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Controlling the orientation of particles in Superspray

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Matt FawControlling the orientation of particles in Superspray
by on Sep 20, 2012 at 2:07:12 am

Dear all,

I am trying to animate a flow of arrows, that extend across a brain model, to indicate brain signals moving from one brain part to another.

I created a Superspray, with Instanced Geometry of an arrow, and bound it (via a "Path Follow" space warp) to an arc, so the arrows follow the path from one part of the brain model, to another. I turned the "Spin Time" to zero, so the arrows wouldn't move around. This seems to work okay, but the arrows all point in, toward the brain, rather than forward, in the direction of the path.

In the Superspray system, under Rotation and Collision, the Spin Axis Controls seem like the best solution for aligning the arrows. Both "Random" and "Direction of Travel/MBlur" have the arrows pointing all over the place. "User Defined" seems like the best bet, and I've been able to adjust the direction of all the arrows at once. However, I can't figure out the logic of the "User Defined" and can't get the arrows to adjust in the desired direction. The spinners all increment so slowly that I can't tell what or if there is any change. And the only thing I've found at all successful is putting random numbers in the X, Y, and Z axis boxes.

There must be a more elegant way to control the orientation of the particles. I've tried rotating the "Instanced Geometry" source object, but no good. Also, rotating the particle system doesn't help. There's nothing in the "Follow Path" space warp that seems relevant. And the manual only gives the quickest description of the "User Defined" part of the Rotation and Collision roll-out.

Any ideas, suggestions, help? Thanks!
-matt faw


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Joseph W. BourkeRe: Controlling the orientation of particles in Superspray
by on Sep 26, 2012 at 12:16:25 pm

Hi Matt -

I hate to send you in a different direction, but with a few minutes of work in Particle Flow, you'll be able to get exactly what you want. I don't think Superspray is up to the job - it might be done with more modifiers and space warps, but it's not worth your time. Particle Flow will give you absolute control over every parameter you want to work with. The tutorial I'm giving you the link to is for "arrows" - unless you're doing Braveheart in the Brain, I'm guessing they're the wrong type of arrow, but you can just change that in the Shape settings:







Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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Matt FawRe: Controlling the orientation of particles in Superspray
by on Sep 27, 2012 at 1:34:08 am

Thank you very much, Joe. Indeed, particle flow did have the kind of controls that allowed me to choose the alignment of the arrows.

Now I have a new problem, though. Perhaps you or someone else can help. I was seeking to have the particles travel along the path of my arc, but instead they just all pop up from the emitter, land on the arc, and stick there.

When I have them display their particle ID #, I see that particle 1 stays near the emitter, and the particles increment from there, along the arc. This is the opposite of what I expect from a particle system, in which the first emitted particles should be the furthest away from the emitter. In other words, the particles aren't following the path; they're merely moving from the emitter to stick to that path.

Unfortunately, most of the tutorials on path constraint are for super spray; I haven't yet found a good one for particle flow. I went through the example on the Speed by Icon page of the 3DS Max 2012 reference guide, and I think I'm following the same procedure with my arrow project (except, of course, with instanced geometry).

Any thoughts? Any help?

Matt Faw
Consciousness 3D


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Matt FawRe: Controlling the orientation of particles in Superspray
by on Sep 27, 2012 at 4:48:52 pm

Okay, now I seem to have been able to get the particles to flow along the path of my spline. I'm not sure what changes I made this time (I'll have to inspect the two projects carefully), but it seems to work now... at least, it does in the viewport.

But when I render, the particles end up in an entirely place in the scene. They're on the opposite side of the brain model, and heading off in an entirely arbitrary direction. Eek! What has changed between the viewport and the render, and how in the world can I plan like this?

If you can't tell, I'm pretty new to Max, and even newer to particles. Any suggestions would be most appreciated!

Matt Faw
Consciousness 3D


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Matt FawRe: Controlling the orientation of particles in Superspray
by on Sep 27, 2012 at 11:18:00 pm

OK, so I've managed to make it work. I don't know what was wrong with the last pass, but I re-created the scene from scratch, and now it works. I'll have to go back through the last couple versions, and see if I can't figure out what was going wrong. If I do figure it out, I'll report back here.

Thanks again, Joe, for setting me on the right path.

Matt Faw
Consciousness 3D


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Joseph W. BourkeRe: Controlling the orientation of particles in Superspray
by on Sep 27, 2012 at 11:51:18 pm

No problem Matt - I'm probably only a few steps ahead of you with Particle Flow. It's not intuitive at all, but when the light goes on, you'll have more powerful capabilities than with any other of the Max particle systems.

Joe Bourke
Owner/Creative Director
Bourke Media
http://www.bourkemedia.com


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