Sneak Peek at XBR Graphics in action

Posted by Shane Griffith, 18 February 2011 6:00 pm

Here's a quick look at some of the many things we've been working on behind scenes.

The top priority of the Excalibur (XBR) initiative is to re-architect the viewport system and provide dramatic improvements in performance and visual quality. Some of the possible capabilities include support for unlimited lights, soft shadows, screen-space ambient occlusion, tone-mapping, and higher-quality transparency. You also might notice the progressive refinement of image quality without blocking changes to the scene. To achieve this we've been researching advanced scene management techniques, together with multithreaded viewport scene traversal and material evaluation, the anticipated result is a smoother, more responsive workflow.









San Francisco Scene File Stats
6.6m polys (15.1m faces)
4587 nodes
2 lights

The screen capture and compression causes the video to stutter a little, but actual interactivity was much smoother than this. An Nvidia FX3800 was used to generate this result (in case you were wondering). However, the viewport technology is not limited to spcific hardware manufacture or make. The main requirements are a DX 10 capable card with a min of 1GB texture memory.


Shane Griffith
Product Manager - 3ds Max & 3ds Max Design
Media and Entertainment Division
Autodesk, Inc




Lee Johnson

Posted 18 February 2011 2:44 am

After seeing the various styles of viewport display, my first thought was "ok thats cool for animation previews, but it would be nice if it could render that out as easily as changing the style" Voila, next video shows just that. Very cool stuff, especially for someone who works in the field of architectural rendering.

Posted 18 February 2011 3:33 am

Very impressive! Looking forward to using the Quicksilver improvements. Also, nice new easy to see coloured icons in the dark UI.


Posted 18 February 2011 3:44 am

Can I expect to see this feature in Max(design)2012?

Shane Bekker

Posted 18 February 2011 6:25 am

Wow! Very cool.

I could deffinatley use this in my local TV animated childrens series I am producing. Hope it does not take forever.


Posted 18 February 2011 6:36 am

Mmmh, i dont see how some viewport filters are going to help production much...


Posted 18 February 2011 8:26 am

Pre-viz will be taken to another level.


Posted 18 February 2011 8:40 am

i love the new, colored icons!!


Posted 18 February 2011 11:05 am

So far, not at all impressed really. This is exactly why I've decided not to renew my subscription. You really need to do better.


Posted 18 February 2011 11:29 am

My Hope is te see new powered tools for rigging, animation that at moment is the real big problem in 3dsmax
Onestly not is very interesting to see some CGshaders that i can see also my mobile phone software!

I hope to see fixed the 1000 bugs in CAT and Character Studio
Fix the 1000 bugs on pivot and reference systems
To see the graphite tool very fast and not to wait time for click on the buttons
Introducing new controllers like Dual Quaternions...and more and more....

Really is funny to read that for someone just like the colored icons!

I'm really disappointed for this SneekPeek!!!


Posted 18 February 2011 12:44 pm

Well, glad to make you laugh, ficolo, my pleasure!
(Serious, i like them

I always wonder how many of us use viewcube or the wheel-thing-stuff of the viewport.
I have never used them, and i guess that kind of stuff have spend (waste) a lot of time and money to be created.
Each of us have a opinion of the priority of development.

Carton, graphic, or cell render must have a certain interest, for somebody right up there...
From my "non-technical guy" point of view, a display below the "crysis" game display is a fail and i guess Max display should be far above.... but it's easy to tell from my desk....

The XBR project is the best thing they have done since Max V1.0, and all the "Iray kind of thing" give us a look of what the future will bring, and we'r so hurry to get it, so.... patience my friends.....


