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Orbaz Technologies Forum Index » Particle Flow Tools: Box#3 » Box#3 notes - Read this before posting...
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Box#3 notes - Read this before posting...
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 6:11 am Reply with quote
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Since demo version of PFTools:Box#3 differs from the commercial one, please mention what version you are using when making a post. It can be done by using different prefixes in the topic subject: CV for commercial version and DV for the demo

The reference documentation is on the large side, so here's some highlights about the plug-in.

Particle Flow Tools: Box#3 includes the following new operators and tests:

Data Operator - the main operator of the package. 'Edit Data Flow...' button opens Data View - the main interface to manipulate the particle properties and data.

Data Icon - variation of the Data Operator that has visible 3d icon in viewports, and options to choose the type and the size of the icon. The operator has an extra sub-operator Icon that the regular Data Operator does not have.

Data Preset - when this operator is drag-and-dropped into the Event Map, you are given the list of presets that were saved with the data operators. The list includes only the presets that were made with either Data Operator or Data Icon.

Data Test - similar to the Data Operator but in the form of a test. It has an extra sub-operator Output Test that the regular Data Operator does not have.

Data Icon Test - data test with an icon. It has all the sub-operators, including the Output Test and Icon.

Data Preset - the test version of the Data Preset operator. The list of this Data Preset includes only the presets that were made with either Data Test or Data Icon Test.

Cache Selective is a cache operator with the option to exclude some particle properties from caching. The overall cache size can be significantly reduced by excluding the Shape data, for example. To make up for the absence of some properties in the cache, the Cache Selective operator has an option to run some operator in a post-cache process. This way one can save cache without the shape data but force a Shape operator to run afterward, and only in the current frame, without the need to run the Shape operator in every frame preceeding the current one.

Cache Disk - similar to the Cache Selective operator but with the option to keep the cache data on the disk in files (a file per frame).

Data Display shows, in the viewport, numerical data created by a Data operator or test.

Besides the operators, Box#3 includes numerous sub-operators that can be wired together in Data View to define particle data flow in a Data operator - Amount Change, Condition, Convert, Function, Geometry, Icon, Input Custom, Input Proxy, Input Standard, Notes, Object, Output Custom, Output New, Output Standard, Output Test, Parameter, Particles, Pipe, Random, Scale, Select Object, Switch, and Vector.

Particle data modification is not an easy subject, and there are several example scenes included with the package - see the folder <3dsmax_root>/scenes/ParticleFlowTools. Here're highlights about some of them:

EventCounter and ProxyHeight - how particle systems can communicate with each other.

SpidersForCaching - good testing ground for cache operators. The scene is very hard to cache with the standard Cache operator because of the cache size. With the Cache Selective operator it is possible to exclude the Shape data from the cache, and add the Shape Instance operator as a Post-Cache operator. With the Cache Disk operator it is possible to keep the whole cache on the disk, a half-MB cache file per frame.

ProxySpeedInfluence - another example of how a particle system can grab data from a different particle system.

SizeByColor - the size of particles is controlled by the texture.

BloodMoon - just to avoid the questions how the BloodMoon animation was done. The example is not a simple one, and it is not recommended for the beginners.

Color3DGradient - The Geometry suboperator has Point Color 3D Gradient option. It uses a 3D procedural texture to drive particle animation. It is possible to find the gradients in the 3d texture (vector from darker areas to the lighter ones), and use it to push particles in that direction. Once they reach a certain level of white, they rest.

ColorGradientOnObject - Same idea as above but particle motion is restricted to the surface of an animated object.

MappingGradient - The mapping info is used to drive particle speed. Since mapping is usually desribed by three values U, V and W, you need some kind of a mask vector to define what mapping values are important for you. For example, to drive particle animation by the U value, you should use vector [1, 0, 0] as a mask.

ConvertRollPitchYawToQuaternion - rotation is a difficult subject. Rotation can be expressed as rotation around an axis by an angle, or by euler angles, or by Roll, Pitch, Yaw angles. For the later please look at this topic: http://www.orbaz.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=197
Box#3 works with rotations as quaternions, and all operations are done this way. You have a bunch of options to convert to quaterions, and this scene is just one example.

RollPitchYawDisplay - example on using rotations and the Data Display operator.

RotationVariation - another example on dealing with rotation animation, and time shifting.

SimpleSpawn and SimpleSpawn2 - examples on how to make a simple Spawn operator.

SpawningParticlePerVertex - the data operator shows how to generate the number of particles to match the vertex count of an object, and place them at vertices.

Random Walk - the example shows the usage of the custom data preset Random Walk. The data preset is similar to the Random Walk space warp available from Blur.

Suction Hole - the example illustrates usage of the custom preset Suction Hole. You can read more about the example here: http://www.orbaz.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=171&start=10

Last edited by Oleg on Sat Jun 19, 2010 7:34 pm; edited 10 times in total
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Data View
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 7:00 am Reply with quote
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Data View serves as the command center for Particle Flow Tools: Box #3. Like Particle View, you build your data flow with an easy-to-use graphical user interface, and it works essentially the same way. You add components (suboperators) by dragging them into the workspace from the depot area, set parameters on the Data View command panel, and wire suboperators together by dragging between inputs and outputs. Your data flow can be as simple as a couple of suboperators wired together, or as large and complex as the one found in the Random Walk data preset.

