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3D News: Autodesk Maya 2020.4 Marks New Chapter for Bifrost

Maya 2020.4 features major new Bifrost updates to the popular 3D content creation program from Autodesk, empowering visual artists working across a multitude of 3D arts fields and industries.


Autodesk has announced a major update to Autodesk Maya, version 2020.4 with key Bifrost updates. Designed to keep busy 3D artists productive with the ever-increasing demand for content, this release marks the largest update to the Bifrost visual programming environment yet.

New in Maya 2020.4

Key improvements extend to deeper integration between Bifrost and Maya, a user-experience (UX) overhaul, new scattering, instancing, volumetric, and FX capabilities, and the very latest version of the Autodesk Arnold renderer.

Bifrost graph shape-in outliner, in Autodesk Maya 2020.4 with major Bifrost feature updates.

There is a special live event scheduled for Thursday, 10 December 2020, at 12:00 – 2:00 PM EDT. Folks can click here to learn more about this event.

A summary of key new features in detail is below.

  • – Maya curve support: Maya curves can now be dragged and dropped directly into Bifrost graphs, where they are converted into Bifrost strands and can be used to build curve-based assets and tools. This update opens the door for artists to use Maya curves to guide procedural generation of roads and fences, as well as the placement and orientation of object scattering.
    – Graph shape nodes: Artists can now view Bifrost graphs as either DG or DAG nodes, that are visible in the outliner. DAG nodes are the new default for Bifrost graphs in Maya.
    – New fields system: This update introduces user-defined, implicit 3D scalar and vector fields with infinite resolution and low memory overhead. Using fields nodes, artists can now define custom fields to act as dynamic influences on particles, cloth, or aerodynamic simulations – without having to go inside FX compounds to edit them.
    – Scatter pack: Higher-level scattering and instancing compounds have been added to the Bifrost toolkit, including a blue noise scattering node and integration with the new fields system.
    – Volume improvements: Volume tools now support fully adaptive conversions between meshes and volumes, merging adaptive volumes, and converting between fields and volumes.
    – Cloth and thin-shell simulations: Users can now produce more accurate collisions and self-collisions with an updated Material Point Method (MPM) solver.
     Aerodynamic simulations: The Aero solver gains significant performance enhancements, as well as increased capacity for detail refinement and artifact reduction, and new features like texture advection.
    – Instantly terminate computation: Quickly escape out of slow running simulations by hitting the ESC key.

New faster rendering with Arnold 6.1 includes these benefits and capabilities:

  • – New post-processing nodes: Users can now adjust image exposure, color correction, white balance, tone mapping, and vignetting using new post-processing nodes called ‘imagers’.
    – Nestled dielectrics: A new priority system for overlapping transparent objects enables artists to create scenes with more physically accurate reflections and refraction of rays. This allows for more realistic renders of scenes such as glass containers with liquid contents and bubbles or ice cubes.
    – GPU improvements: The GPU renderer can now partially load textures, providing big savings on both memory consumption and rendering time. Support for light linking and additional light AOV groups, and enhanced OSL JIT compilation performance have also been added.

Plugin updates also include Motion Library in Maya, with enhanced character previews with new orbit and zoom functions and a smoother initialization experience. There is also an updated Substance plugin that adds Substance Engine 8.0.2 compatibility, Standard Surface support, and improved interoperability with Maya and other Substance programs.

Bifrost Scatter Pack Mountain image. A sample of the power of Maya 2020.4 with Bifrost updates.

“Artists are being challenged to create ever-more complex visuals, whether for film, TV, or games. Maya 2020.4 was designed with artists in mind, offering major updates to Bifrost for Maya and Arnold to help them tackle increasingly complex work while pushing their creative limits,” shared Ben Fischler, Industry Strategy Manager, Autodesk. “Creating detailed simulations for smoke, fire, snow, explosions and more, or procedurally generated environments, has historically required a high level of expertise, but with the latest updates to Bifrost in Maya 2020.4, artists of all skill levels can take their first steps in visual programming,  building powerful simulations and custom tools.”

Learning More

To learn more about Maya 2020.4 visit this link here or sign-up for the event today at this link here.

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