Posted 18 February 2011 1:55 pm

i want:

pivot, usable like in maya.
Tear off of viewport
all menu and option Floating without costraint the focus
eliminate the Modify side Bar: all menu like in maya, more liberty for work and pratice
MIDDLE mouse button like in maya, is the best solution for work and Snapping
Set Driven Key better
wire parameter Rewrite : is too much unstable, 50/100 times connection will lost and the files are deads
use Groups like in maya for make more animation pivot controls and hierarchy useful
all simulation in real time like in maya
caching all, geometry and more, for exporting animation and complete scene for render in other programs, like Renderman for maya


Posted 18 February 2011 1:58 pm

You want Maya!?!?! XDXDXD


Posted 18 February 2011 1:59 pm

i want NOT 3ds max working method... is ridicolous.

Shane Griffith

Posted 18 February 2011 2:01 pm

We're aligned with the priorities outlined in by many of you in this survey.
Its not the only thing we use to guide investment decisions but does confirm we are aligned with what many of you see as most important.

Priority #1 for XBR Graphics is performance, the videos above were intended to show some of the other cool things you could do with the tech. I think some of you are assuming the artistic styles took man years to develop to this point, not true and rather were low hanging fruit based on the rest of the core tech. Besides performance videos are very subjective anyway, I'll leave that for when you can experience it yourself.

More sneak peeks coming soon.


Posted 18 February 2011 2:07 pm

i'm so disappointed that i'm seriously thinking not to renew my subscription and switch to another package...what's all this wishlist, webinars and reasearch for if this is all what we are getting?

Shane Griffith

Posted 18 February 2011 2:11 pm

Freeflow I would say you are making a very poorly informed decision based on a few preview videos.


Posted 18 February 2011 2:31 pm

NIce videos here....

But what you don't say, is with what kind of card you reach this quality and smoothness in viewports.

To my mind, the first thing you should be working on is solving the performance bug in viewport when using high-end quadro card with xeon/sevent64bit/max2011 combo.

Actually, even with Hfix and SP1, 3dsmax 2011 is completely unusable for the users who ahave the "chance" to own those kind of computers.

I don't want to have new version every years, I want STABLE and EFFICIENT version every 2 or 3 years, thats enough.
And I want techs to fixs problems BEFORE working on new releases.
I paid subscription, so I can have new version every year.... And the last good and stable one was 3dsmax 2009.
So I paid for 2010 that was good but not better, and for V2011 that is totaly unusable.
I wonder if it's worth it to renew my subscription, I think not.


Posted 18 February 2011 2:40 pm

i'm just disappointed about max 2010 and max 2011...i attended some webinars and i've been trusting your words therefore i expected something like multithread, better MR integration, plugins loaded only when you need them and a lot of bug fixing...we got ribbons, caddies, max got even heavier and a lot of new bugs, to be honest the viewport perfomance and quality is the last of my problems actually

Shane Griffith

Posted 18 February 2011 2:44 pm

a lot of people were saying that the new Nivida driver has resolved their stuttering problem.

ever since the 2009 release we have shifted the development cycle and no new feature work starts until we meet our legacy defect goals. What gets fixed is based on data from CER, subscription support, customer support, and beta.

more info here:


Posted 18 February 2011 3:25 pm

BTW thanks for that black ribbon, white was very annoying to eyes


Posted 18 February 2011 3:30 pm

That Nitrous viewport is almost as useful as z-depth in quicksilver.

Oh btw,just want to make clear that I find quicksilver totally useless.


Posted 18 February 2011 3:30 pm

That Nitrous viewport is almost as useful as z-depth in quicksilver.

Oh btw,just want to make clear that I find quicksilver totally useless.


Posted 18 February 2011 3:58 pm

that sketchy viewport is really a feature that the community overwhelmingly requested?
I don't see any reason to upgrade my subscription, if Priority #1 for XBR Graphics is performance, then I worried about other XBR features!


Posted 18 February 2011 5:30 pm

hm...these images didnt show some really ass kickn features...did you think that professionals would use some of these features...i dont think so...if you work with vray you could render previz animations in the same quality at very high speed with the full power of render elements!
Everything you show us are very little scenes with basic shading...we work with mio of polygons and hundreds of objects...(btw if you made a setup with so much elements you would notice that the layer manager isnt a very flexible part of max...)
check out these guys...they develop impressive tools for max....

griddeform: from Iker j.

