Next Limit Technologies Summer 2007 Newsletter
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Next Limit Technologies Summer 2007 Newsletter

Next Limit Newsletter

Summer 2007

*       R&D updates: RealFlow4 // Maxwell Render

*       Latest News

*       Maxwell Render training

*       Skill up! :: Maxwell Render tip

*       Image of the moment


R&D Updates






*       An update for RealFlow4 (version 4.3) has now been released. The update is more than just a bug fix and brings a faster stacking procedure in the rigid body solver, several new tools and command line options, more stability, better pipeline integration and much, much more. For further details, please download the release notes from the RF4 download area at

*       The Cinema4D plug-in for RealFlow has also been updated for both Windows and Mac. The plug-in is compatible with versions 8.5, 9.6 and 10 for Windows and 8.5ppc, 9.5ppc, 9.6ub and 10ub for Mac.

*       The RealFlow™ development team is working hard on a new toolkit for shading RealFlow particles in large quantities through RenderMan™ renderers. These tools solve meshing issues and the related problem of creating very heavy and hard-to-handle files. The new toolkit offers two different approaches to render a scene in RF4 without having to make a mesh. The first approach, called FlowTracer™, is a ray-marching technique that samples part of the fluid to construct information about the whole, at render time. The second approach covers FlowParticler™ and FlowMesher™, which both generate various types of geometry (polygonal meshes, sprites, points) at render time. A whitepaper which will further explain these new techniques will be presented at Siggraph 2007, booth 1537.


RealFlow Shading Toolkit for RenderMan



Maxwell Render


Maxwell Render

*       An update for Maxwell Render 1.5 was released last month.This update is for MXCL, MXST and MXED and affects Win 32 and 64 and OSX. The patch focuses on bug fixes, improvements and stabilizations. Some of the highlights include: an added control to choose the camera view from the UI; various network enhancements; the possibility to select and edit multiple UV sets on an object; and the possibility to import more than one material at the same time through MXM multiselection. The OBJ importer now accepts quads, so it is no longer needed to triangulate OBJ files before importing; importing 3ds and DXF files has been improved; and more. For further details, please download the release notes from the customer download area at

*       The Maxwell Render development team does not only continue to work on bug fixes and improvements, but is also preparing the next update of Maxwell Render. This update will bring the long-awaited Maxwell displacement. Next Limit’s proprietary displacement method goes a step beyond micro poly displacement (MPD). One of its main advantages is that even very fine or large displacements require very little extra memory. For example, you can easily create very sharp, fine details, something that would be difficult to do with MPD without using hundreds of megabytes of ram. Maxwell’s displacement uses a new technology which is not triangle-based (which increases memory usage); the only limit is the detail in your displacement map. Furthermore, the technology behind Maxwell’s displacement opens the door for other related features which will prove to be very useful in many rendering situations. We are confident that we will see some incredible new renders with the soon to be released Maxwell Displacement.

Here are some impressive results from our testers (click images to enlarge):

From this simple map...

City Settings


... To this image:

City Disp


Unlimited detail:



Displacement and Multilight™ :

Head Disp


Impressive results:



Close Up








Pattern by Brigittte Wirion


Close up




Latest news


*       Siggraph 2007:Next Limit Technologies will be exhibiting both Maxwell Render and RealFlow4 at Siggraph 2007, held in San Diego from August 7 to August 9. If you are attending Siggraph, please come by our booth #1537 to have a chat with one of our experts. If you haven’t booked your ticket yet, we have Guest Passes available to give away to our clients, partners and other contacts. If you would like to get a Guest Pass, please send an email stating “Siggraph Guest Pass” in the subject line to Email Contact. We’d love to see you in San Diego!




*       Vismasters 2007: Next Limit Technologies is sponsoring this year’s Vismasters DMVC in San Diego. We will hold a 30 minute Case Study Presentation with speaker and Maxwell Render expert Mr. Mike Verta on August 10. Didn’t book your Vismasters ticket yet? We have secured a discount rate for anyone registering via using the promotional code: MaxwellDMVC. Don’t miss it!




*       THINK! website: THINK!, the Maxwell Render Resource Center, is online now! This website is entirely dedicated to Maxwell Render tutorials, with input from Maxwell Render users as well as the Next Limit Team. Do you want to upload your tutorial or are you looking for tips on how to use Maxwell Render? Go to




*       20% off for RF upgrades: It’s been over a year now since the release of RealFlow4, and many RF4 customers are now enjoying the new features. Next Limit is offering an exclusive discount of 20% to all customers with previous versions of RealFlow. The discount applies to all RF4 full commercial licenses, and if your previous RealFlow license was the Gold pack edition, we’ll also upgrade the command lines for FREE! To take advantage of this offer, please upgrade to RF4 before September 30th 2007. You can contact us directly at quoting this promotion code: RF4PRE00207


*       MXM Gallery competition: Get your motor running! We are going on a roadtrip with the MXM Gallery Automotive competition. The first prize is an impressive Dell Inspiron 1501 notebook, with Apple iPod Shuffles for the three runners-up. To win, upload an original, automotive-related material to the MXM Gallery before the end of August. For further info, see Good luck!

