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[GRAND LAUNCH] PopcornFX into iClone - Tips & Notes

Posted By Grace (RL) 4 Years Ago
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Grace (RL)
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PopcornFX Plug-in for iClone, in addition to supporting the sampling of images and meshes right inside iClone, can also import PopcornFX Editor's native *pkfx format.
The following topics is expounded upon in this article:
  1. Acquisition of PopcornFX Editor and relevant particle effects content.
  2. Handling differences in world coordinate systems between PopcornFX and iClone.
    • PopcornFX being Y-up (like Unity 3D) and iClone being Z-up (like Unreal Engine).
  3. Dealing with missing *.pkmm and *.pkproj upon import.
    • Missing message prompt and suggested remedy.
  4. Representation of PopcornFX Editor parameters inside iClone's plug-in user interface.
  5. Dealing with mismatched attributes between PopcornFX Editor and iClone due to the inability of *.pkfx format in preserving project level data.
    • Some particle effects have many attributes while others have less, how can one go about exposing them?
    • Some attributes are only accessible through PopcornFX Editor's scripting environment.
    • Curve sampler is still under development.
  6. Fixing visual disparities between PopcornFX Editor and iClone for the same *pkproj file.
    • Because PopcornFX project level data is not included in the *.pkfx format for iClone.
  7. Fixing visual disparities in iClone caused by scripting in PopcornFX Editor.
    • Scripting gives PopcornFX a great amount of freedom, but with this freedom comes a few pitfalls that users should be aware of. 
  8. Pending feature: Path Sampler for PopcornFX particle emitter.
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1. Acquisition of PopcornFX Editor and relevant particle effects content

To download a free copy of PopcornFX Editor go to:
https://www.popcornfx.com/download/

Once installed, launch the editor to download additional particle effects content.
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/07da1c2f-a786-4b28-a44e-6182.jpg

Find more PopcornFX learning material at: 
https://www.popcornfx.com/tutorial-full-page/


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2. Handling differences in world coordinate systems between PopcornFX and iClone.

PopcornFX Editor does not have the ability to convert between different axis systems, therefore any content downloaded for PopcornFX editor and brought into iClone will be facing the wrong direction.  A simple Z-up project is provided below along with remedy for a specific case which is not a universal fix for every single particle effects content as each scenario can be quite different.

PopcornFX default axis system is Y-Up like Unity 3D:
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/f09d078e-f646-430c-b4c2-3a4a.jpg

iClone axis system is Z-Up like Unreal Engine.
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/1e616207-fe78-42e0-9cd9-9a93.jpg

Due to differences in the axis systems, particle effects downloaded from outside sources may not emit in the expected direction inside iClone, see:
CollisionSurfaceRestitution.pkfx from ReleaseHightlights_v1.12.2 inside iClone:


We suggest the following easy fix (not applicable to all scenarios):
A basic *.pkfx file is provided as an example for a proper Z-Up particle effect: Download
The axis direction can be fixed inside the PopcornFX Editor, see:


To obtain additional learning resources, go to the PopcornFX website: https://wiki.popcornfx.com/


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3. Dealing with missing *.pkmm and *.pkproj upon import.

iClone's failure to locate the *.pkproj file will pop up the following dialog window:
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/19537a3a-846e-46ec-8570-93f7.jpg

Reason: 
When newly obtained particle effects content is not relocated to the root folder, then this message will appear.
*.pkfx format does not package source file data, therefore, the locations of source files are recorded instead. 
This may include source file that resides in the project directory which iClone would need to be cognizant of. 

Solution:
Click on the OK button in the message prompt and select the proper root directory:
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/486b671b-ab68-4f15-bf22-737c.jpg

iClone's failure to locate the *.pkmm file will pop up with the follow dialog window:
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/f1f1b5cf-de64-4b1f-a60c-6c3f.jpg

Reason: 
The *.pkmm is a proprietary model format for the PopcornFX editor which is not supported in iClone.

Solution:
Launch the PopcornFX Editor and assign the *.fbx model resource in the place of the *.pkmm and save the file (see the following video).  
This is a very common problem when dealing with PopcornFX published particle effects content that employs mesh sampling.



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4. Representation of PopcornFX Editor parameters inside iClone's plug-in user interface.

PopcornFX Particle Attributes is equivalent to iClone PopcornFX Attribute 
Note: All PopcornFX attributes inside iClone can be keyed and possess its own timeline track.
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/34db8613-5593-4089-8120-fdd2.jpg

Sample Attribute 
is equivalent to iClone Emitter
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/8d2337d9-5682-48b1-87e4-1046.jpg

PopcornFX Layer List 
is equivalent to iClone Particle List 
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/bb35efd1-f99e-431c-a2b8-b685.jpg


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5. Dealing with mismatched attributes between PopcornFX Editor and iClone.

Why is there a mismatch between the number of attributes for PopcornFX Editor and iClone and how do I expose them for iClone?

