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Getting current and a peek into the future

Posted by Ken Pimentel, 10 July 2010 8:00 pm

I can’t believe I haven’t blogged in such a long time. After we shipped 3ds Max, things just became overwhelmingly crazy and every spare second seemed to get sucked into one thing or another. It’s still super crazy, but luckily it’s the weekend now, so I have time to do it. I’m sure most of you know the drill.

So, here is the “mother of all blogs”. A rambling collection of the past, present and future that is probably the only post you’ll get out of me for another month. The good news is that Shane Griffith, our PM on 3ds Max/Design, is definitely taking up the slack (I’ve linked many of his posts in this blog). In fact, you should expect Shane to become more of the voice of 3ds Max (along with our other bloggers) because I'd like to start talking about bigger themes that cross other Autodesk products.

3ds Max 2011 making a difference!

We shipped 3ds Max and 3ds Max Design 2011 about 3 months ago. Financially, we're seeing the best results from 3ds Max (growth, seats, revenue) so it seems that you all find something to like in what we did. We’re also getting great reviews like this one: http://area.autodesk.com/blogs/shane/gamedev_net_reviews_3ds_max_2011

It always takes a few months before we really know what is going on with a new release and how it is working with you. From what I’ve seen on the forums, most people are enjoying the new tools. A minority are struggling with various issues that we’re trying to understand too. We’ve seen the most hw/driver issues with this release than prior releases. Which isn't too surprising given how much we pushed to the GPU. We’re working closely with ATI and Nvidia to sort these issues out – but it is a complex world out there with a lot of variation in configurations. So, hopefully you’re in the majority and happy with the release. According to our CER data, this is the most stable release and has the highest MTBF of any release. That doesn’t mean there aren’t problems, we’ve already shipped our first Hot Fix and we’re working on a second that should come out within weeks. We’re doing this as part of a commitment to try to get patches out as quickly as possible. I hope you’ll benefit from these efforts if you’re unlucky enough to get touched by one of the bugs. Here's Shane's post on the first hot fix:
http://area.autodesk.com/blogs/shane/6_new_hot_fixes_released_today

20th Anniversary:

Speaking of the past, we’re celebrating the 20th year of 3ds Max/3D Studio DOS entering the market. Perhaps you’ve seen some of the community spirit already acknowledge this? Great article here: http://www.maxunderground.com/the_history_of_3d_studio_pt2

We’ve got our own plans, and most of it kicks off at SIGGRAPH. We’ve got the next 9 months filled with various events to try to make the year a little more special for all of you. Shane just posted a message about our tshirt plans:
http://area.autodesk.com/blogs/shane/wear_your_3ds_max_apparel_to_siggraph

We’re excited to be part of this celebration and watch for a mini-site to appear on the Area by SIGGRAPH that will celebrate the history of 3ds Max. We’ve got some great video interviews being created for it. For those of you going to SIGGRAPH, you’ll hopefully join us at the Blur party on Wednesday at 9PM – getting back to our roots!

Autodesk Labs:

We’ve been super busy on the 3ds Max team and are lining up a series of debuts for you. The first of these was our first Autodesk Labs project – a point cloud plug-in for those of you who want to explore working with this data. Again, Shane has done a great job of describing this already: http://area.autodesk.com/blogs/shane/project_helix_is_live_in_the_labs

We actually have a couple of other plans for Labs projects this year, but it is better if I keep them quiet until we get closer to them. They are highly risky and I wouldn’t want to set the wrong expectations. If anyone of you have been reading my blog for awhile, then you'll know what I mean if I say the "rise of Project Geppetto" is one of the targets. Note: unrelated to the Geppetto tool at Pixar.

Autodesk Suites:

You may have missed the announcement, but this is actually something really big and new that Autodesk is working on. It is pretty exciting that both 3ds Max Design and Showcase play a critical role in many of Autodesk's suites plans. There’s a desire for the Autodesk Design Suite (with 3ds Max Design) to become the most popular way for customers to purchase AutoCAD. Those of you working on the CAD side, probably understand the implications of this. Of course, Shane beat me to blogging the announcement of the ADS: http://area.autodesk.com/blogs/shane/new_autodesk_design_suites

We also have our Entertainment suites with 3ds Max and we’re working on figuring out how to create more and more interop value in using all of our tools together. We're looking at UI issues, more common interfaces and much simpler interop options. Very, very busy agenda that will play out over a number of years.

SIGGRAPH

There are a couple interesting technology demos from our partners that you’ll see if you visit our booth. The first one is from mental images and will demonstrate mental image’s iray integrated with 3ds Max. What should be even more interesting, is that they’re also going to show how they can hook up iray/3ds Max to a cloud rendering service. So, within a 3ds Max session, they’ll basically publish the scene to the cloud where a bunch of computing nodes will render it using the Reality Server to distribute the load. Again, this is a technical demo put on by mental images – not by Autodesk. The second technical demo you’ll see comes from Nvidia and shows research on integrating PhysX with 3ds Max in the viewport. This is something they’ve been working on for awhile, and some of you may have seen earlier iterations of it. You’ll also be able to see the demos in the Nvidia booth too. The age of GPU-accelerated workflows is definitely upon us. As to the potential availability of these components for end-users, you get our standard answer, “these are technical demos by our partners and we will not comment further than that.”

