Thursday, February 8th, 2018 Posted by Jim Thacker

cebas releases thinkingParticles 6.6

cebas Visual Technology has released thinkingParticles 6.6, the sixth ‘subscription drop’ for its 3ds Max particle and physics plugin, adding a versatile new ‘All Purpose Fields’ toolset for art directing simulations.

The update also adds a new initial state feature, enabling artists to use one simulation as the starting point for another; support for volumetrics in OpenVDB format; and a revamped SPH fluid solver.

Art direct particle simulations with All Purpose Fields
The big feature in thinkingParticles 6.6 is All Purpose Fields (APF): an interesting new set of seven volumetric operators intended to make it easier to art direct the result of particle simulations.

All Purpose Fields affect the direction and velocity of particles moving through them, making it possible to create effects ranging from the physically plausible to the physically impossible.

This demo video shows some of the possibilities: from fluid adhering to the surface of a sphere as it flows round it to smoke travelling in a helix.

Any 3ds Max object can be converted into a field, and the boundaries of the field are redrawn dynamically around animated objects, minimising calculation times.

New initial state operator for simulations, revamped SPH solver, OpenVDB support
The update also revamps the SPH fluid solver introduced in the original release of thinkingParticles 6, improving the stability of simulations and helping to preserve fluid volume.

Fluid simulations can be combined with All Purpose Fields in some interesting ways: the video above shows liquid being shaken around inside a transparent rubber rabbit – in technical terms, a deforming watertight container, but it is also rabbit-shaped – as it falls to the floor.

Other new features in thinkingParticles 6.6 include a new InitialState operator that enables users to save the state of a particle simulation at a given time and use it as the starting point for a future simulation.

It works in a similar way to the initial state setting in Maya’s Bifröst toolset, avoiding the need to keep recalculating the ‘run up’ of a sim: for example, a waterfall reaching the bottom of a cliff.

Other changes include support for the industry-standard OpenVDB format, which should make it easier to exchange volumetric data with other tools; new Math Helper nodes; and a new online help file.

Pricing and availability
thinkingParticles 6.6 is available now for 3ds Max 2016 and above. The software is available on a rental-only basis, with a subscription costing €540 per year (around $660). The update is free to subscribers.

Read a full list of new features in thinkingParticles 6.6 on cebas’s website