PopcornFX content is entirely custom made.  When an attribute is not exposed in the PopcornFX editor then the said attribute is unattainable in iClone and any other 3d software such as Unreal Engine.  

Simple Tutorial: How to setup the Audio Sampler for the emitter? 
Goal: Open the audio sampler for the *.pkfx file inside iClone to switch out the audio file that drives the movement of the particle effect.

Sample: AudioSpectrum.pkfx from GDC 2015

*As already mentioned, more learning material can be found on the PopcornFX tutorial site and Wiki page. 


Turbulence attribute accessible only via scripting.
Turbulence attribute is not available inside iClone because it is only accessible via the scripting interface inside the PopcornFX Editor, see below:
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/a51cab90-2a29-47a7-bc8e-e96d.jpg

Reason:
Turbulence is accessible only via the PopcornFX scripting environment and is not visible inside iClone or Unreal Engine.
Example: "Butterfly.pkfx" from GDC 2015 download pack.
Once the "Turb" sampler is designated for the Attribute Sampler, it is globally accessible across the entire PopcornFX script environment.
This has the effect of unifying multiple sampler references into one, in this case, the turbulence sampler is used for "First Flight", "Idle", and "FlyLoop".
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/293cd674-cd18-4430-a026-0bb6.jpg


Curve Sampler attribute (under development)
PopcornFX Editor's curve attribute is not available inside iClone.
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/1023d0e7-b490-4759-ae8a-bb1f.jpg

Currently, there is no support for curve editing like the one available for PopcornFX Editor, see the video below:


We will provide a future update that allows iClone curve editing for the PopcornFX plug-in.


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6. Fixing visual disparities between PopcornFX Editor and iClone due to the inability of *.pkfx format in preserving project level data.

PopcornFX internal editor properties belong in the project scope and is not included in the *.pkfx format.  Therefore, loading the same *.pkfx file into iClone will result in visual disparity with the visual results in the PopcornFX Editor. 
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/561193fa-9977-4603-8e2a-be73.jpg


Case 1 :  Differences in PopcornFX Editor and iClone for scene path animation and in-scene settings, see the following video: 

https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/bb3cc793-1e11-44d2-b182-7aff.jpg 

Content from PopcornFX Editor pack: Tutorial Particle V1.10



Case 2: Differences in PopcornFX and iClone for scene meshes and backdrops, see the following video:
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/c4e243ad-0c45-4b1f-ae59-6ac3.jpg 

Content from PopcornFX Editor pack: GDC2015 v1.12



Case 3: Differences in PopcornFX and iClone for scene sound and backdrops, see the following video:
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/26016972-04b7-4e16-8e40-a0d3.jpg  

Content from PopcornFX Editor pack: GDC2015 V1.12


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 7. Fixing visual disparities in iClone caused by scripting in PopcornFX Editor.

PopcornFX content is mainly controlled via the scripting environment in the PopcornFX Editor.  This allows for much flexibility and a high degree of developer freedom, however, there needs to be some things that the user must be aware of that comes at the cost of all this freedom.

As already mentioned, the axis system inside iClone and PopcornFX Editor is different which will cause certain parts of the particle effect to face the wrong direction depending on the angle of the viewing camera.

See HUD_Radar.pkfx from GDC2015_v1.12): you'll discover that the billboard viewed from the top in iClone becomes invisible.  This is because the script was written in absolute axis that faces a fixed direction even when the axis system is swapped.
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/ba614c48-ad60-49ce-83ca-0cfe.jpg
  • HUD related content from 01 to 06...
  • TestTextSampler related content.
Some content will behave differently in the iClone simulation versus the ParticleFX Editor (example video below):
  • The colors of the particles become invert as the MaxDistance is adjusted.
  •  Texture artifacts occur when FlameDistance is adjusted.


Reason for the error in the above video: the script that drives the particle effect was not properly error-proofed.  You'll notice that the two parameters (MaxDistance and FlameDistance) are used as divisors (denominator) to calculate DistRatio and FlameRatio respectively.  When they are set to 0, the formula has no meaning because no matter the value of the dividend, the result would be undefined, otherwise known as an indeterminate form.  In the sense of a computer program, the result is either infinitely positive or infinitely negative, both of which will cause an error, or even a crash if the error is serious.
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/b1fc9a7c-ecc5-4178-8486-d2f8.png


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8. Pending feature: Path Sampler for PopcornFX particle emitter.

Path sampling is not yet a feature of iClone, therefore, any particle effects that relies on a path for motion will be missing the critical path component.
One can see the following error occur: 
https://forum.reallusion.com/uploads/images/9710b4ea-1ac2-4fad-aa3b-00f2.jpg

Content: PopcornFX Editor pack: GDC2015 V1.12

Note: Support for this feature will be available in a coming patch.


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Hi,

Proper Z-UP download is missing as described above:

We suggest the following easy fix (not applicable to all scenarios):
A basic *.pkfx file is provided as an example for a proper Z-Up particle effect: Download
The axis direction can be fixed inside the PopcornFX Editor, see:

Thanks,
TS




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