortunately; in a way it's hypnotic! :scream:

Allan - awesome work on the sandstorm. I really like how the background is moving with a different turbulence, apposed to the great foreground speeds and whirlwinds. This type of fluid smoke always fascinates me in how "size" is somehow linked to its believability. Without a reference smooth smoke can have a funny size shift - is it a small or large system. When we see fire or smoke we immediately I think use any local references by it for its detail, and scale.

How hard was it to create this sandstorm and any difficulties you faced creating it?

Edit: - Allan, I'd love to see some of your PFlow drool and goo tests with PFlow Box 1 :)

09 September 2004, 09:38 PM
Hey Allan, nice sandstorm test...are you using something new for that? ;)

And by the way I jsut saw the cinematic for the new WarHammer game...great work..wish I couldn't helped out on that one. Drop me an email or get online so we can catch up:)

09 September 2004, 10:41 PM
honestly things now and things 8 or so years ago are completely different, modeling a human head even would take quite a long time back then and nowadays people are litterally building full characters (ala Dave King for instance at evolve) in under 2 hours (he'll be typecast for that!). Aside from getting inside 3ds3 for dos from new riders I had litterally no net access and noone else who knew what 3d animation was back then, so learning yet being inspired back then was a long slow painful process. These days the industry's thriving, and with great material from 3dbuzz, CG Academy, even the cgtalk and other forums community's it's just a gold mine for information.

I will say that nothing replaces getting actual hands on industry experience. But having stuff like the DVD's that are coming out right now (and no that isn't a plug!) and just all the great online resources, I think it's a lot better time to get enthused about 3d in general.
Still a lot of guys here still go to life drawing classes, and participate in a lot of traditional artforms, and I think it's still very important to keep yourself inspired and practicing and not really limit yourself to just one creative output. But it's also good to spend time (especially as a TD/fx guy) delving into R&D and experimenting with technical stuff too.

** edit. I will say - there's one difference between people who do tutorials. There's some who do the tutorials and they learn from them. And then there's the guys who do the tut and then go "okay time to take this to a whole new level" and that's when you really propperly "learn" from the exercise :)

09 September 2004, 10:52 PM

There's a higher res version. The test was pretty simple, I didn't spend more than an hour or two at most on building it up - but I did know what I wanted and how to go about it, as fluids in general are quite all the same, so I've got plenty of experience in maya and was able to bring that over to max.

As soon as this project I'm working on is done and I get some rest (partying and deadlines are a bad mix I'm starting to get kinda sick :\ ) I'll begin to hopefully put some tests up.
I'm wanting to fly back to Australia next month so until then anything I say can't really be held on me as my deadlines are a bit crazy. But will start to really push things with lots of new R&D and eye candy as soon as I get a chance.

but I didn't really run into any problems - although I wasn't using aura :)
Fluids is somethign for max I haven't covered much at all, but when I get some more time I'll start to push fluids in max and comment a lot of issues and techniques to get results that you want - as they're quite different to particles, at least when you start to get more advanced with them.

Harvey yeah bud I introduced you to tim at the party but I think we all forgot about warhammer at the time - eitherway it was a bit of a crunch but well worth it. It'd be great to work with ya again, we were watching a discreet reel last night and a lot of the temple of elemental evil stuff came up (your stuff actually) and it brought up some horror stories of what we had to go through ;)

09 September 2004, 11:35 PM
man, you worked on the dawn of war cinematic? That thing was awesome... I particularly enjoyed the minigun laying waste to the opposite hillside kicking up the afterburn smoke, and pretty much all other effects in the whole thing!

On a side note, reiterating a previous question, has anyone ever had afterburn just start rendering flat black after a certain frame in their animation? I can't figure it out, I think it's a bug.

09 September 2004, 12:27 AM
rendering all black?
check your particle life's defined (if using pflow) and also that in AB you haven't set up a start/end time in the properties

I'm happy to take a look at teh scene if you want (

Daniel Perez Ferreira ( ( and Kirby Miller and Seung youb Shin were also fx guys. They did a lot more than I did as I was stuck at digital dimension 60% of the week.
I just did a lot of the key black explosions. Kirby and Daniel did a lot of the key effects. Looks like more of that kind of stuff coming up :)

wasted weasel
09 September 2004, 01:44 AM
geeze Allan, that sandstorm test looks awsome. What are the basics behind it? any 3rd party plugins? or all PF?
I wanna try that out.

09 September 2004, 02:50 AM
Thanks for the response. It's kinda like having Peter Jackson active on a film forum .. err something :D

I'm curious if Afterburn is the only way to make stuff look great as far as particles are concerned (?) If not, I'd love to see something made stock that resembled a cloud/dust/tornado etc.

09 September 2004, 07:44 AM
rendering all black?
check your particle life's defined (if using pflow) and also that in AB you haven't set up a start/end time in the properties

I'm happy to take a look at teh scene if you want (
Particle life is set within afterburn and in pflow to 100, with "use" clicked on within afterburn's rollout.

All the AFC controllers have sensible start/end values.

The thing is it happens across a single frame. Particles are born at frame 660. Frame 692 everything is fine, frame 693 and onwards what gets rendered is simply black where the afterburn proxy spheres are in the frame. I have other afterburn elements in the scene that are still rendering fine after this frame, so that suggests it's the settings for that particular instance. If I copy the settings and paste them into a different instance, that renders ok - so I'm not sure where the problem lies?

Edit: so I just added a new afterburn instance into the environment, and pasted the old settings in...and deleted the old instance. All the settings are identical but now the problem is gone. Ghosts in the machine I tell you!

09 September 2004, 10:45 AM
we had the black splotches with afterburn too..

it seems like it is related to AB's curves going crazy typicaly the explode demone curves.
we found that it there are cases when the cpu`s work hard and you tweek a curve and see all the line start to tremble like a noise controller.
a good thing to check is to go thru all the curves before rendering and make sure they behave :)

09 September 2004, 01:44 AM
I'm no Pjackson :)
That dust was rendered with an unanounced voxel fluid plugin for max I'm closely tied in with.

afterburn isn't the only way to render particles, good ol sprites still kick butt. And the amount of liquid stuff I'm doing right now for a project using spheres and cubes/metaballs etc. is all pretty freakin cool. There's lots of ways to go about doing that stuff.

Anyone been doing any cool new aura stuff btw?

09 September 2004, 02:22 AM
Yeah, still trying to perfect my candle but still looks like crap. I dunno, after 5 tried and still not looking the way I want.

09 September 2004, 04:00 AM
too small bit too slow now :)
still getting there
fluids will always be overkill for a candle flame though
but then again in shrek 1 the only 'footage' they used were for candle/torches so maybe pdi is running into the same problem as you ;)

09 September 2004, 06:29 AM
Just a few tests to control a flame better -

It is rather cool to "throw" the flame or smoke. Still a bit tricky in (Aura beta) to get a "specific look" without some preview system like Maya's fluids.

treed - working a flame for a lighter too, and a bit of PFlow particles from the brief flint sparks, but yeah, it's a lot of trail and error still, so keep at it :thumbsup:

09 September 2004, 10:26 PM
some of those look really nice - just too much falloff on the shader :)
cool work!

09 September 2004, 10:33 PM

i tried sprites in Maya for a test of a cloud bank rolling over some mountains and I had a hard time getting the sprites looking correct, do you have any suggestions to making realistic looking sprites in general either in Max or Maya

1. Do you use a sequence of sprite images cycling through or just a single image for your sprites

2. what software did you use to create your sprites, a 3d volume shader like pCloud for Maya or a shader in Max, or do you use filters (fractual noise) from a compositor like After Effects.

3. Is the final look of your sprites have alot to do with post work or are you able to get them looking good straight out of the 3d app

I agree with you that sprites are very useful, fast render times and you have alot of control over their look, so I would be really interested in learning some tips if you have some about getting good results with them.

09 September 2004, 11:09 PM
The web site of Orbaz Technologies is up and running! Well, the Flash site only at the moment :-P

Now you can download the PFlowTools:Freebies operators (Stop, Stop Gradually and Camera IMBlur) right from the web site: go to Products > Particle Flow Tools > Freebies and select the appropriate version, either for max 6.x or max 5.1. Also, you can download the demo/evaluation version of Particle Flow Tools: Box #1. There is quite a comprehensive documentation both for the demo and the Freebies.

I've uploaded some PFlowTools animations to the Gallery section. More coming soon.

Oleg B.

09 September 2004, 05:14 AM
Does anybody know whether one license of PFlow tools can be used with more than one computer for network rendering and/or with an exported 3ds max license? I know this question should be addressed to TurboSquid but they don't answer ... And I would like to know before I buy.

09 September 2004, 04:04 PM
it handles it really well - you can build scenes on one machine and have boxes that aren't authorized read the files just fine and use pflow fine, just you can't change any pft operators values etc. and net rendering is absolutely fine.
oleg can explain it better than anyone so I'll leave him the job, but it's very smooth.


09 September 2004, 09:41 PM
Has anyone worked with a flock of birds or school of fish that use instanced animated geometry? I get nice motion and all that, but cannot prevent one thing. The object, fish or bird whatever, go upside down and move in a random way. I want them to be able to rotate some and fully in the Z, but don't want them swimming or flying upside down.

Any fixes for this?


09 September 2004, 11:02 PM

just whipped that up.. not exactly the most amazing file
but that seemes to work
it's the fact that your particles are actually physically turning around drastically that they might go upside down.
you could write a script for the rotation that blends between having velocity for two axis' but the last one is a blend that tells it always to stick upwards, otherwise just clamp your velocity, as you don't want it to do such drastic turns (eg. speed limit might be a safer way).

hope that makes sense!


09 September 2004, 12:29 AM
>oleg can explain it better than anyone so I'll leave him the job, but it's very smooth.<

Yes, one license of PFlow Tools can be used for network rendering on unlimited number of computers. The operators modification requires a registered and authorized plug-in, but just for a render it is not necessary.

Oleg B.

09 September 2004, 12:40 AM
Thanks will take a look at it in detail. I haven't done any scripting, so not sure about that... but will see what you have.

Thanks for the reply


edit: sheesh that looks really simple... I can't believe I didn't figure this out... that's embarassing - it was the rotation (speed follow) that I wasn't using.

