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Autodesk open sources Bifrost-USD in Maya update

Feature-rich update for Maya adds flexible workflow enhancements for simulation,  including new open source Bifrost-USD integration.

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Autodesk has just announced its new Bifrost for Maya update. It includes the debut of its open-source Bifrost-USD integration. USD, in this context, refers to universal scene description. This is an easily extensible, open-source 3D scene description and file format developed by Pixar. It is used for content creation and data interchange between different graphics tools.

Bifront and USD

In its announcement dated 12 December 2022, Autodesk outlines its feature-rich Bifrost for Maya update. This includes a number of improvements for more streamlined and flexible workflows. In particular, it includes the debut of Autodesk’s open-source Bifrost-USD integration.

Bifrost-USD in maya screen shot

Bifrost-USD in Maya screenshot.

It was developed to drive open industry standards and to help creative facilities produce content more efficiently. The Bifrost update also introduces a host of simulation, scattering, and USD workflow enhancements for Autodesk’s node-based visual programming system.

Bifrost Senior Product Manager, Jonah Friedman explains:

“We are following up on our release of the Operator SDK in Bifrost with a powerful demonstration of what it can do: we used it to create all of the Bifrost-USD integration. With Bifrost-USD open-sourced, our users can build the whole Maya-USD ecosystem, including Arnold-USD and Maya-USD to make them work with their own USD core. They can use it as a code example – more than a code example, as it’s an example of a real production project. They could even implement their own features.”

Key features of recent updates:

  • Bifrost-USD is open-sourced.
  • Bifrost geometry, property transfer, and pipeline improvements.
  • Enhanced UI (user interface) editing.
  • Low-overhead evaluation.
  • Redesigned backdrops and sticky notes.
  • Streamlined simulation diagnostics and scopes.
  • Upgraded MPM (material point method) simulation.

Bifrost-USD open sourced

Bifrost-USD is now available as an open-source USD within Maya or as a standalone project on GitHub. The Bifrost-USD project includes wrapped USD types. Bifrost-USD also includes:

  • Ability to monitor USD low-level operations.
  • Translation tables to handle integration with the host software.
  • Compounds that expose Bifrost-USD functionality to users.
  • Custom USD tools and builds to improve pipeline flexibility and scalability.

Bifrost geometry, property transfer, and pipeline improvements

To simplify creating complex geometry algorithms from scratch, new property transfer helps teams streamline the use of custom properties. It also creates a first bath of procedural geometry compounds in the process. This includes basic compounds, such as delete and filter points, faces, and strands. It also includes separate mesh, detach faces, and add points. Additionally, Bifrost’s Alembic implementation features improve performance with indexed properties, including UVs and face vertex normals, to better preserve user data. Bifrost data can also be turned into a Maya mesh with a single mouse- click.

Enhanced UI editing

Artists can add widgets such as sliders, color pickers, and a new combo box without requiring any coding.

Low-overhead evaluation

Processing overheads have been reduced to improve system performance. This includes arrays of input data that increased the speed of running a graph by 30-fold.

Redesigned backdrops and sticky notes

A complete overhaul of backdrops introduces more functional and aesthetic annotations. Backdrops enable teams to outline, identify, and separate notable areas in graphs. Meanwhile, sticky notes are ideal for annotating comments and instructions for more efficient communication between teams.

Streamlined simulation diagnostics and scopes

To streamline physics simulations, the recent unified set of diagnostic tools has been added to MPM and Aero. This allows artists to visualize velocities and temperatures and to explore the solver’s internal state to understand the physics behind the effects.

Upgraded MPM simulation

The introduction of new collider stickiness makes it easier and more intuitive for artists to create a snowball impact with the desired amount of snow left clinging to the wall. Additionally, new per-particle activation supports complex disintegration effects. It also offers location-based activation for efficient footstep simulations in large environments.

Availability

Bifrost is available either with a standalone Maya subscription or with the Autodesk Media & Entertainment Collection.

More information

  • For further information concerning Bifrost-USD, please see the official Bifrost release notes.
  • Additional details on the evolution of Bifrost are available from What’s New in Maya.
  • Free tutorials are available on Youtube at the Maya Learning Channel.
  • You can find the open-source Bifrost-USD project, complete with source code, on GitHub.
  • And discover more about Pixar’s USD format by clicking here.

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