Thursday, September 26th, 2019 Posted by Jim Thacker

Ziva Dynamics releases Ziva VFX 1.7 for Maya

Ziva Dynamics has released Ziva VFX 1.7, the latest update to its soft tissue simulation plugin for Maya, adding Art Directable Rest Shapes (ADRS).

The new system enables users to sculpt corrective shapes for an existing Ziva VFX tissue simulation.

A powerful tool for creating stable, accurate simulations of soft tissues
First released publicly in 2017, Ziva VFX is rapidly making inroads into visual effects pipelines, with the software now in use at studios including DNEG, Scanline VFX and Image Engine.

The plugin mimics the stiffness, density and volume preservation of real tissues, including bone, tendons, muscles and skin; and supports multiple types of physical damping.

As well as editing parameters directly, Ziva VFX supports a brush-based workflow making it possible to paint material properties and mesh resolution, and even paint in muscle attachment points and muscle fibres.

Tweak the silhouette of a character – or exaggerate it to cartoon proportions
Version 1.7 of the software really only adds one new feature, but it’s a significant one: the new Art Directable Rest Shapes system, described as having been in development for over a year.

The system enables users to modify an existing tissue simulation by duplicating the tissue mesh, sculpting the duplicate into a new shape, then transferring the changes back to the simulation.

That makes simulations much more art-directable: suggested use cases range from tweaking a character’s silhouette in key poses right up to creating exaggerated cartoon-style animation.

Create corrective shapes for existing tissue simulations
The video above shows the workflow for the ADRS system, beginning with sculpting the tissue shape required for a particular frame in an existing simulation.

The demo uses Maya’s native sculpting tools, but it would presumably also be possible to make the changes in an external application like ZBrush.

This sculpted mesh can then be used to create a corrective shape for a neutral pose in the simulation, which Ziva VFX’s zRestShape node can use to modify the tetrahedral mesh used in the simulation.

The zReshShape node’s Surface Penalty parameter controls the influence of the corrective shape on the tet mesh; and it’s possible to keyframe the strength of influence of a corrective shape over time.

The sculpted target shape remains live in the scene, so any further changes made to it influence the simulation: Ziva Dynamics says that it is even possible to feed in an Alembic cache.

Outside the ADRS system, the only other change in Ziva VFX 1.7 is that the zRBFWarp radial basis function deformer added in Ziva VFX 1.6 now works with NURBS curves and surfaces as well as meshes.

Pricing and system requirements
Ziva VFX 1.7 is available for Maya 2016+, running on Windows 7+ or Linux.

Ziva VFX Indie, intended for productions with total revenues of under $500,000/year, costs $50/month or $500/year. For larger projects, Ziva VFX Studio is priced at $1,800/year.

Perpetual licences are available “upon request”.

Read an overview of Ziva VFX 1.7’s Art Directable Rest Shapes system on Ziva Dynamics’ website

Read a full list of new features in Ziva VFX 1.7