09 September 2004, 02:36 AM
Allan/JasperCG - Great file (amckay_SwarmTest.max), it is a strong basis for any flock system really. One can also Append say a Keep Apart Operator and other tests. This basic concept could be used for many crowd events, and tweaking isn't a headache and might be fun. :)

09 September 2004, 04:46 AM
Hey oleg i have a question for u, I am assumeing that u are one of the creators of pflow, i think u are.... N E Waaaaaaaaaay, is there any possiblity of seeing particle flow in maya? u think alias would be pooeing themselves over it...

09 September 2004, 05:11 AM
>oleg can explain it better than anyone so I'll leave him the job, but it's very smooth.<

Yes, one license of PFlow Tools can be used for network rendering on unlimited number of computers. The operators modification requires a registered and authorized plug-in, but just for a render it is not necessary.Thanks Allan and Oleg for clarifying. So network rendering is possible.

But is the license portable? I mean, if I export my 3ds max license to my laptop can I make modifications on PFlow Tools operators on the laptop?

thanks again,

09 September 2004, 02:21 PM
I've made a test with AURA and Vector Field space warps. The vector fields keep the flames inside/near a torus object. At the top of the torus the flames "escape" the vector fields with an additional wind. I like the animation and the sim worked (finaly) as intended, but I needed a lot of trial & error to come to this.

I found it difficult to balance the different forces between AURA and the space warps. Plus I was unsure in what units the max space warps are calculated. E.g. what means "1" as value in the strength parameter of wind? And is this "1" the same amount of force as a "1" in the strength parameter of the vector field? Is it units per frame?

09 September 2004, 06:39 PM
Very niiice... :)
any tips on how to make so realistic flames?

09 September 2004, 10:20 PM
that swarm test I did is so basic it's not funny. But it hopefully answers yer q. I wrote a more complex flocking system for maya, but in the end it was almost all code but works well. Need to brush up on my trig again me thinks

09 September 2004, 02:23 AM
hey there allan, i was wondering what sort of texture or what did u give your sandtest animation.

how do u make it soo sandy, i tried to do something like that but it looked like crap.

09 September 2004, 04:19 AM
I am not sure what Allan did for that shot but one way to add a gritty sandy feel to a render like that is to use volumetrics (or in his case I believe a fluid sim) and also a bunch of very small particles...boxes for instace since they pick up light. The fine particles will add the grainy gritty look.

09 September 2004, 05:15 AM
Thank you, ArtiZta.
One thing that makes it look quite real is the shader. Shaders are quite restriced in this beta of AURA. Mine has actually to much falloff to simulate a fractal feeling. I'll post the bcurve today on the chaos webboard in this thread of MDKKnD (

An other thing is the movement. Vector space warps work nice for that kind of movement, kind of struggle between growing flames and their restriction to the torus. They are documented in the character studio help.

I used a texture map initializer for fuel only. I haven't figured out yet how to get an additional map for flame age to control just the height of the flame (and not their creation). Evitim has posted a candle scene ( where he used such an map. I'll have to explore this one.

09 September 2004, 12:13 PM
Allan, on which parts of exorcist did you work on? I'm sorry of you've been asked this before... :)

09 September 2004, 02:51 PM
I have been working on a project with a protein mixer where different proteins
are droped out of a hopper, weighted, and then droped again. The problem is that this happens
with four different kinds of proteins and it would be nice if I could show them stacking on
top of each other, comeing to rest against the side of the container and hold their position
untill I send them to a new event which would be a wash out. I know I can get away with
faking it but it would be nice to be able to do it with particles. Any Ideas? Please HELP!

I have tried the Keep apart operator

09 September 2004, 06:51 PM
Here are a couple of options:

don't use particles, use reactor and a bunch of spheres.
use particle flow; create an object that has verticies where you want all the particles to come to rest for each stage. Then using script operator you can read in the vertex locations and send the particles to that location.
I am actually doing a similar effect right now where I have a page of text that comes to life. All of the text on the page is particle particle for each letter. It starts with the words shaking (particles have to be contrained to follow the words), then the words break into their individual letters and they swirl around and form an entire environment with hills, trees, charactes, clouds, etc...(the style is not realistic but somewhat abstract so that everything still looks like letters but they are grouped together to form the shapes. Then they animate as the various things, the tree blows in the breeze, clouds move, rain, etc...then after awhile they all swirl up again and form the words with shake and then come to rest back in the original page. So I had to have complete control over where each particle went, how long it stayed there, then how and where it moved next. It was all done with scripted operators...they rock (but are a bit slow :sad:

09 September 2004, 07:08 PM
Hey thanks Harvy, I will try reactor. I would love to know how to do it with
the scripted operators but am a bit new to the scripting.
Your project sounds outstanding to have that much control over your particles
would be extreamly powerful. Do you know of any example scripts out their that I could
take a look at that would be roughly the same principle?
Many thanks, are you going to post your results? I would love to see your finished product.

09 September 2004, 08:57 PM
Hey folks ! This threas is one of the coolest around, i've been reading for a long time, so i thought i might participate too. So here are a couple videos (cinepak codec) if you'd care to have a look !
fracture ( is a quick test of Allan's script (770k)
growing ( was a just something that came about i thought was fun (4 meg)
volume ball ( was a test on having particles take the volume of an object, being hit and spread all around (1 meg)
It's all preview stuff, i still need to practice on mapping particles. There are others that i'd like to share but that's good for now, i'm no expert : )
hope it's cool !


09 September 2004, 09:24 PM
I ended up not working on the project. I was asked to do some fluid tests and in the end we were going to jump into the big sand storm sequence doing it all with fluids. I personally was fighting the whole idea as you could pretty much get the look they were after with 2D particles, so fluids would have been overkill. In the end we decided to turn down that sequence to take on more blade shots so it all worked out quite well ;)

DarkVIP - I didn't use any shaders, they're just self shadowing volumetrics. It's quite hard to texture voxels, I've been working on a I guess 'design' for how to approach this, as I know Maya can do it but not to the extent that I'd take preference to. And I know right now none of the fluids in development can do this kind of thing.

What Harvey was saying is probably the best way to go, if you look at the tests I did for 'back' ( that was a mixture of afterburn and lots of lil cubes.

NBF try fluid dynamics or else dynamics in general, what you want is something that usually would be a pain to do with normal particles as their level of collision sampling is too low, plus they never spit out the information that you're probably after, such as friction amongst eachother etc.
I'd personally recommend glu3d or real flow for the job.
Actually just reading down a bit further (sorry been on a break last week so no net for me :)) What harvey's saying's a really cool way of going about it, can get slow using script operators on lots of particles, but you can get some really cool results.
Harvey needs to be more active on these forums! Go Chris!

A representative of next limit was just over here showing off realflow 3... looks interesting, still not a big fan of the way NL goes about doing their stuff.. But it's definitely taken a step up from the old POS software they've designed in the past..

Mouj, cool test! Fracture just neesd to bounce a bit better ;) Very nice work mate!


09 September 2004, 09:45 PM
Hey thanks Allan !
I was wondering, though it might just be better to test it out, if there would be a simple way to make particles bounce off as many time as they should in a single event ? Would that be possible by creating a loop (i saw that "loop" creation once in a video - prolly one of yours) ?
As of now, i stuck in creating say, one collision event per bounce that i need.


09 September 2004, 11:06 PM
mouj: you can control the number of bounces to a certain extent within the collision operator itself. There is an option for "Collided Multiple Times" and then a spinner to set the number of times and a drop-down list for bounce, stop, random, etc... Also you can force the fragments to stop with a certain orientation so that they lie flat on the ground. There are some example files taht ship with max that show how to do this.

NBF: I am not sure if I will be able to post the actual project...I will have to see..but I could always create a small tutorial on how it was done. As to examples I think there are some similar set-ups in the example files that ship with max. In fact there is a fracture example that I did that shipped with max that has some similar properties...its the bullet time one. Also for a great resource on scripting in Pflow check out Bobo's website
Also like Allan said, it can get real slow real quick when you start introducing scripted make use of the chache operator.

Allan: ya, I should get more active and I am trying to of late...but its always hard to fit time in between regualr work, freelance work, and the family...but I suppose I should make less excuses and more posts :)

09 September 2004, 12:19 AM
Thanks Harvey and Allan.

If you find time Harvey a tutorial would be extreamly nice.
But I am looking into the sample files that you mentioned and
hope to be able to pull it off. I tried using reactor but It keeps
on crashing, So I am restricted to small simple test. But thanks
for your input It has pointed me in the right direction.
I'll post my results if when I finish.

09 September 2004, 12:30 AM
Thanks Harvey, i had noticed the "number of bounce", but not the orientation yet, i'll give it a try, and post a result !

*edit: i gave it a little try, silly me i had not played yet with the number of bounces ! I assume though that the orientation thing is a max6 update ? Anyhow it goes a little better, i'll post it tomorrow ! thanks !


09 September 2004, 01:25 AM
Chris yeah honestly right now just freelance work is enough for me, family and another job ontop of that I'd be running out of excuses :)

For rotation, it's a test like 'go to rotation' or something (haven't max open right now).

Chris - I'm taking the next 2 and a half months off which hopefully my plans to head back to Australia for a break, whilst do a lot of R&D and start work on a new DVD... so hopefully that'll be pretty productive. I think I mentioned after that I'm going fulltime at blur for the next 6 months so that'll be either quite relaxing or quite full on ;)
At some point will have to stop by canada for some canadian beer as the blur party wasn't long enough (actually more the que's were too long at the bar).

09 September 2004, 02:30 AM
kool a new dvd, what sort of dvd is it going to be?

and another kool for the canadian beer. :) Thats one of the reasons that I live in

09 September 2004, 03:59 AM
That sounds nice Allan, two and a half months off....niiiiiice! :thumbsup: I am taking 2 weeks off in Novemeber and going to camp on a beach in Hawaiii.

mouj: yah as Allan said the orientation thing isn't in the collision operator its a different one.

09 September 2004, 05:20 PM
heeeelpful yes sir yes.

09 September 2004, 10:17 PM
I just completed Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War - Allan, they spelt your name wrong in the credits!! After all that great particle stuff in the cinematic you'd think they would get the artist's names right!

edit: allen mackay I think it was.

