Fluids are difficult! Just ask anyone’scientists, physics students, crabbers in the Bering Sea will all agree. In 3D animation and visual effects, the goal is to make them not so difficult’or at least simple enough that the CPUs can deal with the already intense calculations. There are a number of ways to do it. RealFlow is a standalone product focusing on it. Maya has an internal fluid system. Scanline created Flowline, which is proprietary. However, glu3D from 3DAliens comes out as the frontrunner as a potential solution for 75 percent of your fluid needs’especially because the product is available across platforms.
glu3D has been around for a few years, and has established itself in the Max community and has spread its wings over to Maya, and over the past few months it has worked its way to XSI, including the ability to use ICE as its foundation. The fluid engine is not the only reason to get your hands on the product. Bundled with or available separately is PWrapper, which has the ability to take any particle system in Max including PFlow, Krakatoa and ThinkingParticles and generate a fluid-like mesh around it. This is how glu works with ICE and nParticles in XSI and Maya, respectively. It’s essentially a metaballs/blobby system, with more control to finesse the surface.
3DAliens has also recently added gluBaker to the software. This allows you to import previous cached meshes into Max without launching the primary glu3D node. Not only does this alleviate CPU overhead, but it also allows fluid simulations to be passed to other artists, animators and lighters. Plus, gluBaker has controls to offset the timing of the fluid and scale the time to speed it up or slow it down.
glu3D is available in numerous packages and bundles. You do need glu or PWrapper render nodes to send the renders to the farm, but the price is minimal. In fact, the price, at about $850 for the glu3D/PWrapper bundle is reasonable in every sense of the term, given the benefits you gain from it, especially compared to RealFlow’s price point or Flowline, which is not available to the public.
Price: 495 euros, $704 (approx.); with PWrapper Bundle: 595 euros, $846 (approx.)