What a great idea. This thread would give us a place to exchange info on Afterburn. Afterburn is the one “must have” plug-ins for 3D Max. Discreet should buy the rights and add it to Max!
Here’s my input.
Creating a huge scene with lots of smoke or dust? Increase the Step Size to cut down on render times. The Step Size will determine how much detail will show in the Afterburn particle. With a large scene and large particles you won’t need as much detail as you would with a smaller scene and up close to the smoke or dust. The step size is calculated in Max units and tells Afterburn how many slices of detail it will put in a particle. Lowering the number gives you more detail, which, at first, is counter intuitive to me. But thinking about it the number is telling you what size the slice is. So smaller is more defined. In the help file it gives an example of the different settings. For an example a setting of .125 gives a lot of detail in a puff. A setting of 6 means that only six slices will be made and produces less detail.
The best way to control the colors of Afterburn particles for glowly effects is through lighting and not in the Afterburn Manager. Although controlling the color in the Manager is good for coloring the smoke or dust, for glows you can control the brightness and color variations with lighting easily. Say for a rocket engine, link a spot light to the PF source. Now you can turn up the multiplier, adjust the attenuation and color for the initial blast, turn down the multiplier, adjust the attenuation and the color after the rocket gets moving. In the initial blast you can blow out, over expose, color the smoke to make a real cool bright fiery effect. Every property of the light can be animated. Just remember to add Afterburn Shadows to your lights in the command panel for better detail.
Coloring with AB Manager:
The color for AB puffs can be controlled by adjusting the color parameters in the AB Manager.
The color can change depending on what varible you choose.
The Octane shader:
The Octane shader should be your first choice when you are creating very fine, transparent particles like dust. The Octane shader doesn’t produce good shadows and details but, does a better job at creating transparrent particles. Shadows will be pixilated with Octane, but with very fine particles there isn’t a need for shadows and it is 10 times faster than Raymarcher. While Raymarcher is better at shadows and details, it is just to slow for creating a lot of fine particles.
A great way to test the settings in AB is to create P-Flow source with 1 particle and zero speed. Add it to AB and place it in front of a camer. Adust the settings in AB and render to see what happens.
The Afterburn Flow Control allows you to animate the properties of the Afterburn particles. If you right click on the AFC button and choose enable the next time you click on it the AFC button the AFC graph will open. One import thing to note about the AFC:
If your animation is anything other than 100 key frames in length, the AFC timeline graph will not match your animation, assuming you are using it with P-Flow. The default length for the timeline in the AFC is 100 key frames. If you want the AFC graph and P-Flow animations to match, you have to set the Part Life value in the Particle Properties section located at the top of the Afterburn Manager.
Part Life value determines the life of the particle only if you click the “use” button otherwise, it only sets the AFC graphs. This can really throw you off when trying to match your animation using the AFC graph and events in P-Flow. If you do this and things still don’t seem to be happening the way you think they should, you should also check to see if you have a delete operator in P-Flow. This will comunicate the life of a particle to AB.
Noise shape parameters:
There are areas of brightness and darkness within a particle or puff. The bright areas will render smoke or dust. The dark areas are transparent and will not render anything. The size of those areas are controlled by noise size.
Gain will increase or decrease the contrast between the whitest and darkess areas within an Afterburn puff.
Increasing the Gain will increase the density of the “pieces” within a single puff. The number of pieces in a puff is determined by the noise size and levels. Of course, the density setting will also determine how dense a puff is too. You can use the denisty, Bias and Gain to adjust the total density of a particle.
Bias will increase decrease the level of brightness within the AB puff and hence increase the density. It will also increase the “smoothness” of a puff.
Note: The more you lower Gain the more even the smoke or dust will become. The default is .5 for the Gain and .5 for the Bias which creates somewhat of a soomth puff. If you lower the Gain more, the puff will start to lose any definition and become completely smooth
The more you increase the difference between the Gain and Bias, raising the Gain, the more you increase the difference between the light and dark areas and the more “spotty” the smoke or dust will become. The wisps within the smoke or dust become more noticeable.
When you are animating billowy clouds or fast moving jet exhaust you should adjust the Phase in the Noise Animation Parameters accordingly. Adjusting the Phase will animate the noise within the Afterburn puff or particle.
You should enable the AFC for Phase. Set the low number to zero and the high for the amount of Phase you want.
For fast moving smoke like jet exhaust, you would need to adjust the high Phase value to more than once per key frame of animation. Example if you have an animation of a jet exhaust 200 key frames in length, you would adjust the Phase to 200+. This gives the smoke a lot of interior movement. Clouds would need a smaller Phase as they generally have slower interior movements. You can also use the AFC to increase or decrease the Phase in time.
Okay anyone else?