09 September 2004, 11:21 PM
ah what was it? allen mackay or something? :) noone can ever spell my name right - it's also pronounced "mck-keye" but even at blur I've been introducing myself as "mack-kay" since if I answer the phone people are like "who?"
%$#%$ :)

I didn't even know I got a credit, so that's cool cinematic guys get credits.
I'm working on a tv commercial for the new call of duty game right now which is insane, looks verrry cool - lots of blowing stuff up and well.. blowing stuff up so looks like I'm going back to my roots :)

new blur short films have been finished also - so hopefully will begin to appear at festivals and online in the near future.

RE: Chris Harvey, yeah honestly when you get to AU gimme a buzz, I have to fly to Finland and then back to Blur around Jan, but hopefully will bang heads before I leave. Looking forward to heading back!

The new DVD I'll announce in the near future, it won't take as long as my advanced visual effects one did to get out on the market, but I'm pretty much going to be focussing on higher quality recording, hopefully around the same amount of content, and really push particle rendering, compositing, tackling fx like you would on a day to day basis in the industry, a lot of cool things about scripting, just pretty much more and more of what I've been doing, but at a higher quality level and a lot more indepth.
The CGA stuff is going really well too, the quality of those DVD's is looking great. the best part is now I'm back at a studio where I can really sink my teeth into useful material, as the last place I was at a lot of what I was doing just isn't appropriate enough to even mention as it's using a lot of custom software that isn't really the standard in max so isn't worth documenting.

09 September 2004, 11:28 PM
hey guys one last thing... I put these files up more than 6 months ago but never told anyone... so here's just a few random max fx files.. some will be useful, lots probably won't... but grab em all if you want. Just simple demo's of how to do stuff, some are frequent requests from people and others might explain some useful tricks. ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( (

09 September 2004, 12:09 AM
That's awesome :thumbsup: Thanks a lot.

Are you talking about COD: United Offensive? <3 COD :D

09 September 2004, 12:13 AM
yes sir! ...


09 September 2004, 02:02 AM
thanks alot allan, i am sure we will all take a look and learn from what we see :) i know i will.

09 September 2004, 03:24 AM
I had a look at those files and like what I see, especially the plasma streak. What sort of material did u use on the plasma streak.

09 September 2004, 06:03 AM
Thanks Allan, :thumbsup:
I learn heaps and much faster from your tutorials & samples...
even though I still haven't touched much the scripting parts yet but I've learnt so much within these last weeks that helps me with my work a lot. Also made me a bit up set coz I found out that some effects I had to do in the past are much easier to do with pflow that I didn't know at the time :)

..still saving to get your DVD :blush: hopefully I can get it before you release your 2nd one.

ok, back to work, still got some smoke to do.


09 September 2004, 07:44 PM
Allan - thanks for these 3ds max files - I have seen most of them but still handy for others. I also have your three DVD Afterburn Master course too, and going through it the next few weeks. The DVDs are amazing on all fronts - in information, advice, concepts, and quality - so yes, I recommend Allan's CGA Afterburn Masters ( to any dedicated 3ds max visual effects artists or TDs.

Also Allan, how might I go about creating a great PFlow "drool" or goo? As in the slime and drool that falls off an Alien's mouth when it's ready to head-bite. Any slime or sludge PFlow advice is welcome - I rather not use RealFlow or glu3D last if PFlow can somehow pull it off.

09 September 2004, 10:51 PM
Thanks Pixelroy! yeah the CGA ones are definitely cool DVD's, I'm very happy with what they cover.
And the max scenes are a lil old, just never have really pointed them out to anyone online I don't think so figured I better.

In regard to drool, honestly we had to do a lot of rain drops running down characters faces and drool etc. And in the end we just did a lot of it by splines with particle trails (at most) purely as this way you get complete control.
If you're using straight out of the box pflow (not pflow tools) then it's just very difficult to get speed by surface to work at a fast rate to fall down an irregular surface. So you can use a speed by icon and have it follow a spline down a face, which works quite well. Or of course use fluids. If I were doing this in maya I'd be more confident having a particle running down a surface, as you can physically have particles locked to a surface, you can do this with lock/bond in pflow tools boxset #1. but right out of the box it's a bit more difficult.

So some of the old tricks are still the best ;)

10 October 2004, 01:30 AM
Allan - no problem,

We do have PFlow boxset #1 at the studio, it seems very nice. I am after a sticky and ooze liquid feel, like honey or blood. glu3D can likely do it yes, but PFlow offers more procedural control :)

10 October 2004, 12:23 PM
Hmm I'm trying execute Birth Script as in A. Mackey fracture video tutorial.. but I still have error:
This is Birth Script:

on ChannelsUsed pCont do

pcont.useposition = true
pcont.useshape = true


on Init pCont do
global groundGeom = $fragment_* as array


on Proceed pCont do

t1 = pCont.getTimeStart () as float
t2 = pCont.getTimeEnd () as float

if ((t1 <= 0) and (t2 >= 0)) then

pcont.addparticles groundgeom.count
for i in 1 to groundgeom.count do

pcont.particleindex = i
pcont.particleshape = groundgeom[i].mesh
pcont.particleposition = groundgeom[i].position

on Release pCont do

Any help? :)

Chris Thomas
10 October 2004, 01:22 PM
What is the error?

Also, do you have objects in your scene called fragment_01,fragment_02 etc ?

Chris Thomas

10 October 2004, 03:17 PM
Yes I have object named fragment_01,fragment_02 etc. I'm trying to make A.Mckay fracture tutorial. I used Fracture script first and then Birth Script in PF Birth Script operator as in tutorial :(((
This is error:

-- Error occurred in Proceed()
-- Frame:

-- t1: 0.0

-- pCont: ReferenceTarget:MaxscriptParticleContainer

-- t2: 160.0

-- tl: undefined

-- No ""<="" function for undefined

10 October 2004, 03:22 PM
try Bobo's script that worket for me

Chris Thomas
10 October 2004, 03:53 PM
I think your problem is with the variable t1

in the first place you have it as t1, then as tl, thats why tl is "undefined"

-- t2: 160.0

-- tl: undefined

Yeah? change tl to t1 and it should work?

Chris Thomas

10 October 2004, 04:08 PM
YESSS!! jmonkey2000 ... this is errorr... shit! 1 looks L in script editor... :)
Now works thank You!!

10 October 2004, 05:15 PM
I got the Pflow tool demo, and still can't figure out how it works, are there any basic tutorials??

10 October 2004, 11:37 PM
ArtiZta, here are some tutorials to try out. I never tried the PFlow Box#1 demo, so not sure, but I bet Oleg knows. :)

Brandon Davis as some good starter PFlow tutorials here: then give Allan's a try: (

10 October 2004, 12:05 AM

You might want to re-download the PFlow Tools demo from The latest demo install includes example scenes and online help. Delete the old demo file before the installation otherwise the install setup refuses to install.

Also, for specific Particle Flow Tools questions (Box #1 or Freebies) you can now use the forums at the Orbaz website

Oleg B.

10 October 2004, 11:07 AM
PexElroy: Thanks man, but what I ment was Particle Flow Tools from :)

Oleg: Thanks I just download it again installed it and got all the help files,
cool, I'll play with it 1st.. for sure I'll be back with questions :)

10 October 2004, 09:39 PM
Michelle wrote up some really cool tuts for the commercial version of pflow tools I think?

I'll be building some pflow tools tutorials soon enough for everyone by the way.

10 October 2004, 12:06 AM
k so this will sound like a stupid question but its like there is 96 pages in this thread, and i smoke too much weed to remember what i read. So with no further adoo

i have a bunch of pclouds in a scene i want to select them and run the max script command to get a bunch of diff seeds on them

so whats the closest thing to this command
$.seed = random()

that didnt werk it made me mad i just want a random number on the seed so my clouds look diff.

THis is for the vfxtalk challenge. I just came accross it, it looks really cool. (

10 October 2004, 04:41 AM
okay to get them all to randomly change seeds do something like this.

myarray = $pcloud* as array
for i in 1 to myarray.count do
myarray[i].seed = (random 0 1000)

I 'think' that should work.

Time to go home,


10 October 2004, 10:21 AM
Also, just to note, the seed values don't have to be random. They just have to be different. So, the expression

myarray[i].seed = 101 + i

works just fine.

Keep it in mind when working with Particle Flow too. The majority of operators have the seed value, and it is the same by default. It may create some oddities in animation when two properties are statistically correlated.

Oleg B.

10 October 2004, 10:29 PM
so the [i] after myarray is the number thats normally there right?

i always wanted to know what that i means, im takeing comp sci 1620 so im starting to understadn the fundamentals when i look at max script.

thx for your help guys,
i plan to take a look at bobos scripts more indepth.

what are the things i should keep in mind when useing max script with particles?
like where can i find the commands to really werk with particles and textures.

The maxscript refrence or just play with the lax script listener?

10 October 2004, 10:37 PM
hey thanks guys the scripts worked. definatley saved that one.


i know in maya people can put their scripts in buttons and then on the shelf?
do i need to know the visual max script thing to do this? or add parameters on something likke a dummy obj?

10 October 2004, 10:53 PM
k so im gonna be droping question like a madman,
i wanna make something that will get me into sheridan
im useing brazil with afterburn, how would i get brazils sky light in afterburn window or do i have to use max's standard light?

should i be even useing skylight with afterburn? or did i sprinkle crack on my cheerios?

Chris Thomas
10 October 2004, 11:05 PM
Just select the text of the script and drag and drop it onto a toolbar, max will make a button for it. You can then edit the script or rename the button, give it an icon or whatever by right clicking on it and choosing from the options.

Chris Thomas

10 October 2004, 11:09 PM
awesome, thanks jmonkey2000,

i got another question that has to deal with afterburn, i am big into hdri renders, i luv the realism that hdri brings to the table. Its like word.

Does hdri werk with aburn?

Chris Thomas
10 October 2004, 11:45 PM
No it does not. Afterburn can only shade its volumes using scene lights, rather than using the ambient occlusion systsm that would be needed for HDRI shading.

To be honest though HDRI on Afterburn volumes would be totally overkill and would not add much to reaslism anyway.

Not sure how the hypersolid shader works in AB, but my guess is that should work with HDRI, give it a try?


Chris Thomas
10 October 2004, 01:15 PM
Ok, I know its a shameless plug, but hey, its not like it would be the first time its happened in this thread ;) and besides, its totally on topic, so...

