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Thinkbox Software ships Stoke MX for 3ds Max

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 | Posted by Jim Thacker

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A Naiad particle simulation enhanced by Stoke MX, Thinkbox Software’s new particle reflow tool. A base simulation consisting of 170,000 particles was used to advect 15 million particles in the high-res simulation.

Thinkbox Software has begun shipping Stoke MX, its ‘particle reflow toolset’ for 3ds Max.

The plugin is designed for working with dense particle simulations and, among other things, enables a low-density simulation to drive a high-density one, enabling artists to reach ultra-detailed results more quickly.

We wrote about Stoke in detail when it was announced in March, so we won’t go over the same ground here.

The news release below adds a proper feature list, plus the interesting observation that Stoke MX effectively allows artists to create simulations in layers for finer control – in much the same way that layering render passes in a compositor is faster and more controllable than adjusting that render in 3D software alone.

Stoke MX is available now for 3ds Max 2010 and above. A bundle of one workstation and two network simulation licences costs $495.

PRESS RELEASE (Excerpts)
Thinkbox Software today announced Stoke MX, a particle simulator plug-in for Autodesk 3ds Max designed to simplify and accelerate the creation of high-volume particle clouds driven by velocity fields.

Fast and easy to use, Stoke MX supports a large number of emitter and velocity sources, and introduces new workflows. Previously unavailable capabilities include multi-threaded particle advection, rapid memory-buffered playback, and asynchronous multi-threaded particle file saving, which enables significantly higher performance compared to existing workflows.

Key features of Stoke MX include:

  • Quick particle generation from other particle systems, geometry surfaces, volumes, vertices and edges including selection and soft-selection support, as well as from Sitni Sati’s FumeFX simulations.
  • Optional emitter channel acquisition with minimal overhead
  • Particle advection using velocities from other particle systems or files, 3ds Max force space warps, FumeFX simulations, Thinkbox’s Ember simulations, and other Stoke simulations
  • Velocity field mixing, scaling and optional divergence removal from particle-based velocity fields to produce uncompressible fluid motion
  • Flexible memory caching for fast simulation iterations and interactive viewport playback
  • PRT file saving using one or more background threads, decoupling the simulation from the particle saving process for even faster iterations
  • Integration with local and Thinkbox’s Deadline partitioning
  • Extensive MAXScript exposure enabling the creation of custom Stoke-based tools
  • Compatible with the Thinkbox’s Krakatoa MX high-volume particle renderer and its various components including PRT Loader and other PRT objects, Magma and delete modifiers, particle data viewer, etc
  • Compatible with Thinkbox Software’s Frost particle mesher (version 1.3.5 and higher)

“The flexibility of Stoke is phenomenal so we are super excited to see what artists can do with it,” said Chris Bond, founder, Thinkbox Software. “Stoke enables a completely new way of working. Instead of being stuck in a rigid linear simulation workflow, artists can essentially layer their particles and work backwards to mix, enhance or alter simulation data quickly and easily without having to re-simulate. It opens up a lot of possibilities.”

“Stoke MX gives us the opportunity to build layers of detail upon fluid simulations with the exciting speed, control and freedom of imagination that have become a trademark of tools by Thinkbox Software,” noted Hristo Velev, a visual effects artist with early access to the software. “A simple, well directed base simulation can be quickly developed into a complex modern effect. Artists get plenty of room to create with negligible learning curve, due to the use of very successful Thinkbox technology like Magmaflow and PRT caching. And with these, it fits tightly in existing pipelines hosting the rest of the Thinkbox portfolio, especially Krakatoa and Frost. Stoke is a force multiplier for simulation work.”

Visual effects artist Jason Crosby added, “For the wormhole shot in After Earth, Stoke allowed me to come up with a look in just a couple days. Creating iterations was a very quick process and the support from Thinkbox was amazing!”

Read more about Stoke MX on the Thinkbox Software website

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