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Elementacular for Autodesk Maya Review

[ #adskMaya #Realtime ]
Few months ago, Alexandra Institute has released the Cloud simulation tool for Autodesk Maya: Elementacular and today Founder of Thunder Cloud Studio - Phung Dinh Dzung will give us a depth look at this plugin.

>> See Also: Geo Maya Hair 2 for Maya by Phung Dinh Dzung

Forget about the long hours of endless simulation and tweaking Maya fluid, Elementacular is an innovative plugin from The Alexandra Institute which allow Maya users to quickly create clouds and similar volumetric structure using geometry meshes as base shape - in real-time.

Utilizing OpenGL Hardware is one of the strongest feature of this plugin, artists can instantly see the result on the go. Even though it is only compatible with a limited range of Nvidia graphic cards but the performance and display responsive time is impressive.

With different settings/ resolution of Elementacular volume , OpenGL Viewport are still very responsive at 14 ~30 FPS

Installation & usage of the plugin is simple: Run setup file, open up Maya, create any polygon-based mesh then apply Elementacular shader. You’re done.

Using polygon meshes as base shapes, user just need to apply Elementacular shader, the Volumetric clouds will be automatically generated and taking shape of the base meshes. This is a very powerful and friendly workflow to create volumetric element of any complexities and shade.

Elementacular cloud volume automatically take the shape of the base geometry and update in real-time.
Elementacular also provide users with huge load of controls over the shape, texture and look of the volumetric, from tone mapping for HDR renders to 3D noise textures base to control albedo, density, emission, roughness etc. You can create and animate any type of cloud and volumetric shape in infinite number of styles from realistic to stylized cartoon. On top of all, these controls are keyable and responsive in real-time.
One surprise feature of Elementacular is that its volume shape reacted to Maya lights in real-time directly on viewport. Multi lights compute scattering physically within the volume, it is very responsive and giving accurate result.
The only setback of this awesome plugin is the lack of documentations and proper tutorials. All settings and controls are easy readable and self-explanation, but a tutorial or tips & tricks document would even be better for user to get used to the plugin quicker. The plug-in does come with several example scenes which should help you get started.

Elementacular volumes consists of tightly fitted voxel grids which means that when you are working with more shaders at once you will get a performance hit. It does however give you the highest resolution per object. The team is actively working on getting increasing better performance going forward.

Tested with Geforce GTX 660 4GB

One last bug we encountered. Random blocks appear around the Elementacular volume when we re-apply different Elementacular shaders onto objects.
However version 2.0 is coming next year, expected to fix all this bugs and are definitely promising!

About Review Author:

Phung Dinh Dzung is Founder and Team Leader of Thunder Cloud Studio - 3D Animation & Game Outsourcing studio, work experiences including : Art Director at The Color Club International and Creature Artist/ Effect Modeler at Double Negative London, Author of popular hair script : GMH2 . For more information please visit
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Elementacular for Autodesk Maya Review Reviewed by CGRecord Team on 20:24 Rating: 5
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