I’m proud to announce the third Vortex Studio release of the year, Vortex Studio 2018c. It’s an unusually large release, bursting at the seams with upgrades and new features. We’ve done some significant work to our earthwork systems, built a powerful new parallel-processing solver, made upgrades to cables and vehicle systems, improved overall user experience, and much more!
We’ve done a lot of work on upgrading the earthwork systems in this release, making a more realistic soil, in terms of both dynamics and graphics.
There's a new cohesion model that use a water-bridge representation to model the suction effects between interacting particles, for more realistic piling of cohesive soils like loam or clay. Buckets fill up naturally and more realistically, and wet soil piles form to proper repose angles. Also, the soil particle solver now uses a single-precision floating-point format for improved performance, which mean that more particles can be used for better simulation quality and visuals.
Graphically, earthworks are getting a new look with improved soil volume rendering, or Screen-Space Mesh (SSM). It is now possible to insert a noise overlay to reproduce rougher soil textures, and adjustable parameters allow tuning of the blur effects of the soil surface. The soil surface visuals can be shifted to make individual soil rock models more visible. Finally, the diggable zone of the earthwork systems now overlaps better with the surrounding terrain, providing cleaner visual transitions.
On the dynamics side, Vortex Studio introduces a new parallel solver (patent pending) that allows calculations to be distributed across computing cores for increased real-time simulation performance of dynamically complex systems featuring many rigid bodies. A new Solver Group extension allows users to break up dynamics simulations into sub-groups (partitions), which is necessary to take full advantage of the parallel solver.
Two new optimization tools have also been introduced. The Partition Display, found in the Debug display menu, highlights the partitions in the 3D view while simulating, and indicates which rigid bodies are solved together. A new Solver Analytics panel shows how much time/effort the computer is spending on each constraint, for easier optimization of models.
The vehicle tire model has been updated to the Pacejka 2002 tire model, allowing for better simulation of hard ground-wheel interactions. You can now also set each wheel’s inertia independently of geometry.
Cables and hooks can now break with a snap-back or “whiplash” effect when under high tension. The energy is released quickly, making the broken cable or sling fly around in an unpredictable direction. Parameters exist to further tune the snap-back, allowing focused scenarios where the broken cable will fly toward a desired direction (or target!) and with a given strength.
We are proud to present our new Physically Based Rendering (PBR) lighting model. This matches the technology used in cutting-edge gaming engines, which uses Image Based Lighting (IBL) to capture light produced by the environment. This leads to highly realistic visuals, including reflections and indirect lighting.
You can have both PBR-based and traditional specular-based graphics materials in the same scene, so no need to update existing 3D models. Note this is a technology preview only. It's certainly usable, but we’re working on adding the components required for a full PBR pipeline (dynamic IBL with local light probes, etc.). We can’t wait to hear your feedback on this one!
We now provide a new stand-alone installation application called Vortex Setup for faster, simpler installation, and version updating. It includes a step-by-step installation wizard that allows users to select which software packages and libraries they wish to install. Vortex Setup allows simultaneous installation of Vortex Studio on multiple computers at once! This is a major time saver, especially with elaborate simulator set-ups consisting of dozens of computers.
As usual, there are many other minor improvements scattered throughout Vortex Studio 2018c to make designing more manageable and your simulations better. Refer to the release notes here to discover them all.
Also, don’t forget to post your questions, feedback, or ideas on our Community forum!
PBR is exciting! I'm sure we will have feedback for you. We've encountered some issues with objects being too light/shiny using the new PBR Metallic/Roughness pipeline but I would like to do some more experimenting. Has anyone else noticed this?
Objects are probably too light because they are only reflecting from the Skydome at this time. It's a sphere so you're getting bright light all around.
A full PBR pipeline includes a way to automatically gather correct lighting information from the environment, which is a currently missing part. We're investigating a quick workaround that could help -- stay tuned!
Where can I find the new Solver Analytics panel?
At the top-right corner of the screen, in the Panel Display button, there's an option to enable the Solver Analytics panel: