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..::magic dust::..

Open up the Magic_Dust.max file included below. To create the effect of the sparkling dust I had created a basic wand animation that flicks off particles with a basic Particle Flow system. This system produces particles based on the wand’s motion (the further it travels the more particles are produced) by using a Spawn test, with additional motion effects added such as motion inheritance and Gravity and Wind Space Warps.

The colours themselves are produced by a basic Multi/Sub-Object material that has 10 different self-illuminated materials within it. This is instanced within the Particle Flow system in a Material Static operator set to assign a Material ID to each particle at random, therefore randomly selecting a different sub-material from within the Multi/Sub-Object material assigned to the Material Static operator. If desired, you could split the particles and assign different materials to different particle sets / characteristics, such as on the final flick of the wand sending different coloured particles to explode momentarily afterwards!

The glows and flares giving the dust that characteristic look is generated by Material Effect ID channels; the Multi/Sub-Object material has an assigned ID of 1 which, in turn, is referenced within a Lens Effects post filter located in the Effects panel. In the 3ds max scene file included on the magazine CD, I have added a single Lens Effects filter, and subsequently designed the flare effects using multiple effects elements, specifically two Glows of differing sizes (one smaller, one larger to give a bright interior glow and lesser-intensity falloff) plus a Streak to create a horizontal anamorphic line and Star filter to give the impression of an assigned camera filter.

These filters give more control than their Video Post counterparts as multiple elements can be added to build up the desired result (a setup can be found in the Video Post section; use either the Glow & Highlight effects or the Flare, though remember to disable the Lens Effects filter beforehand else you will get two sets of filters applied!) as the Video Post Flare filter will be limited to specific nodes (particle system etc) which will not only position the Flare at the particle positions but also at the PFSource icon; this can be easily disabled with a flare Size of 0, or moving the icon out of sight.

Enlarge Screenshot The end result of the Lens Effects filter generated through the Effects panel – note how each element is built up to produce the end result, and is based on Material ID’s.
Enlarge Screenshot Preview result within the Video Post Flare. The effect is nicer, though doesn’t give as much control to selectively assigning the effect.
Download the max file! Zip file to accompany.

Initially published: 3D World magazine, Issue 97, December 2007.

Copyright Pete Draper, December 2007. Reproduction without permission prohibited.