Tuesday, August 10th, 2021 Posted by Jim Thacker

Autodesk ships Bifrost for Maya 2.3

Autodesk has released Bifrost for Maya 2.3, the latest version of the multiphyics plugin for Maya.

The update makes it possible to drive simulation parameters with fields or arrays, and improves the performance of Bifrost’s Aero and MPM Cloth solvers, and viewport display of adaptive volumes.

Workflow improvements include the option to adjust parameter values interactively via GUI sliders, and makes Bifrost more resistant to graphs breaking when exernal files are renamed.

A powerful node-based simulation environment with a range of physics solvers
First released in 2019 alongside Maya 2019.2, Bifrost for Maya provides a node-based visual programming enviroment in which to author multiphysics simulations.

The plugin, an expanded version of Maya’s original Bifrost Fluids simulation toolset, includes solvers for combustion, granular materials and cloth as well as liquids, and is available free with Maya.

New in Bifrost for Maya 2.3: use fields and arrays to control simulations more precisely
New features in Bifrost for Maya 2.3 include the option to use fields, data arrays or strings to drive parameter values, providing more sophisticated ways to control simulations.

Autodesk’s blog post gives the example of using a noise field to generate the internal structure of snow, using its output to drive the firmness of a MPM simulation simulation to control how the snow breaks apart.

In addition, Bifrost’s Aero solver, used for gaseous fluids like smoke and fire, now only requires a single connection for post-simulation adjustments.

Users can now refine a simulation from data cached to disk, without the original scene present.

The update also improves performance and stability of the MPM solver, and improves performance when displaying adaptive volumes in the viewport, although Autodesk doesn’t quantify the speed boost.

Slider controls for numeric properties, better handling of external JSON files
Workflow improvements include the option to adjust numeric properties via slider controls in the GUI, and see the changes to the simulation in real time.

It is also possible to edit F-curves interactively in the same way.

Compiling the simulation graph also now preserves cached values for feedback ports where possible, meaning that it is “often” now possible to pause a simulation, edit the graph, then restart the sim.

Changing the names of external JSON files used to define custom compounds no longer breaks the graph: Bifrost now recreates them as ‘unknown nodes’, preserving their previous connections and input values.

In addition, users can now merge multiple small JSON files into a single large one, cutting Bifrost loading times to “as little as two seconds”, and reducing time to first pixel in Arnold renders.

Other changes include better Alembic and OpenVDB export, while Terminals – used as an alternative to output nodes to generate renderable geometry – are now of beta, and can also now be used in loops.

Pricing and availability
Bifrost for Maya 2.3 is available for Maya 2019+ running on Windows, Linux and macOS.

Maya itself is available for Windows 10, RHEL/CentOS 7.6-7.9 or 8.2 Linux and macOS 10.13+. The software is rental-only. Subscriptions cost $215/month or $1,700/year.

Read an overview of the new features in Bifrost for Maya 2.3 on Autodesk’s blog

Read a full list of new features in Bifrost for Maya 2.3 in the online release notes