Export PDI dynamics from Maya to UE4

In this excellent tutorial Esteban Cuesta shows us how to destroy a pile of tubes using Pulldownit in Maya and then export it to Unreal Engine 4, but not only this, he also teaches us how to trigger the destruction in UE4 when a bullet hits the model during the game. Exporting broken models and dynamics to UE4 works with either Pro version and free version of Pulldownit, just follow the tutorial to learn how to add quality destruction effects into your game.


thank you Esteban for the amazing tutorial


Pulldownit for 3d Max 2018

Pulldownit , the destruction plugin, is already available for 3d Max 2018, you can review latest features and demos of Pulldownit plugin here:

Pulldownit 3.8.6 new features

3d Max 2018 has come early this year, the major new addition is Arnold render, this award winning  renderer replaces Mental Ray which has been removed although NVidia still commercialize it on its own. The User Interface has changed also quite a bit, this new release uses QT5 for all UI windows making the UI more versatile, now you can tear off the Timeline window and even the whole Commands panel besides you can make it thicker however the controls inside remain the same size, which makes resizing it useless, I hope in future updates of Max the controls turn larger when resizing the panel they belong to, it can be helpful when twiking parameters, by the way Max UI distribution resembles a little more to Maya, first with the addition of the Scene Explorer in 3d Max 2016, and now changing the workspace selection box to the top right corner, same as Maya does.

Another Tool that has been enhanced in this version is MGC, it counts now with 78 new operators, and better performance and usability. MGC is a great tool for creating procedural objects and modifiers in 3d Max in a visual way, much easier than scripting.

Doing simple animations is now easier with the new Motion Paths , you can set the main keys just by dragging the object and adjust later its trajectory with fine control without having to convert it to a spline, that’s great, time saving feature and less stuff to handle in the scene.

And don’t forget the Data Channel modifier and Blended Box map, those powerful tools were introduced in 3d Max 2017 update 1, and Autodesk continues enhancing them in this version. Blended Box is a fast way to combine different textures over the same model without visible seams and not having to edit UVs at all, the Data Channel is a new modifier which can be cumbersome to use at first time but definitively powerful in what you can do with it like affecting only the concave areas of a model to modify them or whatever.

Quite a lot of useful news for a year development, worth to try this new version, below a couple of tutorials highlighting some the new features inside Max 2018,


car crash in the garage by Andres de Mingo

Andres de Mingo  the author of this powerful shot,  kindly explains us how he did the destruction effects using Pulldownit plugin in 3d Max.


Impact with the stacked boxes


Mi idea was to break all the boxes violently when impacting with the car but leaving the pallet below it sliding fast forward as  a whole,   I believe pulling it forward the camera  makes the sequence more impressive for the viewer. For setting the scene with PDi first thing was to define the shape of the fragments the boxes will break in,  no doubt, PDI wood shatter style was the natural choice,  however applying it to the box as  a whole the fragments on the top and bottom parts shattered  in round fragments , the reason was the wood pattern was aligned with the sides planks, to solve the issue I detached top and bottom parts as different objects so I could apply the wood pattern aligned with them correctly. I shattered each box in around 150 shards doing it in this way.

I set the pallet as a dynamic object and the car as a kinematic one but with convex hull shape to speed up collisions. I created a fracture body for each box, setting activation as first hit, hardness 100 units and clusterize 0. Besides the floor and ceil and several pillars was set as static objects so fragments doesn’t pass through them. I hadn’t to do any further change and PDi computed dynamics blazing fast for the  near 800 objects involved  at once.

Collision with the pillars

Shattering the pillars required   a little more care, I wanted them to stand but generating small fragments on the impact area with the car,  I wanted also small debris falling apart in the corners of the pillars with the ceil.  For the first one, which breaks in the background I simply combined two local shatter patters, one for the impact area and another one for shattering the top part of the object. For the other column which breaks  rather close to the camera I used  the new vertex color shatter which allowed me to make the areas of breaking more irregular and also generate easily random cracks over its surface when the car hits it.

I created a fracture body for each column, setting this time activation as breaks upon impact as I wanted the main part of the pillars  to stand,  as before the car was set as a kinematic object and the floor and ceil as static ones.  However in my  first attempt some big fragments broke off when impacting the car and I wanted them to stand, using PDI advanced fractures to set all big fragments as static objects fixed the issue, finally I did several test with different hardness values until achieving the desired  look for destruction.

Damaging the car

The car itself should deform when colliding with the pillars and its bodywork get damaged with scratches and dust because of the impact, to deform the car I used a morpth modifier in 3D max, setting 3 states for the mesh with different levels of deformation.  The bodywork material is animated , by one side its glossiness cuts down progressively because of the dust adhered to it and for adding the scratches I used a composite material and animated  the opacity of each component shaders to  show the scratches after collision.

