Phoenix FD™ is a complete solution for fluid dynamics. It is used to simulate realistic water, fire, and other effects for multiple television series such as Game of Thrones and The Flash, and is specifically designed for fast-paced production.
Phoenix FD is an all-in one solution for fluid dynamics. Simulate fire, smoke, liquids, ocean waves, splashes, spray, mist and more.
Built for 3D artists who want to create dynamic FX using quick presets, fast setup and intuitive controls.
Preview and render interactively in the viewport. Adjust simulations on the fly.
Create all types of physically-based fluid effects with fast, flexible controls for rendering, retiming and refining simulations.
Integrated seamlessly into 3ds Max and optimized to render with V-Ray.
Compatible with top industry tools such as Alembic, Krakatoa, Stoke MX and OpenVDB.
New in Phoenix FD for 3ds Max
FLIP SOLVER – Fast & realistic liquid simulations.
QUICK PRESETS – New toolbar with presets for fire, smoke and liquid simulations.
FAST VOLUME RENDERING – Optimized volume rendering with accurate lighting and global illumination.
IMPROVED FIRE & SMOKE SOLVER – Create realistic smoke and fire with natural rolling motion and fine details without increasing resolution.
NEW FORCES – Influence simulations with forces like wind, spline follow, mesh attraction and more.
ACCURATE VIEWPORT PREVIEW – Preview fire, smoke and liquid simulations quickly and accurately in the viewport.
Liquids, splashes & foam
With Phoenix FD you can create realistic liquid simulations with splashes and foam directly in 3ds Max.
Smoke, fire & explosions
Create any type of fire and smoke effects with Phoenix FD's powerful, adaptive-grid dynamics engine.
Fine-tune simulations interactively in the viewport with Phoenix FD’s GPU-accelerated preview.
Refine existing simulations
Add detail and increase resolution without changing simulation shape or behavior.
Speed up or slow down simulation playback. Perfect for slow motion effects.
Create a series of simulations that trigger and interact with each other.
Custom emission sources
Use a wide range of emission sources including animated meshes, texture maps, particles and more.
Simulate highly-realistic and complex vorticity effects with full control over large-scale vortex strength and ultra fine details.
Perfect for generating small wisps of smoke and steam.
Render particles as bubbles, drops, points, or fog.
Mesh & particles IO
Import & export mesh objects and particles to Alembic, Krakatoa, Stoke MX, XMesh and V-Ray proxy files.
Ocean & beach waves
Seamlessly transition from procedural ocean to simulated beach waves.
Seamlessly transition from detailed ocean surface simulations to infinite ocean waves (that never repeat.)
Render photoreal fluids and volumetric effects using V-Ray's optimized Phoenix FD shader.
Please make sure that your system fulfills these requirements before installing Phoenix:
Processor - 1st Gen Intel ® Core ® or compatible processor with SSE4.2 support
RAM - 8 GB RAM and 8 GB swap minimum – recommended 32 GB or more RAM, 32 GB or more swap file
Operating system -Windows ® 7 SP1, Windows ® 8.1 Professional, or Windows ® 10 Professional operating system
3ds Max - 3ds Max ® 2014 / 3ds Max Design ® 2014 or later, 64-bit versions only
USB port - Required for dongle licensing, USB 2.0 or newer
TCP/IP - Only IPv4 is supported. IPv6 is currently not supported.
Hardware Advice for Faster Simulating
Here's some tips to help you make sure your Phoenix sims calculate as fast as possible.
Bus speed - Phoenix transfers huge amounts of data between memory and the CPU. The entire simulation grid gets processed tens to hundred times per simulation step, so the bus speed is the bottleneck in most simulations.
CPU speed - Processor speed is more important than core count. Also, NUMA and multiprocessor architectures do not perform well with Phoenix. Simulating on one NUMA node is often faster than waiting for multiple nodes to synchronize.
Fast Storage - Both large and small simulations take significant time just to write the cache files from the simulation and to read them back for the preview, so good storage speed can help decrease simulation times up to 30%. Turning off the preview for all grid and particle channels during large simulations could also help speed up the simulation.
GPU - GPUs are currently only used for the GPU preview of fire/smoke simulations.
