RealFlow 2014 is the latest iteration of Next Limit's popular dynamics package and is highly anticipated by all fans of liquid simulations. The first thing to notice is that the UI has been redesigned and comes with a new tab layout which feels much more accessible and clearly arranged in comparison to any of its predecessors.
Sadly it's not a complete redesign, which means the very important scene options menu is still hidden behind a tiny arrow and a consistent transition from the old Nodes List to the Relationship Editor that came with version 2014 is still missing.
New daemons make a splash
RealFlow comes with two methods of calculating liquid motion: SPH and FLIP. Having probably the strongest SPH solver on the market, it is nice to see a slightly improved version of the Sheeter Daemon and finally a way to visualise force fields. (Daemons are forces that determine the look of a fluid without external influence.)
However, the improvements to the FLIP solver, or Hybrido as it is called in RealFlow, are the more notable ones. Viscosity and even variable viscosities have been brought to the solver, so simulating honey or molten metal is possible now using the faster FLIP method.
Improvements have also been made to collision detection in FLIP and also the system for whitewater generation, Splash, now works with FLIP particles and a new Bubbles solver is added to the whitewater simulation toolkit.
A new daemon, Ocean Force Field, has been introduced, that makes it easier to create complex effects like rolling waves and gives the artist an intuitive way of controlling liquid behaviour in FLIP. Summing it up, FLIP in RealFlow 2014 is a much more polished version of its predecessor, which had a lot of teething problems.
RealFlow 2014 is able to directly export to Arnold's .ass file format and the RealFlow Render Kit (RFRK) now comes with Arnold support. The RFRK is an important toolkit for meshing and post-processing RealFlow simulations and can also act as an interface to use simulation data, like vortricity, in the rendering. The good news
is RFRK is now free and part of the free connectivity plug-ins one needs to use RealFlow data in a 3D software, like Maya or Cinema 4D.
Words: Florian Koebisch
Florian Koebisch is a freelance senior FX artist who has worked for various TV commercials and feature film all over Europe. He has been actively using RealFlow since version three. This article originally appeared in 3D World issue 185 - on sale now!