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.

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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 4.5 for Maya released!

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Our focus in this new update of Pulldownit plugin for Maya is making  user experience smoother and more responsive for FX artists and freelancers, we realize Maya is broadly used for animation so we have gone deep into the solver code and got a much faster update per frame of deforming meshes, so now there is almost no performance penalty for character skins or nCloth shapes included in PDI dynamics as kinematic objects.

Besides as any realistic destruction effect needs dust around we are glad to introduce a new tool “Attach particles to fragments”, by using this little utility you can stick Maya nParticles to faces per material and therefore emit easily fluids or additional debris from inner faces only, removing the need to go to another DCC tool to paint a white and black map as guide for emission, of course you can still use this classic workflow in Maya, this new tool is just an alternative a fast way to emit from selected faces only, actually this tool can be used for any task you need to attach particles to faces in Maya aside PDI itself.

Esteban Cuesta has done this great tutorial showing some of the enhancements inside Pulldownit 4.5 and featuring how to emit dust from fragments using this new PDI tool along with Maya fluids.

 

Also several fracture parameters can now be animated if you need to, and we have added a new event to switch cracks propagation mode at desired frame, so you can make your model getting damaged locally for some time and then destroy it completely at specific frame just by enabling this event.

And there are more enhancements regarding usability, a new tool for easier fragments selection when creating clusters from small shards, generation of different takes for standing models getting damaged is now an easy task with the improved behavior of “Static-Only Break” fracture option and quite a few annoying bugs of previous version has been fixed.

Below listed the most relevant highlights in Pulldownit 4.5

 NEW FEATURES                                                                                    

New Tool for adding particles to faces per material, this little utility spread Maya nParticles over faces per material, so you can later emit easily extra debris, dust or smoke only from chosen faces.

emmitMayaParticles

Hi-poly animated meshes 3x times faster update in dynamics, animated or deforming meshes such as character`s skin are now updated very fast during simulation providing a smoother experience when including them in destruction scenes.

New “increase Selection” option for easier clusters creation, selecting groups of small fragments is much easier now using this new tool which select neighboring fragments in the same area just with one click.

“Only Breaks” fracture option captures larger cracks and detachments, this useful feature forces the model to stand while being impacted, its behaviour has been improved so now it can generate larger cracks and detachments when they doesn’t jeopardize the overall structure, this effect is more noticeable when using it in conjunction with Clusterize level.

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Fracture body Friction, Bounciness, Sec cracks and Damping parameters can be animated, get more artistic control over your fracture simulation by animating these parameters if needed.

Rigid body Friction, Bounciness, and Mass parameters can be animated, get more artisitic control over your rigid bodies simulations by animating these parameters if needed.

Added ability to change propagation scheme at frame, user can now damage an object only locally for some time then change to continuous propagation at desired frame to break it completely.

local2continuosFracture

New option to show/hide/select all disabled rigid bodies in scene, it is easy to lost track of disabled rigid bodies, with this handy new option you can select all at once to enable or delete them or hide from the viewport all disabled rigid bodies with just one click

Adquire Shatter can transfer animation from single shape node to multi shape nodes, transferring fragments animation to nodes with multiple combined shapes is now supported by Shatterit tool.

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

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

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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

Quake at St.Lawrence Church By Luis Tejeda

Luis Tejeda has posted a new video showing a cinematic action shot where a church tower collapses during an earthquake. The scene is a recreation of the real environment and setting of the San Lorenzo Church in Cordoba, Spain. Pulldownit 3.5 was used for all destruction effects.

See breakdown in the project page,

http://www.luistejedastudio.com/news

The Midas Effect by Niels Bosch

                                                                                                                                               Niels Bosch kindly explain us the main features of this endearing story made for his final project at Utrecht School of Arts, Pulldownit plugin was used extensively for all the scenery destruction effects.

The main goal for the look of the film was to make a believable feel of the clay material, everything had to look hand sculpted. In order to achieve that goal we turned to Zbrush for the sculpting part. For the clay structure we mostly used the standard brushes within Zbrush. These basic tools gave us such great freedom to make everything look as if it was hand sculpted.

The simulations were all done with Pulldownit. We wanted to create a “cute” explosion, it had to feel tiny, like it all happened inside of a cardboard box. In order to do this we didn’t use any dynamic fields to make the pieces fly apart, instead we gave every piece a slight angular acceleration to give it a springy effect. We used particles to simulate smaller pieces, the emitter was connected to the inner material of the shattered pieces. These particles were driven by several expressions which influenced its motion parameters like angular velocity, to give them a dynamic feel.

What I liked most about Pulldownit was the straight-forward usability, everything
from shattering the object to baking the simulation was very clear and easy to use.
The dynamics properties were easy and fast compared to other dynamic engines, and
the different bounding volumes came in very handy while doing larger simulations.

The main render engine we used was V-ray. The three of us had worked with V-ray on several projects so it was our first choice. The shading of the clay world was just a simple V-ray shader, nothing too fancy because the clay look was achieved by sculpting and then applying the displacement maps on the low poly mesh. We knew the render times would be substantial because we used a lot of displacement maps. So in order to lower the render times we decided to use no reflection on our clay shader and we used the world position pass and the normal pass to do some relighting in Nuke in order to fake the reflection.

The shading of the character was a bit more advanced. It contains the clay shader but on top of that the facial expressions and the gold parts were done with displacement maps and animated masks which connect to the controls of set driven keys. The disadvantage for using displacement maps for facial expressions is that the animator cannot see his actions in the viewport, so animating would be a pretty clumsy and very time consuming task.

To avoid this we came up with a solution to use the switch material within V-ray. This allowed us to make a preview material for the animator to see his actions, and switch between different clay/gold shaders for final rendering all connected with set driven keys to the face GUI.

About the authors:

Niels Bosh

https://vimeo.com/nielsbosch

Jonathan Krijgsman

https://vimeo.com/jonathankrijgsman

Almar Sloot

https://vimeo.com/almarsloot

Pulldownit nominated for the CG Awards 2015

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Proud to say Pulldownit plugin has been nominated for the CG Awards 2015 in the “best plugin” category.

Each year the  CG awards by 3D World magazine, rewards the  finest art and best tools for animation and VFX.

https://thecgawards.com

You can participate with your vote to choose the winner of each category, If you like Pulldownit plugin, you can support it and vote for it here:

https://thecgawards.com/vote/plug-in/pulldownit-3/

good luck to all the nominees!