Software Advice for Faster Simulating
On some machines, the Anti-Virus software may treat Phoenix FD's files .aur, .f3d and .vdb as a potential risk and consume significant processing power to scan them. Since cache files are often hundreds of Megabytes or more, this could cause the simulation to slow down several times.
Consider adding an exception in your Anti-Virus software for these file formats.
You may also add Phoenix FD log file extension (.log) or the log file directory (accessible through the Phoenix Preferences) to the exceptions of the Anti-Virus software.
It may also be beneficial to add an exception for the 3ds Max process (3dsmax.exe).
The Grid viscosity channel is now reconstructed from FLIP particles when using Time Bend Controls, preventing render flickering
Speed up a preview of AUR cache files
Show the mesh preview together with the voxel/velocity/force preview when both are enabled
Helpers for re-scaling the output values of the Grid Texture to a certain range
Option specifying whether the alpha of the Grid Texture would be solid or based on the intensity
If there is only one visible Simulator and the rest are hidden, the toolbar Start button should start it immediately
Scene Body Interaction
When a moving geometry stopped, it kept contributing velocity in the Fire/Smoke simulator or broke liquid emission in the Liquid Simulator, since Phoenix FD 3.05
Crash with Adaptive Grid when 'No Smaller than Initial Grid' was off, the Grid was completely outside the initial grid and shrunk to 0, since Phoenix FD 3.00.02
Liquid Sources kept emitting Foam/Splash particles in Brush Mode even if the Brush Effect was 0
Moving ocean containers still produced disturbances at their fronts in some cases
Wetmap particles were not born on some surfaces of objects with non-uniform scale
Phoenix lights from one Simulator did not illuminate some parts of other Simulators depending on the camera angle
Crash when using one object as a render cutter for more than one Fire/Smoke simulators, since Phoenix FD 3.12
Replacing the fire opacity with a texture using the 'Fire Opacity From Texture' option affected Fully Visible and Use Smoke Opacity modes as well
Volumes were rendered if the Simulator was hidden but 'Create Lights Even If Not Renderable' was Enabled, since Phoenix FD 3.13
GPU Volumetric effects go missing when switching between Bucket and Progressive Sampler type in Volumetric Geometry mode
Phoenix's PFlow operators didn't take into account the cache Input time bend settings
Stored caches for pflow operators were not released from memory on closing the scene
Birth operator used the RGB green channel instead of the velocity when based on Speed
Wrong particle positions when looping adaptive grid with loop overlap
Crash when exporting Alembic mesh with Simulator in Pure Ocean mode
Caches couldn't be deleted from the toolbar if there were modifiers applied to the Simulator
3ds Max Integration
Nodes which are not Geometries, such as Sources, Body Force, Mapper etc, could be picked for Cutter Geom, Fade Volume, etc.
Expand and Don't Shrink option enabled the Maximum Expansion XYZ options in the UI even if Maximum Expansion was off
3.13.00 - Official Release
With Phoenix FD 3.13 we have focused on adding many frequently requested features, improving usability and support for 3ds Max 2020.
Faster liquid simulations
FLIP simulations are 30% faster on average and up to 2x faster on some scenes.
Fire Opacity Texture
Now you can modify the Fire Opacity using textures in order to achieve more interesting shading results.