XBR

Well, we told you about our plans and we’ve shipped some pieces of XBR out to you. We know some of it is unfinished and feeling a little clumsy, but we knew it was going to be a bumpy experience for awhile. Our team is out there on the forum talking to people or at least reading the various concerns and digesting it and developing plans. We’re planning to get back to all of you in December timeframe with another public discussion/update as to where things stand and hopefully a clearer vision around our long-term UI goals. I think this is the roughest area for users to understand right now. We know we need to clarify the vision around this in order for you to understand why we’re doing what we’re doing.

We’re well along in our research on many of the fundamental things we talked about in our XBR presentation. Unfortunately, we’re not really allowed to give specific details of what problems we’ve solved and how we did it. We can and will give you as much information about XBR as we’re permitted to do.

Summary

This is going to be an incredible year for 3ds Max. We kicked it off with a strong release, the community is celebrating 20 years of all things 3ds Max and we’ve got some nice surprises lined up for you all. I know I’m going to enjoy this year, I hope you all do to. Keep the faith.
 

11 Comments

juang3d

Posted 12 July 2010 11:51 am

You sound like a D&D necromancer when you say this: the "rise of Geppetto"

hehe

keep the good work, it's reflecting in the peoplo mood and feeling about max

Cheers.

mortas may

Posted 12 July 2010 2:58 pm

Concerning 3dsMax Entertainment suites a humanIK plugin for max ( like in the one in Maya) would be a great help acting as a link between biped and cat systems MB and maya. by the way is there any "XBR animation" plans of max??



Ken Pimentel

Posted 13 July 2010 12:28 pm

@nirsul
Have you logged your issues? You make it sound like it is affecting everyone, but we know these cases are in a minority. Yes, 3ds Max 2011 requires more resources from your GPU/system than ever before and this in itself can be an issue - but if you have a system with the right config (enough RAM, validated GPUs) then generally you're all set. I understand this doesn't help you directly, and that is surely frustrating.

@mortas may
We're looking at many ways of improving the interop. Yes, we've discussed the idea of HIK for 3ds Max but we also have the problem of already having two character systems in max (CAT and Biped). We're not rushing to add a third.

Jonathan de Blok

Posted 13 July 2010 1:07 pm

I was starting to worry Glad you found some time to write this!

@NIR: for me its the opposite, Slate alone is worth the upgrade for me! For me the whole package feels much faster compared to max2010.)

I can't wait for iRay to be officially available (I did manage to play around with it in max2011 with some dubious dll copying and some hacks, looks promising! )

Are there any plans for another interactive XBR webcast like we had last year?

I think you're all doing a great job, keep it up!

Ken Pimentel

Posted 13 July 2010 1:14 pm

re: XBR
Yes, we're planning an interactive webinar for XBR just like last year. Look for it after AU, so around mid-December timeframe.

Ken Pimentel

Posted 15 July 2010 7:40 pm

re: iray and maya/soft
We don't discuss our timing, but you shouldn't assume that the timing is all the same either. Certainly Maya has exposed things before 3ds Max and vice versus. There are technical issues between the products that ensure that this can be more complicated than you think.

duttyfoot

Posted 15 July 2010 8:35 pm

your right about the timing not being all the same for each app. as for the iray

"Certainly Maya has exposed things before 3ds Max and vice versus. "

I went over to the mental mill forum and saw a post stating that iray capabilities are in maya 2011 but the rendering components are not there as yet.

http://forum.mentalimages.com/showthread.php?t=6584

I tried the max demo and i love the slate material editor. 3ds max has really come a long way, the first time i saw this product it was at ver 3. back then i was learning how to use animation master

Ken Pimentel

Posted 15 July 2010 9:25 pm

re: iray and mental ray 3.8
With 3ds Max 2011, we exposed the mental ray string options so that you can technically do the same thing with iray if you have mental ray standalone. In fact, I believe max/maya/soft are the same now in this respect. However, none of our products "officially" support iray at this time. I think a much more integrated experience would be desired by most 3ds Max customers...

Glad you like the "new" 3ds Max. We've come a long way baby!

yiannisk

Posted 16 July 2010 1:58 am

I want a tshirt! damn i love swag and it's been years since i got my hands on something!


Ken Pimentel

Posted 16 July 2010 2:11 am

re: tshirts
If you want a free one, go to SIGGRAPH. We're working with a third-party vendor to set up a site that will allow anyone to buy a shirt world-wide. Unfortunately, there is no way to make this "free". Shirts will wind up costing between $20 and $40 depending on the quality and if you want white or black. We tried to make this as cheap as the site allowed us. We're still testing the site out, but we'll announce it next week.

yiannisk

Posted 20 July 2010 1:18 pm

heh Ken i wish i could go to SIGGRAPH as it appears it will be a really exciting one!

but i guess the online shop will do.
A 20 year anniversary tshirt for 3dsmax would be nice

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