Thursday, September 16th, 2021 Posted by Jim Thacker

cebas ships thinkingParticles 7 for 3ds Max

cebas Visual Technology has released thinkingParticles 7, the next major version of its particle and physics plugin for 3ds Max, adding new MPM solvers for simulating granular materials like sand and snow.

The release also adds a new Cellular noise node and a new GPU-accelerated sprite system to improve interactive performance of complex particle systems in the viewport.

A popular simulation tool for 3ds Max-based visual effects pipelines
First released two decades ago, thinkingParticles is a powerful procedural simulation tool that has been used by leading VFX studios including Scanline VFX, FuseFX and Bottleship VFX.

Originally geared primarily towards particle-based destruction and gaseous fluid simulations, it later added a SPH (Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics) solver for liquids and soft bodies.

Subsequent updates have added tools for manipulating volumetric data in OpenVDB format.

The software is also now bundled with finalRender, cebas’s GPU-accelerated spectral renderer.

New in thinkingParticles 7: MPM-based simulation of granular fluids like snow and sand
The first update to get a full new version number for almost seven years, thinkingParticles 7 further expands the range of materials that the plugin can simulate.

As well as SPH, thinkingParticles’ Flow operator now integrates a grid-based MPM (Material Point Method) system for recreating anything “from hydro fluids [to] rubber to rock solid metals”.

The initial release supports two specific material types, sand and snow, with “more to follow”.

Cebas describes MPM as enabling users to “simulate highly deformable objects with great stability and a low [number] of simulation artifacts”.

The MPM solvers are backed up by FlowData, a new node for querying and setting flow parameters for MPM and SPH solver data, capabile of affecting MPM clusters, density and sleep states.

New Cellular node, GPU sprites and overall performance improvements
Other changes include a new Cellular node for generating procedural 3D noise that can be used to control simulations, including Circular, Chip and Voronoi patterns.

The update also introduces ShapeElement, which automatically extracts particle meshes from mesh elements within an object, described as a “more optimised” alternative to the existing fragment node.

Performance improvements include GPU sprites, a new DirectX-accelerated viewport display mode intended to improve interactivity when working with large particle simulations.

In addition, there have been overall improvements in memory management and multi-threading, with cebas citing a speed boost of “up to 5x” in complex fragment and rigid body sims.

Pricing and availability
thinkingParticles 7 is available now for 3ds Max 2020 and above. The software is available on a rental-only basis, with a subscription costing €600/year (around $707).

Read an overview of the key features in thinkingParticles 7 on cebas’s website

See videos of the new features on the thinkingParticles website