Support for Loading and Saving OpenVDB Point Data
Save particles simulated by Phoenix FD to VDB cache files, and also import particles from other software via VDB caches
Following is the complete changelog for this version of Phoenix FD:
Support for 3ds Max 2020
Modulate or replace the Fire Opacity with a Texture in 'Use Own Opacity' mode
Saving of Phoenix simulated particles to OpenVDB caches
Loading of OpenVDB point data for rendering using the Particle Shader
Option to allow only expansion of the adaptive grid, but disable shrinking for the Liquid Simulator
Resimulation of the RGB channel for FLIP particles
Export of Particle Velocity for WetMap over moving geometries
Use less memory for simulation of WetMap when 'Sticky Liquid' is disabled
Grid RGB channel is now reconstructed from FLIP particles when using Time Bend Controls, preventing render flickering
Optimized volumetric rendering when Smoke Opacity is modulated by a texture
Motion Blur Interval Center support for the Particle Shader
Name new Particle Shaders "ParticleShader###" instead of "PHXFoam###"
Support for rendering Ocean Mesh from multiple cameras via Batch Render
Support for rendering Ocean Mesh with Stereoscopic camera
Show the force preview in the box of the loaded cache, if any, and in the simulation box otherwise
Updated OpenVDB from version 3 to version 5
Export Phoenix meshes with vertex velocity using 3ds Max's 2019 built-in Alembic export into the 'Max_Map_Channel velocity' color set. Used for motion blur rendering with V-Ray Next update 1.1
Separate export to Alembic for the different particle systems of a Simulator by exporting the "Particles  of " nodes via 3ds Max's built-in exporter
Added the running Simulator's node name to the simulation viewport status
Renamed the Mapper's 'Time Constant' to 'Buildup Time'
The Phoenix FD 3ds Max plugin could not load together with V-Ray builds older than V-Ray 3.6. Restored compatibility with V-Ray 3.1
Intersecting a moving obstacle with a Solid emitter left non-emitting voxels after the obstacle
Clear Inside did not clear the volume of Non-Solid emitters in Surface Force mode in the Fire/Smoke Simulator
Empty adaptive grid expanded by itself when Extra Margin was used and Expand and Don't Shrink was On
Crash with 'Simulate Air Effects' and forces affecting the 'Air' system of a Liquid Simulator, since Phoenix FD 3.04
WetMap was not equally generated over flat surfaces and might not appear on horizontal or vertical surfaces
Subsiding liquid at the front of a long moving ocean container with Motion Inertia
Fixed various issues with moving ocean containers producing disturbances and waves at their borders
Trying to resimulate over a liquid cache with no Liquid particles showed different messages the first and second time
Simulation restore did not go back to the last backup frame and could cause a crash, since Phoenix FD 3.12
Scene Body Interaction
Voxelization of a large number of small bodies used excessive amounts of memory, since Phoenix FD 3.11
Voxelization of hundreds of geometries with very small sizes was slower on many threads compared to simulating on 1 thread
Geometry with Initial Liquid Fill which was also selected in a Source in Volume Brush or Volume Inject mode created a double amount of liquid particles and this caused explosions
Particles with small size used as emitters for Liquid had random Discharge strength
Sources did not emit from Thinking Particles when simulating through Deadline or Backburner
Flickering FLIP liquid mesh near emitters when Input Play Speed was below 1
When two or more Simulators had any overlapping walls, volumetrics weren't rendered correctly with V-Ray GPU
Crash with instanced Simulators in Volumetric Render Mode during sequence render with V-Ray GPU
Crash when rendering a scene containing any Particle Shaders with V-Ray GPU
Crash when rendering a scene containing a VolumeGrid and a Simulator with V-Ray GPU
Shading volumes using only textures still required a loaded cache file with V-Ray GPU
Volumes loaded from OpenVDB caches that contain internal rotation rendered clipped with V-Ray GPU
Fire Lights kept illuminating the scene after the cache sequence ends during sequence render
Crash when rendering a volume with Create Lights intersecting a geometry with a Light Material
Using many chained texture maps in the volumetric shader produced different renders of the same frame when rendering repeatedly
Could not abort rendering by canceling the pre-render progress windows
Random crashes when rendering in Volumetric mode with Defscanline
Volumetric Light Cache still consumes additional memory even when it should be disabled in Progressive V-Ray rendering
Memory leak when rendering with GI and any V-Ray render elements
