Wednesday, December 16th, 2015 Posted by Jim Thacker

AlphaVFX ships BulletFX 3.0 for 3ds Max

Originally posted on 20 November. Scroll down for details of the Extension 1 release.

AlphaVFX has released BulletFX 3.0: the latest version of its fast-evolving 3ds Max dynamics plugin, turning it into a multiphysics system, complete with rigid, granular and soft bodies, and FLIP fluid simulation.

From rigid bodies to multiphysics, muscles and mesh fracture
It’s only five months since version 1.0 of the software was released, at which point, it was simply a GPU-accelerated implementation of the open-source Bullet physics library.

To that, AlphaVFX has added a FLIP fluid solver and a granular materials solver, both GPU-accelerated via OpenCL. Rigid bodies, granular materials and fluids can all interact with one another.

The update also adds a differential FEM solver – useful for simulating the way rubbery objects bend and tear.

The FEM system also forms the basis of a muscle solver – there’s apparently also a skin solver, although you don’t see it in the video above – and a Tetrahedralize modifier, for breaking meshes into tetrahedra.

Inflatables, volumetrics and pipeline integration
On top of that, you get a soft body/inflatable modifier, and a number of volumetrics tools, including an OpenVDB fluid mesher and the option to export OpenVDB to V-Ray’s VRayVolumeGrid for rendering.

For anyone needing to integrate the software into a pipeline, BulletFX can also now export files in Thinkbox Software’s .prt format, used in Krakatoa and Frost; and in Houdini’s .bgeo geometry-caching format.

A question of performance
There are also a number of changes targeted at simulation performance, including new collision shapes for granular bodies, vertex bodies and 3ds Max’s native Particle Flow system, and “faster” convex hulls.

Simulation counts are much higher in the video above than in AlphaVFX’s original demo, reaching 2.1 million particles in one near-real-time granular material simulation.

The test scenes are still mainly simple collisions with planes or boxes, so it’s hard to know how the software would hold up in production, though: there is a trial version, but sims are capped at fairly low resolutions.

Pricing and availability
BulletFX 3.0 is available for 3ds Max 2014 and above. It costs $260.

Updated 16 December: AlphaVFX has released Extension 1 for BulletFX 3.0, a free update extending the capabilities of the plugin’s FLIP fluids solver.

The update adds RealFlow-style daemons for controlling simulation properties like gravity, support for variable viscosity, and a new foam solver. According to AlphaVFX, the stability of the solver has also been improved.

You can see the new features in the video above, although there’s still no rendered footage of a finished sim.

Read more about BulletFX on AlphaVFX’s website