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A Look at Fracture FX - Maya’s Most Complete Commercially-available Destruction System

A few weeks ago, I picked up the 1.0 version of Fracture FX, a destruction plug-in for Maya that is similar to Rayfire for Max. At $400 for the introductory price, it’s a great deal considering how much more it offers than some of the simple “Voronoi with blast” plug-ins out there. So I’m writing a quick review/overview for people looking at learning more about it, since there is almost nothing out there about it (the developers are good developers but bad marketers since they are so busy).

Once you understand the layout of the Fracture FX interface, it is easier to play around with but it is really well thought out for a plug-in of this complexity. I found Blast Code to be a little confusing and it was easy to forget the workflows if you didn’t use it every day. Blast code was nice for glass shattering effects but it didn’t do Voronoi shatters for rock-like effects. It also used an unintuitive NURBS plane for its source meshes. Fracture FX works with existing geometry and you can mix in rigid bodies.

Here are some of the key features that make Fracture FX exciting and well-worth the cost in my opinion.

Multiple, event-driven shatters and native Maya field support. Here’s a small bomb fracture that breaks the cube and then it shatters further when it hits the ground:

Planar fractures with noise:

Uniform vs. radial Voronoi fractures:

Painted cracks, takes and bake to keys:

Bullet Physics support. Watch how much faster the single-threaded Bullet solver is than the well multi-threaded internal Fracture solver:

That also shows how you can mix shattering geometry with simple rigid bodies that don’t shatter. They will be rolling in the GPU-accelerated OpenCL support in the future. If you haven’t seen this in action, it’s ridiculously fast, even on a single Radeon 7970:

Some tips if you’ve just picked up Fracture FX and don’t know where to start:

  • If you use real-world scale, it will be really slow unless you set the “point separation” global parameter to around 1. If you change the point separation, set the Bullet Physics gravity to 980 (vs. the default 9.8). Otherwise, just work at 1/100th scale and leave these as is.
  • Fix your UVs before doing paint-based shatter. It caused crashes for me when UVs overlapped.
  • Radial impacts are the most convincing for rocks since this centres the shatter around the impact point. Image-based ones are for glass.
  • If things fall through the floor, increase the Bullet solver resolution. This will slow things down so only do this when you need to. Examples follow.

60Hz Bullet solver:

120Hz Bullet solver:

If I increased the resolution further, you’d see fewer of those small RBDs pass through the ground plane. Anyway, it’s too bad they don’t have a demo but if you need a tool like this, I highly recommend it. Long overdue on Maya, and this is being used in large productions already so it’s stable and capable.

Update: Here’s a really quick rundown of how you do a paint-based bomb destruction in Fracture:

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