Particle Shader particles appeared smaller when exported and rendered from a VRScene
Crash when rendering a Particle Shader without a linked Liquid Simulator, since Phoenix FD 3.12
Slow down of Particle Shader Bubble/Splash/Cellular rendering with linked Liquid Simulator and 'Use Light Cache', introduced in Phoenix FD 3.04
Incorrect alphas for Bubbles mode, and cellular walls for Cellular mode Particle Shader rendering in V-Ray StandAlone
Slowdown the second time you rendered a large number of Foam particles
Ocean mesh used excessive amounts of memory when rendered with the spherical panorama camera
Ocean mesh was not built correctly when the viewport was set to Orthographic mode
Crash when rendering Ocean mesh with Cutter Geom and Motion Blur
Missing mesh polygons on the container border when rendering in Ocean Mesh mode
Flipped mesh polygons on the container border when rendering in Ocean Mesh mode with Mesh Smoothness above 0
Crash if creating a circular dependency between a Grid Texture and a Simulator's displacement, when 'Skip the Displacement' was off
Crash during fire/smoke simulation if using a Grid Texture reading the Temperature of the same Simulator in a Mapper affecting Temperature with 'Initializer' Off
Crash when rendering a scene with Grid Texture used as a mask in a Blend material with Motion Blur
VRayVolumeGrid could be selected as a Phoenix Grid texture Source Node
Boiling effect on the open grid borders when using Wave Force with Fillup for Ocean and there was geometry over the bottom
Voxel preview of temperature around 200 Kelvins with As Fire enabled drew bright red and pink voxels
Preview Auto reduction did not work for the Force preview
Constant mesh rebuild in 3ds Max viewport when the timeline start was not an exact frame
Slow viewport preview in 3ds Max when the timeline start was not an exact frame
When render viewport was locked, Ocean Mesh preview was drawn from that perspective in any viewport
Crash when repeatedly pressing Export PRT particles
3ds Max Integration
Forward scrolling timeline slider while simulating and looking at the Simulation rollout hung the simulation
Selecting 'Don't show again' on dialogues caused some messages to not appear at all even on the first run
The warning about DR and local paths still appeared even after all Simulators were deleted from the scene
The installer for V-Ray 3 placed vray_phoenix.dll into '3dsmax XXXX for x64/bin/plugins' instead of 'RT for 3ds Max XXXX for x64/bin/plugins'
v3.12.00 - Official release
With Phoenix FD 3.12 we have focused on adding many frequently requested features, improving usability and integration in 3ds Max.
Ocean Mesh with Physical Camera and all V-Ray camera types
The ocean mesh in Phoenix is generated in camera space, so it needs to be aware of all the camera options and all camera types. With Phoenix FD 3.12, the Ocean Mesh mode now supports all parameters of the V-Ray Physical Camera and the built-in 3ds Max Physical Camera.
We've also added support for all V-Ray camera types that are available under the V-Ray Render Settings - Spherical, Cylindrical, Box, Fisheye, Warped spherical, Ortho, 360 Virtual Reality Spherical Panorama and Cube 6x1 cameras.
Instancing and referencing of Phoenix FD Simulators
In versions prior to 3.12, Phoenix FD could only instance Simulators in Mesh render mode. Now you can manually instance Simulators across the scene for preview and rendering in both Volumetric render modes, as well as the Isosurface and Ocean Mesh modes.
Additionally, now you can have Simulators instanced for simulation as well. This means all Simulators will share one cache sequence and the same simulation settings, but each Simulator instance will interact with the obstacles, emitters, and forces inside its own grid.
Note that instancing of Simulators using VRayInstancer is currently being implemented in V-Ray and will be available soon.
Support for Scene and Object XRefs
Adding the ability to instance Simulators in 3ds Max also paves the way for being able to XRef Simulators and Particle Shaders. Caches loaded by the Simulators will be correctly picked in object and scene XRefs by the volumetric shader and Particle Shaders when using explicit cache paths or using the default $(...) Phoenix macros.
Note that if you manually merge the XRefs into a scene where they were XRef-ed into, any $(dir) or $(scene) macros of XRef-ed Simulators will be automatically unrolled to the full directory and scene name of the XRef-ed scene, so Simulators will be able to find their caches from inside the new scene they were merged into.
Textures support for volumes on V-Ray Next GPU
Now texture mapping the color and opacity of fire and smoke works on V-Ray Next GPU as well. Requires a V-Ray Next nightly build.
