Red Gi­ant Trap­code Suite 15 Tech Re­views

Animation Magazine - - Vfx - By Todd Sheri­dan Perry

W hat is with the re­leases that have so many new bells and whis­tles that I can’t even cover a frac­tion of them? This time around, it’s Trap­code Suite 15 from Red Gi­ant, one of the lead­ing out­fits feed­ing the Adobe, Avid and Black­magic com­mu­ni­ties with the tools they need to make beau­ti­ful mov­ing pic­tures. Since I can’t talk about ev­ery­thing, I will fo­cus on the most ex­cit­ing thing: fluid dy­nam­ics.

Fluid Dy­nam­ics is an area where we vfx artists needed to ven­ture out into the 3D worlds to cre­ate fluid sim­u­la­tions. This was some­thing that was sorely lack­ing in­side Trap­code. I mean, I’m not bag­ging on the early ver­sions. I and hun­dreds of artists out there have turned to the soft­ware to cre­ate su­per cool 3D par­ti­cle stuff. How­ever, I can’t count the num­ber of times I have thought, “If only these were real sim­u­la­tions.”

One quick aside: For those who may not be fa­mil­iar with fluid dy­nam­ics, it de­scribes how liq­uids and gases flow — in­clud­ing wa­ter, paint, oat­meal, steam, smoke and fire. So, don’t think that it only refers to wa­ter!

Trap­code Suite’s fluid dy­nam­ics en­gine gets you all the de­sired dy­nam­ics, with con­trols over the forces that move them, ob­jects that in­ter­act with them … and even col­li­sions be­tween dif­fer­ent fluid bod­ies.

And it doesn’t stop in Par­tic­u­lar. One of the other mod­ules, Form, uti­lizes the same en­gine. But in this case, the flu­ids can col­lide with the ob­jects that Form im­ports. Form can use these ob­jects and cre­ate point clouds, and then us­ing noises and such can ma­nip­u­late the points into cool new pat­terns. Now those points can be­come part of the fluid sim­u­la­tion, be­ing de­formed by the churn­ing and swirling from the fluid around it.

Both Par­tic­u­lar and Form use a de­signer in­ter­face to quickly pro­to­type looks, mix­ing and match­ing styles, forces and ob­jects. The in­ter­face is light and fast, so you can play around to find a look be­fore at­tempt­ing to use it in your scene, where you’ll most likely lose some of that in­ter­ac­tiv­ity. And the de­signer in­ter­face is chock full of hun­dreds of pre­sets to give you a head start to­ward mak­ing a “Smoke Ex­plo­sion,” for ex­am­ple. Your sys­tems can have sub sys­tems for added com­plex­ity. And your new fla­vor can be saved into the pre­set li­brary. Also, Par­tic­u­lar and Form work in 3D space in After Ef­fects, ac­knowl­edg­ing both cam­era and lights.

I don’t feel like I’ve ex­pressed clearly enough just how much of a leap this is for both Par­tic­u­lar and Form. To get these kinds of looks with­out leav­ing the com­posit­ing en­vi­ron­ment is a huge boon and time saver. I’m look­ing for­ward to a wave of new con­tent from artists who have cracked this tool open and let the prover­bial creative ge­nie out of the bot­tle. Web­site:­­ucts/trap­code-suite Price: $999 (full); $199 (up­grade); $499 (aca­demic)

ac­cel­er­ate the pro­cesses. And the work­flow has been de­signed so that all of the com­plex things that Hou­dini spe­cial­ists have been do­ing to build these dy­namic sys­tems have been boiled down to tools that set up all the nodes to pro­vide a start­ing point for ev­ery­one from be­gin­ners to ex­perts (al­though the ex­perts will prob­lem build their own fla­vors any­way).

Vel­lum was orig­i­nally started to pro­vide cloth tai­lor­ing and sim­u­la­tion so­lu­tions. Es­pe­cially com­plex ones such as cloth drap­ing on a char­ac­ter. Hav­ing cloth hang on a char­ac­ter in mo­tion, in­ter­act with it­self, in­ter­act with mul­ti­ple lay­ers of other cloth, and then be able to tear and de­tach are par for the char­ac­ter-an­i­ma­tion-dy­nam­ics course. So, Vel­lum is com­prised of a suite of con­straints that can be com­bined, work­ing in con­junc­tion with one an­other, an­i­mated by hand or at­tributes or mea­sured thresh­olds. You can have a pin con­straint that holds pieces of the cloth in place, along with a weld con­straint that holds ripped pieces of cloth to­gether, and maybe some­one is shoot­ing vel­cro balls at you. Then you have a glue con­straint to stick to the cloth­ing. All of which are cal­cu­lat­ing at the same time.

The thresh­olds are con­trolled in each type of con­straint. So each type can have a dif­fer­ent stress point at which is breaks. It can stretch too far, or bend too far. It can be caused by a cer­tain amount of stress put on the con­straints. This leads to a tem­po­rary side tool, which is a vi­su­al­izer pro­vided that lets you an­a­lyze dif­fer­ent forces on the ob­ject. Heat maps show where the sur­face is re­ceiv­ing stres­sors. Com­bin­ing these con­straints into dif­fer­ent con­fig­u­ra­tions gives you dif­fer­ent sys­tems. Cloth with an op­tional plas­tic­ity that al­lows the sur­face to bend … and stay bent. Bal­loons with in­ter­nal pres­sure that main­tains vol­ume when af­fected. Soft bod­ies with a sim­ple in­ter­nal strut sys­tem. Or soft bod­ies with a tetra­he­dral sys­tem, which gives you a wa­ter bal­loon type of thing.

You could spe­cial­ize just in this sub­set of Hou­dini and be a for­ever hirable artist. It’s not be­cause you can do so much, but be­cause Side Ef­fects has set up a work­flow so that you can do so much so quickly and so eas­ily. At least for 80% of the ef­fects. The other 20% you’ll still need to get un­der the hood with a wrench. That, of course, is noth­ing new to Hou­dini users. Web­site:­mu­nity/hou­dini-17-sneak-peek Prices: Be­gin­ning $75 (Ed­u­ca­tional); $269 (Yearly Rental In­die); $499 (artists); $1,995 (stu­dios)

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