One difference is that each suboperator can have multiple connections; how you configure the suboperator determines the quantity and types. Also, connectors are color- and letter-coded to indicate the data type. If you wire two connectors of different but compatible data types, a conversion suboperator is automatically inserted and appropriately configured.

But linking suboperators in Data View goes beyond simply wiring them together; they can also be logically connected via Channel buttons. This lets you create sophisticated, powerful systems that would be impossible otherwise. In addition, each suboperator has a filter input that accepts Boolean data and allows the component to process only certain data based on conditions you specify.

Because the concept of Events, so integral to Particle Flow, doesn't apply to Data View, you have two other ways of combining components. First is data blocks, which you create simply by dragging two or more linked components together, resulting in a "black box." The second is groups, by which you can combine any arbitrary subset of suboperators. You can label groups to describe their members' functionality. You can also make them transparent, change their background color, lock and unlock them, and more.

Each Data operator has its own data flow: You can open several Data View windows, compare their contents, and copy/paste single suboperators, selected sets, or whole data flows between Data operators. Data flow represents a deeper, more flexible level of particle data manipulation in Particle Flow. Effective use of this level means you can create an effect with fewer events.

Last edited by Oleg on Wed Jul 19, 2006 10:21 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Preset Operators
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2006 7:02 am Reply with quote
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Box#3 allows you to create your own PFlow operators by creating data presets. Each operator/preset is stored as a separate file with the extension PFP (Particle Flow Preset). You can designate a network folder to keep the presets, and artists in a studio can create and exchange their presets without needing to restart 3ds Max.

Box#3 comes with seven presets to get you started. Because you can load a preset into Data Operator and check out the data flow in Data View, the presets can be used as tutorials as well.

Some of the presets show up in the Particle View depot as regular operators: BlurWind, Random Walk, and Spin Limit. Others--Delete By Elevation, Particle Per Vertex, Reduce Cached Lifespan, and Suction Hole--are available via both the Data Preset operator and the Load Preset button in the Data operator.

BlurWind and Random Walk are the results of collaboration between Orbaz Technologies and the CG animation and VFX powerhouse Blur. Orbaz converted Blur's well-known particle space warps to PFlow operators as Box#3 data presets.

BlurWind controls particle speed to simulate wind force. It does not have the shortcoming of the standard Wind space warp where a particle is accelerated indefinitely, and you have to apply additional Drag space warps to fix it. You can also apply a viscosity effect and specify whether the speed force and viscosity are affected by particle size.

Random Walk creates chaotic, turbulent particle motion. As with the BlurWind operator, you can add viscosity and use particle size as a control factor.

Spin Limit operator lets you control spinning of particles by defining minimum and maximum spin rates. You can animate the maximum spin rate parameter to slow down the spinning effect.

Delete By Elevation is a simple but very effective operator that deletes particles if they go above or below the specified elevation level. If you have particles that might leak through collision surfaces and fall into the abyss of negative-infinity Z space, you can use this operator to save CPU cycles on those lost particles.

Particle Per Vertex spawns particles to match the number of vertices in a reference geometry object, and places the particles at the reference object's vertices. The operator should be preceded by Birth operator that creates a single particle as a seed for spawning. This way you can match each vertex of the object with a particle, without the trouble of setting the amount of particles in the Birth operator, and using the Position Object operator--everything is done automatically for you. You can increase segmentation of the reference object, and Particle Per Vertex operator will do its job right away.

Suction Hole operator functions as a force space warp by attracting particles from an icon-defined half-space and sending them through a circle icon outward as a stream.

Reduce Cached Lifespan decreases particle lifespan as defined by the Reduce By parameter. It can be used only as a Post-Cache operator in Cache Disk or Cache Selective operator. Cache operators should have the Delete operator to define the original lifespan. This operator is further testament to the flexibility achievable with Box#3, where you can pre-calculate and store the motion of particles and then work on coloring and materials properties that can be dependent on particle lifespan.
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Demo version limitations
PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 7:16 am Reply with quote
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The demo version of Particle Flow Tools: Box#3 is available for download at http://www.orbaz.com/download/

Demo Limitations
This product is a limited demo/evaluation version, and as such, it does not contain a number of things that the full, commercial application has including:
- You can create your own particle systems, data operators and modify the example scenes. You can verify the animation in viewports but the functionality of the operators is limited at render time.
- Evaluation version restricts the ability to save the projects - commercial version cannot load files from evaluation version.
- Caching is limited - demo version cannot write cache data files.
- Demo version does not work in the presence of active cache operators.
- It is for evaluation purposes only and cannot be used in commercial projects.
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Box#3 notes - Read this before posting...
Orbaz Technologies Forum Index » Particle Flow Tools: Box#3
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