Plugins and programmes looked into for experimentation

While looking at how the price Rupert’s drop changes its physical state so instantaneously I had to use more than the shatter effect that Maya or 3DS max has as the shatter effect that it gives me is not complex enough for the animation I need for the instant shatter as it only shatters in big chunks also the shatter animation when played in Maya is quite unstable and unreliable as the chunks start to fall into each other giving away the illusion of physicality to the model so after experimenting with the default shatter I started looking into plugins for Maya that could give me more flexibility with how the simulation will run in the animation as well as giving me more properties to play with when working with the model like breaking the model like it was glass instead of clay or rock.

DMM plugin (Digital Molecular Matter)

With the DMM plugin which was made by the company called Pixelux which I can get for free as the contract that they had with Lucas arts is now over they are giving the plugin version for the product away for free but it is limited to 2500 simulation elements but the full version can be limitless so the full version which costs $500 is still much greater if you want to create a model which has a larger scale to it.


That is one of the reasons that I picked DMM as one of my choices to use for the simulation as it was free and easy to install into Maya the other reason is that this piece of software has been used in many different types of films and advertisements and is the leading engine in finite element analysis (FEA) which is the computerised method for the prediction of how objects react to real world forces like heat, vibration and other physical effects this shows whether a product that you are making for a company in 3d will break or wear out the way it was designed  for the real world.


Another reason for my use of DMM is that it has also been used by a lot of films and have made those films iconic with the scenes that had the DMM plugin running in it from Sherlock Holmes a game of shadows where they are running in slow motion and the tress are getting destroyed as well as the wall that also gets destroyed in this scene. To the scene in harry potter and the deathly hallows part 2 where the march of the stone knights and the fight scene on the bridge is also made with the DMM plugin and by seeing these two scenes I can tell that the DMM plugin can be very reliable for my simulation.

Sherlock Holmes scene

Harry potter scene

Real flow plugin

real flow logo.jpg

Real flow is another plug-in that can be used very well with bullet physics that is already a part of Maya which can give objects different types of physics by affecting the gravity and how objects interact with one another and because bullet physics already does that you can then start to use real flow for the shattering effect that you can be quite complex with changing the way how your objects shatter and where they shatter as well as how much they should break down in certain areas so you have control of how much your object will break so it is still left with part of its structure. You can also change the properties of the object so instead of a shatter staying as a glass simulation the shatter of the object can then become like jelly and this will deform the object and can be very valuable with my simulations as I am making an object which will have destructive capabilities.  As shown in the plural sight video.



Blender is a free 3d open source creation suite that supports the 3D pipeline which consists of modelling, rigging, animation, simulation and rendering as well as many more.

And it also has many script editing programmes within like python for the more adept user of the programme in which they can make their own

blender logo.jpg

Specialised tools to set their own needs. Also because it is free unlike Maya or 3ds max, many smaller studios and people who use blender creatively also have a say in how it works and this can lead to bug fixes and more efficient usability.

Now one of the great thing that blender is well attuned for is simulation as for what I am doing which is destroy an object into many pieces in different angles as it helps a lot. Also Maya or max is well suited for destructive simulation and mostly focuses on fluid and environmental simulations like water and fire which you can make with many different types of emitter but for blender it is much more different. As what I will be using is a script which can be implemented into blender.

The main factors that I will be using in blender which will help me immensely with how the objects break and in what ways I can make them break will be the use of cell fracture which when applied to an object it will start to fragment it into as many pieces that you need. Also you have a lot of options into customizing how your object will break apart from the amount of segments it breaks into to the size as, as well as the smoothness of the material.

cell fracture image.jpg

Testing of different plug-ins and modifiers


Cell Fracture

Now there is a reason as to why in my opinion blenders cell fracture is better than the DMM plug-in for MAYA and 3DSMAX because the cell fracture plug in is so much easier to implement into blender as all you need to do is to find the file that you have installed on the computer and in the user preferences tab install it into blender then after that you just have to find the plug in and then tick the box and you’re ready to go and it works very smoothly as if it was already part of the system.