If your learning particle flow or Aftebrun use with particle flow, why not check out our two DVD series. This first is on particle flow itself and its aimed at those that wish to learn fundamental skills. Having said that, DVDs 2 and 3,4,5 (when complete) would actually be of use to most users, even intermediates as the Operator and Test DVDs give a LOT of in depth info on each item and give a real insight into the ins and outs of each. To put it in context, most questions I get asked on Pflow could be answered by watching these DVDs, so their not JUST for newbies. So why not take a look at...


DVDs 3,4 and 5 will follow in the next few months...

For those that are already comfortable with Particle Flow and wish to push their Afterburn Knowledge further, why not check out Allan McKay's Afterburn boxed set. It contains all three of his Afterburn Masters DVDs at a bargain price. Have a look back in this thread to see some real users comments on it, and I'm sure more of that kind will follow. Its a real gem.

You can find all these DVDs and more at...


Chris Thomas

10 October 2004, 05:15 PM

Just messing about - made a bunch of other examples although too busy.. er I mean lazy to bring em in ;)

But the main idea behind that is getting the teapots to bob up and down in the water and then settle after they land.

10 October 2004, 05:45 PM
Hehe, thats tight! I'm guessing you used pflow tools for this?

10 October 2004, 09:04 PM
yeah just messing about with PFT - will put togetehr some more stuff soon, just want to build some good demo's of ways to use pflow tools for stuff you'd usually not think to use it etc.

10 October 2004, 09:19 PM
jmonkey2000 - nice post :wise:

Allan - very nice Teapot drop. I like the water splash particle systems most. The bopping of them in the water is good too but always tricky to look right. :)

10 October 2004, 11:46 PM
yea man that shit was dope,

i would like to do tests and just practise pflow, but my biggest problem is getting an idea what to do? can you guys drop suggestions of what to make in pflow?


10 October 2004, 11:51 PM
depleteD, well for me ideas come from other artist like allan and others. Bascially when they make some really cool thing, I want to do something similar but change it around some to make it my own. Theres lots of effects to think of which can be hard sometimes to put into max. Doing a lot of R&D helps a lot, just getting the system all working first.

10 October 2004, 12:04 AM
ah cool thx man, ill try that.

Just a question for particle flow, im trying to get a good plume with particles, im thinking a gas sim in real flow is my only option. Im trying to get a billowing cloud. real fluid like.

10 October 2004, 12:28 AM
depleteD, ever think of trying AURA?

10 October 2004, 01:35 AM
Thanks - the bobbing up and down of the teapots isn't really that realistic, it's far too bouncy, but it's more of a tech test than anything pretty.

if you want to do a plume - use fluids. Or else use afterburn and do it all in the shader.
I'm doing plenty of this kind of stuff for the new call of duty thing I'm working on, heaps of pluming explosions and rolling smoke etc. Not really making anything that fancy, just bit of turbulence and a lot of tricks with AB and negative and positive spherical winds etc.

10 October 2004, 02:58 AM
thought this is funny - working on a project right now, had to initially have this curling turbing blast from a tank.. in the end I went for more of just an initial blast because the shot is only 4 frames or something before the camera looks away, but I rendered it from another view and didn't realize all the remaining frames of the blast would be shown...
so this is an actual pass I made of a tank firing.. of course after the 6th frame or something when the camera looks away it goes a lil pyscho don't you think? :)

10 October 2004, 06:06 AM
Wow that is cool Allan. The first 6 frames go so fast. I can only imagine how cool the final shot looks with the shader and in comp.

10 October 2004, 07:44 AM
jmonkey2000: don't post those DVD images, I'm trying hard to save here to get my hand on those... I might end up robbing a bank! :scream: :)

Cool blast Allan, I was always wondering how to make the particle size so much even through the whole movement... I might be missing some settings. any tips for it? :)

ouw.. missed so many posts lately in this thread, being busy doing some smoke stuf lately... but whatta coincidence I started learning more of particle fx & pflow I end up getting projects making smoke, smoke and smoke :) hope the smoke project wave will end soon so I can start making some other things with particles :)

10 October 2004, 06:48 PM
artiza what did you mean by the particle size?

10 October 2004, 10:25 PM
I know this is a particle flow thread, but I was wondering what the pro's thought of houdini? I've been playing with Houdini apprentice, along with 3dbuzz tutorials, and the whole thing is set up with a very similar event driven system, but it seems to hold way more proceduralism and power. Thankfully with those tutorials it's been quite easy to get used to it, but it seems like you have almost unlimited depth to discover.

With a view to film special effects, especially dynamics and particles, it seems to me that houdini could be the best thing ever (albeit 5 times the price of max) - is it very widely used or do you mainly see max/maya/xsi licenses?

10 October 2004, 11:19 PM
monkey - I've used Houdini a few times, it's wonderful yes but technical. Its use on a project is really based on the studio's pipeline, budget, and if the staff can use the software well with many artists and TDs.

Houdini is sort of like the ultimate in procedural modeling, animation, and FX. It is more money, but it is dreadfully powerful, particular, and used heavy in feature film VFX vs. games. Houdini can also do far more than just particles, but using Houdini pro requires obedience and may restrict you to only a few studios. :)

10 October 2004, 12:09 AM
Once you overcome houidini's er "unique" interface - it's a very amazing tool. The main issue with houdini is the lack of places that use it. Digital Domain down the road rely on it heavily, as do at least a handful of houses in LA and London, although outside of that there isn't much of a userbase. Which is an issue because it forces you to specialize and really limits the type of work you can do.

Houdini's extremely procedural, not just with particles etc. but also with modeling and animation, which really gives you a lot more strength and flexibility in building complex animation and pipeline systems. Although again without a huge userbase it means you're fighting your own fight a lot of the time when learning it, and there's not a huge amount of scripts/plugins and other stuff out there. Martian tools creates a lot of really sweet plugins for houdini, although there aren't that many additional tools or websites out there.

So all in all, it's a very specialists tool - and has a lot of strengths, but you do sacrafice a lot if you want to become a pro user in houdini as then you're stuck at all the big studios for the rest of your life :)
Maya's also a great tool, so there's plenty out there - it's just a matter of preference and pending on what type of work you're tackling and what kind of environment (tvc's, features, broadcast, games etc).
My only beef with getting your hands too dirty with any package is that if you go that extra step with getting a power app - it goes from having one or two guys on a job to having the necessary technical directors there to even be able to use the app as things do get a lot more complicated a lot of the time...

10 October 2004, 02:15 AM
Call this a dumb question if u want but when i make a diflector and i want it to push the particles out of the way. Why are some of the particles making its way through. What would I have to do to stop that.

10 October 2004, 02:28 AM
DarkVIP, Some times particles will hit the deflector inbetween frames and not be counted as hitting the deflector. How fast is the deflector moving? Do you have Subframe sampling on? In the PF Source under System Management > Intergration Step you can set the veiwport step and the render step. The lower the step the more acurte the simulation, which of course means slower playback times.

Will Scates

Chris Thomas
10 October 2004, 02:35 AM
Indeed sub frame sampling will help make collisions more accurate. However in my experience the biggest issue is caused by having forces applied to your particles AFTER the collision operator.

Think of it like this, pflow tracks the particles and then works out that it has colided with a surface, it stops the particle, then a gravity or wind force takes effect and pushes tha particles a little bit further. On the next integration step the particles are already through the collision boundary and so they carry on going. This equals totally poo collisions.

So try this maybe, re order your forces and collision ops. And if its not that, then it probably just needs subframe sampling + more intagration steps per frame.


Chris Thomas

10 October 2004, 04:20 AM
thanks, now that problem is fixed :)

but, I do have another problem. The scene that I am setting up is a sci fi scene. I know, everyone has to do one, lol Anyways, The asteroids are coming into the scene and a few of them hits the ship and the ship explodes with a massive shockwave. It is a basic asteroid setup using pflow, i will probably do it differently later depending on the time. Once the shockwave hits the asteroids the asteroids deflect back into space in an opposite direction. My question is, how would i set up the asteroids to have motion blur when the shockwave (deflector) hits the asteroids.

10 October 2004, 09:51 AM
artiza what did you mean by the particle size?
Like in your blastgeom sample, it looks like the particles are coming towards the camera but the size of the particles don't change much.. to be more specific... what I mean is.. like when you see particles as dots in viewport, wherever you move the camer in the scene the dots are still dots don't change size.. that's what I was thinking of, is it possible to have the particles same size through the whole scene?

10 October 2004, 06:51 PM
Allan/anyone - I have a 3ds max 6 file that has a PFlow system, and uses a Birth script Allan used to turn separate geometry into actual particle systems. And by animating a deflector of volume in the scene, one can have these PFlow particles do whatever their PFlow tree indicates. See my example here and note below how I want to alter this.

Take a look at my example QuickTime and its corresponding 3ds max 6 file:
QT - ( (300kb)
3ds max 6 - ( (45kb)

Info: I created these 2D shape extruded "Flakes" shapes initially with Adobe Illustrator, then imported the .ai file into 3ds max, as multiple shapes and renamed them to flakes_###. Then I applied the necessary steps to have PFlow treat these flake objects like particles. Lastly, I animated a large NewDeflector object to penetrate the area/zone of my PFlow objects (I've hidden my real flake mesh objects), and this causes them to do what my PFlow tree has, in this case Spawn and get affected by some Forces. You may also look at my max file's selection sets if you like to get a feel for this file.

My problem: I am currently animating my NewDeflector object to cause my PFlow objects to react if that deflector intersects them - however, what I want to do in this case is to somehow instead animate all my PFlow (flake) objects and have my NewDeflector remain stationary. So in a way the opposite of what I have now. But I cannot seem to aniamte them (that all have XForms too). So I want to do is to animate (Transform:Move) all my original PFlow flake objects and have them go inside the NewDeflector, and not having the NewDeflector keyframed (it'd not move, the opposite of what I currently have). Let me know if you have an questions or if you're confused.

