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CGI coffee

All about VFX and CGI software (and more).


Reality check. What is NVIDIA RTX Technology? What is DirectX DXR? Here's what they can and cannot do

NVIDIA and its partners, as well as AAA-developers and game engine gurus like Epic Games, keep throwing their impressive demos at us at an accelerating rate.

These feature the recently announced real-time ray tracing tool-set of Microsoft DirectX 12 as well as the (claimed) performance benefits proposed by NVIDIA's proprietary RTX technology available in their Volta GPU lineup, which in theory should give the developers new tools for achieving never before seen realism in games and real-time visual applications.

There's a demo by the Epic team I found particularly impressive:

Looking at these beautiful images one can expect NVIDIA RTX and DirectX DXR to do more than they are actually capable of. Some might even think that the time has come when we can ray trace the whole scene in real-time and say good bye to the good old rasterization.

There's an excellent article available at PC Perspective you should definitely check out if you're interested in the current state of the technology and the relationship between Microsoft DirectX Raytracing and NVIDIA RTX, which without any explanation can be quite confusing, seeing how NVIDIA heavily focuses on the native hardware-accelerated tech which RTX is, whist Microsoft stresses out that DirecX DXR is an extension of an existing DX tool-set and compatible with all of the future certified DX12-capable graphics cards (since the world of computer graphics doesn't revolve solely around NVIDIA and its products, you know).

So here I am to quickly summarize what RTX and DXR are really capable of at the moment of writing and what they are good (and not so good) for.

Navie Effex Dynamics And Simulation Framework For Cinema4D Now Free

While the year 2018 may have started with a large meltdown for the rest of the world, we, the 3D folk are still getting some great news following my previous blog post. This time it's Effex by Navie (formerly DPit Nature Spirit) - a fast and robust Particles & Fluid Simulation framework for C4D which went free recently. Effex comes with lots of goodies including an excellent FLIP solver I think I'm in love with.

It can do lots of stuff. See for yourselves:

Anyway, just grab a copy from GitHub.

Although the fact that such great products go free makes me uneasy for some reason. Can't stop thinking about the developers. Hopefully they are ok and not doing this due to problems selling the product...

Mootzoid Plugins for Softimage, C4D, Maya and Modo Now Available For Free!

What an amazing NY2017 present from Mootzoid for all of Softimage/XSI zealots out there (and for Maya/C4D/Modo guys to some extent as well)!

Quoting Eric: "For the upcoming holidays I wanted to let you know that as of today all my plugins are available for free on my website www.mootzoid.com. Just download any plugin and you're ready to go without any license hassle and without making your wallet unhappy :)"

Mootzoid plugins

Plugins are available at Eric's website, as usual.

Can't wait to get my hands on the full versions of emFluid and emPolygonizer!

BTW, you know what makes Eric's plugins so special? Just a couple examples:

  • They add complete OpenVDB support (read/write) inside Softimage! You can simulate fire and smoke whilst exporting frames to .VDB whilst having Redshift for example picking those frames to render. It's fast and it's reliable.
  • emPolygonizer provides a powerful multithreaded mesher to use with any object, be it particles or just a bunch of meshes. I used a while ago to mesh hundreds of thousands of particles in my FleX Fluid Simulation studies and was thoroughly impressed. It is so, so much more powerful than XSI's native polygonizer.

Thank you, Eric!

Official Apology To Pixologic ZBrush

I'm sorry ZBrush. Sorry I doubted your UI. Sorry for thinking your navigation was unbearable. Sorry for everything, really.

I love you, ZBrush.

From now on you're family.

My first good-looking zbrush sculpt

Thank you, Pixologic. You got yourself a new customer and he couldn't be happier.

NVIDIA PhysX FleX now compatible with the majority of modern graphics cards

In case you missed the announcement, here's some truly great news:

"To better serve the game development community we now offer Direct3D 11/12 implementations of the Flex solver in addition to our existing CUDA solver. This allows Flex to run across vendors on all D3D11 class GPUs. Direct3D gives great performance across a wide range of devices and supports the full Flex feature set."

Yes! FleX is now not a CUDA-only physics library! NVIDIA devs have also utilized Async Compute to make it as efficient as possible with D3D.

Check out the GDC talk.

FleX D3D GDC talk

Hopefully we'll start seeing more FleX in the upcoming AAA-titles (or maybe even indie ones?.. Who knows!)

Redshift presentation at SIGGRAPH 2016

Just an FYI for those who missed Redshift team's SIGGRAPH 2016 presentation.

Great stuff, guys. Go Redshift!

What did you render with Redshift today?

NVIDIA PhysX FleX and other fluid solvers for high-quality fluid simulation

FleX and Redshift Milkshake Dragon FiestaBeware the strawberry milkshake monster!

Simulations are hard.

When it comes to doing simulations on meshes with a finite number of vertices it's relatively easy to achieve desired results. But as soon as you try taming hundreds of thousands or even millions of particles, you're in trouble. Especially when it comes to doing fluid simulations. You need a special kind of solver, a powerful rig or a network of rigs and a lot of patience. It took me by surprise how difficult seemingly trivial simulations can be.

In the animated film I'm working on I will have bodies of water large and small and certain gaseous liquids in the background for increased production value.

If you're a freelancer or a hobbyist on a budget in need to simulate some fluids, off-the-shelf tools available on the market can be a good choice... But there are so many of them that finding out their differences as well as pros and cons is a quest in itself. In this post I'll explore some of the ways an amateur like me can do various fluid-like simulations and what technologies there are to help get the job done.

The big guns

I'll briefly cover two of perhaps the most well known and renowned fluid sims on the market - Naiad and Realflow.

NAiad logo

There was the time when you could only purchase a single Naiad license for 5500$ or rent it quarterly for about 1400$. Luckily those times are over since in 2012 Naiad was sold over to Autodesk and turned into Maya Bifrost. So now you can get your hands on Naiad tech within maya for just $185 a month. You can find out more about Bifrost in this blog post at Digitaltutors. It's a powerful FLIP solver (more on this method below) and well integrated into Maya too with GPU caching and an ability to playback tens of thousands or even millions of particles in real-time directly within the DCC as well as a variety of tools for artistic direction of your simulations.

Realflow logo

Then there's Realflow, which comes with several solvers for you to choose (SPH, PBF, HYBRIDO) and with its Dyverso particle solver (the one which uses PBF) gives you the ability to simulate on CPU or GPU, the latter using OpenCL for computations. You can read more about Realflow's solvers here. Overall, Realflow isn't terribly slow and well scalable when you give it lots of cores to work with, but as soon as you realize your hardware limitations and the fact that the cheapest single-seat license with the C4D integration costs over 750 bucks you start looking for other solutions.

Other freeware and commercial tools for fluid simulation

I won't spend too much time on different types of solvers available on the market, only mention some of them for the sake of argument. There's an excellent (albeit slightly dated) article on the subject at fxguide explaining them in detail if you're interested in finding out more.