Hitting the ground

When the car finally fall head down , there appears several fragments rolling over the ground, they are supposed to be debris from the ground and also small parts of the car itself. In place of shattering the ground and separating parts of the car I did a little trick, I created a thin box object over the ground textured like it and placed just where the car fall, a kind of step, I  shattered it in 200 fragments using uniform style, after that I changed the texture of some shards to be the same of the wind screen.  Then by setting a fracture body for this thin step when the car hitted it, the fragments rolled over the ground as I wanted.  I had just to hide this fake object until the car fall head down to get the effect done.

Adding smoke and dust

Smoke was generated using Particle Flow in 3d Max and applying a smoke material for the particles, as not being a volumetric smoke like the one generated by a fluids plugin its behavior is limited and even poor in foreground. So I set its gain very low in Fusion to hide the defects as much as possible but still being able to see the smoke in the scenery.

Dust was added by rendering a very blurred pass of the fragments in motion and adjusting its levels in Fusion, in this way you get a pretty dusty look of the fragments.

thank you Andres, very nice work!



VideoGame SuperStar Challenge by Hum3D


Thinkinetic is proud sponsor of VideoGame SuperStar challenge by Hum3D.

Fan-art contest for the best 3D character from a video game. You can choose any remarkable hero you consider the most impressive.

You can summit your work until May 30, 2017.

Pulldownit Pro license is one of the valuable prizes and there are plenty of them, those interested can check rules and prizes here, go to challenge site

Introducing Vertex Colors Shatter


We are glad to introduce Vertex Color Shatter, this new feature allows users to shatter a 3d model based on a black & white vertex color map, as you can see in the demo videos below it is a very interactive tool and you get lot of control when generating small fragments over the surface of an object. Vertex Color Shatter is available in Pulldownit 3.8.6 for 3d Max and Maya, for users of Pro version only.

Video Tutorial: Vertex Color Shatter in 3D Max

Video Tutorial: Vertex Color Shatter in MAYA

As far as we are concern this feature is completely new in the VFX field, if you find it useful let us known your experience with vertex color shatter, we have done our best and we are willing to continue improving it according to users feedback.

This time we have prefered to make it available as an extension of current version 3.8 but as any update it counts with other enhancements and some annoying bugs fixed , you can read below the brief improvements list.

Version 3.8.6 Enhancements:

  • Shatter Support for Vertex Colors.
  • New Vertex Colors Shatter Style.
  • Modify Jaggy Strength is now a fast operation.
  • All Basic Fracture params are now saved after deleting a fracture body, in this way you can reshatter an object and all your fracture params are restored after creating the fracture body again.
  • New “Set All Values to Default” Basic Fractures Option: Useful new option when you want to reset all values to solver defaults without having to delete the Fracture body.

You can read list of bugs fixed in the Pulldownit versions log pages.


Pulldownit 20% OFF


Merry Christmas and best wishes for next Year from the Thinkinetic team.

To celebrate the end of the year Thinkinetic is offering a 20% discount for all Pulldownit Pro licenses, either single or floating ones.

To get your discount applied just visit the Thinkinetic shop and input the code xmas2016 in the product box.

This special offer is valid until January 15th 2017, dont miss it!


Tips & Tricks: Using Hidden Objects As Barriers

When planning to destroy large buildings or structures you usually want some parts to stand, however other objects may eventually collide with them, that’s why those parts should be set as static bodies in dynamics, sadly if these static parts have complex shapes,  that will increase significantly the computation time despite they doesn’t move. For example in the image bellow we want to destroy only the main tower on the right but when falling it will surely collide with the rest of the castle so we must set the whole thing in dynamics.


A way to speed up the simulation in cases like this is using simple objects as barriers, so flying fragments cannot pass through them. The idea is those barriers separate the real geometry from the fragments, you can use simple shapes as boxes or cylinders to enclose the area where fragments can move, taking care they approximate the shape behind in case the real geometry is very close to the barrier. In our example we can surround all standing parts with simple boxes and some cylinders,


Modifying  the barriers shape if necessary to approximate correctly the geometry behind, the important thing is keeping always the low poly count. It doesn’t mind if the barriers interpenetrate each other as they are static objects.

At this point you have just to set the barriers as static bodies , you can even hide them from the viewport and PDi will take them in account for collisions anyway. After the barriers are hidden the result can be better than using the real geometry as you are avoiding its complexity and for sure you will save important computation time. See the image at the bottom once the barriers are hidden for our example.