10 October 2004, 02:12 PM
Maybe I'm confused but from what I understand you're trying to move the particles/fragments into the deflector... well I'm far from good at particles but I think you can push it with spacewarp without any turbulance or else.. but won't have much of control over the movement. Maybe you can actually do move particles with particle flow tools.. I'm not sure still learning the tools. Wish I can be more help. :)

10 October 2004, 08:27 AM
Thanks ArtiZta, You got the idea yeah, I want to move the mesh PFlow particles into the NewDeflector. However, binding Spacewarps to PFlow particles does not affect them, but your Spacewarp idea made me think. For some basic control, I dropped in a new Speed operator set as 'Along Icon Arrow'. The flakes now move based on a Speed operator, and as each of them collides with NewDeflector they spawn smaller thin cubes and fly off - but anything is possible. :) (350kb) (350kb)

10 October 2004, 09:48 PM
hey guys sorry I've been MIA - had work and visa crap to sort through so been a bit inactive..

sounds like pixelroy's worked it out in the end though so sweet :)

10 October 2004, 10:27 PM
Yeah, I did figure out some stuff, for shredding R&D FX tests. And now I've added some flow control to have say 50% of the PF particles to not shred, or for other setups:

10 October 2004, 03:13 PM
IS there anywhere to learn maxscript for pflow?

There is lots I want to do, but no way of doing it!


10 October 2004, 04:07 PM
Question, question :)
I managed to make an object kind of disappear into particles by cheating between 2 objects, one as a nonrenderable object which is emitter and emits particles, based on opacity, and one with inverse opacity where the actual objects disappears. So, is that the only way or there is more simple way to do it without having to cheat using 2 objects.

Next, in pflow is it possible to make an object appear again? I mean flying particles find target and builds an object. More like what sand blaster does? Maybe also based on opacity map or by material.

...about the particle size, any idea how to do it? I did something like that but wasn't really working like I wanted though, using shape facing, and the transparency material made the rendering hard on the machine. Another question, is there any way around to render transparent particles faster? for example Allan's fire tutorial it gets a bit hard when rendering the particle source area.



10 October 2004, 05:34 PM
Check out he has some nice tutorials up on pflow.
My CGA Academy Afterburn vol 2 DVD has a little bit of pflow scripting and my Advanced Visual Effects DVD has a bit too if you want to check those out ( and I also have a few scripting tuts up on my site.

Will try and do a 101 on pflow scripting sometime for you guys to put up on my site. I kind of picked it up pretty quickly as it's quite similiar to maya particles scripting/expressions. But ideally it's pretty straight forward.

Hope that helps,

Allan McKay

10 October 2004, 05:42 PM
artiza - now this question IS something I'll be doing a tutorial for very soon for pflow tools..
you CAN do it with normal pflow but it doesn't look too spectacular as it doesn't really understand it's target geometry, at least not in a respectful way that it'll make a nice transition from A to B like with particle studio.
But you can script it which is a lot of bloody work to do for this kind of effect (I was initially asking Oleg about this a few months back when I was working on a project at DD). But pflow tools does this a lot more easily.

I will say with making an object disappear, yes unfortunately you'll have to animate the source object disapearing, or else render them as seperate passes and do it all in 2D. You CAN write a pflow script which hides the object automatically as it disapears, which might sound overkill, but when you have 50 charactrs or objects disapearing it might be useful. I did that for the crashing car example on my site where it crashes the glass windows disapear via a script and the particles spawn.

Rendering transparent particles - unfortunately max renders particles in software, and it can get really bloody slow. You can try and turn off antialiasing etc. Although it won't speed things up too much. I do kind of wish max had an optional (but not compulsory!) hardware renderer for particles like Maya, it definitely makes rendering particles with multiple layers of transparency a lot faster.

10 October 2004, 07:29 PM
hey, i have been going over bobs scripts.
but i learn best when i know whats "behind" scripting.

can anyone explain what pCont mean?

is that the particle flow object?

10 October 2004, 08:14 PM
Think of PCont as "particle container". it's what holds the particle information.

10 October 2004, 09:46 PM
pcont is just a defined global variable.

on Proceed pCont do
pcont.particleshape = foo

on proceed blah do
blah.particleshape = foo

the main thing to concentrate on is you have init and proceed

init is like the creation expressions in maya, and proceed is like runtime expressions.
So init is what's executed when it first runs the particle system, then proceed is something it will continue to do each time it's called (basically every frame).

So you might define a particle shape for a particle on the first frame (init) and then have the particles position follow a sin wave exponentially along all the frames via the proceed bracket.

Hope that made sense,


10 October 2004, 10:45 PM
Allan, we all thank you for sharing your information and experience with particles.

Now that the suckup is over, lol. I am sure that you have alot of scripts that you use professionally and non professionally. I was wondering if you would share some of them? btw, we would totally understand if you dont want to share them because this is your job and you do it for a living.

I have done a few nice scenes with your fracture scripts, just wanted to try something new. lol

10 October 2004, 10:58 PM
honestly I don't really use many scripts
ever since I moved to LA I've never gotten on top of things enough to get organized, so you're right - I do have plenty of scripts I've written, I just never actually USE them

I'm finishing up at blur in a week or so, and moving back to Aus, so during my off time I'm going to be building a lot of tools and following my ever growing to do list.. so there's plenty of new tools I've been noting lately I want to build but haven't gotten around to it.

My main intention with is to get lots and lots of scenes and scripts up there for people to tear apart, along with tutorials and other useful information to get people up to scratch with what they're doing. Just right now I'm living out of a hotel room and when I'm not at work working I'm at a bar or passed out on the floor somewhere, so it makes it hard to find time to do any work right now ;)

eitherway a week or two more I'll be unemployed and have plenty of unlimited time to start building new tools and develop some new material, so it'll be the optimal time to do it (trying to take 3 months off a year to develop). So yes very soon I'll upload all my old scripts/tools and start to put up new ones as I develop them

10 October 2004, 02:38 AM
Thanks Allan, questions answered.. :)
Well ok, I just finished another project.. so I have to make & learn something more before another project comes...
While I wait for your tutorial I'll play more with pflow. I might put my eyes more into the scripting I guess.

Btw, has anyone done any magic with particle flow lately?... would like to see more sample of pflow power. :)


10 October 2004, 05:40 PM
Thanks Allan.

I've done the procedurals6.tutscene.max off your great Turbo Squid Adv. Visual Effects DVD, but the end of your car script glass tutorial the video demo is clipped short :sad: But I am curious if the particles which spawn at the object position (the glass), the Shape Cubes for the glass object could be other controllable mesh geometry of the car itself somehow, and not a basic PFlow primitive particle shape.

10 October 2004, 06:53 PM
yeah doing plenty in pflow, be able to see it at the cinemas/tv etc. soon :) just new call of duty thing, and also two of blurs new short films..
but no personal stuff

alcohol = hangover = bad....

** edit
pixelroy = ack it's short?? ug, to answer your Q - yes it is possible.. and I'll revisit this post in a few hours when the hangover goes away and try and be more helpful.

10 October 2004, 10:30 PM
Allan - thanks. the 5.4 demo video is clipped on my DVD yeah, it stopped and you did not get to how you hid the glass object etc.

Now, instead of the glass breaking, I wanted to test to get the top of the car's roof to blown off with some pre-fractured objects and apply some Forces etc. :wise:

10 October 2004, 11:05 PM
* completely off topic --
Hey Allan, i found out about a great cure for hang overs here in France, it's called Perrier, and trust me it works great : )
-- back on topic *


10 October 2004, 10:54 AM
I was wondering has anyone seen MAXscript 101 Course DVD for learning scripting in MAX?
learning from there will it help with scripting within particle flow?

Chris Thomas
10 October 2004, 11:10 AM
Hi, at CG Academy we have a DVD which will be available very soon. It's by Laszlo Sebo (, the guy that wrote the Meshtools sub-d modelling suite for 3dsmax a while back. Well, Laszlo is something of a Maxscript expert, his DVD will be on the fundamentals of maxscript and will get you up to speed in general scripting.

Yes, pflow scripting is a sub-set of general maxscript so learning general maxscript is very usefull before moving on to pflow scripting. Following Laszlo's DVD we will have more DVDs in the general maxscript series that should build your skills up to intermediate and advanced levels. Scripting is the mark of a true TD as it allows them to make max do what they want it to do and will allow you to get past pretty much any problem or acheive almost any effect you wish. The same hold for scripting in Particle Flow.

And after Laszlo has completed his Maxscript Fundamentals DVD he will be moving on to one specifically for Pflow scripting! If you want to see what he has done along those lines, the hologram effect in Xmen2 was reaslised by Laszlo and Pflow using scripiting. i.e.

For more info on our DVDs please check out CG Academy (

10 October 2004, 05:36 PM
Thanks - all the character animators at blur are french, I'll have to ask em where to get some ;)

Yeah still feeling seedy - wondering (after checking my credit card bill) how I managed to drink $170 worth of alcohol the other night.. ouch!

With making the roof of a car piel off - I did something similiar for vol 2 of the CG academy afterburn DVD's. Basically it reads in the geometry as a particle and when it goes to a new event it tears off, it's pretty neat and well worth checking out (in the tut it has all the chairs tearing from their hinges and being blown down the isle of the plane).

artiza yeah I've got john wainrights DVD - it's pretty impressive, I still haven't really done much with it yet but intend to sit down soon (had it for over a year now) and watch it from start to end. Yeah like Chris said - my mate Laszlo will be releasing a DVD soon, when sober Laszlo can be a force to be reckoned with!

10 October 2004, 07:43 AM
Allan - thanks, I have your CGA AB: Fireball DVD (, and have looked it over. But I am wondering, those airplane chairs are the mesh particles and are not also keyframe animated (they are static). But how could we also keyframe animate each of the chairs and keep them particles if each of them has that XForm on them?

Your cool car & glass video on your Adv. Visual FX DVD ( is a great example of what I mean by an animated dummy object that has keyframes and linked objects to it, but the car does not use keyframed
pre-fractured XForm particle meshes.

Chris Thomas
10 October 2004, 11:29 AM
Why not have a look at this tutorial I did a few years ago, it also replaces the mesh on each particle, but it does it on a frame by frame basis, so the mesh animates. It also uses ease curves on the original mesh (in this case a spider) and with these it controls the offset of the animation on each particle. So what I've then done is worked out the speed of each particle per frame and then used this to work out the animation offset for each spider. This results in each spiders mesh walking at the correct speed.

Anyway, have a look at it, hope it gives you some ideas along these lines. I'll have more tuts like this on my Pflow Intermediate/Advanced series in the future.


