Houdini 17.0 Nodes Dynamics nodes

Gas Geometry to SDF dynamics node

A microsolver that creates a signed distance field out of geometry.

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The Gas Geometry to SDF DOP is a microsolver used in building larger fluid simulations. The Fluid Solver and Smoke Solver DOPs that allow microsolvers to be added before or after the main solver step to extend or tweak the simulation. Alternatively, enterprising people may attempt to build an entire new solver out of microsolvers.

The Gas Geometry to SDF creates a signed distance field from an attached piece of geometry data. The result is written to the given surface field. This allows one to update a signed distance field against a geometry that might evolving mid-timestep.

Parameters

Surface Field

The Scalar field to write the resulting signed distance field into.

Geometry

The geometry to use to build the signed distance field.

Mode

Governs the method that will be used to generate the signed distance field.

Ray Intersect

Rays will be fired at the geometry from various directions to determine where the surface is. The resulting field will be signed, so an offset of 0 will generate an iso surface separating the inside from the outside.

Meta Balls

The Ray Intersect method determines if voxels are inside or outside the object by sending rays. This can result in leaks and other problems. If one is building an SDF from a collection of metaballs, one can instead determine inside/outside by looking at the metaball field. That is what this method uses. Note that Laser Scanning is likely unwanted when this method is used.

Minimum

Exact minimum point to surface will be found. This is slow, but accurate. The resulting field is not signed, so one can only generate a shell around the geometry. An offset greater than 0 must be specified.

Point Cloud

Only the points of the incoming geometry are used in constructing the field. If the points have normals, the normals are used to determine sign. Otherwise, the field is unsigned like in the case of Minimum. The Scatter SOP is a good way to create a good collection of points from geometry.

Implicit Box

The geometry’s bounding box is used to create an implicit representation.

Implicit Sphere

The geometry’s bounding sphere is used to create an implicit representation.

Implicit Plane

The geometry is represented by a plane.

Volume Sample

The volumes in the incoming gdp are all sampled and the sum of their values used to initialize the signed distance field. No correction is done after the fact, so the result may not actually be a signed distance field if the input isn’t.

Laser Scan

The Laser Scan mode only applies to the Ray Intersect mode

In laser scan mode the SDF is build by sending rays along the primary axes. Only the closest and farthest intersection is used. The space between these two points is classified as inside, and the rest outside.

The laser scan mode will work even with geometry which has poorly defined normals, self intersects, or isn’t fully watertight. The disadvantage is that interior features can’t be represented as they aren’t detected.

When laser scanning is turned off, the SDF is still built by sending rays along the primary axes. All intersections are found, however. Each pair of intersections is tested to see if the segment is inside or outside. This relies on the normal of the geometry being well defined (ie: manifold, no self intersections), and the geometry being watertight. Complicated shapes with holes can be accurately represented, however.

Fix Signs

Even with the best made geometry, numerical imprecision can result in incorrect sign choices. This option will cause the SDF to be post-processed to look for inconsistent signs. These are then made consistent, usually plugging leaks and filling holes.

This takes time, however, so can be turned off in cases where the SDF is known to generate without problems.

Note that due to the nature of Fix Signs it also rounds sharp features in the SDF as they may be considered inconsistent signs.

Force Bounds

The Fix Signs method alone will smooth out, and usually eliminate, sign inversions. However, it is possible for regions of wrong-sign to become stabilized at the boundary of the SDF. This option will force all voxels on the boundary to be marked as exterior. The Fix Signs will be much less likely to stabilize incorrectly then.

Invert Sign

If one wants a hollow box, one method is to build one box inside the other and not use Laser Scanning. A more robust method is to just specify the inner box and use sign inversion. This treats everything outside of the box as inside, allowing the more robust Laser Scanning method to be used.

Offset

The offset to build the iso surface on. The resulting surface will describe points at this distance from the original surface.

Tolerance

The tolerance to use for building the SDF. This affects the ray intersection code. This tolerance is multiplied by the maximum bounding box size of the original geometry, so normally is independent of geometry scale.

Sign Sweep Threshold

After the fix signs process is complete there can still be inconsistent areas in the SDF. Large blocks can become stabilized and stick out of the SDF. A second sign sweep pass can be performed to try to eliminate these blocks.

The sign sweep threshold governs how big of a jump has to occur for a sign transition to be considered inconsistent. If the values of the sdf change by more than this threshold times the width of the cell, it is considered an invalid sign transition. The original geometry is then ray intersected to determine inside/outside and the result used to determine which sign is correct. The correct sign is then propagated forward through the model.

Max Sign Sweep Count

The sign sweeps are repeated until no signs are flipped (ie, all transitions are within the threshold) or this maximum is reached. Too low of a sign sweep threshold may prevent the process from converging. Otherwise, it tends to converge very quickly.

