Ancient Hall destruction by Esteban Cuesta

 

Esteban Cuesta  the author of this powerful shot,  kindly explains us how he made it in 3ds Max using Pulldownit for destruction.

I did this shot inspired by the destruction of Red Keep cellars in final Seven Kingdoms season, seeing all those big ceiling’s fragments falling to the ground surrounding the lovers more and more until finally got them buried and dead.

That was a dramatic end which impressed me and decided to try a similar destruction effect using PDI in 3ds Max.

Fixing the Model for shattering

3dmodel

Im not a modeller at all so I searched the web to find some kind of indoor model of an ancient building I could use, finally I found this nice model of the Gloucester Cathedral by ddFantast, maybe familiar to you because several scenes of Harry Potter movies where actually filmed inside this corridor. The model looked perfect for my project with all those impressive arcs and its rich decorated ceiling.

The model was very complete, with shaders and lights already set, however it happens many times models for visualization have issues when it comes to shatter them,  in my case all the  moldings in the ceiling and arcs where made as independent objects and came with many open edges and defects like that not noticeable because got hidden in the overlapping area with the arcs  but  preventing from shattering them correctly.

I managed to fix the moldings of the ceil by applying cap holes modifier to them but sadly it didn’t work for the arcs, applying cap holes I got several visible artifacts on them, luckily I found a way by baking all the moldings as a normal map, PDI support this feature and the arcs  looked nice and still detailed with the normal maps in place of geometric moldings.

Fracturing the Model

Cathedral-element

The Cathedral model is built in a smart way, actually it is made of a single element like a chamber duplicated several times and concatenated so  you get the whole corridor.

I wanted to create the destruction in 2 stages, the first one shattering the windows and small fragments of ceilling detaching and falling, second stage is big chunks falling and breaking heavily when hiiting the ground. The corridor was very long so my idea was I could destroy a single element in this way then apply the resulting fragments and its motion to the rest of the chambers but offsetting the animation in time , so I finally got  a chain destruction effect.

destructionElementPasses

I destroyed the single element in 2 different passes, first was by using a Path Based shatter combined with an Uniform shatter of the ceiling, the first pass made of small fragments falling was driven by a PDI Cracker and for the second pass I created a big hidden sphere which impact the ceiling from the top making the big fragments detaching at the moment  I wanted. For shattering the windows I used a PDI Local shatter and triggered the outbreak with an animated PBomb of 3d s Max. I set every other object of the chamber as a PDI static body and bake the whole simulation as animation keys with Pulldownit.

Putting all together

concatenatedPasses

At this point I had the single chamber fully destroyed, to duplicate the effect in the rest of the corridor I used the PDI Acquire shatter option, this is  a nice feature which allows to apply the same shatter effect and animation keys to another instance of the same object. I did it several times until getting five consecutive chambers destroyed, to offset the animation in time I selected all animation keys for each chamber and shift them using the slider in 3ds Max. Finally to break regularity of the concatenated chambers, I simply remove all animation keys for some fragments preventing them to fall,  but selecting  the blocked fragments diferent in each one of the consecutive chamber.

It was a pleasant experience working with Pulldownit and 3ds max in this shot,  I could navigate the viewports with ease despite the amount of geometry involved  and the plugin behaved very stable for shattering and dynamics

Additional effects and Render

I added a few hundreds of very small debris emitting them from the  fragments of the first destruction pass,  for this I used Particle Flow with Position Object and Shape Instance operands, and I put an HD picture of a forest as an environment map for Vray, aside this I didn’t add any other effect to the scene,  I rendered the shot with VRay Next,  It took around 7 min per frame in a RTX 2070 card.

last

There are several  additional effects you can add in compo to a shot like this: depth of field , motion blur, etc..depending on what you want to strength of the scene, but I just added a camera shake  with Fusion, strengthen shaking when big fragments collide with the ground to increase the feeling of weight.

 

 

 

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Pulldownit for Maya 2019

Pulldownit plugin is already available for Maya 2019,  you can download it from the users area if you have licensed the plugin or download demo version from the web site in case not. You can review latest features and demos of Pulldownit 4.5 here:

Pulldownit 4.5 for Maya new features

There was a great expectation about Maya 2019 because it was taken much longer than usual to be released, many users’ thoughts were about some big new feature was coming, but finally Autodesk has focused this release in usability of the tool and performance by presenting an impressive long list of bugs fixes and a few but important improvements when using the software in production.