10 October 2004, 06:51 PM
Thanks Chris, will try your cool spider tutorial out and see what I learn :thumbsup:

10 October 2004, 09:31 PM
hey guys im trying to get these cool ass scripts to work. I have a goal for what I want to do.

1st I downloaded bobos script on how to take geometry and turn them into particles.
the problem im haveing with that script is that the particles cant collide with anything.

Im a newb at scripting so Im assumeing that the 'problem' with the the script is that its not useing the collision channel.

The next thing I want to do is develop a script that will take each particle, turn it into a object and then throw it into a reactor simulation.

Eventually I would like these fracture scripts to attatch to a deforming object and slowly break off. Like a face rotting away ect.

I have big goals and alot of time. I plan to drop all my progress into this thread so people can learn.

and one more thing... please HELP ME OMG IM WAY OVER MY HEAD! AHHHHHHHHHHH!

10 October 2004, 09:39 PM
k nm there isnt a problem with the script

only with me

well i just found some very help full information.
In the script operator thing when u go to edit script. On the bottom of the script it seems like olleg was kind enough to give all the pflow scripting commands.

I just found this. Why no one tell me :P.

10 October 2004, 03:34 AM
PFlow working with reactor 2 and scripts and would be great, but how would that even be started or done, anyone have any simple example?

10 October 2004, 03:42 AM
Reactor and PFlow?

KaMe said he got it working WAY back on Page 9.

10 October 2004, 04:20 AM
Thanks, I want to try it out, but it appears that link to his animation and script is broken.

10 October 2004, 05:42 AM
i remember hearing that in reactor that u can store collisions. I think u gotta access that.

o yea, allan if u see this can u post your r and d file of the teapots bobing on the plane with the "locks and bondage" (<--my joke name for the operator, its just so damn secksi)test, i wanna check out the behavior on the "splash" up it looks so fluidic and beautiful gj. I got everything working except cool motion behavior.

10 October 2004, 11:26 AM
Thanks, I want to try it out, but it appears that link to his animation and script is broken.
Deetee wrote this over at about the PFlow uploader

Yeah, had to take all the pages down due to serious abuse. I dont have the time to delete all pornographic pics and other pictures upped in the uploaders. So I have to find a better way to make a 3dsmax uploader with user/pass login etc. Will try to find a way.

but i got the max file but dont now where i can upload it to if Kame dont mind

10 October 2004, 01:55 PM
Hey there,
Feel free to share the file hyenen, i don't think i have it anymore. It's an old file and i was still learning maxscript, its kinda buggy.

It's not actually a integration between reactor and pflow. It worked like this:
- A simple (and i mean simple) script makes objects follow particles and sets keyframes. (I think Bobo has a tutorial on this)
- Then you just turn off Pflow and you have a bunch of animated objects flying around. So you use reactor to finish the animation. (Reactor will get the objects speed due to the keyframes)

Really easy :)

edit: Here is Bobo's tutorial i was talking about. LINK ( You just need a 'Animate On' in there.

10 October 2004, 07:24 PM
depleteD can you email me at and just send me a reminder? All that stuff is on my laptop back at my hotel so I'm likely to forget, shoot me an email and I'll send it over to you.

I've done plenty of reactor R&D, I've gotten particles to deform cloth and a lot of other interesting things. I will say that reactor isn't the most solid thing (learnt that on blade 3 heh) and so having it work with particles can cause a lot of large stability issues. I would recommend baking it out and doing it in phases, do the particle sim, bake it out to mesh/point cache info and then have reactor take over from there etc.

I've personally got a few beefs with how reactor works in general so it's hard to recommend it for the job as a lot of complex stuff it falls apart quite easily, but it all depends on what you want to do.

10 October 2004, 07:34 PM
pixelroy so you want to animate the chairs movement? if so you can just animate the xform and it'll treat it like a mesh deformation so the particles will animate (eg. if you wanted it to move or rotate etc). This way all the particles will use that, and you can then offset the animation randomly from particle age with some offset.

IF however you want to have multiple animations and each particle doing something different, you'll have to reference multiple meshes opposed to just one master mesh, and that's just a matter of making your multiple meshes, and then telling each specific particle ID on init to call a different mesh object opposed to all of them going to a specific one. You can also do this randomly by putting it into an array.

That might sound confusing but if you can't make heads or tails of it I'll try and simplify what I mean.
I'm two weeks away from leaving blur and getting back on the R&D train - so you can bet I'll be pumping out a lot of stuff like this to do with crowds and other interesting things. So I'll hopefully have some max files to show what I mean pretty soon.

10 October 2004, 07:42 PM
Great info - thanks Allan. I got most of what you wrote, some of it is a bit complex vs. a demo or file to mess with. :thumbsup:

As for reactor 2, yes it has some Pros and Cons for sure, I can tell you after working with it a lot. reactor 2 doesn't have a high-accuracy calculation system as Maya, XSI, etc. do. It is really weak in scenarios where many objects are packaged tight or as a Fracture system with high speeds and
normal-penetration exactness. Even at high Steps settings it can just fail in some tasks. It is good however for quick natural physics sometimes, but it is not an accurate rigid-body system yet, and it can fail with mysterious reasons sometimes. Using it with PFlow would be fun and cool to know what is possible in that realm. But it can save time vs. hand animating some tasks and unsophisticated events. Even say 100 thin coins dropping in a "simple pile" is very complex math to do accurately, and would take very long time to calcuate.

10 October 2004, 07:49 PM
On blade there's a shot in the trailer where Blade jumps out a window - I initially did the shot in one pass, mixture of particles and dynamics, and it worked flawlessly. Then later on we needed to resim it as the timings changed just before it went to 2K. And it litterally refused to work, it would break every time and shoot shards of glass 40,000 kilometers away. In the end we basically redid the whole thing, Justin Mitchel helped out with the dynamics as we were all in a rush to try and find a solution. We ended up having each piece of 'fracture glass' simmed seperately (about 7 or 8 sims) and then when the hero pieces are about to hit the ground we then ran another sim for all the bits that were to shatter when they hit the ground smashing into more pieces (another sim or so per sub sim) in the end we had such a huge headache just for the dynamics alone. The particles side of things went pretty flawlessly. But it definitely became a big nightmare shot to work on just because of the tight schedule in the end and pressure that was on us when we physically couldn't get the software to work.. So not to talk trash about reactor - but it can cause headaches :)

10 October 2004, 09:30 PM
Ok, I have a bomb and I want to make it have plasma-type blast that lasta while and is small enough to be contained in a warhouse room but big enough to light up the entire room and move/burn anything small/weak enough and when the blast is finsihed all that is left behind is dust and debris.

I played around with pflow, parray, and snow and tried mixing a few otherthings like forces, deflectors and meshbomb, but haven't been able to get a look I wanted(although i think i could work on that) and the particles look like fragments which is obviosly not plasma. Does anyone know a way I can do this explosion and how to get the particles to look like plasma, not hcunks and pieces? Also, would i need a volumizing plug-in like afterburn to get the particles to look like plasma?

I know about Allan Mckay's tutorials but some of the AVIs i can't play for some reason(the video part atleast, i hear the audio only).

10 October 2004, 05:36 AM
I dont know what file u are having problems with but you need the correct video codec. What u should do is download gspot located at select the video file and it will let you know what codec you need.

10 October 2004, 06:28 AM
Thanks a lot, found the codec but its too late to watch the tutes now:sad: (3:30am).

10 October 2004, 09:09 AM
First off, great thread. I think PFlow should have it's own section, like MaxScript, at this point. I just started getting into it and can't stop playing!

Anyway, I haven't read the whole thread, but I had this crazy idea to try and use PFlow to create soft shadows. No real reason, just to see if I can. I got some intersting results after just a couple minutes of setting up some particles and a wind force. I use the wind's turbulence to change how soft the shadow gets. And since the wind object is linked to the light, the "shadow" moves around correctly as you move the light. Here's a couple quick renders to show the effect:

You can see the "shadow" gets fuzzier as it moves away from the object. What I'd like to know is, can I use a particle age material to make the opacity of the particles less as the get farther from the shadow casting object? Something like calculating the distance between where they started on the shadow casting object and where they came to rest on the collision test object. I just can't figure out how to do it with the available operators.

Here's my simple tree so far...

Anyway, it's just an experiment. Not too sure how much farther I can take it. It's really no substiture for an area light or GI. I just like trying to think of different uses for things.

10 October 2004, 09:32 AM
Can you post the animation if there is any? Just wondering what it looks like moving.
anyway, interesting experiment :)

10 October 2004, 10:33 PM
Here's an animation of the light moving around. I had to modify the PFlow tree to make it work with an animated light. Before it only worked if there were no keys on the light and you were just moving it around in the viewport.

Basically what it's doing is generating particles that last for two frames. The particles start on the emitter (the cylinder) in the first frame and then shoot over to the collision object (the room) on the second frame. So every frame of the animation is a new set of particles. I tried adding a motion blur to soften it but it didn't work, because technically the particles aren't moving.

As you can see, the shadow is pretty jittery, but I think it could be a cool effect in an NPR style animation. But there are probably easier and faster ways to get similar results, like an animated noise material in the light's shadow map. You might be able to add some interesting movement to the shadow by adding an animated force into the mix, or moving around a target object. Haven't tried that yet though.

But I find that it helps me to learn a new tool by doing things it wasn't necessarily designed to do.

10 October 2004, 11:56 PM (

There's that teapot splash max file - it uses pflow tools so keep that in mind, you can probably replace it with a deflector or something to at least get the other events to work if you don't have PFT. Anyway - tried emailing that to a few people but seems a lot of email servers hate attachments these days, so enjoy.


10 October 2004, 02:42 PM
I would love to see a particle system interacting with cloth, causing lots of variations, sounds interesting allan =)

10 October 2004, 07:56 PM
I've actually made cloth sims of cloth being attached to particles, it's really interesting, although very sensitive (breaks very easily). But it's an interesting idea as you can have a bunch of particles driving the cloth flying around and turning etc. I'll upload some example soon - it's my last day at blur today, I fly back to Australia in a week, and from there I'll be able to start getting more active again. But I've got a lot of that kind of stuff which I'll be able to put online soon, as well as update my site with new info on stuff like how I did some of the effects for warhammer and other projects.

we're doing a project right now - tv commercial for call of duty. It's 24 seconds long, 1 shot first person running through a world war 2 battlefield, it's insane.. lots of effects, very emersive - so I think that'll look amazing once it's all rendered and comped later today, and hopefully I can start getting a bit more active on the forums again! :)


10 October 2004, 03:45 AM
Cool, would like to see that. Your stuf really motivates people do learn and r&d more..
thanks before man.

