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Posted Sat Mar 16, 2013

Plugin News

Thinkbox unveils Stoke MX, calls for beta testers


Stoke MX is an easy to use particle simulator for Max designed to simplify and accelerate the creation of high volume particle clouds driven by Velocity Fields.

It can be used to advect millions of particles using Max Space Warps, FumeFX and Ember simulations, or velocities from other particles including Particle Flow, ThinkingParticles, Krakatoa PRT Loaders, and even the 3DS Max legacy particle systems. Stoke can mix and animate the influences of any number of velocity sources, and can produce realistic fluid motion in dense particle clouds using just a few source particles.

It was designed to accelerate the generation of high-count particle clouds driven by fluid simulation data, in particular FumeFX data, but can generate particles from geometry sources or from other particles, allowing the animation of previously static particle clouds like Krakatoa PRT Volume or Krakatoa PRT Maker, as well as the replication of cached particle sequences as free-flowing dynamic simulations.

Stoke MX is currently in beta and Thinkbox Software is looking for beta testers, if you're interested send an email to Watch some sample videos and find out more on Thinkbox's website.


by Mokiki - March 17, 2013 6:58 am

Really love their product lineup and this one seems like a great addition.

by Mark - March 17, 2013 5:38 pm

I don’t really see a need for this product. Gnome, stoke, Ember, how many plugins do we need….Krakatoa & Deadline are great though.

by rs - March 18, 2013 7:19 am

Just because you don’t see the need, others would miss a company that pushes tool development innovation further… quite contrary to Autodesk itself…

by Rotem - March 18, 2013 7:24 am

@rs I think the criticism goes not towards their innovation, but towards over-segmentation of their product line. To the untrained eye, it would seem natural to have a lot of these merged.

by rs - March 18, 2013 9:13 am

Maybe, but Genome and Stoke are totally different concepts overall… I would add this criticism only on the level that independent can’t afford all of these tools easily and it would be nice to have the functionality in just a few main products…

by rs - March 18, 2013 9:13 am

please replace “independent” with “independent artists” :-)

by Steve Green - March 18, 2013 9:18 am

I can certainly see that argument.

From the blog, Stoke is a junior version of Ember.

I use frost, mainly because the built in blobmesh is prehistoric – playing with the beta of Stoke, I could see myself using it, but I couldn’t justify buying the others (Krakatoa in particular)

I know they’re aiming at a specialised market, but wonder if either bundles, or cut-down portions within the plugins (a more limited point renderer in Frost for example) might be an idea to get wider usage.

by Chad Capeland - March 18, 2013 9:32 am

I expressed the same concerns to Thinkbox, but I have come around to their thinking. Stoke will solve a problem that a LOT of artists have. Some of those artists will still want Krakatoa and Ember, but not all of them will. So it’s a pick-and-choose setup that allows you to only spend the money you need to (and for studios, it’s nice because a Stoke license won’t tie up an Ember license, so they can optimize that better).

by Borislav "Bobo" Petrov - March 18, 2013 11:06 am


There are many artists out there who have completely different needs (and workflows). We looked at Ember and realized that it would be an overkill for a large majority of artists, and a godsend for TDs. In fact, we have Beta testers who swear by Ember’s flexibility, and others who prefer Stoke’s simplicity. Similarly, Frost seems to attract people with its speed, simplicity, and by adhering to the typical 3ds Max workflows, while Krakatoa is attracting people with its power and flexibility *despite* its complexity.

A mindset seems to exist out there that if Thinkbox released something, one must have it. While we wouldn’t mind if you would play “collect them all”, we know people are short on cash, but then again artists and studios have even bigger shortage of time! So we felt that giving them a simpler to use product (along the lines of Frost’s UI design) that speeds up the common task of reflowing particles for a fraction of the price of what Ember would cost would actually save them both money and time.

While I am one of the few people who have more or less wrapped their head around Ember, I can assure you I personally prefer using Stoke for the few specific things it was designed to do… Judging by the explosion of Stoke Beta requests, I might not be alone ;)

by chris bond - March 18, 2013 11:26 am

Btw, I love hearing the feedback about our products. Good or bad – as CEO of Thinkbox I can promise you that our goal is to make tools that artists want to use – our mission statement is essentially ‘Remarkable Support’ so in that vein, you can email me directly at any time [chrisbond@] [same as url] and we always listen!


Chris Bond
CEO Thinkbox Software

by Steve Green - March 18, 2013 11:27 am

I think a slight issue is the gap in cost between Stoke/Genome/Frost and Krakatoa which is 3x the price.

Stoke without Krakatoa is pretty limited, (you can use it with Frost, for specific tasks, which is what I’m doing)

I still think a mini-Krak priced at $500 with appropriate limitations would sell a lot amongst freelancers and possibly studios where Krakatoa is overkill.

by Borislav "Bobo" Petrov - March 18, 2013 12:51 pm

@Steve Green

How did you get 3x?
The Krakatoa MX Workstation license is 2x the price of the others according to my calculator, and the Krakatoa-render licenses are exactly the same price as Frost. And then there is Krakatoa MX Evaluation that cannot do final rendering, but does nearly everything else, for the awesome price of $0… :)

by Chad Capeland - March 18, 2013 3:30 pm


Yeah, but the $0 price feels like we’re stealing it. Like if we bothered to read the EULA, I’m sure it’s not REALLY $0 for what purpose we’re using it for. Maybe if you charged $100, we’d sleep better?

by Steve Green - March 18, 2013 3:31 pm

Well, I was going by the bundle – I can’t imagine wanting to just use it on a single machine.

I take a pretty hard line when it comes to software that charges per render node – I mean why charge for Krakatoa, but not Frost? Just seems a bit arbitrary.

Like I say it’s overkill for my uses – these days it’s quick and dirty and cheap with a focus on motion graphics, and Trapcode Particular fulfills those needs.

by chris bond - March 19, 2013 9:11 am


[referring to Krakatoa] “Like I say it’s overkill for my uses”

I think that’s the point. Our goal is to develop flexible, easy to use and deep/forward looking tools that perform. We spend a lot of time considering workflow and dealing with big data [thus our 'Many Billions of Particles' per frame tests ]and optimizing our tools for high-cpu core machines. We test loading performance on SSD’s and FusionIO cards so our clients can do things that otherwise would seem to be impossible.

It is magic to my ears when I hear that we have built something that is 20-30x faster [or in one recent case, 16,000* faster!!] than the usual tool and workflows.

All of that being said – we’ve heard from clients who absolutely need to manage billions of points for jobs that they are amazed at how inexpensive our tools are, because the alternatives are not to do it; or orders of magnitude more expensive in software and compute time.

On the other side of the fence – there are clients such as yourself that would never find themselves using the deep tools inside Krakatoa. I realize that we can probably find a way to make a basic product and sell that tool to you – but at the moment we have clients who are requesting even more features [some pretty esoteric!] and scalability to trillions of particles, and it’s a question of our focus.

All of that being said – as you can see, we are listening.


Chris Bond

by deko - March 19, 2013 3:42 pm

It’s always strange how some people have opinion about a product only from cover. As a StokeMX user, I can only add that this will be my one of the most frequently usable fx tools. Speed always matters and Stoke will eliminate half of my FumeFX needs.

by Steve Green - March 20, 2013 3:25 am

Hi Chris,


sure you have to address where your clients are, just pointing out there is a market at the budget end, I’m just really seeing an attitude from clients that ‘they don’t have the money’, and this is from those who you would expect to have something, like car companies.

But we’re seeing that all over, with VFX companies getting screwed, but that’s getting a little off-topic.



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