What you need to know about tyFlow

Developer Tyson Ibele breaks down the 3DS MAX particle simulator.

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You may have see around the web a fair bit of discussion about 3ds Max plugin tyFlow, a particle simulation tool created by Tyson Ibele.

Essentially Ibele’s own take on the simulation plugin Particle Flow (PFlow), tyFlow has been impressing Max users in a big way.

The tool is currently in beta, but Ibele took some time to let befores & afters know where things are up to in tyFlow development.

b&a: How would you describe what tyFlow is?

Tyson Ibele: tyFlow is a particle simulator that takes simple concepts like position, rotation, scale and velocity and applies them to huge numbers of individual points in 3D space. When simple rules are applied to a lot of things like that at once, the result is an emergence of complex patterns and behaviors which can then be used to create all kinds of different visual effects. tyFlow itself is not a stand-alone application – it is a plugin that works inside Autodesk’s 3ds Max.

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tyFlow's OpenCL-accelerated cloth solver can handle huge amounts of input geometry, and since each vertex on a converted cloth mesh is maintained as a regular tyFlow particle, those individual vertices can be manipulated like any other particles within a flow. In this example, 350 pieces of clothing with over 7 million combined faces are controlled with wind, gravity and surface attraction forces. In total, 65 million mass-spring bindings are required to simulate all of the cloth physics and inter-particle collision forces. With 75 per-step cloth solver iterations and 4 overall solver steps per frame, that's 450 billion constraint evaluations required for every second of animation you see here. Despite the huge number of computations required to solve the system, the simulation was cached on a multi-core machine with a GeForce 1080ti GPU in only 1.5 minutes per frame. That kind of power and speed makes tyFlow an obvious choice for high resolution offline simulations. #tyflow #autodesk #physx #procedural #generative #animation #cloth #rigidbody #softbody #simulation #cg #3d #vfx #3dsmax #particles #mdcommunity #mgcollective #ssequential #plsur #chaosgroup #vray

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b&a: What led you to developing it? What kind of work had you been doing yourself before starting on it?

Tyson Ibele: I started creating tyFlow after years of using a similar particle simulation plugin (also for 3ds Max) called Particle Flow. While it was originally pretty cutting edge, Particle Flow had become somewhat obsolete over time due to a lack of updates and using it in my day-to-day work was an increasingly frustrating endeavor. It was slow, riddled with bugs and lacked a lot of features present in other software. Eventually I couldn’t take the pain anymore and decided to take matters into my own hands and create its spiritual successor: my own take on Particle Flow which I christened ‘tyFlow’.

b&a: What have been some of the toughest parts of getting it into shape?

Tyson Ibele: The toughest part of development is keeping up with the scope of the project. Each individual feature might be somewhat simple on its own, but when there are hundreds of features that need to work across all different kinds of hardware configurations, 3ds Max versions, renderers, etc, ensuring reliable, bug-free performance can be quite a challenge. Since tyFlow is just my hobby (I also work full-time for a visual effects company called MAKE), I need to keep very focused and organized to avoid completely burning out.

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tyFlow's PhysX pipeline is closely tied to its rig skinning system. Combining the two makes it easy to simulate effects like rigidbody deformations. In this example, vehicles are skinned with rigidbodies connected together by tyFlow PhysX constraints. tyFlow's constraint deformation system allows for local deformations to form when portions of the constraint network undergo enough stress. The result is a deformable surface that maintains its overall rigidity, similar to how an actual car's exterior can be dented and damaged. Dynamic fracturing was also added to each window, allowing for glass to smash on impact. Since every part of the system is controlled procedurally by tyFlow, it is quick and easy to iterate and tweak. #tyflow #autodesk #physx #procedural #generative #animation #cloth #rigidbody #softbody #simulation #cg #3d #vfx #3dsmax #particles #mdcommunity #mgcollective #ssequential #plsur #chaosgroup #vray

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b&a: How has the community reacted? Can you pinpoint some great tyFlow work you’ve seen around the place?

Tyson Ibele: Since its initial release, a strong Facebook community has formed of people who help each other with their tyFlow experiments, share feedback, report bugs, etc, and it’s been really great seeing everyone’s progress. The “#tyflow” hashtag on Instagram also has a healthy amount of work attached to it, with people eager to share their own simulations.

b&a: How does someone get their hands on tyFlow and what is the plan for release?

Tyson Ibele: Many details concerning the official release are still undecided, but anyone can participate in the beta for free. All they need to do is download tyFlow from http://beta.tyflow.com and install it for 3ds Max (version 2016 or newer).

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tyFlow's crowd simulation capabilities are not limited to humanoid characters. In this example, two thousand worms (fully rigged with splineIK and FFD animated surface deformations) are transformed into a writhing, mutating mass. tyFlow's pose matching system makes it easy to project keyframed animation onto dynamic PhysX rigidbodies, allowing for art-directed twisting and turning of the individual worms, while maintaining physically accurate collisions between all of them. Localized attraction forces acting on the worms cause them to push and pull towards a hidden surface, which ultimately results in the formation of the slithering monster. In total, 30,000 joint-articulated rigidbodies are present in the scene, and the 600-frame sequence simulates in about 30 minutes. Despite the overall complexity of the final result, the whole setup is maintained within just a few tyFlow events and operators, which keeps the workflow light and makes tweaks and changes easy to implement. #tyflow #autodesk #physx #procedural #generative #animation #crowd #crowdsim #miarmy #golaem #simulation #cg #3d #vfx #3dsmax #houdini #cinema4d #maya #particles #mdcommunity #mgcollective #ssequential #plsur #chaosgroup #vray #creepy #nightmarefuel

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