Following is the complete changelog for this version of Phoenix FD:
Support for textures for volume rendering with V-Ray Next GPU
Support for all parameters of the V-Ray and 3ds Max Physical Camera types when creating an Ocean Mesh
Support for all V-Ray camera types when creating an Ocean Mesh - Spherical, Cylindrical, Box, Fish eye, Warped spherical, Ortho, Spherical panorama, Cube 6x1
Instancing and referencing for rendering and preview of Simulators in non-mesh render modes
Instancing and referencing of Simulators during simulation
3ds Max Integration
Support for Simulators and Particle Shaders in Scene and Object XRefs
MaxScript interface for getting grid data and loading render presets directly from the Simulator nodes. The new functions are loadRenderPreset, setCoordSys, getVelocity, getRGB, getTemperature, getSmoke, getFuel
New MaxScript functions for saving a Simulator render preset to file - <node>.saveRenderPreset <path> and A_SaveRenderPreset <node> <path>
New MaxScript functions for saving and loading a Simulator's simulation preset to file - loadSimPreset, saveSimPreset, A_LoadRenderPreset, A_SaveRenderPreset
WetMap now has different sticky effect against different liquid viscosities
Exposed the hidden grid-based motion blur algorithm from Phoenix FD 3.00.01 for use via the 'mbgrid' script parameter
Discharge Modifiers by Particle Size
Support for the new transformation model of OpenVDB caches from FumeFX 5
New default $(scene_path) macro for simulation cache Output expands to "$(scene)_Phoenix_frames" directory and does not use the node handle in the cache name
Converted the Particle Group nodes to a new node type instead of being Simulator instances
Cache Converter now requires source and destination files and is verbose by default
Particle Shaders created by enabling Foam or Splash, or by Quick Setup presets, are now named after the simulator with 'Foam/Splash/Mist Shader' appended
Renamed the Foam and Splash 'Outside Life' option to 'Max Outside Age'
Renamed 'Sticky Effect' and 'Sticky' to 'Sticky Liquid' and 'Sticky Foam' respectively
Renamed 'Boundary conditions' to 'Container Walls'
Exposed a new function - getVolRendSamplerFromNode() which takes a node as an argument in order to support Simulator instances
Show a warning when installing Phoenix for V-Ray 3 together with V-Ray Next and vice versa
Liquid particles got deleted on contact with deforming geometries, Alembic and Point Caches
Liquid sources emitted in pulses when adaptive grid resizes, since Phoenix FD 3.11
Could not emit liquid from particle systems, since Phoenix FD 3.11
If the Liquid Simulator's cache Output path could not be written to, no error was shown and the simulation continued, since Phoenix FD 3.11
Surface Tension Droplet Breakup caused liquid drops in zero gravity to take diamond shapes
Confine Geometries used by Liquid Simulators were not internally set to Solid like Fire/Smoke Simulators do
Solid geometry without Clear Inside did not create liquid voxels under the Fillup for Ocean level
Liquid was created in voxels covered by Confine Geometry when Fillup for Ocean was used
Significant difference in the simulation between Sticky Liquid set to 0.001 and 0.002
Crash when Resimulating with Adaptive Grid with Preallocation and the result grid was over 2.1 billion voxels
Missing buckets with moving Simulator in Volumetric Geometry mode and Motion Blur
Wrong cache file was rendered with V-Ray Next GPU when Resimulation was enabled, Play Speed was not 1.0 and Use Time Bend Controls was On
Warning about Emit light not supported on V-Ray Next GPU was shown when rendering in Mesh mode
Volumes didn't render in V-Ray Next GPU in scenes where Particle Shaders referenced missing caches
Incorrect light intensity with Approximate Scattering using V-Ray Next GPU
The Size Multiplier of a Particle Shader animated by Particle Age did not work correctly for particles born on negative frames
Rare infinite loop when rendering particles in Bubble mode with V-Ray Next
Point Mode and Fog Mode did not render when Render as Geometry was enabled
Rendering in Bubbles Mode, then rendering in Fog Mode, and then again rendering in Bubbles Mode still rendered the fog when Render as Geometry was enabled
Crash with Particle Shader in Geometry Mode and geometry with VRayMtl with V-Ray Edges Tex rounded edges bump since Phoenix FD 3.10
Render Cutter in Isosurface mode of a Simulator with VRayMtl with Affect Shadows blocked GI rays for geometry inside the Cutter with V-Ray Next
Buckets in VRayLightSelect render element when rendering the Simulator in Volumetric Geometry mode with Phoenix Light Cache enabled