10 October 2004, 07:05 AM
Very nice Allan, and yes I agree, I look forward to seeing some of what you did on the Call of Duty TV spot, and the Afterburn or PFlow FX you did on the amazing Blur War Hammer intro. A lot of cool things you can cover.

10 October 2004, 04:08 PM
Hello, I began to learn a little bit about PFlow, but I still donīt know, how I should texture(?) particles. The first thing in the image shows something I made with 3dsmax. I wanīt it to look like the sekond thing. The best result i got was a ray without the blue color.
Please donīt use Internet Explorer to view the picture.

Can anybode help me? I have not found tutorials for texturing Particles. ;_;

10 October 2004, 04:44 PM
I'm wondering what kind of effect you want to achive with that ray?.
why using particles for it?. But if you can make the ray without the blue glow.. maybe one way is to have it rendered like that and then compose is and put the blue glow.

10 October 2004, 04:55 PM
The problem is, that i want to render an animation. Itīs too much work to add the blue glow to 25Pics/second.
BTW: I want to get this effekt:

Everyone told me, that PFlow would be the best way. :hmm:

10 October 2004, 05:15 PM
Heya, maybe you could use a Glow as a render effect, on top of your particles ? It should not be that much work since you'll set up the effect once and it'll be then rendered at each frame by Max. Also, i guess you ought to be using some motion blur to get that smooth "line" out of moving particles.


10 October 2004, 05:20 PM
Nudelsalat, try GhostTrails:

Allan: I'm also looking forward to that animation. :)

10 October 2004, 06:55 PM
Speaking of Warhammer - front page of cg channel :)
LOTS of pflow in there!

My last day at blur today unfortunately, it's been a crazy two months, love this place to death, but flying back home in a week.

In regard to particle texturing - lots of new stuff to come
actually proof that things are starting to free up a little, I'm actually catching up on email today :) written a few scripts and made some max files for people on pflow stuff, so will put all that stuff online pretty soon for everyone to take a crack at it.

PS. Rens - so am I! the 3 projects I've done at blur are probably the 3 coolest projects I've ever worked on - blade 3 concept wise is quite cool too, although boriing to death to actually work on.

10 October 2004, 08:11 PM
Nudelsalat, try GhostTrails:

Allan: I'm also looking forward to that animation. :) i've recently started to use pflow in combination with ghosttrails (

theres a render of my attempt its the first thing i've actualy created in pflow with 0 understanding / knowledge of pflow to start with

this is also the reason why i want to ask u guys a question
i've created a shitload of path folowing spacecraft
and an opposing space craft force

is there any way to do a range check between them ?
[making doggfights basicly]
i want to check if the distance between the spawned particles on both sides is lower than a specified amount of units [ with a specified % of margin ]

and lets those particles "Lock on" to the oposing particles [as a new target]
and fire Amunition in their general direction [this I CAN do :P ]

i know im asking a lot i guess but i honestly have no clue on where to start

the red / yellow / green / blue particles reprisent different squadrons
basicly theres going to be an equal amount of "spacecraft" on the other side
wich will be released in the same manner too

10 October 2004, 08:02 AM
Hmm... HomeWorld.. I love that game.. :)

nudelsalat: yes as mouj said.. the glow option in max might help, yave you tried it yet?.

10 October 2004, 08:49 PM

I have noticed when using Pflow that if I scale my object that I am emitting from to a considerable size, then my whole simulation changes, my forces don't have the same effect. So i was wondering if you guys had a rule of thumb about this.

I especially have problems with the wind force, i can't get the same look/simulation that I had when my emitting object was alot smaller, not even close to what it was.

10 October 2004, 09:33 PM

I have noticed when using Pflow that if I scale my object that I am emitting from to a considerable size, then my whole simulation changes, my forces don't have the same effect. So i was wondering if you guys had a rule of thumb about this.

I especially have problems with the wind force, i can't get the same look/simulation that I had when my emitting object was alot smaller, not even close to what it was.
remember that scaling your pfsource will result in particles being spread out more .
try adding more particles
to densen the flow .

10 October 2004, 10:28 PM
Voutlooz thanks for the reply but you aren't understanding what I mean

lets say I have a simulation that looks like turbulent, erratic smoke, using a few wind forces. If I increase the size of the emitting object (a sphere) no matter what settings I put on the wind forces I can not get the same erratic turbulent behavior, and I tried changing every single setting on the wind forces, nothing would get the particles moving with wavy turbulence, in fact they don't even seem to be affected by the wind at all.

So I was hoping somebody had a trick they use if they need to increase the size of their particle system to match an increase in the size of their scene, besides grouping everything together and then scaling it.

10 October 2004, 05:22 AM
Allan: That warhammer is just unreal :) Sorry if you've been asked this many times, I was wondering how long did it take to produce, how many people were working on the project? Which specific parts did you actually work on?

thrasher: are you scaling the actual object (asuming that you use shape isntance)? Or you are scaling within pflow event/operator? Do you use cache in any case? Becasue if you do there might be the problem you have no reaction when changing the wind. Is it possible to post your flow screenshot or the max file?


10 October 2004, 06:29 AM

I can't upload a file right now but I can easily explain how to do it so you can see what I mean

1. Create a sphere-radius 35

2 Create a pFlow system, and create a wind force maybe two winds

3. Use the sphere as an emitter for the particles

4. Important: Adjust the wind forces so it has an erratic movement, like cigarette smoke

5. Once you have it looking good, take that sphere (the emitter) and increase its radius to 250

6. Now hit play, and you will notice that the whole simulation has changed, which I would aspect to happen..however now try and play with the wind attributes to get it to look exactly or close to how it looked when the emitters radius was at 35 units.

It seems what ever numbers i input into the wind attributes I cannot get the simulation to have that cigrette smoke look to it, actually I can't even come close, all the particles just seem to stream out without any erratic movement or turbulence.

Give it a shot yourself, it doesn't take long at all to setup, maybe I am missing something simple and you guys can figure it out

thanks for any help you can offer

10 October 2004, 01:52 PM
Just tried it what you wrote. But came to think about what effect are you looking for?.

10 October 2004, 06:28 PM
artiza) warhammer about 3.5 weeks - a bit over 20 artists, on and off, so few modelers initially and rigger etc. only 3 fx artists etc. think a majority of the guys were working nights though as they had other projects going on during the day, so they were only really doing half days on it etc. so you can almost half the schedule based on that ;)

I did a lot of the dirt explosions etc. Kirby Miller and Daniel Parez Ferreira were the two main fx artists on the project, creating a lot of the main fx for it etc. I was working at DD at the time so only could contribute a few nights a week and the weekends to the project. Seung Jae Lee and Seung youb Shin might have done the blood and and other stuff - not sure.

Eitherway was a fun project, call of duty is looking equally as cool. and blurs new short films are looking amazing.
leaving blur this week (at some point, seems COD keeps going on and on) so going to miss this place even though I've only been here 1-2 months..

10 October 2004, 06:58 PM
Warhammer cinematic is pretty cool, in best traditions of Blizzard shorts ;)

btw, Allan, do you know how this 'bloody' effects were achivied? Both 'flying' and 'on surface' parts? Looks really awesome!

10 October 2004, 07:12 PM
erka the sad part is that blizzard has 2 years at a minimum to do a lot of their stuff - but yeah won't get into that :)

blood was pflow blobmesh I believe? and all the stuff on the mesh is just blood splatter masks

10 October 2004, 03:03 AM
HAha, yes, Homeworld was a great game, I thought I recognized that mothership real fast... :P Anyway, I'm curious how that simulation of yours is coming along, Voutlooz, as I have been working on a pflow driven dogfight of my own. Maybe we can work together on it? I'd like to see how yours has come along. I asked a similar question about how to get targets and such but it was lost in the many other questions. PFLow guru team assemble!
*blows seashell*

10 October 2004, 11:47 AM
Allan: 3,5 weeks that's fast! Was that from scratch or just start on 3D work? It just looks great. Tell me is it all done with MAX or combined with other 3D software?

10 October 2004, 12:18 PM
HAha, yes, Homeworld was a great game, I thought I recognized that mothership real fast... :P Anyway, I'm curious how that simulation of yours is coming along, Voutlooz, as I have been working on a pflow driven dogfight of my own. Maybe we can work together on it? I'd like to see how yours has come along. I asked a similar question about how to get targets and such but it was lost in the many other questions. PFLow guru team assemble!
*blows seashell*
i've since figgured out a way to do it without scripting ..
just by using particle age and find target opperands

10 October 2004, 07:48 PM
Yeah, I just kind of faked it by using keep away modifiers and such but it looked good enough. I'm more concentrating on scripting to make ships bank as they turn left and right as well as them exploding when they are hit by a weapon (rather than exploding after a certain period of time).

10 October 2004, 09:36 PM
all 3dsmax comped in digital fusion

all from scratch as far as I can remember, environments took 2 weeks

yay max
yay blur

yay n shit

10 October 2004, 10:20 PM
well i thought I had explained it well enough..but i'll give it one more shot

I am simply pointing to the fact that if you scale your particle system (the emitting object) to large, you loose the ability to control your particles, and seeing that this could possibly be a problem I might run into in the future I was wondering if someone had a technique they used to overcome this limitation.

10 October 2004, 10:50 PM
Hey guys,

I've been practiseing pflow and aburn quite alot lately.
I'm a bit confused about the animation flow curves. Does particle Age read the event age or the overall age of the the particles from when they are created.

For instance, on a collision spawn, when the new particles are spawned into the new event and the will the aburn operator read the age only from the even and not the time of the scene.

And how do i control the damn opacity on the afterburn shaders. Im tearing my hair out.

Also, i plan on collecting a list of websites that give good refrences of explosions and other things that particles can replicate. Im going to try and seach for movies. I'm gonna make my own movies soon as I get my hands on some C4. ;)

If anyone can shout out some good refrences for timing particles it would be greatly appreciated.

11 November 2004, 12:55 AM
Hey thrash, i tried doing that thing that u described by scaleing the emitting object.

I didnt run into any problems like u described. Maybe ill check out your scene tho.