IK/FK Solver : From felix joleans

and finally for the big boys of sketch rendering:
Pencil+ : thats how it should work!


Posted 18 February 2011 6:17 pm

I think it was a bad idea to show the stylized viewport display styles (including toon shading) in multiple videos/images. Some people tend to treat it like it is promoted as the main new feature in max 2012 or at least like something that Autodesk is pushing forward like the main new cool feature.

Edit: looks like gr1f1th has pointed out almost the same thing while I was typing.

Shane Griffith

Posted 18 February 2011 8:38 pm

added another video that has been shown in other threads already, but shows the viewports working with more complex data.

if you dig a bit deeper you'll find other sneak peeks that I've posted but haven't had time to blog about yet. plus there's more on the way. I'm not going to give it all away in one post


Posted 18 February 2011 9:29 pm

hmm.... think I likey.... going to assume these are for Quadros only and not Geforce cards tho? or actually at least "certified" for Quadros. Hopefully works fine for Geforce cards and maybe a few in parallel for increased viewport (and rendering) performance.

Shane Griffith

Posted 18 February 2011 9:46 pm

the last vid I know was done on a quadro 3800 and it's a bit older of a build. things have improved quite a bit since then.

The nitrous architecture is meant to scale on all types of hardware. Its a fundamental change in how the Max scene graph interfaces with the viewport so graphics card type doesn't necessarily play a role any more than it used to. the main thing you need is lots of graphics memory. 1GB is really the min I would recommend and this is what currently puts many into a quadro line card. but new cards with more and more memory are coming to market every month now so this barrier is likely to dissolve.


Posted 18 February 2011 9:46 pm

really like the more colorful and dimensional icons like in the maya revamp. thanks Shane for all the previews!


Posted 18 February 2011 9:57 pm

"ly like the more colorful and dimensional icons"

I like that they are not grey for sure! But they are still ugly and the colors are like default paint colors. I'm not sure who is the designer over there but it is just not nice to look at. I do hope that it is just place holder for a more consistent color scheme that does not look like windows 98.

mortas may

Posted 18 February 2011 11:00 pm

When Ken said the old MAX viewports where gone he wasn't messing about, i love the toon shading and i will be showing it to my boss when he get back from hoilday, its just the thing we need right now.. mixing 2d animation with 3d toon props in this way will change everything.. ( getting rid of C4D) by the way is the toon shader configurable? e.g adjusting line weights and such??

patrick 85

Posted 19 February 2011 1:24 pm

We don t need a cartoon viewport! We need a stability and bug fix, character animation tools, and more useful interface. Caddy and ribbon are useless


Posted 19 February 2011 6:21 pm

I'm curious, how do many of you expect to see them show bug fixes in sneak-peek videos??


Posted 20 February 2011 10:02 am

This looks cool. Unfortunately my entire animation team is forcing us to drop 3dsMax because it is 'unusable'.

You open curve editor and lose 30% of your framerate, turn on the framerate counter, lose another 30%, open material editor, another 30%. Have rig elements that are wireframe transparent, another 30%.

The guys _can not_ animate. They have to stop and make a preview every 5 seconds.

Think about how difficult it would be to change the primary DCC app of a studio with 650 heads who have been using it 10 years, and you will understand how bad the core problems are and why people seem annoyed that they are not being addressed.


Posted 20 February 2011 1:28 pm

Pangloss talks about the main problem...Dope Sheet (sometimes nearly unusable), Curve Editor and Mat Editor making Animation in some cases very frustrating...How the Hell would you use the Sketchy Style in Production??? I dont think that you could customize the look like in "Pencil +" and render out the complete image in elements (outline, Fillcolors, Shadows, Overlays....and so on) It could be cool for on Job, but after that if your clients wants another better advanced look...what then...buying Pencil+ ?!
Why didnt you show us a scene with 2-3 CAD-cars or anything else with hardware shading on a 1000$ PC that would be research for one year...
If you look at Maya they could use HDR images in Viewport (vray domelight with HDR in Viewport....) btw. is the nitrous Viewport working with 3rd Party plugins like VRay or FinalRender to?


