Autodesk 3ds Max
Posted by Ken Pimentel, 28 March 2012 8:00 pm
With this release, we tried to do something slightly different. Along with the bigger features, we tackled improving things that might seem small, but can be annoying or cause inefficiencies when you work. For example, we now allow you to move the viewport while creating various entities like arrays so you don’t stop creating, change your viewport, then begin again. Instead, you simply move the viewport while continuing to draw/create. These are old legacy issues, many of you are used to it, but it doesn’t mean it needs to remain that way. We tackled dozens of these workflow improvements and you’ll encounter them all over the product. This is one outcome of our 3dsmaxfeedback.autodesk.com effort from a year ago.
We also spent a lot of time fixing bugs and crashers. Over 400 legacy bugs were fixed (things that were in 3ds Max 2012 or earlier) and CAT got yet more attention with roughly 30 fixes by itself. We hope this attention to fixing things is something you all welcome. We have some news to share with you about our plans for introducing fixes faster, but that will have to wait a month or so.
I also thought it might help to let you know what the beta thinks of this release. They’ve been playing with something close to the final release, and about 200 of them answered our final survey. Remember, beta users get exposed to a lot of “raw code” and limited time (days) with the finished release, so they have a rougher experience than most. There are an equal number of beta users in the Entertainment side as the CAD side (which also mimics our userbase). Generally, they are very experienced users and spend a lot of hours using 3ds Max in their "other life".
90% said it was average or above, 56% said it was above average. 93% felt that stability was the same or better than prior releases, 39% said it was better.
82% said it was average or above, 49% said it was above average. 88% said it was same/better than prior releases, 57% said it was better.
93% said it was average or above, 43% said it was above average. 93% said it was same/better than prior releases, 50% said it was better.
88% said it was average or above, 51% said it was above average. 96% said it was same/better than prior releases, 43% said it was better.
93% said it was average or above, 62% said it was above average. 98% said it was same/better than prior releases, 51% said it was better.
These were things that the majority of beta users said were a good reason to upgrade.
We are required to release to a fixed schedule, which means that some issues found late in the process are allowed to ship. So make sure you read the readme before you start using the release. We are aware of various performance issues that will affect some, but not all scenes and hardware configurations running Nitrous. The good news is that we have fixed the following issues, but they are not in the release. We are scheduling an update as we speak and I don’t expect it to take more than a month past the release to get into your hands.
Based on our beta experience, a minority of you will find some scenes running slower in 2013 than 2012 because of the above issues. We’re continuing to work with the beta team to resolve all outstanding performance issues. We want Nitrous to perform better than DX9 in all cases, not just the majority of cases. Nitrous continues to be a huge resource sink as we fine tune it and maximize what it can do for us.
In case you haven't been following the restructuring of 3ds Max (what we call, "XBR"), here's an update. As we've told you, year after year, XBR is executing in phases and we don't define when a particular phase will be complete. However, this release is notable for the following reasons:
XBR UI: Workspaces and Tabbed Views are the beginning of some changes. Workspaces are limited in what they can do because they require other changes to occur in our UI system first. UI continues to be a high priority to revamp. Definitely under renovation, but moving towards something more complete.
XBR Simulation: A big step forwards with the unification of cloth, forces and rigid-bodies. We now have mCloth - which is a subset of our Cloth feature, but it works with MassFX rigid bodies. We have also integrated our traditional "forces" into the MassFX system. Again, the goal is to unify all our simulation pieces under a single roof to make it much easier to work with.
XBR Viewports: We've come a long way in quality and performance. We still have some gaps to close and problems to sort, but the trajectory is solid. This release was another big effort to try to do more in the viewport (IBL, DOF for example) and plan our move off DX9. A lot of structural efforts have been made, but we're not finished with this agenda yet.
We're planning a public webinar around XBR for mid April. Watch for the invite.
There are no new feature differences. 3ds Max doesn't have the Daylight Simulation tools or Civil View. 3ds Max Design doesn't ship with the SDK.
Unfortunately, you can’t use 2012 plug-ins with 3ds Max 2013. The SDK is different from prior releases due to the move to Unicode (finally) in this release. This is an example of a massive sw engineering project we had to undertake to deal with legacy code. This was by far, the largest investment in touching all the code in 3ds Max since 64b. Unfortunately, most of you don’t care that we’re now Unicode, but it will make life a lot easier for everyone working with 3ds Max on a foreign OS or are using one of the 5 language versions 3ds Max comes in and are trying to share data. Don't forget, you still have a "save as 2010" feature in this release to maintain data compatibility with older pipelines.
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These are a mix of things from the F&B document with some of my enhancements and it includes things that are noted as new in the docs, but are left off the F&B. Basically, this is the most comprehensive listing of changes that you'll find from Autodesk. As usual, some of these features were introduced with the Subscription Advantage Pack (SAP) in September, now, everyone else gets them. I've tried to identify where we've enhanced the SAP with a "SAP+".