The major enhancement in Maya 2019 is the new cached playback feature, by using it you can speed up the playback of complex scenes or get a sustained frame rate  directly in the viewport removing the need to playblast the scene to review  issues, in addition you can modify keys freely and the cache auto updates quickly taking in account the changes so you get indeed a faster workflow specially for animation. Cached Playback is intended to be used with keyframed characters or some types of cached animations so all the dynamics solvers inside Maya: Nucleus, MASH, XGEN etc.. doesn’t support it. The same happens with Pulldownit, you cannot activate cached playback while computing dynamics however after baking keys and delete all PDI bodies you can enable it to speed up the playback in viewport, in our tests with scenes including around 1000 fragments this new Maya cache double the viewport FPS running at near 70 FPS, and if you export the destruction to Alembic the playback is even faster reaching a speed to around 90 FPS in average. Here a quick tutorial about using  Maya 2019 cached playback with Pulldownit simulations:

 

There are other improvements regarding animation keys, two new filters has been added, Butterworth and Key Reducer, the first one is intended to clean noise in animation capture data and the second is useful to remove needless keys in the animation.

Besides the integration of Arnold Render in Maya is becoming deeper with each update, in version 2019 you can use Arnold render inside one Maya viewport or render regions directly in the viewport 2.0

Autodesk also claims complex scenes now load faster and interactions with viewport 2.0 are quicker, in our experience that’s true so far, so even if some people is disappointed for the lack of brand new features in other fields we think Autodesk has done it right making Maya faster and more reliable in this release, users should notice it in his everyday work.

Pulldownit for 3d Max 2019

Pulldownit , the destruction plugin, is already available for 3d Max 2019, this update includes also a number of bug fixes you can read in the Pulldownit version logs pages,

Visit Pulldownit version logs

The major additions to 3d Max 2019 are support and editing tools for OSL shaders, a new procedural wood material and booleans operation fro splines similar to those for 3D shapes, this may look like not enough to justify a major version but the new policy of Autodesk is to include new features regularly in software updates, they dit it in Max 2018 with paramount additions like  Max fluids , VR support, new spline tools and important Arnold render updates, so there will be probably interesting features to come in futher updates of Max 2019.

Booleans operation for splines is an useful addition as it is faster and safer to modify a spline with booleans and then extrude it than applying booleans directly to 3d shapes which many times fails to do it correctly.

The new procedural wood material is nice, has quite a lot of controls to adjust the wooden look, like colour, roughness, number of wood rings and shape of the ribbon stripes, but I miss controls to add grime and scratches, just my suggestion for future updates, currently you can get a nice polished wooden look but not an old spoil wood material.

OSL shaders are also worth to check, they are well integrated in the Slate materials editor and the possibilities to create procedural shaders are endless.

Important to mention OSL shaders and procedural wood material are supported by Arnold render and also by Pulldownit plugin so you can shatter objects with these procedural shaders applied perfectly.

Changsoo Eun, 3d artist, has written an interesting overview of OSL shaders in 3d Max 2019 you can read here,

read Changsoo OSL shaders review

And In this video, Zap Andersson from the 3ds Max rendering team explains clearly how to use the new Advanced Wood material.

 

Pulldownit 4 for Maya released!

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Pulldownit 4 for Maya has been released and comes with several new powerful features you can see explained in the video.

But this release is not only about new features, the whole plugin has been updated and tuned for better performance and usability, there is now one single window gathering all fracture tools and one single window for all rigid bodies stuff, alleviating the burden of many open windows in previous version, new seams view in Shatterit mode and improved performance of fragments selection in advanced fractures, besides fracture solver is around 30% faster and much less memory is needed to cache simulations, and many other little things you surely will notice when using the tool, all of this makes this new release more responsive and with faster iterations when working in Maya.

Below listed the most relevant highlights in Pulldownit 4.

Shatter New Features 

New Adquire Shatter style, new style to transfer a current shatter pattern to another object including animation keys, by using it you can apply the current shatter effect to a version of the model with different shaders applied or to a hi-poly version of the same model.

New Shatter option for using a volume shape as source, now you can use any polygonal shape to constraint the shatter effect to its volume, this is especially useful when shattering based on an impact object.

shatterBasedOnShapeCompoWeb

Jagginess( v2.0) independent of tessellation.  New Jaggy method  is independent of the original mesh tessellation, getting much lighter jaggy fragments when the object is hi-poly, and removing the artifacts caused in borders of high tessellated models

jagginess20vs10compo

New soften edges UI parameter for Jagginess. New parameter to adjust soften of jaggy edges to get the amount of roughness desired in inner faces. In addition new soften method removes visible seems on inner borders from previous method.

New option to apply jaggines to broken fragments only,  using this option for non-moving fragments you can apply jagginess only to the areas which has been broken in simulation, getting much lighter meshes for rendering or real time games.

Dynamics New Features 

Speed up Fractures solver 30%, PDI dynamic solver has been very fast since its first version, in this latest release you will experiment faster iterations when working in dynamics.

50% less memory needed for caching simulations. PDI cache is now 50% lighter in CPU memory , that makes massive cached simulations running faster in viewport.

New ability to pull apart pieces of an animated object at desired frame, besides activating rigid bodies at first hit you can now set the frame when they become active, this works also for rigid bodies linked to an animated one.

Added a bake selected option, you can now bake keys only for selected fracture bodies, letting the rest to continue being driven by simulation, baked fractures can still interact with other objects by setting the animated fragments as kinematic bodies.

baleSelected

Improved performance of fragments selection in advanced fractures, selection of individual fragments in viewport is more responsive, especially when Stresses View is enabled.

Cluster break energy is now independent of body mass/scale, break energy dependence on body mass made cumbersome to understand its behaviour as the same threshold will trigger a blast or not depending on the size of the object, because of this we have removed this dependency and the threshold you set will be valid forever independently of mass or scale.

First hit bodies which eventually doesn’t move are excluded from caching and baking, fracture bodies set as “break upon impact” only caches its broken or moving parts and fragments set as static aren’t cached at all , making in this way the size of PDI files smaller specially when you are collapsing only parts of large structures such as buildings.

Read the full list of fixes in the Pulldownit web site version logs

War Reign Cinematics by Lee Soo In

Lee Soo In, FX artist at  Penxel, has uploaded several great cinematics and breakdown for the game War Reign using extensively Pulldownit plugin for destruction effects.

Lee Soo some words about his experience with Pulldownit plugin:

I’ve been using a lot of fragments tools. Among all the advantages of the PDI plugin,
the credibility of the results is very high and during the simulations access to objects is very easy.

Since we’ve done a lot of work with PDI, we’ve been able to do it very
conveniently.

“Bake simulation” is a good feature. Because I can change the timing and
speed freely , many times It is convenient to perform detailed tasks with keyframe modifications.

below another great War Reign cinematics with some PDi destruction effects, and lots of smoke using Fume FX and Krakatoa,

Thank you for showing those great  videos  and your testimonial Lee.

Pulldownit for Maya 2018

Maya 2018 has been finally released by Autodesk, and Pulldownit plugin is already available for it, you can download Pulldownit Pro for Maya 2018 from the users area if you have licensed the plugin or download demo versión  from the web site in case not.

Apparently legacy viewport has been removed from Maya 2018, you can enable it again by setting the environment variable MAYA_ENABLE_LEGACY_VIEWPORT, anyway Viewport 2.0 seems to be the future for Maya so Thinkinetic has made an effort to fix several issues of the plugin when using it in VP2 and now it is fully supported, along it other annoying issues reported by users has been fixed in this latest update ( 3.8.8) you can read the full list of fixes in the version logs page of the Thinkientic web site,  besides you can review latest features and demos of Pulldownit 3.8 here:

Pulldownit 3.8.6 new features

Maya 2018 doesn’t count with overwhelming new features but with quite a lot of fixes and useful improvements; this time Autodesk has preferred to fix  several issues which sadly were doing  Maya 2017 not usable in production  and improve  tools and solvers already present like the UV editor, Bifrost  or XGen, the Maya built-in hair solver, which is a great tool indeed and now has new useful capabilities as the Clump modifier, better  interactive grooming and ability to make hair and fur collide physically with other objects in the scene.

And don’t forget the new versions of Arnold and MASH included,  these plugins  are developed by external teams and now count with new features, here a pretty impressive demonstration by Steven Roselle about rendering a dense forest of 10000 trees with millions of polygons  combining  Arnold and  MASH capabilities in Maya 2018.

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