Posted 20 February 2011 7:25 pm

YiannisK: You forgot to add 2000 dollar quadro card to your 1000 dollar rig. Since Autodesk does not plan to support gaming cards. Gaming cards with 3ds Max perform really poorly compared to other apps, and even some certificated cards are having problems (especially with Windows Aero on).

And now, mainly, for the funny part you said. Performance in 3ds Max goes rapidly down with the amount of objects in the scene. If you got one mesh, that has 2 millions of polygons, your scene runs at hundreds of FPS. Tf you got thousand of objects 200 poly each, your performance drops to 1-5FPS.

This combined with GPU crippling system in 3ds max (read a thread "Viewport performance is a joke" - basically sometimes in 3ds max you accidentaly do something, that will make your scene perform 1000% better for a short while, showing you that hardware is capable of 10x better speed, but something in 3ds max is slowing it down) makes it really frustrating to work in 3ds max. No matter what GPU you have, 3ds Max always finds a way to cripple it. My new GTX460 performs same, or maybe even slightly worse than my 8800GTX... irony, isnt it?

Posted 20 February 2011 10:53 pm

Recon442: You will find out that the performance of this new technology relies on the amount of cores and virtual memory your card has, not whether it is a gaming or workstation card.


Posted 21 February 2011 10:08 am That sounds just beautiful, and i would love it to be that way. But knowing Autodesk for many years already, i am 95% positive, that they will include some bug/feature with it, that will cause me a lot of frustration and headaches every single day i go to work and use 3ds max. Right now i am at the level, where i am no more hoping that next version of 3ds max will be better. I only hope that the next version will not be more frustrating than the current one :-/

Shane Griffith

Posted 21 February 2011 1:38 pm

Sorry Recon442 I know how much you would like that to be true but the viewport tech is not hw manufacture or make specific.

Jonathan de Blok

Posted 21 February 2011 2:49 pm

Amazing, the F1 car looks great! The sketch looks are a nice for storyboard previews I think, having a sketch-look for previews is better then an lowquality render, clients will repond better to it because they'll understand it's a scetch.. not an ugly render.

The only thing that scares me is that 10 seconds/frame for z-depth is advertises as a good thing? I think that should come @ near zero times since the the calculations are really easy.

I hope QS can do the beauty pass, depth buffer and other render elements in one go to an EXR format aswell. That will fit better in modern pipelines.


Posted 21 February 2011 3:52 pm

Yeah Shane, i know... current viewport system in 3ds max (2011 and before) does not discriminate any card manufacturer or architecture... it treats them all the same... it runs crappy on every one of them )

Shane Griffith

Posted 21 February 2011 4:03 pm

Send us hw config and repro steps.


Posted 21 February 2011 4:50 pm

I'm a Maya and XSI guy, and I have to say viewport advances like this are one aspect of 3Dmax which is hands-down superior. I particularly like that you recognise and support NPR/stylized looks as well as photorealism. Good job, guys!


Posted 21 February 2011 5:04 pm

YiannisK: How i know it? Simply... I asked Ken on a webinar, if Autodesk plans to support gaming cards. He said there is a big amount of variants of card boards in consumer segment making it hard to optimize software for every of them, and that they want to focus on proven certified solutions. (Or something like that) Which i basically translated as NO.

I am not talking about what a future release of 3ds max will be like. I just said that from experience of past releases, i am quite pessimistic about future ones.

And if you are really saying that you consider 2011 to be faster release than the previous ones, then you have no idea what you are talking about. I admit its more stable, but its probably the slowest and least responsive release in history of 3ds max.

Shane Griffith

Posted 21 February 2011 6:30 pm

Recon we support and qualify certain consumer level cards. See our qualification page for more detail.

