New Features in RealFlow 2013
RealFlow has gone through lots of major and minor changes. The main features will doubtless attract your attention, but there are also many improvements, which are not immediately visible at first glance. These changes affect the stability, memory efficiency, user-friendliness and speed. Here are some highlights:
RealFlow's grid fluid solver has been completely rewritten from scratch. Hybrido 2 provides a very high level of detail and is much faster than its forerunner. We also added sophisticated support for GPU-based simulations and a new mesh engine which is able to catch all the fine structures from the core fluid simulation. You will also find completely new emitters for splashes, foam and mist. Another improvement with Hybrido 2 is that you do not have to define domains anymore: the simulation now happens within an adaptive grid. Experienced users will find our new Hybrido fluid solver extremely easy to handle, because the workflow from previous RealFlow versions remains more-or-less the same. Of course, there are some changes, but they only affect simulation settings, preferences and some basic fluid parameters. We have also overworked the export resources and now, Hybrido 2 will generate much fewer files than before. Hybrido 2 is a cutting-edge technology that combines the latest developments in fluid simulation with our long-time expertise in this field. We have listened closely to our user's demands and suggestions and present you a state-of-the-art solver capable of handling tens of millions of particles.
Relationships, global and exclusive links have always played a very big role in RealFlow: you have been able to exclude certain nodes from a simulation, define which objects should react with each other or will not be taken into consideration at all. These connections had to be controlled with long lists of scene elements and a hierarchy that had to be maintained. This is a thing of the past, because the way you establish and manage these links has completely changed in RealFlow 2013. Now, a node-based workflow with a graphical interface provides full visual control over a project, its elements and relations. A flexible, versatile and clear interface makes it easy to keep track of your project — even with many hundreds of different nodes. The "Relationship Editor" is a fully-featured environment with incredible possibilities to remove and establish connections and change the way the scene's nodes will finally react with each other.
Visual Programming Interfaces
Scripting is one of RealFlow's core concepts and nearly any node or parameter can be accessed and influenced with a huge set of Python statements and functions. Although scripting opens the door to a whole new world of fantastic possibilities, there is a downside: You have to learn a scripting language, become familiar with the SDK, the concepts of syntax and maybe even object-oriented programming. What if it were possible to simply drag and drop elements to a canvas, create links between them and connect various parameters with each other? This way you would not have to learn a complete language and struggle with Python's specialities and notations. The "Batch Graph" and "Simulation Graph" environment have been developed to assist you and ease your daily programming tasks. All available functions and commands of the Python SDK are now clearly arranged and you can start programming by simply linking nodes and their parameters.
Alembic File Format
Sometimes there are developments that literally thrill the VXF community: Radiosity and global illumination, unbiased rendering, displacement painting and the HDRI concept, to name but a few. Many of these inventions quickly found their way into the commercially available 3D applications. The Alembic file format, developed by Sony Pictures Imageworks and Industrial Light & Magic, is another example. The Alembic format is a hierarchical sampled data storage format and supports a complete representation of the original scene. It was designed to build a bridge between the wide variety of applications and is already supported by most of the leading 3D packages. RealFlow 2013 provides an implementation of the Alembic format as well and now data exchange is easier and more accurate than ever before.
Hybrido 2 also supports OpenCL GPU-based simulation — even in collaboration with your computer's CPU(s). With appropriate equipment you will be able to boost simulation speed and finish your fluid tasks in a fraction of the time. Due to the nature of today's graphic cards and hardware standards, we cannot support any existing model or driver, but we settled on up-to-date standards to offer the maximum possible compatibility. Please note that GPU-based simulations are only possible with Hybrido 2, RealFlow's Hybrido solver. Particle fluids, RealWave jobs or rigid/soft body dynamics do not benefit from this feature. Multiple GPUs are supported as well.
Maxwell Render Integration
Previews are a very important concept with simulations, because they are the only way to evaluate the results in realtime. Playback from the cached data is often not possible due to the large amount of data. Previously, it was only possible to create OpenGL previews from the simulation window. This is nothing more than a sequence of screenshots taken from each frame that will be assembled into a movie. Now, RealFlow provides Maxwell Render's realtime preview engine, called "FIRE". With "FIRE" it is possible to create almost photo-realistic renders from the currently loaded simulation. You can even assign different materials and use some features from the RealFlow RenderKit, for example the "MultiPoint" technology for spray and foam rendering. Your previews will be taken to a much higher level with "FIRE" and for the first time you will get a render within RealFlow.
The "Fracture" tool has experienced a comprehensive update and now supports different modes to easily create broken glass, splinters and other types. You can create impact zones with a higher density of pieces at predefined locations, use supporting geometry to control the fracture process and simulate radial cracks. All these different modes are accessible under a clearly arranged interface.
In this version we have mainly focused on improvements and the new "Fracture" tools. One common issue with RealFlow's dynamics solver was a slight jitter or tremble at the beginning of a simulation. This unwanted effect can now be reduced and even completely removed with an "Anti-jitter" slider. The "Caronte" team has also worked on simulation speed and introduced a new system to improve quality. In RealFlow 2012, quality was determined with a few fixed adjustments, but now the solver's accuracy can be easily changed with a slider. One of the most important improvements to Caronte is that our rigid and soft body dynamics solver is now completely scale-independent.
You can find many more new parameters for different node types in RealFlow 2013. We have also improved the software's stability and fixed many bugs. The SDKs and APIs for C++ and Python have been updated to provide access to the new functions via programming and scripting. We also added demo scenes for each of RealFlow's main elements, e.g. Hybrido 2, graphs or Caronte body dynamics. You can open them, perform simulations and see how to work with RealFlow's exciting tools and solvers.