So, you'd like to make some clouds and an explosion in Max, but you don't want to bother with particles? Oh, you like particles? Well, um, grab your lazy friend and have him take a read at this tutorial. Or if he is real lazy just read it to him. I apologize for not doing an Audio/Visual tutorial, but my mic sucks and my voice sounds like Charles Bronson in a blender. And awaaaaay we go!
STEP 1: CLOUD 9, YAY!
First thing you're going to wanna do is under Create open the Helpers menu (the one that looks like a tape measurer) and select Atomspheric Apparatus. Select a box gizmo and drag a bunch of those suckers all over the place. Give them each a different size and under modify change the Seed for each. This will give your clouds different shapes.
So now you got a bunch of gizmos. Let's turn those bastards into clouds. Under the Rendering menu, select Enviornment. Under the Atomsphere menu of the Enviornment and Effects window, select Add and then select Volume Fog. Another menu should then open below it. Select Pick Gizmo and click on the gizmos you want to turn into clouds.
So now we've got clouds, right? WRONG! If you render it out, it looks more like cotton, don't it? That's where we gotta tweak. Under the Volumetric window, set Soften Gizmo to 1.0, check Exponential, Density to 20, and change Noise type to Turbulence. This will prevent your clouds from looking too box-like or too bright. It's not perfect, but, whatever, play around with it and see what works for you.
PART 2: EXPLOSION FUN TIME
Great balls of fire, were going to make a great ball of fire. And best of all, it's pretty darn similar to the last step. So, simply make a SphereGizmo or whatever kinda gizmo you like and set some Seeds for it. Now, under the Environment window, add Fire Effect to the Volumetric menu. For it's parameters, pick the gizmo you want to explode.
Okay, so now we got fire, but we want an EXPLOSION! We don't want static fire unless you're doing one of those Matrix still-frame, holo-deck, walk-around, scenes from those science fiction movies. ANYWAY, if you scroll down further in the parameters for the Fire Effect you'll notice the option titled, you guessed it, EXPLOSION! PLOW! Under the EXPLOSION options, check the box that says EXPLOSION! Now you'll have the option to Setup Explosion. This will allow you to choose when the explosion starts and stop according to the frames you set. You'll want to turn Fury down so that the fire doesn't look like it's crackling as it explodes.
If all goes well, you'll end up with something like this:
Of course, there are a whole bunch of options in the Volumetric menu you can mess with, but you get the idea. I hope you found this tutorial useful in some way. If not, I apologize for wasting your time. If you will simply e-mail the amount of your time I wasted, I will send you your time back in the mail. Please allow 10-12 weeks for shipping.