I'm happy to announce that Bifrost - a new visual programming environment in Maya - is here! Using Bifrost, you can create your own custom effects, publish, and share them with other artists to use across different shots, scenes, and even shows. We're also rolling out a ton of pre-built graphs to help you get started creating effects like dust storms, fire, snow, and sand super fast.
This project has been a labor of love for my team, but it wouldn't be what it is today without the dedicated support of our band of beta users. I'd like to give a huge shout out and thank you to all of you - Without your help, this would have been a very different release!
Here's a quick summary of some of the highlights:
Using the Bifrost Graph Editor, you can build visual programming graphs to do scattering, instancing, deformation, volume processing, dynamic simulation, material assignments, file IO, and even mix in low-level math nodes - without switching contexts or graph semantics.
Detailed Smoke, Fire, and Explosions
Using the new physically-based solvers for aerodynamics and combustion, it's now possible to create deceptively natural-looking smoke, fire, and explosions. Simple artistic controls make it easy to adjust boundary conditions for your effects so that they interact in a more physically-accurate way with the surrounding scene. You can also set up adaptivity to automatically add or remove detail depending on characteristics like velocity, turbulence, and smoke density.
The combustion solver performs computational chemistry and thermodynamics to simulate the physical reactions of fire and explosions. You can choose from an array of real-world fuels like methane and butane, and the solver automatically creates realistic outputs like smoke or water vapor.
The Material Point Method
The Material Point Method (MPM) was made famous by its use as a snow solver in Disney’s Frozen. We teamed up with Jixie Effects, founded by members of the original research team, to develop a production-ready MPM solver. One of the key advantages of MPM is that the behavior of simulations remains consistent as resolution increases. While the original MPM work focused on snow simulation, Jixie has extended the Bifrost MPM solver to now tackle other phenomena, including:
- Granular materials such as sand and mud, as well as snow
- Dynamic thin shells and cloth such as textiles, aluminum, and plastics
- Dynamics of individual fibers (or strands)
New High-Performance Particle System
Entirely crafted using visual programming, the new particle system in Bifrost adds even more power and scalability to what was previously possible with particles in Maya. Particles can be used as an effective way to drive aerodynamic and combustion simulations - and vice versa.
Artistic Effects with Volumes
Bifrost comes loaded with nodes to help you convert between meshes, points, and volumes, and process volumes for artistic effects, including:
- Converting meshes, points, and particles to volumes
- Converting volumes back to meshes
- Smoothing volumes
- Sampling properties of volumes
- Scattering points inside volumes
Bifrost introduces high-performance, rendering-friendly instancing, enabling you to create enormous complexity in your scenes.
You can apply instances to scattered points, particle systems such as the MPM solver, and vertices of any other geometry. Instance shapes are flexible and can be easily adjusted using a simple selection mechanism that can select between multiple layers of variation. For example, one layer might distinguish between grass and flowers, and another might drill down to select variations of each.
Tightly integrated with Arnold instancing and Viewport 2.0, you can instance any renderable Bifrost geometry including meshes, volumes, strands or points, as well as fully renderable assets in the form of render archives, such as Arnold .ass files.
The world is full of fibers. From hair and fur to fuzz, clothing, grass, wires, and dust, Bifrost makes it simple to model things consisting of multiple fibers (or strands) procedurally.
With Arnold integrated in Maya, you can see final-pixel previews of effects right in the Arnold Viewport, helping to remove the guesswork of what your effects will look like after lighting and rendering. You can also see near-final previews of your effects in Viewport 2.0.
From dry ice and volumetric clouds to fire and explosions, explore a library of pre-built Bifrost graphs in the new Bifrost Browser to create great-looking effects fast. Pre-built graphs are also a great starting point for creating your own custom effects from scratch. You can then publish your graphs to the Browser for other artists at your studio to easily find and re-use.
Bifrost for Maya is available to download now and will work with any version of Maya 2018 or later. It is also included in the installer for Maya 2019.2 and later versions.
For more information on Bifrost, visit the Bifrost for Maya documentation portal.
Also, make sure to check out the new Bifrost community hub to access pre-built graphs, tutorials, and the latest news on Bifrost development, as well as the new Bifrost forum where you can ask questions and share your own knowledge about creating effects procedurally using Bifrost.