BOSS – Ocean/water surfaces in Maya

BOSS is the new ocean/water surface simulation system in Maya.

Main purposes are:

  1. Visuals
    • Good looking water surface – 32 bit/channel EXR output/frame
      (world space vector displacement texture)
    • Foam, cusp and speed texture in one 32 bit/channel EXR/frame
    • Velocity texture – 32 bit/channel EXR/frame
  2. Effects
    • Multi-component simulations
    • Collisions
    • Using the generated surface as guide for advanced Bifröst simulations

The BOSS help page is pretty good.


  1. Like all simulation systems in Maya, BOSS works in a 1:100 scale.
    (1 Maya unit = 1 meter)
  2. If you want a nice result out of the box, create the simulation in 1:100 and than (after caching out the sim) scale it up to 100.
  3. You can create nice looking previews in Viewport 2.0 as you can see here
    (Maya 2017 update 2, aiSkyDomeLight creates an environment reflection in the viewport if you turn on the lights):
    screenshot-2016-12-18-13-42-40The shader tree is here:
    As you can see I used a PhongE shader in the viewport (for transparency support).
    You can connect any other shader to render it with Anold (in this case an aiStandard shader).To create a Fresnel like effect use a samplerInfo node and a ramp:
  4. A simple way to write the cache from the simulation:
    • In the Attribute Editor go down to the Cache Attributes section and turn on Export Cache option.
    • After the caching process turn off the Export Cache and turn on the Use Cache option.
  5. After you cached the simulation, you can create an Alembic cache from the geometry.
    • Give more divisions to the original polyplane, maybe 1000 by 1000 or higher (it is hidden in the viewport)
    • Select the ocean surface
    • Go to Cache -> Alembic Cache -> Export Selection to Alembic
      Turn on the UV Write option.
    • Import the Alembic cache
  6. You can use the foam textures directly in the same scene to create fast render tests (see the shader tree above).

Cheers, D

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