Tuesday, March 19th, 2013 Posted by Jim Thacker

Thinkbox Software announces Stoke MX

Thinkbox Software has announced Stoke MX, a new product for 3ds Max described variously as a ‘particle simulator’ and ‘particle reflow tools’.

According to the product web page, Stoke MX is “designed to simplify and accelerate the creation of high-volume particle clouds driven by Velocity Fields”.

Possible sources of Velocity Fields include 3ds Max Particle Flow simulations or Space Warps, third-party tools like thinkingParticles or FumeFX, or file sequences in Krakatoa PRT or RealFlow BIN format.

Sources can be mixed and matched within a single simulation.

Very nice. So what does it actually do?
In effect, this allows a low-density simulation to drive a high-density one.

According to Thinkbox, Stoke MX “can be used to advect millions of particles … and can produce realistic fluid motion in dense particle clouds using just a few source particles”.

The software can emit particles from existing particles (or particle-based objects such as PRT Hairs), mesh volumes or geometry surfaces to increase the density of a simulation.

Thinkbox claims that using Stoke MX to increase the particle count of an existing low-count simulation can be up to seven times faster than simulating the actual high-count cloud with the original system.

In particular, Stoke MX was “specifically designed to accelerate the generation of high-count particle clouds driven by fluid simulation data, in particular FumeFX data”.

Too many Thinkbox products?
Stoke MX is based on the same core technology as Thinkbox’s own Ember, currently still in beta, prompting an interesting discussion on Max Underground on whether Thinkbox is slicing its product line too thinly.

Both Thinkbox product specialist Borislav ‘Bobo’ Petrov and CEO Chris Bond post their thoughts.

Petrov comments: “We realized that it [Ember] would be overkill for a large majority of artists [but] a godsend for TDs. We have beta testers who swear by Ember’s flexibility, and others who prefer Stoke’s simplicity.”

Thinkbox is currently accepting uses to the Stoke MX private beta program. No pricing information or final release date has been announced yet.

Read a full list of features in Stoke MX

Watch more videos of Stoke MX in action

Sign up for the Stoke MX beta program