How to create a smooth moving comet in 3ds max?

How do you create a comet that looks just like this in 3ds max: http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&VideoID=58498868?

I've managed to create a trail of particles following a path using the super spray feature. However, I'm not sure how to make it smooth. I tried making the particles so tiny that the trail would appear solid but it brought my machine down to a crawl & kept crashing. Also, I'm not sure how to make the head of the particle trail face the direction of travel?

robanddeannaAsked:
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bham3dmanCommented:
Greetings,

The effect you're seeing in that video is most likely done with compositing software like Autodesk Combustion or Adobe After Effects (or the higher end stuff).  You'd have to get creative in Max to pull this off without a special plugin.  

Particle Flow would be the way to go to achieve this with Max particle systems - but like you said, the calculation can bring a computer to its knees.

For the primary streaks, you might consider using the cloth plugin or Reactor cloth.  You could bind one end of the cloth to a helper object or other non-renderable object and let the dynamics control the flow of the cloth to achieve this flowing ribbon effect.  Then just use a glow material on the cloth.  This would give you the clean lines you are seeing without tons and tons of work with a particle system.

You could then accent the effect with a simple particle system to generate the little sparkle particles following the ribbon.

Another idea is to create long straight ribbon geometry and bind it to a curvy spline using a path deform world space modifier.  Use the percent parameter to control its position and speed along the path.

Hope this helps. Good luck.
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bullmonkeyCommented:
since the link goes directly to vids.myspace and there is loads of videos im unsure how we find what effect you are trying to recreate
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bham3dmanCommented:
The ? at the end of the link is causing redirection to the main video page - try this:

http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&VideoID=58498868
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bullmonkeyCommented:
ahhh, nice easy question, its  trapecode particular for after effects.

http://www.trapcode.com/products_particular.html
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bullmonkeyCommented:
how any points assigned to this quesion?
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bullmonkeyCommented:
the other thunder casino videos have other trapcaode plugs as well, if you want anymore identified gimme a try '-)
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bham3dmanCommented:
Regarding my path deform suggestion above, I created a Max file to illustrate this procedure (in case you haven't worked with path deforms before).  Notice that the material is 2-sided and uses the mental ray glow shader in combination with the glare output shader in the render setup.  

The included PFlow particle system uses a link constraint to follow the spline path (Animation menu - Constraints - Path Constraint).  Use the Motion tab on the command panel to adjust the path constraint.

By the way, I am using the Creativity Extension subscription update from Autodesk which provides some new PFlow operators...if you don't have it, your PFlow shapes might look a little different.

See the attached zip file.  When you unzip the file, rename GlowingRibbon.txt to GlowingRibbon.max (EE won't allow upload of .max file extensions).

Good luck.


GlowingRibbon.zip
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bullmonkeyCommented:
bham3dman, i would have liked to have seen this in action, unfortunatly, i am having a problem opening this out, could i see it as an avi?
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bham3dmanCommented:
Best I can do is a Quicktime format - see the attachment. Change the file extension from .txt to .mov.  
GlowingRibbonMov.txt
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bullmonkeyCommented:
i am know that in the clip it is trapcode particular but this is great. i would be interested as to where i can read more, also how long did it take to render? (default scanline i assume)
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bham3dmanCommented:
By the way, thanks for the info on trapcode particular.  I checked out their website - looks like great stuff.  I'm not sure if robanddeanna has After Effects.  Without it, this is the best Studio Max method that I can recommend  to achieve similar results.

It took a little less than a minute to render that clip.  I used Mental Ray to render rather than scanline - I've pretty much abandoned scanline since MR came along.  

After the initial setup, it's pretty simple to change the path of the ribbon - just change the vertex positions on the spline.
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bullmonkeyCommented:
hah, i gave up on scanline a long time ago in favour of vray as i use max as my primary tool for modelling and rendering as oppossed to creating effects, hence my ignorance.
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bham3dmanCommented:
Heard good things about VRay...considered switching for a while but can't seem to find any more room in my brain to learn more software.   I think I need an upgrade. :)
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bullmonkeyCommented:
it is just so quick to set up a photorealistic scene.
 i could wake up in the morning at 7 o'clock and look at the sunrays' shinning through the gaps in the blinds and the way that light reacts to the furniture and replicate it before 10 o'clock. I'd be lucky to finish by nightfall with mental ray. creating textures is also far more enjoyable and from my own experience, far more profound
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bham3dmanCommented:
Hmmmm....that sounds great.  Maybe I should give it another look.
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robanddeannaAuthor Commented:
Thank you Bham3dman. This is so much better that what I was coming up with - spent hours trying (I'm very new to 3ds max). I greatly appreciate your help.
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