Hey how do i get maxscript listener to read how reactor toggles options.
I want a colliosion to enable a piece of geometry to be simulated in reactor.

11 November 2004, 08:14 AM
hi! this thread has really helped me a lot, though it s quite hard to read thru all the preview posts.. :D

Im having a problem with a simple setup.
Its basically a system where i want particles to be pulled by gravity while being affected by a deflector. particles are emitted from the object, and is also deflected by the same object.

here's the current maxfile.

The left pflow system is working (particles slide down), but the one on the right is not working, basically both hav the same setup except that the left one has an animated mesh. I'd gladly hear any suggestion. :)

Allan: Your DVD is great!!
Rens: thnx again for your unsolicited help with maxscripts! I kind of got busy with other things (for the moment) i didnt hav time to fix some of my own problems. but ill get to that!

11 November 2004, 02:34 PM
Just seen your max file, it appears that the deflector works when the animation of the object stops. Still can't figure it out why it won't bounce while the object is moving. Tried putting a deflector on the floor it appears that when the particles bouce up again and then fall again on the moving object it does follow what you're after. The question is why it works after the 2nd bounce.

Btw, has anyone seen M&M's River TVC? I know it's made using maya but is it possible to do it with pflow in max?

11 November 2004, 02:38 PM

UDeflectors cannot work with animated meshes - some leakage occurs. However, for you particular sitation there are two solutions:

a) use plane Deflector (since the the upper deck of the animated mesh is a plane surface), and animate the deflector to be in sync with the mesh animation.

b) it is possible to use the Lock/Bond operator for sliding, if the surface is not a plane. I modified your file to be used with Lock/Bond to check it out, and it's working. Here's the modified scene file: (24KB); and here's the animation: (332KB).

Oleg B.

11 November 2004, 02:49 PM
Aaah.. so it is a bug... no wonder. really annoys when some things in theory should work fine but it doesn't and at the end appears to be a bug which you can't do anything about it but to find another way eachieving the effect.. but by the time you realize it's a bug it's time wasted :)

11 November 2004, 02:50 PM
Darn, it tool a while to fix the links. They should work now.

Oleg B.

11 November 2004, 03:09 PM
thanks Oleg! but i hav a major problem, i dont hav particle tools (tear drops) :sad:
As I was reading thru some recent posts, there was this scene by Allan Mckay where he also used a Lock\Hold operator, I opened it and I came across the plugin error.
Well anyway, im really thankfull for taking a look up my file. :thumbsup:
I wont be able to use planes coz I originally intend to use the system on an animated mesh.
So my workaround it Ive just made a simple object which acts as a deflector, but the transforms are the only parameters that i can animate. Well, as long as it works for my scene, i think its good enough. hehe. but in the mean time, I myt save up for the Tools! Thanks Again!

p.s. oh by the way, is there a free script for the "vector renderer" im not actually sure how it is called, but it renders pixels based on the particle coordinates.

11 November 2004, 12:28 AM
Maybe you guys can help me here. I've been working on creating a landscape for a fan trailer for Star Wars Episode III. However, I need to be able to create lava fountains like in the real trailer. How would one go about doing this? Here is what I've got so far for environments, I just need lava fountains now....

11 November 2004, 06:18 AM
I've been playing around with max7 trial lately and found some old max6 files, thought i should post them. Had to fix some big bugs on a couple of files, thats why they're max7.

Here's the link: (
(Don't 'save target as')

These are all pflow files, mostly with scripting. Hope you enjoy.

Maybe you guys can help me here. I've been working on creating a landscape for a fan trailer for Star Wars Episode III. However, I need to be able to create lava fountains like in the real trailer. How would one go about doing this? Here is what I've got so far for environments, I just need lava fountains now....
The environment is looking really good. If you're going for 3d i think Afterburn could do it. Or you could mix some 3d particles with real footage.
At this link > ( < you can find lava footage. Just do a search for 'lava or magma'.

Here is a nice fountain footage found on the site above:

11 November 2004, 08:57 PM
Yes, I thought about using afterburn as well. But that won't give me the lave "spray" that you find in the fountain. Thanks for that website though, excellent reference.

11 November 2004, 09:24 PM
Use a mixture of AB PFlow, and some regular old super sprays. When I looked at the trailer, it seemed to me like the lava looked like alpha maps of a lava texture in combination with other things... You might even consider using metaballs (but I dunno about that...)

11 November 2004, 10:42 PM
the thing to remember is that it is not just a single explosive emission; when a lava spray occurs it is normally due to pressure release either by the lava cap giving way or excessive pressure build up from down below (sounds like a night on the curry!!). As a result, the spray formation will be explosive yet directional... for example, fill your mouth with water and blow the lot out through a straw... you get the similar kind of effect - an initial explosive directional spray jet which gradually tails off in intensity due to the pressure subsiding. Granted, there are going to be smaller (and larger) jets in and around the emission point which will add to the effect, but that is the general principle... we can therefore create a system to simulate this quite easily by animating the speed of the born particles. You may also want to add some additional particle spawning to simulate air resistance and fragmentation after a certain time period to get the spray to fall nicely and to create trails (visible in the trailer), plus additional spawning when the spray hits the ground / any surface. It does look like afterburn was used. Bear in mind that the lava jet effects in the trailer is an artist's representation of the natural effect... and therefore secondary information; your best bet is to have a look through the large collection of movie archives at the USGS screening room here which is where I sources a shedload of movies for the DTE book...



11 November 2004, 11:18 PM
Exactly. Hey Pete, you oughta make that your next answer to a question in 3d world for max...

11 November 2004, 11:27 PM
heh :)

I did actually partially develop a spray lava system for a DTE chapter but wasn't overly happy with the result so it never got completed. 3dworld q&a - aye, might do, or do it as one of the DTE freebies I've got planned out... when I get this damn shoot over and done with! ... second week of a 5 week shoot and the vfx shot list is growing daily... :scream: :D


11 November 2004, 01:02 AM
Humm, I'm sorry, I wasn't very clear on my question. Here is what I meant to say. I've got the actual particle MOTION almost perfect for a lava fountain.

My problem is creating a MATERIAL for the particles. I thought about using sprites, but I'm not sure how this would look. Should I use facing particles, spheres, what? I've already got a pretty decent looking effects, but it's not Photoreal. The material is too "cartoon" looking. Very difficult to explain. I'll post renders later.

Any suggestion on a way to create a decent material? I considered using a material similar to your "Solar Flare" tutorial, Pete.

However, now that you mention it, I could probably also work on the MOTION of the particles a bit more.

11 November 2004, 01:02 AM
Hey Allan, Im following your rain particle flow tutorial and am trying to add a blobmesh object but am having issues. I add the compound object, add particle flow to it and never see any bobmesh. I can create a brand new particleflow and it will add okay, I can see it fine, but after following your tutorial avi it wont work for me. What am I doing wrong?

11 November 2004, 02:01 AM
Pixel: It depends on what you choose/have chosen to create the eruption. Facing particles could work if you use them right. I tend to use facing particles for few things; explosions being one of them. I noticed you posted in the Aura thread, so you know what it is... It looks like aura could really help with the smoke that is shot out... If you could manage to get some good looking alpha map'ed lava maps that would fit in well (like what pete did for the solar flare) they'd probably help alot. Mix those with a few Aura spurts and maybe some simple lava particles and I think you could get what you wanted.

11 November 2004, 02:20 AM
I don't have a problem creating the steam, cause I use AfterBurn particles for those. Plus I should some real steam elements using a Canon GL2. Its the molten material of the lava spray that is giving me difficulty. I will play around and see what I can come up with.

11 November 2004, 05:56 AM
hey everyone - wow, with everyone's Q's I'll try and get back to them over the next few days. I just moved back to Australia this week, so I'm trying to get settled back in again. But as soon as I'm on top of things again I'll try and be a bit more active!

Cheers and thanks,

-Allan McKay

11 November 2004, 06:20 AM
Woow.. just few days didn't check the thread already has heaps of posts...
pixel: how did it go with the lava burst? any pics to show yet?

allan: been a while.. how are things in OZ?


11 November 2004, 05:50 PM
MAN! Thanks guys for those visual movie databases where i can get good refrences for particles! THAT IS SO WICKED!

ANybody know of anymore?

11 November 2004, 08:48 PM
Here is what I've gotten with the lava burst. Doens't look that great yet.

11 November 2004, 09:47 PM
Looks good so far Pixel. You say it doesn't look good yet, so I think you know what your working to achieve, so in saying the following, i'm probably preaching to the choir. A little less blobby, more contrast in the colors (bright white and dark black [redundant...] spots for burnt and seering hot bits of lava), and be sure to create 2 or 3 more alpha maps like that that curve in different ways, so you can achieve some variety in the sprays. Looks good so far, can't wait to see a final result

11 November 2004, 10:41 PM
Thanks for the comments, Cryptite. I just saw that you live in Tennessee. I live in Huntsville, Alabama, so you're probably not to far away from me.

11 November 2004, 10:58 PM
Alas, I noticed too that you lived in Hunstville... I'm going to be in Homewood this weekend actually on a tournament for my school... Be pretty close. Exactly what all are you encompassing in your ep3 trailer. I'm still working on my space-battle that's completely PFlow-driven. It's beginning to take shape now... There're many things I have to use scripting for, to do, but don't know how.

11 November 2004, 11:48 PM
The majority of my Episode III trailer will involve the duel. However, I will be putting 2-3 space battle shots into mine as well. Also, many shots of Mustafar duing the duel. Hence my need to create this lava fountains correctly.

11 November 2004, 06:16 AM
That looks great pixel, tell me how long did it take to render?... if it doesn't take long i would love to see how it moves.. :) btw, beside the lava burst are you also making the lava rivers as well?

11 November 2004, 02:18 PM
Well, it renders pretty quick. But it doesn't look realistic yet. Also, I will be making lava rivers, but they will be part of a 2d matte painting, so they won't actually flow. I'm just using 2D tricks using warps to make them appear to be flowing.

The beginning of my matte painting can be seen here....

It's a WIP and not close to being finished yet.

11 November 2004, 03:31 PM
sorry but I don t understand what s you re trying to do... lava river flowing or la geyser??

11 November 2004, 04:23 PM

a quick lava flox test done with PF. works fine for distant lava