Introduction to Dynamo for 3ds Max

Dynamo is a physics engine that uses the parallel computational capabilities of GPUs and multi-core CPUs to achieve exceptional performance and scalability for physics simulations, while producing accurate and reliable results.

Within 3ds Max, Dynamo provides a tool for doing fast and accurate simulations of deformable objects in an artist-friendly way. This documentation describes how the Dynamo plugin for 3ds Max works and how to use it to achieve realistic simulations.

To get started with using Dynamo, check out the Guides.

The Manual describes the features of the plugin in detail.

If you find something that does not work as it should, please Report a bug and we will try to fix the issue as soon as possible.

What's New?

v 1.1.0

  • Dynamo will now always simulate with 1ms timesteps. The number of steps simulated per 3ds Max frame will change depending on the current timeline FPS. This change should make it easier to set settings, make simulation more constant with different FPS values and reduce shimmering seen during simulations. With this comes other changes.
    • Substeps now effectively only controls how often collision meshes are updated and does not change objects' effective stiffness.
    • Temporarily removed strength and grab size controls for interact.
    • Concept of Max Stiffness is removed and stiffness values will not be rescaled depending on number of iterations.
    • Stiffness values now behave differently and are are a weighting for the solver to use when solving constraints.
      • To convert stiffness values from previous version, use this formula: [new stiffness] = [old_stiffness]^2 * (30/[fps])^2 * 1600/(iterations * substeps^2)
    • Updated defaults (distance stiffness, bending stiffness, drag, self-collision frictions).
    • Updated documentation to reflect these changes.
  • Added checkbox to control pre-solving of seams.
  • Fixed bug causing text inputs for the modifer to be unresponsive after cancelling a bake.
  • Temporarily show warning and ignore skinning when skinning to a deformable object within the same solver, instetad of crashing.

v 1.0.1

  • Added fix for issue where 3ds Max 2018 would crash during interact.
  • Installer adds install directory to user's path (is removed during uninstall). Not doing this caused intermittent "module could not be found" errors for 3ds Max 2018.
  • Improved stiffness compensation for substeps, iterations and fps during interact.
  • Fixed bug that caused object to fly away in +Y direction when simulating with seams and physics.
  • Show mesh edges when in seam sub-object mode. Improved visual feedback on selections.
  • Added guide for seams in documentation.
  • Added missing text for collider caches in documentation.
  • Smaller documentation fixes.

v 1.0.0 !

  • Change default distance stiffness to 0.071 (the default max stiffnes at 30 fps, 2 substeps and 2 iterations).
  • FPS changes in 3dsMax Timeline are taken into account when calculating max stiffness.
  • Updated license text.
  • Fixes in documentation.

v 0.2.6

  • In interact mode, all pins can be moved simultaneously using CTRL+ALT+Drag.
  • When pinning in interact mode, only one pin is created instead of the entire grab area as was done previously.
  • When dragging pins in interact mode, new pins are not created at the end of the interaction.
  • Increased interact max grab size to 200.
  • Interact options are now always shown, not only during interact.
  • Fixed bug where interact mode would grab objects that are behind the frontmost object.
  • Uses new Dynamo SDK (200926). Fixes incorrect behaviour with pressure objects and pins.
  • Fixed bug where the dynamo rollout panels would not fill multiple columns in max after baking.
  • Damping option has a checkbox to quickly disable the feature.
  • Added more tooltips.

v 0.2.5

  • New cursor for interact mode with hotkeys for changing strength and grab size.
  • Grabbing in interact mode now grabs based on screen distance instead of vertex neighbours.
  • Interact mode shows active pins when holding down ALT.
  • Added option to update the 3ds Max viewport for each baked frame.
  • Added option to advance frames during interact mode. This allows you to record interact sessions.
  • Fixed bug where object was not simulated if the dynamo modifier was not on top of the modifier stack.
  • Fixed issue where some users see "Error code 126 - The specified module could not be found" when starting 3ds Max.
  • Update tab order of rollouts. (Tabbing between solver iterations and substeps should now work as expected).
  • Collider's collision offset is now in world units. New default of 0.2cm.
  • Default solver iterations are changed from 4 to 2.
  • Default damping values are now 0.

