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: https://gitlab.com/omento/openvdb-toolkit
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.