The Simulator's Shadow, Raw Shadow, GI, and Raw GI render elements didn't render correctly in Volumetric Geometry mode with Phoenix Light Cache enabled
The Simulator's Shadow, Raw Shadow, GI, and Raw GI render elements didn't render correctly with enabled Phoenix Light Cache
Random crash when rendering a Simulator in Volumetric Geometry mode with V-Ray Velocity Render element
The Simulator surface appeared rougher than the Ocean extension in the distance at a low angle with low Ocean Subdivs and low Horizon Roughness
Incorrect mesh velocity when rendering a moving Ocean or Cap mode Simulator with Motion Blur
The Underwater Goggles option did not account for the Off-Screen Margin option
Artifacts on the grid border when rendering in Ocean Mesh mode with Mesh Smoothing and Use Liquid Particles
Black artifacts near the horizon in Ocean Mode with Horizon Roughness and the camera was far from the Simulator origin
Noisy Phoenix Mesh displacement using an Ocean Texture when looking at tall waves from the side since Phoenix FD 3.03
Missing mesh polygons on the container border when rendering in Ocean Mesh mode with Mesh Smoothness above 0
Using Mesh Smoothing in Ocean Mesh or Cap Mesh render mode shrunk the mesh
Artifacts when rendering Ocean with high Ocean Subdivs and high Ocean Texture Level of Detail
Crash if using a Grid Texture sampling a 'Rendering ...' channel that used the same Grid Texture as Based On or Modulate texture
Crash or a different render when re-rendering the same frame that used a Grid Texture
Random crash after selecting a new Simulator in a Grid Texture
Grid Texture did not update during sequence render if it was plugged into an Output map
Grid Texture did not read the Rendering Color or Opacity channels from a Simulator in Mesh or Isosurface Mode
Incorrect preview when the Simulator's Pivot Point was Offset
The range for velocity preview was wrong then there was no velocity channel and auto-range was enabled
Caches containing digits after the # format could not be loaded
Caches containing a minus/dash sign before the # format could not be loaded
Crash after deleting a Simulator and one or more of its hidden PG nodes together
Phoenix Simulators could not be used as a Velocity Field Source in Stoke MX since Phoenix FD 3.05
Crash when simulating with Stoke MX using a Simulator with a Grid Texture in its material as a Velocity Field Source
Emitting from Particle Flow systems where some events have no particles produces emission at coordinates 0,0,0
PRT Export in the interval from frame 0 to frame 0 exported the entire timeline range
After exporting once, the PRT Export dialogue became non-modal and another one could be opened, which could lead to crashes
Cache Converter required a missing aurloader.dll
Simulation or render presets had a different number of keyframes every time they were saved
3ds Max Integration
Crash while running a simulation if selecting 'New scene'
What's new in v3.11
Support for 3ds Max 2019
Support for V-Ray Next - now Phoenix FD volumes such as fire and smoke can be rendered on the GPU using V-Ray Next
RGB channel simulation for Foam, Splash and Mist particles - now secondary particles can be born from Sources mapped with colored textures and can change color during simulation using the Mapper
Particle Texture color based on Particle Channels - the Particle Texture can be plugged into the Particle Shader and can shade particles based on their Age, Speed, Size, Position, etc.
2x faster particle rendering in Bubble, Cellular and Splash modes using the Phoenix FD Light Cache - the Particle Shader has been greatly optimized in this version
Faster scene interaction with complex or moving geometries - the simulation, cache save and load, and scene interaction now utilizes all CPU cores and allows the fluid to interact quickly with large geometry models
Quicker Displacement Fade Volume and Body Force with complex or moving geometries - these algorithms are much faster now and allow for quick simulation of fluid attraction and morphing into geometry shapes, as well as quick rendering of high poly oceans
Loading and rendering of sparse OpenVDB caches over 2.1 billion voxels - huge sparse grids can now be loaded and rendered quickly and using much less memory than before
An important change was that we dropped support for the oldest version of the AUR cache format - caches simulated with Phoenix builds before 13 Mar 2015 would not open anymore with Phoenix 3.11.
Jesse Pitela shows how to make water splash with the basic liquid emitter in Chaos Group's Phoenix FD for 3ds Max. He has it set up to splash over half an orange, but you can splash water on anything you can conjure. This tutorial covers the 3ds Max version of Phoenix FD but there is also a version for Maya.