I love clouds, and make them on computer is a real challenge.
There is many ways to make that in environment generating software as Vue, Terragen 2, etc.
In that post I will focus on ways to make it directly in 3ds Max.
I made some simulation tests, and I keep making some on my free time. The idea is to use only 1 frame of a sim to get static clouds and find the right parameters. The problem: renders are too long.
2/ Using the Damian Nenow technic
But instead of scattered planes randomly rotated, I use baked Pflow planes looking at camera and… we have a problem here for moving camera scenes. As planes rotate to look at the camera they intersect each other.
The solution? Use spheres with huge falloff, but we lose all the nice alpha maps details we can have with planes. It pops at the end because I made the render in 2 parts and the 2nd part is with “force 2 sides” checked in the render tab. It looks too diffuse.
The planes orientated to the camera method can be used for stills or simple camera motion.
3/ Dust Devil from Blur Studio
It looks like the good solution for light, fog, myst render. It doesn’t catch the light the way afterburn or FumeFX would do but it looks promising and it’s free! (+ render time are faster than the 2 others methods)