Aluminum filter




Automotive Paint






Gasoline Film


Indicator Cover


Porsche Logo



*       MXM Gallery 1550 x 1 campaign: To celebrate James Clerk Maxwell’s birthday, we ran an offer to download all the MXM Gallery materials at once. More than 250 people uploaded a material and took advantage of the campaign. We will continue to run similar offers, so keep an eye on the MXM Gallery website.  

MXM Gallery 1550x1 Campaign



*       New RF training DVD out now: Digital-Tutors, a Next Limit Certified Training Partner, has announced the availability of “Dynamic Simulations with RealFlow4” - the latest release in a growing library of interactive training for emerging digital artists using RealFlow4. “Dynamic Simulations with RealFlow4” is an intermediate-level DVD providing over three hours of project-based training, techniques for creating realistic simulations and interactions, and a step-by-step approach to learning creative uses for RealFlow4. Please visit for further info!

digital-tutors DVD



*       New RealFlow website: The official RealFlow website has had an “extreme makeover” and is now easier to use and better organized with new and exciting contents. Check it out at

RF new website



*       RealFlow forum competition: The unofficial RealFlow forum is giving away a full RealFlow license worth $2700 in their “Washed Away” competition. Get started on a cool RealFlow scene and enter it in the competition before August 15. Check for more info.

RF forum contest



*       Maxwell Render & form•Z bundle: AutoDesSys and Next Limit Technologies have teamed up to offer form•Z RenderZonePlus users a special discount for Maxwell Render. This offer runs until the end of September 2007. For more info or to purchase, visit or contact your local form•Z dealer.

formZ Bundle



*       Maxwell license give-away: The Japanese magazine CGWorld is giving away one Maxwell Render license in its current issue, which was out on July 29. Readers should simply send a note to CGWorld Japan, where they will draw the winner from all entries.


*       Maxwell Render discount Japan: CGWorld Japan has reviewed Maxwell Render 1.5 in its current issue, which was out on July 29. Official Maxwell Render reseller Oak has teamed up with the magazine to offer a discount for Maxwell Render! CGWorld readers should contact Oak, quoting the campaign code from the magazine’s review pages to take advantage of the discount. Also see


*       Printed Maxwell manual: The Maxwell Render 1.5 high-quality printed manual is now available for purchase from Solid Publishing. The manual is available in colour and B&W, with either coil/ spiral bound with a plastic spiral or perfect bound with a glued spiral. The colour manual costs �34.84. Visit for further info.

Maxwell Manual







*       RealFlow in Meet the Robinsons: For Disney’s new animated film, the crew at Disney Feature Animation used RealFlow for various fluid effects and simulations, for example to create volumes of smoke and smog, to create water, jelly and even peanut butter. Go to for more information.

Meet the Robinsons



*       RealFlow in Primeval: This season’s hottest horror hit about a murderous croc used RealFlow in all its water and fluid interaction scenes. Next Limit spoke to Luma Pictures about the more than 80 VFX shots they took care of. Read the interview at


*       RealFlow in new With a Twist spot: Digital creative studio With a Twist ( used RealFlow on the liquid VFX in a new television spot for Amp’d mobile phones. To see the stunning spot and to read the case study, visit

With a Twist


With a Twist


With a Twist





Maxwell Render Training Center



BigRock Training Center in Verona, Italy is the first training center to offer officially certified courses for Maxwell Render. BigRock offers 2-day courses of 8 hours per day, covering the very beginnings of Maxwell Render, starting with theory of light and photography, and going into further detail with advanced processes such as Multilight™ and SimuLens™. The 2-day courses are available in Italian and English and open to students from all around the world.

Dates: 23 August (English) // 24 September (Italian) // 29 October (Italian)




There is also a more extensive course available, covering Maya and Maxwell Render. This is a 5-day course of 8 hours per day, covering modeling in Maya and rendering in Maxwell Render from beginning to end. This course is offered in Italian only.

Dates: 24 September (Italian) // 29 October (Italian)


Next Limit spoke to Cristina Beschin from BigRock Training Center about their Maxwell courses.