The running of cell fracture was very smooth as well and I haven’t had any problems with it either although depending on what computer you have depends on how many segments you can have your objects split into when interacting with another object and for me it was around the 400 to 500 mark before it started to lag a little but it still gave a great result as well.hammer splinter 1.JPG

The amount of customisation that you can have with it in blender is very nice as well if you know what you are looking for as there are a lot of different tutorials for different ways of destruction just like how bricks crack open and trees splinters and because my main object is a wooden handled hammer I could make a jagged plane then parent it to the hammer so when I ran the cell fracture simulation the hammer and the jagged plane mixed. So it then made the fractures very long and compact just like a tree splintering. And I was happy with the result of how it looked.

Although it was my first time using blender so it took a while but the plug-in itself worked perfectly well as you can see.

Voronoi diagram algorithm

There is another reason why cell fracture ran so well and it is because the way it shatters the objects that it is implemented onto is driven by an algorithm

called the “ Voronoi algorithm” or the voronoi diagram and the reason why it is called a diagram is because it is kind of used as a texture which is applied to the object and then fragmented to how the diagram has been made depending on the object it was applied to that’s why when put on different objects like a plane and hammer they would break differently.

and the algorithm itself can be used for many different thing such as habitat mapping, satellite navigation and which is used for my shatter effect for the hammer that I will be destroying because it is used as a tool to develop 2D and 3D voronoi cellular structures as to why the tool in blender is called cell fracture.

voronoi diagram.jpg

So if you were to have a plane object and you use the algorithm on it you would then determine regions on the space of the plane that are closer to a point than any other point and this is because those segments that are made after you implement the algorithm are not constrained to the fixed topology which means the plane will become segmented.

Divide and conquer paradigm

Voronoi also uses the divide and conquer paradigm which is one of the fundamental paradigm for creating efficient algorithms. And this works perfectly well for cell fracturing because this paradigm takes the original problem which in this case is a segment and will recursively divide itself into several smaller segments of around the same size but slightly different so the effect of the diagram doesn’t become repetitive as shatter effects in glass are never the same as one another.

This allows for the tuning of the segments to be more specific as for me it works in how objects can interact with the hammer which has the cell fracture implemented on to it so it can shatter in different ways depending on the direction or the weight of the object that hits it so the shatter can become varied in small but detailed ways. And because of how segments are made in odd ways that gives people more freedom to play with the object and it is different to the normal topology which can be rectangular or hexagonal the image below will show exactly what happens to the object typology.   fracture.jpg

DMM (Digital Molecular Matter)

But for the DMM plug-in I actually couldn’t use it and I don’t really know why because I had downloaded it fine and implemented into 3DS max well and I was ready to test it with the object and at first it went well but it had about 50 to 100 segments in it and I wanted more so it would have more pieces to play with but as soon as I added more segments it broke the whole file and I couldn’t use the plug-in at all again because when I tried all the setting which were there before were completely gone.

So I only had a small time with the DMM plug-in and I’m sure it would have been good when using it but it was very fragile in the way it could crash very easily so I wasn’t relying on it too much.

pillars breaking.jpg

Blender explode modifier

When looking through ways of shattering my object I looked at a couple of modifiers that were already in blender and one of them is the explode modifier and unlike cell fracture these destroys the object by using a particle system with blenders stack modifier system. The reason the explode modifier is used with particles is that particles supports other effects in a major way.

Although straight away the explode modifier when applied to the object does not make the object explode but instead makes it fall to pieces although what this one modifier does is to automatically break the faces of the mesh based on the particles it also overrides some of the particle settings so you don’t have to make adjustments to make the explosion effect.

explode modifier.JPG


Finite Element Analysis Software | Autodesk. 2016. Finite Element Analysis Software | Autodesk. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 17 November 2016].

fxguide. 2016. DMM: FEA for VFX | fxguide . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 17 November 2016]

Pixelux Entertainment. 2016. Pixelux Entertainment. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 17 November 2016].

Blender Foundation. 2017. Logo – – Home of the Blender project – Free and Open 3D Creation Software. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 May 2017

Voronoi Fracturing | Tears of Steel. 2017. Voronoi Fracturing | Tears of Steel. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 May 2017]

Area by Autodesk. 2017. Area by Autodesk . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 31 May 2017]

Voronoi Morphologies « MATSYS. 2017. Voronoi Morphologies « MATSYS. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 03 June 2017]

Rashid Bin Muhammad. 2017. Voronoi Diagram using Divide-and-Conquer Paradigm. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 03 June 2017]





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