Parameter Operations

Each data option parameter has an associated menu which specifies how that parameter operates.

Use Default

Use the value from the Default Operation menu.

Set Initial

Set the value of this parameter only when this data is created. On all subsequent timesteps, the value of this parameter is not altered. This is useful for setting up initial conditions like position and velocity.

Set Always

Always set the value of this parameter. This is useful when specific keyframed values are required over time. This could be used to keyframe the position of an object over time, or to cause the geometry from a SOP to be refetched at each timestep if the geometry is deforming.

You can also use this setting in conjunction with the local variables for a parameter value to modify a value over time. For example, in the X Position, an expression like $tx + 0.1 would cause the object to move 0.1 units to the right on each timestep.

Set Never

Do not ever set the value of this parameter. This option is most useful when using this node to modify an existing piece of data connected through the first input.

For example, an RBD State DOP may want to animate just the mass of an object, and nothing else. The Set Never option could be used on all parameters except for Mass, which would use Set Always.

Default Operation

For any parameters with their Operation menu set to Use Default, this parameter controls what operation is used.

This parameter has the same menu options and meanings as the Parameter Operations menus, but without the Use Default choice.

Make Objects Mutual Affectors

All objects connected to the first input of this node become mutual affectors.

This is equivalent to using an Affector DOP to create an affector relationship between * and * before connecting it to this node. This option makes it convenient to have all objects feeding into a solver node affect each other.

Group

When an object connector is attached to the first input of this node, this parameter can be used to choose a subset of those objects to be affected by this node.

Data Name

Indicates the name that should be used to attach the data to an object or other piece of data. If the Data Name contains a "/" (or several), that indicates traversing inside subdata.

For example, if the Fan Force DOP has the default Data Name "Forces/Fan". This attaches the data with the name "Fan" to an existing piece of data named "Forces". If no data named "Forces" exists, a simple piece of container data is created to hold the "Fan" subdata.

Different pieces of data have different requirements on what names should be used for them. Except in very rare situations, the default value should be used. Some exceptions are described with particular pieces of data or with solvers that make use of some particular type of data.

Unique Data Name

Turning on this parameter modifies the Data Name parameter value to ensure that the data created by this node is attached with a unique name so it will not overwrite any existing data.

With this parameter turned off, attaching two pieces of data with the same name will cause the second one to replace the first. There are situations where each type of behavior is desirable.

If an object needs to have several Fan Forces blowing on it, it is much easier to use the Unique Data Name feature to ensure that each fan does not overwrite a previous fan rather than trying to change the Data Name of each fan individually to avoid conflicts.

On the other hand, if an object is known to have RBD State data already attached to it, leaving this option turned off will allow some new RBD State data to overwrite the existing data.

Solver Per Object

The default behavior for solvers is to attach the exact same solver to all of the objects specified in the group. This allows the objects to be processed in a single pass by the solver, since the parameters are identical for each object. However, some objects operate more logically on a single object at a time. In these cases, one may want to use $OBJID expressions to vary the solver parameters across the objects. Setting this toggle will create a separate solver per object, allowing $OBJID to vary as expected.

Inputs

All Inputs

Any microsolvers wired into these inputs will be executed prior to this node executing. The chain of nodes will thus be processed in a top-down manner.

Outputs

First Output

The operation of this output depends on what inputs are connected to this node. If an object stream is input to this node, the output is also an object stream containing the same objects as the input (but with the data from this node attached).

If no object stream is connected to this node, the output is a data output. This data output can be connected to an Apply Data DOP, or connected directly to a data input of another data node, to attach the data from this node to an object or another piece of data.

Locals

channelname

This DOP node defines a local variable for each channel and parameter on the Data Options page, with the same name as the channel. So for example, the node may have channels for Position (positionx, positiony, positionz) and a parameter for an object name (objectname).

Then there will also be local variables with the names positionx, positiony, positionz, and objectname. These variables will evaluate to the previous value for that parameter.

This previous value is always stored as part of the data attached to the object being processed. This is essentially a shortcut for a dopfield expression like:

dopfield($DOPNET, $OBJID, dataName, "Options", 0, channelname)

If the data does not already exist, then a value of zero or an empty string will be returned.

DATACT

This value is the simulation time (see variable ST) at which the current data was created. This value may not be the same as the current simulation time if this node is modifying existing data, rather than creating new data.

DATACF

This value is the simulation frame (see variable SF) at which the current data was created. This value may not be the same as the current simulation frame if this node is modifying existing data, rather than creating new data.

RELNAME

This value will be set only when data is being attached to a relationship (such as when Constraint Anchor DOP is connected to the second, third, of fourth inputs of a Constraint DOP).

In this case, this value is set to the name of the relationship the data to which the data is being attached.

RELOBJIDS

This value will be set only when data is being attached to a relationship (such as when Constraint Anchor DOP is connected to the second, third, of fourth inputs of a Constraint DOP).

