Thursday, December 15th, 2022 Posted by Jim Thacker

ZibraAI unveils Zibra VDB Compression

Game tools developer ZibraAI has unveiled Zibra VDB Compression, a new AI-based technology for compressing volumetric data in OpenVDB format “up to 20 times”.

ZibraAI claims that the tech, which will be available next year via Unity and Unreal Engine plugins, makes it possible to display smoke and fire simulations of a complexity previously only possible in VFX work in-game.

The firm also plans to release the technology as a plugin for Houdini.

Use VFX-quality smoke and fire simulation in real time inside Unity and Unreal Engine
Developed in-house at DreamWorks Animation, and open-sourced in 2012, OpenVDB quickly became the entertainment industry standard for volumetric data, and is now supported in most DCC applications.

The format is widely used to exchange volumetric data like caches for smoke and fire simulations between applications in visual effects and feature animation pipelines.

However, it has yet to be widely adopted in game development – even loading VDB files into Unreal Engine currently requires a third-party plugin – in part, due to the memory footprint of OpenVDB files.

Zibra VDB Compression aims to address that issue, with ZibraAI claiming that it can compress VDB files “up to 20 times” without significant loss of visual quality.

Like Nvidia’s upcoming NeuralVDB, it’s an AI-based system, but one that will be available via off-the-shelf tools, rather than requiring developers to integrate it from source.

ZibraAI’s Unity and Unreal Engine plugins will compress imported VDB files created in software like Houdini or EmberGen directly inside the game engine, then decompress and render them in real time at runtime.

According to ZibraAI’s blog post, the technology is focused on the “channels needed for rendering [fire and smoke effects], specifically density, heat and temperature”.

Price, system requirements and release date
Zibra VDB Compression is due to become available in plugins for Unity and Unreal Engine at the “beginning of next year”, with a Houdini plugin to follow. ZibraAI hasn’t announced system requirements or pricing.

However, its previous product, real-time liquid simulation system Zibra Liquids, is priced approachably, costing $99.99 for Unity and $149.99 for Unreal Engine.

Read more about Zibra VDB Compression on ZibraAI’s blog