v 0.2.4

  • Revert max stiffness calculation to what it was in v 0.2.2. The change in v 0.2.3 resulted in loss of control over distance and bend stiffness constraints.
  • Fixed dynamo modifiers losing their associated solver object when loading a max file with more than one solver.
  • Fixed bug where default gravity scale was the wrong scale when creating more than one solver.
  • Documentation opens after installer is finished.

v 0.2.3

  • Fix max stiffness calculation.

v 0.2.2

  • The scene gets converted to meters when being sent to physics engine. Before, gravity and other forces where scaled to match scale.
  • Nodes are now sent in object space to the physics engine and then separately translated. Should improve simulation stability.
  • Changes in timestep calculation.
  • Fixed bug where simulation was not correctly shut down in some scenes using the GPU. This could cause crashes when pressing Bake for the 2nd time.
  • Updated documentation. Clearer text when describing the ground collisions in the tutorials.
  • Uses new Dynamo SDK (200707).

v 0.2.1

  • Improved license messages and status displays.

v 0.2.0

  • Uses new Dynamo SDK (200626) that allows simulation to be run on machines without CUDA using CPU mode.

v 0.1.17

  • Command prompt flash when doing license checks is gone.
  • Re-enable license status on license button.

v 0.1.16

  • Remove license status from button to avoid excessive flashing command prompt due to license checks.
  • Uses new Dynamo SDK (200624) with stability improvements.

v 0.1.15

  • Fixed a bug that caused crashes when displaying Saved States and using interact mode.
  • Dynamo now shows a warning when trying to simulate using GPU mode and CUDA is not supported.
  • The Reset button now only resets visible nodes with modifiers belonging to the same DynamoSolver Object.
  • Fixed issue that caused wind forces to be much too strong when baking (but not during interact).
  • Change color of seams that have been set to be more visible.
  • Update documentation to take the new Ground collider into account.

v 0.1.14

  • Licensing system
  • Button for reporting bugs in the about section.
  • Ground collider (defaults to on in DynamoSolver object). This is in many cases more stable than using a plane for ground collisions.
  • Option to simulate using the CPU.
  • Improved stability

v 0.1.13

  • Added Laplacian damping, which makes the cloth feel heavier
  • Fixed a bug when having more than one deformable object in the simulation
  • Improved stability

v 0.1.12

  • Deformable objects are shown in their deformed states in sub object mode
  • Parameters do no longer have sticky defaults
  • Pressing reset resets all objects, not just the selected one
  • Physics can now be disabled in interactive mode
  • Parameters of deformable objects can be changed in interactive mode

v 0.1.11

  • Added pressure to dynamic objects
  • Mass now works properly
  • Fixed grabbing in interactive mode to always pick the closest surface

v 0.1.10

  • Holding down Alt in interactive mode unpins vertices after moving them
  • The rest state of an object is always the base state now, even if it is deformed at the first frame of simulation

v 0.1.9

  • Updated grabbing in interact mode to have a smoother falloff

v 0.1.8

  • Added grab size and strength parameters to interact mode
  • Fixed issue when interacting with more than one object
  • Interact mode now works when there are modifiers after dynamo, such as shell or turbosmooth
  • Holding down ctrl in interact mode will now pin vertices when moving them

v 0.1.7

  • Added Max Stiffness value to the solver object, which shows the maximum possible bending and distance stiffness with the current settings.

v 0.1.6

  • Fixed a bug where edges with length zero caused a mesh to fly away.

v 0.1.5

  • Fixed a bug in the solver interface that made gravity and wind settings invisible

v 0.1.4

  • Added DynamoSubdiv modifier which is more suited to subdividing triangular meshes than the TurboSmooth or OpenSubdiv modifiers

v 0.1.3

  • Added the option to cache animated colliders. In some scenes, this can result in a better performance when baking