OpenVDB Toolkit for Maya 2018

3D Applications, Programming

OpenVDB by Dreamworks Animation is an incredibly powerful library along with some extremely useful toolkits. Since its release, OpenVDB has become the industry standard in DCC applications and rendering engines for representing volumetric data and even used for procedural modeling. SideFX has adopted the library, making it a core component of Houdini and every major rendering engine have added support. Unfortunately, Autodesk has yet to implement core support for the library in Maya which is widely used as a core pipeline application.

For the past several years Maya users have enjoyed free support of the OpenVDB toolkit from the team over at SOuP. Evgeny, aka besha (my apologies for the lack of a last name), has been freely supplying the toolkit for multiple Maya versions on Windows and Linux. However, mid 2017 the SOuP team became a commercial business and the previously freeware tools are now behind a paywall.

Before I go any further, let me say this: The work that Peter and Evgeny have done making tools that allow Maya to better publicly compete with applications like Houdini has been phenomenal for both studios and individuals alike. The nodes they have written have been a pleasure to use and I can’t say enough good things about them. That being said, as a student balancing multiple other licenses for various tools the SOuP kits are not something I can tack onto my monthly bills. So I went ahead and attempted something I’d been meaning to do for quite some time and built OpenVDB myself.

The source code for the library, standalone applications, python bindings, and the Maya/Houdini toolkits are freely available on the OpenVDB site and from Dreamworks’ GitHub page. I’ve built the package for Maya 2018, as there are still versions of the OpenVDB kit from Evgeny from the freeware days that support Maya 2017 floating around. Maya 2018 is a feature of the new version, and the release I am currently using, so that is why I built for it. I’ve also included some custom scripts and node templates that make using the package a bit easier and more intuitive.

The details of the build are available on the GitLab repository where I’m hosting the pre-built binary. The things to know upfront (which are also stated in the README) is that the binary is currently only available for Linux (built on CentOS 7 with GCC 4.8.5), supports Maya 2018, and is the base OpenVDB toolkit without support for Viewport 2.0. So if these are showstoppers for your workflow, I would highly recommend purchasing a subscription to SOuP for OpenVDB.

The repository can be found here:

Note: I am currently working on a build for Windows 10, but there are some long standing snags when it comes to building OpenVDB on Windows that I need to work through. I do not have an ETA, but I will update this post (and make a new one) when the Windows binary is available.


5 thoughts on “OpenVDB Toolkit for Maya 2018

  1. Hi there, I’m totally new to this process and trying to understand how it works.

    I downloaded the Maya toolkit from Openvdb here:

    I can’t find any instructions on how to install it.

    When I look at the ‘makefile’ it seems like there are instructions, but I don’t understand how I’m supposed to run it?

    Does this still need to be compiled?

    I did find a copy of SOuP’s 2015 version plugin here:

    Along with installation instructions here:

    I’m running Maya 2018, will the 2015 Soup plugin work with the newest vesion?


    1. Hi ThreeDGuy,

      It appears you’ve downloaded the source code for the toolkit, which is something you do need to compile.

      The Besha’s 2015 plugin will not (or should not) function with Maya 2018. In order to get his version of the plugin that supports Maya 2018 you will need to purchase a subscription.

      An alternative is to download RenderMan Non-Commercial (21 currently, or 22.1 in September) and use the version of OpenVDB that they supply with that. You don’t need to use RenderMan itself, the renderer and plugin are two different options to enable. The Pixar built version is the base toolkit, the same as mine, with a few extra attributes and support for Viewport 2.0. It also works on Windows and macOS, so you won’t be restricted to Linux like my build is.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s