Autodesk ships Bifrost for Maya 2.1
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Autodesk has released Bifrost for Maya 2.1, the latest version of the Maya Multiphysics plugin.

The update – the biggest since the plugin was released last year – adds new queries about scene geometry and better support for Alembic and improves the workflow in the Bifrost node diagrams.

Many of the changes are not compatible. Scenes created in previous versions of the plugin must be updated manually before they are compatible with the new functionality.

A powerful node-based simulation environment with a range of physics solvers
Bifrost for Maya was first published last year alongside Maya 2019.2 and offers a node-based visual programming environment in which multi-physics simulations can be created.

The plugin, an expanded version of Maya's original Bifrost fluids simulation toolset, contains solvents for combustion and granular materials as well as liquids and is available free of charge from Maya.

New in Bifrost for Maya 2.1: New geometry query types
Today's update is the largest since Bifrost for Maya 2.0, the version originally released with Maya 2019.2: While Autodesk has been releasing updates since then, it is mostly bugfix versions.

The new functionality includes four new geometry query nodes that allow users to identify and sample data from the closest points on the surrounding geometry or the ray-throwing positions for a particular point in a scene.

According to Autodesk, this opens up new simulation workflows that allow “a number of new connections, including collision deformers and attribute transfer, to be easily created”.

The queries can be displayed in the viewport with arrows, as shown in the image above.

However, the changes affect backward compatibility. This means that diagrams created using the geometry query nodes available in previous versions of the plug-in must be reconstructed manually.

Optimized scene diagrams and new node properties
Under the hood, the basic_aero_graph and the basic_particles_graph have been optimized and only contain the minimal knots and properties that are required to carry out a smoke or particle simulation.

User-defined properties can be added via "new menus and links", both in the diagrams themselves and in the nodes source_mpm_sand, source_mpm_snow and source_mpm_fluid, which are used for particle and liquid simulations.

According to Autodesk, the changes lead to “up to ten-fold speed improvements with diagrams, which heavily use indexing in arrays within loops”.

There are also some new utility nodes and new properties for existing nodes: For a full list, see the links at the bottom of the story.

Again, the changes are not compatible, which means that the affected nodes and diagrams must be updated to their new versions before older scenes can be used with version 2.1 of the plugin.

Improved workflow in Bifrost diagrams and in the FCurve editor
Workflow improvements include changes to the user interface for the FCurve editor, including a new miniature curve display. The editor now also supports functions before and after extrapolation.

The user interface for Bifrost diagrams has also been updated. There is a new icon to identify auto-looping ports on nodes and value nodes that now display the number they represent on the screen.

Users can also resolve the type of congested ports on referenced nodes by right-clicking and selecting from a list of options instead of having to create an explicit value node.

Better Alembic support and the option to render simulations over 4 GB in Arnold
Pipeline integration improvements include improved Alembic support, which allows animations to be exported as a single file, rather than generating a separate file per frame of a simulation cache.

Imported and exported Alembic files can now also contain multiple networks with UV and point properties. Multiple strands with properties per strand and per point; and multiple points with per-point properties.

It is now also possible to render Bifrost simulations larger than 4 GB with the Arnold renderer from Autodesk: functionality that was added earlier this year in version 4.0.3 of the Maya to Arnold (MtoA) plugin.

Pricing and availability
Bifrost for Maya 2.1 is available for Maya 2018+ and MtoA 3.2.2+ on Windows, Linux and MacOS.

Maya itself is only available for Windows 7/10, RHEL / CentOS 7.3-7.7 Linux and macOS 10.13+ on a rental basis. Subscriptions cost $ 205 / month or $ 1,620 / year.

Read the Autodesk blog for an overview of what's new in Bifrost for Maya 2.1

Read a full list of new features in Bifrost for Maya 2.1 in the online release notes

Tags: Aero, Alembic, animation cache, Arnold, attribute transfer, backward compatibility, Bifrost, Bifrost liquids, Bifrost for Maya, Bifrost for Maya 2.1, collision deformer, combustion, compatibility break, connection, FCurve Editor, fire, gaseous liquids, geometry query, liquid, Maya, Mtoa, MtoA 4.0.3, multi-physics, new functions, node diagram, node-based, particle fluid, plugin, price, simulation, simulation cache, smoke, system requirements, visual programming

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