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Thinkbox Releases Stoke MX Particle Simulator for 3ds Max

Streamlined Plug-in Speeds Up Creation of Dense Particle Sims from a Variety of Sources

Thinkbox Software, best-known for its Krakatoa particle tools, has released Stoke MX, a new plug-in for Autodesk's 3ds Max.

Thinkbox describes Stoke as an easy-to-use particle simulator that speeds up the creation of high-volume particle clouds driven by velocity fields. It supports sources including simulations from FumeFX and Thinkbox's Ember plug-in (which is still in beta), Particle Flow, Cebas thinkingParticles, 3ds Max Force Space Warps, and formats like PRT and RealFlow BIN. It's designed to operate well with other Thinkbox products, including Krakatoa, Frost, Genome, and Ember.

Stoke MX can be used to accelerate particle creation by using velocities defined in an original particle sim to drive similar motion with many more particles in Stoke. Thinkbox said the process can be up to seven times faster when using Stoke instead of the original simulation software to create a dense cloud on an eight-core system. For example, watch this video showing a 300-frame, 170,000-particle simulation out of Naiad that was created in 13 minutes and then used as the basis for a more detailed 4.5 million-particle simulation in Stoke that took just seven minutes, and then a very dense 15.5 million-particle version that took 30 minutes.

The benefits are potentially greater when emitting particles and saving them to PRT files because of Stoke's asynchronous caching system. Thinkbox says saving a 100-frame simulation with 1 million particles emitted in Particle Flow and written to disk using Krakatoa partitioning takes 160 seconds, compared to just 7.5 seconds using Stoke MX with 2 GB of memory cache.

Thinkbox says Stoke allows artists to work through different iterations of a complex effect quickly without having to redo the base simulation. "Stoke enables a completely new way of working," said Thinkbox founder Chris Bond in a prepared statement. "Instead of being stuck in a rigid simulation workflow, artists can essentially layer their particles and work backwards to mix, enhance or alter simulation data quickly and easily without having to re-simulate."

Here's the description of key features provided by Thinkbox:

  • Quick particle generation from other particle systems, geometry surfaces, volumes, vertices and edges including selection and soft-selection support, as well as from Sitni Sati's FumeFX simulations.
  • Optional emitter channel acquisition with minimal overhead
  • Particle advection using velocities from other particle systems or files, 3ds Max force space warps, FumeFX simulations, Thinkbox's Ember simulations, and other Stoke simulations
  • Velocity field mixing, scaling and optional divergence removal from particle-based velocity fields to produce uncompressible fluid motion
  • Flexible memory caching for fast simulation iterations and interactive viewport playback
  • PRT file saving using one or more background threads, decoupling the simulation from the particle saving process for even faster iterations
  • Integration with local and Thinkbox's Deadline partitioning
  • Extensive MAXScript exposure enabling the creation of custom Stoke-based tools
  • Compatible with the Thinkbox's Krakatoa MX high-volume particle renderer and its various components including PRT Loader and other PRT objects, Magma and delete modifiers, particle data viewer, etc
  • Compatible with Thinkbox Software's Frost particle mesher (version 1.3.5 and higher)

Thinkbox offers a 15-day evaluation license for the software. For more information, visit: www.thinkboxsoftware.com/stoke-mx/

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