RW - Realwave

This section is again only valid for the RealWave node, not the modifiers. Modifiers have their own adjustments and are discussed later in separate chapters. “Realwave” is responsible for the mesh’s appearance and you are also able to activate some core features here, for example the calculation of foam-maps.



You can choose between “Hexamesh” and “Custom”. “Hexamesh” is the default setting for creating a standard mesh with a dimension of 5.0 x 5.0 units. “Custom” unlocks the next parameter, giving you the opportunity to load other objects into RealFlow and turn them into a RealWave object.

Custom obj

This feature is only accessible with Type set to “Custom”. By clicking on the hyphen you will have access to the operating system's file browser. Simply select a 2D or 3D object that you would like to translate into a RealWave mesh.

Polygon size

This is the most critical parameter with RealWave regarding file size aside from the node’s scale settings. Smaller values lead to longer simulation times and bigger files, but you can also see much more details. With larger settings you can create vast ocean surfaces, but you will also lose details. It is important to find a good a balance between the amount of details and polygon size, because with very fast travelling waves, high resolution meshes tend to chaotic structures, like spikes and peaks, or visible patterns.

Displacement mode

By default this option is always enabled and also activated under "Export Central". The result is a sequence of 16-bit TIF files together with TXT files. The TXTs are standard ASCII files and contain the maximum and minimum displacement values for each axis of the normalized map. “Displacement mode” provides two options: “Auto” and “Range”.

With “Auto”, a maximum displacement height is determined for each frame and the other corresponding height values will be related to this maximum. That is certainly a convenient method, but can lead to some unwanted noise. because the mentioned maximum height might change with each frame. To avoid this phenomenon, “Range” can be used. Here it is possible to specify a fixed height that is valid for all frames and the pixels are calculated accordingly.

@ range

With “Displacement mode” set to “Range” you are able to limit the creation of displacement maps to a certain height, valid for all frames.

Displacement format

This parameter determines which axis will be considered while creating the displacement maps. The result is a colour-coded 16-bit TIF-RGB picture (colour depth depends on the used format). By default all three axes, “XYZ”, are used to write the map. With the second option only the height information is used. This mode is called “YYY”.

Damping factor

RealWave allows you to define static areas where no wave motion takes place. These zones act like islands and are defined by a selection of mesh vertices. Once they are selected and recognized as static points they appear red. “Damping factor” has influence on waves interacting with these static points. With 0.0 all waves are reflected and the points act like a solid wall. With values greater than 0.0 the waves still interact with the static points, but loose some energy after a while (depends on “Damping factor”) until they disappear.

Autogen static

Autogen static” can be used to create reflecting and refracting waves around a moving object. When this function is set to “Yes” it creates a static zone inside the object that is constantly updated to represent the body’s position changes.


Sometimes it is necessary to simulate river-like surfaces or strong streams. For these cases RealWave offers the “Downstream” option. In some cases it is necessary to raise wave height or change “Water friction” from the object’s “Realwave” panel to make the object move at all. With additional modifiers new forces are introduced with the motion of the waves. These motions may “overwrite” the downstream force. In this case you have to raise the downstream value. If the floating object sinks, “@ mass” from the rigid body menu must be altered. Alternatively you can also use the “Balanced mass” button.

Stream angle

The direction of the downstream force can be adjusted under “Stream angle”. This value accepts settings given in degrees.

Calculate texture

This is the global switch to activate RealWave’s foam map engine and also unlocks a series of parameters for controlling the texture’s final look. Unless this option has not been set to “Yes” foam textures cannot be calculated. Another important issue is to activate foam textures under "Export Central" or the files will not be written to disk. With an object’s or emitter’s “Texture strength” setting it is possible to control their contribution to the maps.

@ resolution

By default the texture size is 64 x 64 pixels. To change this value simply add the new desired value. Please keep in mind that very large texture maps require more time to be created and stored. Since foam maps always require a certain amount of post-processing, “@ resolution” normally does not need very high values, because you can enlarge the maps later and blur the foam marks.

@ diffusion

Instead of blurring the foam marks in a post process you can also apply a blurring filter during the creation of the maps. “@ diffusion” blends the individual spots and cares for a smoother appearance. But please note that very high values can lead to unrealistic results and may increase simulation time.

@ dissipation

The life-span of foam strongly depends on the weather and the environmental conditions. During storms foam normally stays much longer than under breezy conditions. Waves, breaking against rocks and cliffs also produce rather long lasting areas of foam. To simulate this behaviour “@ dissipation” can be adjusted. Higher values make the foam marks disappear faster. With 0.0 the foam will never vanish.

Depth factor

You can either enter a fixed value, valid for the static points of the entire mesh, or load a texture to create customized patterns. To import an image, right-click on the parameter and choose “Load texture” from the context menu. This action opens a new window where you can load and process your images. The patterns on the depth map are translated into static points and act like obstacles or islands. Waves can be reflected and refracted at the borders of the static points and create the impression of wave-shore interaction.

Particle layer

As already mentioned in the introduction to RealWave, this option bounds particles to the vertices and polygons of a mesh. These particles will also follow the waves and cannot become detached from the wave surface. “Particle layer” is used to connect the particles from emitters with RealWave surfaces. Of course it is possible to store the particle layer into a BIN file and reuse it with a "Binary Loader", for example . That is a very handy method to combine particles from different sources for meshing, retiming or other enhancements.

EDIT Static

This is another mode that makes it possible to edit a RealWave mesh. With this option you can define any of the surface’s points as static. These points are not affected by waves and remain immobile while waves can be reflected at their borders. Multiple selection is possible by holding the Shift key pressed during selection. Static points appear red.

CLEAR Static

This button is only available with activated "EDIT Static" mode. It simply removes all static points from the mesh.

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  1. Thomas Schlick, I have been looking at the Graphs docs and felt that we might need some more links back and forth from the pages, especially when there are child ones that don´t get shown at their root/father level. This also comes from a customer that wasn´t finding it easy to look for the RW modifiers, so I checked a couple of things here. We will talk to see if we can, maybe, make the whole flow a bit more intuive across the manual pages by using a few extra links here and there.

    1. Thanks for the feedback Gus. Always welcome.

      You're absolutely right about making things in the manual more intuitive to find. This is something I'm twisting my mind about since the very first day of Confluence. With RW it's pretty easy, but there are also parts which are very difficult to categorize, some are redundant or have such complex workflow that it's nearly impossible to put everything into a single page, because this would be an overkill. All this splits the pages and gives users a bad experience when they're looking for a certain feature or explanation.

      More links are definitely helpful and I totally agree with you. The QuickFinder is another approach, maybe a site map could also help. Another idea is a "What you will find here" chapter with direct links for each main category - like a "subpage" of the QuickFinder.

      The information is here, but I have to make sure that it can be found easily and that's still a real challenge. Another thing is the manual is currently very text-heavy and it needs more images to break things apart visually and to support what's written. This will help users to connect the information from the text with what they see in RF.