Creating Visual Effects with Atmospheric Apparatus and Rayfire

This is a simple tutorial to demonstrate how 3ds Max® can be used for visual effects.

To start I'll discuss the Atmospheric Apparatus. The atmospheric apparatuses are used to generate fire, fog, or even volume light effects and consists of three different gizmos: the box, the cylinder, and a sphere.  These gizmos act as a visual reference to help to define the boundaries of the effects, which will only be visible in the render.  In my case I chose to explode Bot 329 and use the Atmospheric Apparatus to display the fireball and smoke, which you'll see represented in Figure 1.

Figure 1: The destruction of Bot 329

To do this I selected the helper icon under the Create tab in the Command panel, which is where I selected the drop-down list and chose the sphere apparatus shown in Figure 2. Simply placing the gizmo at the center of my explosion and adjusting its size to the approximate size of the explosion I want gave me a visual reference I could work with while I continued with my project. 

Figure 2: The Atmospheric Apparatus panel

Once the gizmo had been placed and sized I adjusted its settings by selecting the Modify tab shown in Figure 3 where I simply selected the fire effect shown in Figure 4, then pressed OK.

Figure 3: Sphere Gizmo Modifier tab

Figure 4: Adding the Atmospheric effect

When the effect was added I selected Setup at the bottom of the Modifier panel, where I scrolled down to Effects and selected the fire effect I've added to my scene. I continued to scroll down until I found the Fire Effect Parameters where I adjusted the colors, size, characteristics, and explosion type to fit my needs. 

Figure 5: Effect parameters

Although it's possible to use 3ds Max software's built-in tools to destroy my bot, I used a plug-in I like called Rayfire. To initialize Rayfire I selected my entire bot then chose Rayfire in the drop-down list located on the Create tab in the Command panel under geometry shown in Figure 6.

Figure 6: Opening Rayfire

Selecting the Rayfire button opens the primary utilities. Here I selected the bot and added it to the dynamic/impact objects shown in Figure 7 and chose the material (heavy metal for my case). 

Figure 7: Adding objects

At this point I decided I wanted to fragment my bot to generate more debris.  I selected the Fragment tab, altering the fragment type and adjusting the values to my liking. When the values were set, I chose Fragment as shown in Figure 8 to break my bot into segments that could act based on Rayfire’s Physics. 

Figure 8: Fragmenting objects

Finally, I selected Physics and chose Bake to animate the explosion from frames 0 to 100.

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