Friday, September 16th, 2016 Posted by Jim Thacker

Chaos Group releases Phoenix FD 3.0 for 3ds Max

Chaos Group has released Phoenix FD 3.0 for 3ds Max, the new version of its GPU-accelerated fluid simulator, adding a new FLIP solver for liquids, revamping the fire and smoke solver, and adding a set of new forces.

Although less well-known than its sister product, V-Ray, the software is in use at visual effects studios including Mackevision, which used it in its recent work on Game of Thrones.

New dedicated liquid simulation object based on a new FLIP solver
Liquid simulation gets a significant boost in the update, with the old multi-purpose PHXSimulator object being split up into new dedicated simulators for liquids and for fire and smoke.

The former is based on a new FLIP fluid solver capable of “fast and realistic” simulations, with support for dedicated mist particles as well as spray and foam, along with per-object wetting.

(Interesting factoid: the format of the demo video seems to be a nod to Carlos Parmentier’s popular ‘Beachwaves‘ demo scenes, created to show off the FLIP solver in Houdini.)

More detail possible in fire and smoke sims
The fire and smoke solver gets a new vorticity confinement algorithm intended to generate a “natural rolling motion and fine details [for smoke plumes] without increasing resolution”.

You can see a comparison of the detail possible in versions 2.2 and 3.0 of the software in this video, while more details of the volcano set-up used in the demo can be found here: it’s a 250-million-voxel base simulation.

New tools for art directing or retiming simulations
There are also a number of new forces that can be applied to simulations, making it possible to achieve less physically plausible, more art-directable results.

The video above shows the new Follow Path option, which is fairly self-explanatory; and the Body Attraction force, which attracts the simulation particles to the surface of a mesh: in this case, the Phoenix FD logo.

In addition, simulations can now be retimed, including remeshing in the case of liquid sims.

Improved viewport preview and volume rendering, new simulation presets
Other changes include the option to see a GPU preview of a simulation directly in the viewport, with support for more than one light. You can see the visual fidelity possible in this video

The UI has also been updated with a new toolbar containing presets for fire, smoke and liquid simulations – the latter including presets for things like paint.

Volume rendering has also been optimised. Chaos Group doesn’t put a figure on the speed boost, but this side-by-side comparison with Phoenix FD 2.2 suggests that it’s roughly 30% faster.

In addition, Phoenix FD can now preserve the exact shape of a lo-res test simulation when resimulating at higher resolution; and the process of cascading simulations has been made easier, particularly for liquids.

There are also a few neat smaller features, including support for Max’s built-in Alembic export, and the option to use Exocortex’s Crate to export particles and meshes. You can find a full list via the link below.

Pricing and availability
Phoenix FD 3.0 for 3ds Max is available now for 64-bit 3ds Max 2012 and above.

A workstation licence costs $830, including one floating user licence and one floating simulation licence. Extra simulation licences cost $210 each. The update is free to users of Phoenix FD 2.x.

The Maya version of Phoenix FD has not yet been updated, but a new version is “coming soon”.

Read a full list of new features in Phoenix FD 3.0 for 3ds Max in the online documentation

Visit the product website for Phoenix FD 3.0 for 3ds Max