Steve Forde, the Product Manager for Adobe After Effects was recently giving a presentation to our channel partners and he really brought home how important this new feature will be for AE users. There is nothing else like it in any other product. It gives you a bidirectional workflow allowing two different artists to work collaboaratively (it's common for there to be a 2D and a 3D user working together on a project) with updates happening in either end and everyone remaining in sync. Of course, it benefits you if you're working alone too as it ensures simple syncronization of your data.
Media design and graphics artists whose creative toolsets include Adobe® After Effects® software can now enjoy a level of interoperability with 3ds Max that sets a higher standard for 2D/3D data exchange. The new Media Sync functionality provides two-way transfer of cameras, lights, null objects, plane objects/solids, footage (including footage layering), blend modes, opacity, and effects; with it, artists can iterate more effectively and reduce rework to complete projects in less time.
Improvements since the Subscription Advantage Pack released in September, 2011 include:
If you're looking for more details on this feature, see my recent blog post here.
Enjoy greater flexibility when finishing renderings in Adobe® Photoshop® software, with the new ability to output renderings in a layered PSD format that retains layer order, opacity, and blend modes (for example, multiply or screen).
Scenes can now be more easily segmented for downstream compositing. Thanks to an entirely new render pass system, render elements can now be more efficiently created for Autodesk® Smoke® 2013 software, Adobe After Effects, Adobe Photoshop software, or certain other image compositing applications. A state recorder enables artists to capture, edit, and save the current state, while a visual interface shows how compositing and render elements are wired together to create the final result. Artists can more quickly set up and execute multiple render passes from a single file; individual passes can be modified without the need to re-render the whole scene, enhancing productivity.
Perform simple compositing operations directly within 3ds Max with the new Slate Compositing Editor. The schematic node-based interface enables rendered layers and passes to be more easily wired together and combined with compositing nodes, for example: blends and color corrections; the resulting composite can then be sent to Adobe After Effects or Adobe Photoshop for further refinement.
Experience an interactive creative process for finalizing renderings, with new ActiveShade support for the NVIDIA iray renderer. ActiveShade enables artists to iterate more effectively by providing an interactive rendering session that constantly updates as changes are made to cameras, lighting, materials, and geometry. By shortening the feedback loop, artists can more efficiently fine-tune their scene, making it faster and easier to achieve their intended look.
Artists can now enjoy a more integrated and accurate dynamic toolset, thanks to a wide range of enhancements and additions to the MassFX unified system of simulation solvers. Highlights are a new mCloth module that features tearable fabric and support for dynamic ragdoll hierarchies. In addition, improved constraints, better handling of pivot points, and enhanced UI readability help improve overall workflow.
With the understanding that small things can make a big difference, 3ds Max 2013 includes a number of improvements: the ability to manipulate the camera when cutting polygons and during the creation process, enhancements to the skin modifier, and a modeless array dialog. Customers can suggest their own workflow improvements using the Small Annoying Things forum at 3dsmaxfeedback.autodesk.com. Here's a list of the major ones we worked on, some of these are documented in this blog, some aren't. Here's a video that attempts to show them in action.
Easily create and switch between a number of viewport layout configurations, in order to have efficient access to the views required for a particular task. Layouts can include both 3D and extended viewports. Selecting a different layout is as simple as clicking on its icon, or pressing a hotkey. Artists can share customized View Tabs with other users by saving and loading presets.
Artists can now adapt 3ds Max to their personal way of working by selecting from a choice of default or custom workspaces. Each workspace can have individual settings for menus, toolbars, ribbon, and viewport tab presets; in addition, selecting a new workspace can automatically execute a MAXScript. This enables users to more easily configure the workspace to suit their preferences or to fit the task at hand; as an example, an artist might configure one workspace for modeling, and a different one for animating.
Animators can now retime portions of animations to increase or decrease their speed. The retiming is achieved by changing the tangency of the existing animation curve; there is no requirement to have keyframes present in the portion to be retimed, and no extra keyframes are created in the resulting high-quality curve.
Animators can now convert 3ds Max CAT (Character Animation Toolkit) bipedal characters into characters that are compatible with the Autodesk® HumanIK® solver used in Autodesk® Maya® 2013 software and Autodesk® MotionBuilder® 2013 software in a single step. These portable characters enable animators to transfer existing character structure, definition, and animation between the software packages in order to take advantage of particular feature sets. Animation changes created in Maya or MotionBuilder can be updated back onto the original CAT character in 3ds Max, facilitating a round-trip workflow.
The iray renderer now offers support for motion blur, helping artists create more realistic images of moving elements. In addition, a large number of improvements to iray have been added: support for “no diffuse bump”, the round corner effect, and more procedural maps; improved sky portals, glossy refractions, translucency, and IOR (index of refraction); faster exterior scene convergence; and the ability to handle larger output resolutions.
The Nitrous accelerated graphics core has received a number of enhancements. Artists will enjoy the increased drawing performance on large scenes, together with new support for image-based lighting, depth of field, accelerated particle flow display, and a new clay shader. In addition, the ability to change the bokeh shape via MAXScript, support for shadows in large scenes, and improved workflows for interior scenes extend the Nitrous functionality.
