Autodesk has released a substantial update to Maya that improves Bitfrost and brings new processing nodes to Arnold with version 2020.4.

Maya is one of the premier visual creation programs thank to its volumetrics and FX tools. Bifrost is an extension plugin for Maya that provides a node-based framework for building custom effects including smoke, fire, explosions, sand, snow, instances, and more. Using Bitfrost allows you to preview the results in the viewport and render out the results with Arnold, a scalable ray tracer that allows you to export complex scenes quickly and easily. 

With this latest update, Bitfrost users will have new options for curve support, graph shape nodes, fields systems, scatter packs, and volume tools. Plus, new simulations for aerodynamics and cloth and thin-shell. 

Arnold_nestedArnold's nested dielectrics bubbles

With Arnold 6.1, users will able to adjust image exposure, color correction, white balance, tone mapping, and vignetting using new post-processing nodes called imagers. Additionally, nested dielectrics have been added which is a new system for overlapping transparent objects. According to Autodesk, it allows for more realistic renders of scenes such as glass containers with liquid contents and bubbles or ice cubes.

The program has also improved in terms of GPU performance. The GPU can partially load textures to save time and system memory. The release says support for light linking and additional light AOV groups, and enhanced OSL JIT compilation performance, have also been added.

The Motion Library in Maya received an update as well, with enhanced character previews with new orbit and zoom functions and a smoother initialization, while the Substance plugin adds Substance Engine 8.0.3 compatibility, Standard Surface support, and improved interoperability with Maya and other Substance programs.

Autodesk will be hosting an AMA with the Bitfrost team on Wednesday, Dec. 9, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. ET on the VFX subreddit, followed by a special livestream event on Thursday, Dec. 10, from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. ET if you'd like to learn more about the new features.

To download a free trial, you can head on over here