In this case, this value is set to a string that is a space separated list of the object identifiers for all the Affected Objects of the relationship to which the data is being attached.

RELOBJNAMES

This value will be set only when data is being attached to a relationship (such as when Constraint Anchor DOP is connected to the second, third, of fourth inputs of a Constraint DOP).

In this case, this value is set to a string that is a space separated list of the names of all the Affected Objects of the relationship to which the data is being attached.

RELAFFOBJIDS

This value will be set only when data is being attached to a relationship (such as when Constraint Anchor DOP is connected to the second, third, of fourth inputs of a Constraint DOP).

In this case, this value is set to a string that is a space separated list of the object identifiers for all the Affector Objects of the relationship to which the data is being attached.

RELAFFOBJNAMES

This value will be set only when data is being attached to a relationship (such as when Constraint Anchor DOP is connected to the second, third, of fourth inputs of a Constraint DOP).

In this case, this value is set to a string that is a space separated list of the names of all the Affector Objects of the relationship to which the data is being attached.

ST

This value is the simulation time for which the node is being evaluated.

This value may not be equal to the current Houdini time represented by the variable T, depending on the settings of the DOP Network Offset Time and Time Scale parameters.

This value is guaranteed to have a value of zero at the start of a simulation, so when testing for the first timestep of a simulation, it is best to use a test like $ST == 0 rather than $T == 0 or $FF == 1.

SF

This value is the simulation frame (or more accurately, the simulation time step number) for which the node is being evaluated.

This value may not be equal to the current Houdini frame number represented by the variable F, depending on the settings of the DOP Network parameters. Instead, this value is equal to the simulation time (ST) divided by the simulation timestep size (TIMESTEP).

TIMESTEP

This value is the size of a simulation timestep. This value is useful to scale values that are expressed in units per second, but are applied on each timestep.

SFPS

This value is the inverse of the TIMESTEP value. It is the number of timesteps per second of simulation time.

SNOBJ

This is the number of objects in the simulation. For nodes that create objects such as the Empty Object node, this value will increase for each object that is evaluated.

A good way to guarantee unique object names is to use an expression like object_$SNOBJ.

NOBJ

This value is the number of objects that will be evaluated by the current node during this timestep. This value will often be different from SNOBJ, as many nodes do not process all the objects in a simulation.

This value may return 0 if the node does not process each object sequentially (such as the Group DOP).

OBJ

This value is the index of the specific object being processed by the node. This value will always run from zero to NOBJ-1 in a given timestep. This value does not identify the current object within the simulation like OBJID or OBJNAME, just the object’s position in the current order of processing.

This value is useful for generating a random number for each object, or simply splitting the objects into two or more groups to be processed in different ways. This value will be -1 if the node does not process objects sequentially (such as the Group DOP).

OBJID

This is the unique object identifier for the object being processed. Every object is assigned an integer value that is unique among all objects in the simulation for all time. Even if an object is deleted, its identifier is never reused.

The object identifier can always be used to uniquely identify a given object. This makes this variable very useful in situations where each object needs to be treated differently. It can be used to produce a unique random number for each object, for example.

This value is also the best way to look up information on an object using the dopfield expression function. This value will be -1 if the node does not process objects sequentially (such as the Group DOP).

ALLOBJIDS

This string contains a space separated list of the unique object identifiers for every object being processed by the current node.

ALLOBJNAMES

This string contains a space separated list of the names of every object being processed by the current node.

OBJCT

This value is the simulation time (see variable ST) at which the current object was created.

Therefore, to check if an object was created on the current timestep, the expression $ST == $OBJCT should always be used. This value will be zero if the node does not process objects sequentially (such as the Group DOP).

OBJCF

This value is the simulation frame (see variable SF) at which the current object was created.

This value is equivalent to using the dopsttoframe expression on the OBJCT variable. This value will be zero if the node does not process objects sequentially (such as the Group DOP).

OBJNAME

This is a string value containing the name of the object being processed.

Object names are not guaranteed to be unique within a simulation. However, if you name your objects carefully so that they are unique, the object name can be a much easier way to identify an object than the unique object identifier, OBJID.

The object name can also be used to treat a number of similar objects (with the same name) as a virtual group. If there are 20 objects named "myobject", specifying strcmp($OBJNAME, "myobject") == 0 in the activation field of a DOP will cause that DOP to operate only on those 20 objects. This value will be the empty string if the node does not process objects sequentially (such as the Group DOP).

DOPNET

This is a string value containing the full path of the current DOP Network. This value is most useful in DOP subnet digital assets where you want to know the path to the DOP Network that contains the node.

Note

Most dynamics nodes have local variables with the same names as the node’s parameters. For example, in a Position node, you could write the expression:

$tx + 0.1

…to make the object move 0.1 units along the X axis at each timestep.

Dynamics nodes