Posted by Ken Pimentel, 11 August 2011 8:00 pm
What is the #2 feature on Uservoice? Render Passes. What is the #1 interop feature requested on the Community Voice survey? Adobe After Effects. You got both plus much more in this latest subscription release from the wizards of Montreal and thereabouts.
Starting with Adobe After Effects and Photoshop interop, we've been working with Adobe for awhile to develop the very best interop between 3ds Max and After Effects. Their engineers and ours have been talking and it shows in this new feature. I think Steve Forde, the product manager for After Effects says it the best:
“The new interoperability workflow developed by Autodesk for 3ds Max and After Effects surprised and delighted us. It really is one of the best examples we’ve seen of an integrated workflow. The bi-directional nature of the solution will allow both After Effect as well as 3ds Max users to instantly update changes – in whichever product they occur in, significantly reducing the time and costs around project completion.”- Steve Forde, Senior Product Manager – Visual Effects, Adobe
I think we now have the best workflow with AE of any 3D application, but you be the judge. You can even set up the bidirectional link so that one person is working with Adobe After Effects on one workstation while another works on 3ds Max on a different machine. The update mechanism isn't limited to a single workstation (we're researching supporting OSX with this link). For now, we support both CS4 and CS5 with this mechanism. Based on our conversations with Adobe, we know there is more we want to do, but various limits of the products got in the way of taking it even further. The sharing mechanism is based on an XML file so this opens things up for using it to work with any compositing tool. Clever people will probably figure out how to do this before we do. Photoshop users weren't forgotten either as the render passes can now go direct to a layered PSD with all the right modes supported. Now, if we just had an OSX version of 3ds Max we'd be all set...
We're introducing something called "State Sets" to perform the work of render passes. State Sets are not limited to doing just render passes, it is simply a powerful way to use them. This is a very simple system allowing you to setup and control the state of 3ds Max and it works well for rendering and other things. We wanted something easy to use, extensible and powerful. We think this comes pretty close. For example, you can now create a set of render passes that take the output from ANY renderer that 3ds Max supports. So, you might use Quicksilver for one pass, mental ray for another, and vray for a third. All three renders can be set up to do what they do best for creating a single frame. That is flexibility that you won't necessarily find in other render pass systems on other products. State Sets is the result of our multi-year codevelopment project with Ephere (makers of Zookeeper). We're working with them on compositing application interop and this is the first result of our collaboration.
Here's a video created by the designer of the feature - it isn't the flashy marketing video, it was intended for beta users, but you might find it useful in addition to the marketing videos below:
Here's our marketing video:
We had hoped to ship this with 3ds Max 2012, but we chose to hold it back because it wasn't complete enough. This is our first effort to bring interactive and progressive rendering to 3ds Max. Think of this feature as a "snapshot" of where we're at right now, it also isn't intended to represent a final destination. For example, at SIGGRAPH Nividia will be showing the first public glimpse of Project Pandora which includes some research that we've been jointly working on to hook up to cloud rendering in 3ds Max. Project Pandora is a joint research project and not to be confused with any shipping feature of 3ds Max or the subscription drop. They are related, but you won't be getting cloud rendering at this point.
Now that our SDK is wrapped with Microsoft's .NET technology, it enables some interesting features like remote control from other computers and the use of really any scripting interface (like Python). People that build plug-ins on top of .NET will also find it is much less affected by compiler changes, so a plug-in can keep working with a new version of max - even if the compiler changed. Anyway, the more I talk about this one the more likely I'll say something stupid, so I'll let others fill you in on what the big deal is. It is a big deal according to people that write code for a living.
If you're wondering when you'll get access to this, it should be available on the subscription download center by the end of September.
The following is straight out of the F&B:
Segment your scene for downstream compositing more easily with an entirely new render pass system. 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 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.
3ds Max artists whose creative toolsets include Adobe® After Effects® software can now enjoy a level of interoperability that sets a new standard for 2D/3D data exchange. With bidirectional support for the transfer of cameras, lights, null objects, plane objects/solids, footage (including footage layering), blend modes, opacity, and effects, artists can iterate more effectively and reduce rework to complete projects in less time.
Experience a truly iterative creative process for finalizing renderings, with new ActiveShade support for the iray® renderer from mental images®. 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.
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 (such as multiply or screen).
Effectively leverage .NET enabled languages (such as C#, F#, IronPython, IronRuby, and Visual Basic .NET) to extend and customize the features of 3ds Max, with new .NET exposure of almost all of the 3ds Max SDK. The .NET framework provides a number of features—such as garbage collection and reflection—that accelerate software development, while built-in libraries facilitate common tasks such as building user interfaces, connecting to databases, parsing XML and text, numerical computation, and communicating over networks.
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