Next Limit: “What kind of Maxwell Render training does BigRock offer? Is it available to everyone?”



Big Rock: “Our Maxwell Render Training is at a basic level. In the first part of the course we go over introductory subjects such as basic knowledge of lighting systems (Light Theory) and basic knowledge of photography (Functions of a Camera). Therefore the course is suitable for everyone, even with no specific knowledge or background.”




Next Limit: “Is there a lot of interest in the Maxwell Render training?”



Big Rock: “Yes, there is a lot of interest. We schedule at least two Maxwell Render courses per month, one of which is always and International course.”




Next Limit: “What does a normal training session look like?”



Big Rock: “We provide our students with written learning material. Throughout the course, they can either work on their own models or with the BigRock models we provide.”




Next Limit: “How have the Maxwell Render training program and the cooperation with Next Limit helped to increase attention and applications for your course?”



Big Rock: “The cooperation with Next Limit is excellent and a big support for our courses. We are currently waiting for Next Limit to issue customized certificates for us to give to our students at the end of the training, together with the BigRock certificates we normally use.


For more information visit: // or email Email Contact




Skill UpMaxwell Render tip


Better Bump Maps
For: Maxwell material editor


Do you get a jaggy look with your bump maps when making water surfaces and subtle bumps? This is the ultimate painkiller!

1: Open your map in Photoshop and take a look at the histogram. Often, the range of the bump map is poor. So first narrow the range of your map.
2: Normalize your bump map: Image> Adjustments> Auto Levels.
3: You can now zoom in and see that the gradient of your bump map is not smooth enough and has steps. Go to Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur and change the Radius to approx 1.6 pixels to make it smoother.

Bump Map

4: Now the map looks better, but it might still show artifacts with high bump values because of the 8-bit range. Go back to the unblurred version you started with and turn it to 16-bit: Image> Mode> 16 Bits/Channel.
5: Re-apply blur; this time the transitions will be more precise. Now, we can make more contrast because we can easily diminish the bump by using the low bump value. So, a good bump map must be normalized as much as possible: Image> Adjustments> Brightness/ Contrast. Put Contrast +100 and click OK.
6: You can see the difference between the original map and this one. Where the original map shows stepping, the new map is sooooo smooth!

Check out the entire video tutorial by Tom at



For: Maxwell for Maya


When you render animations, you continually need to export the large MXS sequences, which can take up too much space on your hard drive. To avoid this, you can use the Maya command line, using the command “render –r maxwell –p low name of scene”, etc. When you do that, all frames are temporally exported to your hard drive but they are deleted when Maxwell finished rendering the frame. To learn more about the use of commands in Maya& Maxwell Render, type “render –r maxwell –help” in your command line. 



Bright/ dark materials
Maxwell material editor


We cannot mention it often enough…. In Maxwell Render, do not make very bright materials, especially if that material will cover large areas. Try to keep the RGB values under 225. Do not worry if your walls appear too dark; white matte paper for example has an RGB value of 218. There are rarely any materials brighter than this, except for specialized diffuse reflective materials. If your walls appear too dark, increase the ISO of the camera instead. The Refl90◦ colour can be left at 225. The sequence below shows the effect of varying the RGB values and emitters in your image. The wall RGB values are adjusted, and each image has rendered for 30 minutes. From left to right: an RGB of 250 with sphere emitters; an RGB of 215 with sphere emitters; and an RGB of 215 with plane emitters.  

Room Optimizations




Images of the Moment



Cockerel Render by Hervé Steff




Artist details: Hervé Steff -- 47 years old -- Currently living in Luxembourg -- Gardener, chef, and Maxwell maniac -- Current project: Ultra realistic 3D food models in MXS format.

“As an ex-student with a diploma from the French "Lycée Hotelier de Metz" (1977), I felt I had to combine my cooking skills with my passion for Maxwell Render. The result was a series of realistic, ready-to-render food models, available from my website


About the image: “A real roast cockerel was first photographed with a Nikon D200 under 55 different angles. From the resulting photos, I built the model using an image modeling application. The textures were also extracted from the original photos of the chicken. In Modo 202 Paint, I re-worked the textures, removing all imperfections and highlights, to have a pretty flat, clean color map. I also made the specular and normal maps using the same process. The dish was modeled and UV-ed in Modo 202, and the greasy sauce was made from the cockerel’s skin texture. Some weight maps also served the transparent/ non-transparent areas. There are four emitters to light the scene. Multilight was ON."


More: “Other highly realistic food models, such as bananas, lamb cutlets and French pastries, are also available. Many models are still in the oven but will follow soon... stay tuned!”

Please visit for more information or to purchase the models.



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