As I begin to consider including fluids and liquids into my work, I thought I’d start a thread here to gather opinions and advice for what methods work best in a production workflow, especially in a one man freelance situation. I have not settled on a software solution yet, as there are pros and cons to each software choice.
The one issue that appears to be a caveat to some of the software options is this: How does a small shop effectively manage to get fluids and liquids rendered for big projects with tight deadlines and limited budgets? In order to do any kind of work requiring long render times, a render farm of some sort is usually necessary. From the research I’ve done, some fluids options work well with a render farm that is using NET render. And other fluids software? I’m not so sure.
I will go through the available options, and maybe there are options I am unaware of that others are welcome to add. Please correct me if my assumptions are incorrect in any of my thoughts below.
(This post is more directed towards liquids–not so much gaseous fluids)
The most obvious choice and the gold standard. The cost can be prohibitive ($3995 USD) unless the project budget justifies. I’ve heard many complain of issues when trying to render with NET. (ie NET has trouble seeing the .bin files?) making realflow perhaps not the best choice when under a deadline where a farm is needed. I have heard that as a workaround, some artists will render the fluids separately on a local box and comp the results into the rest of the scene. I can see this working in some cases, but being a PITA in many cases.
The old Particles and Metaballs method
I refer to this as the "poor mans’ fluids sim.
With the revamped Dynamics tools in c4d, just the right scene scale and enough particles and the proper effectors, one can achieve some pretty good motion results. That is until you need to mesh those results. Metaballs are the usual choice to create an envelope around the particles, but as we all know, rather than getting the finely detailed splash and spray of realflow, we get blobby spheres. With the right scene scale you can sometimes get very tight meshes around the particles, but in my experience, its a crapshoot and not a reliable way to work. It can work for quick shots. Perhaps a new metaball object with fluid meshing “algorhythms” (if thats a thing) would be all we needed to fill in the blanks?
This seems like a good way to go. Blender is very very inexpensive and includes (from what I’ve seen and heard) good fluid and liquid sim tools. I have heard from some c4d animatos who recommend Blender just for the fluid tools–and export the bin sequence (or whatever format it is) and import into c4d. I spent about 20 minutes in blender just trying to figure out how to rotate around the editor window and gave up. But I guess I could allocate some time and figure to out of I needed to. Would be interested in hearing how reliable Blender is when using (the exported sequences) in conjunction with C4D and NET.
is great and relatively inexpensive–but it only handles gaseous fluids–not liquids.
Results look great from what I can see and runs right inside of C4D, which is a plus, however, it isn’t clear to me yet what one needs to do in order to render with NET. Is there a renderkit pakage of sorts that allows DPIT to be rendered on addiitonal render nodes? Would one need to purchase separate licenses for NET? I have heard others mention issues in this area but not sure myself. If needing to buy separate licenses for each node were the case, then an $890 license of DPIT could easily begin to approach (and surpass) the 4K USD cost of Realflow if one needs to buy a license for each node. But again–please clear up my confusion if I am incorrect here.
Thanks for reading and please add to the discussion if you have any recommendations or workflow suggestions.