Tuesday, July 12th, 2016 Posted by Jim Thacker

AlphaVFX ships BulletFX 4

AlphaVFX has released BulletFX 4, the next update to its rapidly evolving 3ds Max multiphysics plugin, revamping the software’s FEM, cloth and fluid simulation toolsets, including better V-Ray support for fluids.

The update, which is free to registered users of BulletFX 3, was first announced in May, along with AlphaVFX’s new Bullet volumetric cutting technology.

From Bullet physics to multiphysics in under a year
Beginning as a simple GPU-accelerated implementation of the open-source Bullet physics library on its initial release last year, BulletFX has since grown to include solvers for fluids and granular materials.

In simulations, rigid and soft bodies, granular materials and FLIP fluids can interact with one another.

Faster, more editable, V-Ray-renderable fluid sims
BulletFX 4 further extends the plugin’s fluid simulation toolset, with the OpenCL-based FLIP fluids solver getting a node-based interface, making it easier to set up and edit simulations.

In addition, there is now a narrowband FLIP solver that “simulates the topmost band of the FLIP simulation, greatly speeding up simulation time [without changing] the end meshing result”.

The foam particles from a FLIP simulation can also now be rendered directly in V-Ray: previously, BulletFX fluid simulations could only be rendered in V-Ray by converting them to volumetrics in the OpenVDB format.

The video at the top of the story shows the results: the spray generated by the narrowband FLIP solver seems to float on top of the fluid surface a bit, but there is a nice shot of liquid following a path in space.

The demo scenes are also more complex than some of the ones AlphaVFX has used in the past, making it easier to assess how the software would perform with real-world simulations.

Updates to the cloth and FEM solvers
Simulation of cloth and soft bodies has also been updated, with support for strain-based dyamics in cloth sims: the video above shows a sheet of cloth being dragged over a solid object.

The strain-based dynamics solver also enables cloth to interact more realistically with fluids.

In addition, the Finite Element Method (FEM) solver – used, among other things, for simulating organic and jelly-like materials – has been updated, with a new co-rotational algorithm replacing the old co-rigid one.

You can see it in action in the video above, which shows soft and rigid bodies interacting; and in AlphaVFX’s orginal sneak peek video, which shows volumetric cutting.

The software’s user interface has also been rewritten “for ease of use and for fast setup”.

Pricing and availability
BulletFX 4 is available for 3ds Max 2013 and above. It costs $320 for a single licence, up $60 from the previous release; while render nodes cost $200 each. The update is free to registered users of BulletFX 3.

Read a full list of new features in BulletFX 4 on AlphaVFX’s website

See more videos of BulletFX 4 in action on the software’s product page