Shane Griffith

Posted 21 February 2011 6:42 pm

Here's the link page 12 of the 2011 doc


Posted 21 February 2011 7:08 pm

Thank you for your interest in this case. I have already read that list long time ago, unfortunatelly it ends somewhere at 2xx line of Nvidia cards. 4xx and 5xx line is not listed. My old 8800GTX ran quite fine, but my new GTX460 feels like a curse due to the bug that causes UI responsivity decrease after about an hour of consistent work, then i have to save the scene, close 3ds max and restart it to get UI speed back (on fresh start for example hitting F10 brings up render settings instantly and when selecting poly object, command panel refreshes instantly - after about an hour, delay between hitting F10 and render settings window appearing is up to 8 seconds and it takes 2 seconds to refresh command panel when you select an object).

Anyways, i think that main viewport problem causing slowdown when scene contains a lot of objects is not specific for certain cards. That is issue almost everyone experiences. If you got a huge scene with hundreds of objects, and then you attach them all to a single mesh, performance shoots up sometimes even by thousands of percent. I have heard autodesk employees say it is hard to optimize viewport for such a wide range of GPUs or that its fault of people who make drivers. But how is it possible that for example viewport technology in softimage does not experience these problems ?

I know next release of max is all about viewport, and i am really happy about that. But after all those years of this kind of problems, my enthusiasm for new releases has gone cold.

Jonathan de Blok

Posted 22 February 2011 11:25 am

'not supperted' != 'does not work'

I assume 3dsmax doesn't talk to a GPU directly but uses the directX-api for viewport rendering.. so in theory if your card/drivers support the used directX functions you're good to go, if you have enough memory.

A gaming company doesn't require certain card models, they support a certain openGL or DirectX version, sometimes a minimum drivers version as well, and their 3d is way more advanced then what goes in a pre max2012 viewport.

So I wouldn't worry to much about the supported card list, in the last 10 years I have never had a supported card I think. sure sometimes it needed a little tweaking in the settings to get it to work properly but it always worked out.


Posted 22 February 2011 11:33 am

Shane Griffith, I only use the simple ambient occlusion hardware shading mode, will I see optimalisations or additions there? I realy like what inventor is capable with its viewport, is this the same tech that is getting implemented in 3ds max?


Posted 23 February 2011 5:52 am

San Francisco Scene File Stat

which windows version do you use

x64 or x32, windows XP or Vista, or se7en


Posted 23 February 2011 6:18 am

Hope the new 2012 uvunwrapping is as easy as this! shoot... under $20!

what i can't figure out, is why hasn't it been this easy and straightforward before?

Gryp Master

Posted 24 February 2011 4:57 am

Hey look what good it would be an update for this cameraMaping


Posted 26 February 2011 5:08 pm

in old days max is very responsive even with old graphic card but now everything goes higher to get a little speed ? I wonder if thats technology or politic ?


Posted 2 March 2011 11:50 am

I want to congratulate to all the research and development departments of 3dsmax with version 12, because thanks to your efforts and the great program XBR, Autodesk will sell thousands of copies more of Autodesk Maya...


Posted 2 March 2011 11:50 am

I want to congratulate to all the research and development departments of 3dsmax with version 12, because thanks to your efforts and the great program XBR, Autodesk will sell thousands of copies more of Autodesk Maya...


Posted 5 March 2011 9:17 am

the Marcoux's presentation was satisfying, (buggy, but good) but Maya guys are proposing motion blur on viewport.
so.. i guess we'll have to wait 2013 to have it on nitrous ?

Shane Griffith

Posted 3 October 2011 8:01 am

thanks for the reminder Kristoffer, we usually try to do an XBR update around the November/December time-frame. I hope to have some pretty exciting news to share.

Kristoffer Helander

Posted 3 October 2011 8:35 am

Excellent, I can't wait!

By the way, Zap Andersson is an awesome tutor, you should have him make video tutorials for mental ray and iray, because it can be very tricky to get your head around those things!

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