Really, that's the new 2013 viewport, that's not a rendering.
3ds Max 2013 introduces a new gPoly base object for increased animation playback performance with deforming meshes; in some cases, artists can see up to three times faster playback. gPoly delivers accelerated playback in cases where mesh deformation does not change topology.
We've introduced this as a platform for our XBR efforts. This is just a taste of what is possible.
Artists familiar with using Autodesk Maya software will appreciate the new Maya interaction mode that enables them to use the same mouse and key combinations in 3ds Max as they would in Maya to navigate viewports. The ability to use a unified style when working with both packages helps save time and reduce user frustration. In addition, the interaction modes are customizable according to personal preference.
Facilities working with both 3ds Max and with Autodesk® Revit® Architecture 2013 software can now take advantage of a more efficient data exchange workflow. Revit files are now directly supported, enabling 3ds Max artists to select a data view of choice to load from within the Revit file.
New support for the Autodesk® DirectConnect family of translators enables 3ds Max 2013 users to exchange industrial design data with engineers using CAD (computer aided design) products: AutoCAD® software, Autodesk® Inventor® software, Autodesk® Alias® software, Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks® and Catia® system, PTC Pro/ENGINEER®, Siemens PLM Software NX, JT™, and certain other applications. A wide range of file formats is supported; for certain of these a license is required.The data is imported as native solids Body objects that can be interactively retesselated as needed.
The 3ds Max 2013 SDK (software development kit) offers improved exposure to .NET, making it accessible from .NET aware languages. Garbage collection and reflection are provided by the .NET framework and help accelerate software development. The built-in .NET libraries also help facilitate common tasks: building user interfaces; connecting to databases; parsing XML and text; numerical computation; and communicating over networks.
Included with Autodesk 3ds Max 2013 is the new Autodesk Animation Store, powered by Mixamo, where you can purchase hundreds of motion clips for your Biped or CAT characters. Now you can preview the motion clips on your characters in your scene prior to purchasing them.
We have added support for Apple's QuickTime in the 64bit versions of 3ds Max and 3ds Max Design.
We have replaced our CPU-based object picking system with a new GPU-based picking system. This should tackle some of the “lag” issues people were seeing with complex scenes (lots of objects). The rest of our picking system didn't change, so if you have issues, it should only be object selection.
The Array dialog is now modeless, which means that you can navigate viewports while the dialog is open. For example, if the array exceeds the viewport boundaries, you can pan and zoom the viewport so the entire array is within view.
The Egg spline lets you create splines that are shaped like a chicken egg. The Egg spline is provided in part to support the Autodesk Civil View Pipe Network feature. Civil View is available only with 3ds Max Design.
Autodesk Civil View is provided with 3ds Max Design only. For 3ds Max Design 2013, Civil View is installed along with 3ds Max Design. You don't need to install it separately; however, to run it you must initialize it and then restart 3ds Max Design.
If you're interestsed in learning more about changes in Civil View, read Bruce's blog posting.
In Autodesk 3ds Max 2013Hair And Fur has been improved in a number of ways. Improvements include better viewport display, better efficiency with tile memory usage, new material options, and new Flyaway, Clumping, and Multi-Strand features.
To make the 3ds Max Track View animation editor conform more closely to suitemates such as Autodesk Maya, the menu layout has been redesigned, producing a more-compact interface.
For more efficient management of bones attached to a Skin modifier, you can now sort the list of bones in ascending or descending alphanumeric order. Searching the list also saves time by showing only matching entries, rather than simply highlighting matching entries in the list. See Parameters Rollout (Skin Modifier).
For Skylight objects you can assign Sky Color maps, including high dynamic range (HDR) maps, that provide illumination for all renderers. They also provide lighting levels and shadows for Nitrous viewports. Unlike releases prior to Autodesk 3ds Max 2013, Sky Color maps do not require the Light Tracer.
Viewports can now have a vertical gradient as a background. This is the default for Perspective viewports. You can set custom colors for the gradient by using the Customize User Interface Colors panel. In addition, viewport background controls have been consolidated in a new Viewport Configuration dialog Background panel, with corresponding options on the Views menu and the Shading Viewport Label menu.
The Slate Material Editor interface has been updated in a number of ways to improve usability. New features include enhanced right-click-menu functionality, the option to get a node view of materials applied to selected object, new material library options, and special highlighting of the node whose parameters are visible.
A new drop-down menu on the Render Setup dialog lets you choose among production, iterative, and ActiveShade rendering. The toggle for Network Rendering has also been moved to this menu.
The version of mental ray provided with Autodesk 3ds Max 2013 has been upgraded to mental ray 3.10.
This is a test to see how many read to the bottom of the list! While we did announce a multi-year codevelopment agreement with Orbaz, it was too late to do anything with the 2013 release. We will be revealing details about the situation in the coming months, but for now, do not base your purchasing decisions around anything related to this.
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