3ds Max 2020.1 and Public Roadmap

By - - 3ds Max
14 mins
Last modification: 12 Jun, 2019

3ds Max 2020.1 Release
Autodesk 3ds Max 2020.1 is focused on enhancing your workflow through a few new modernized tools.

You can now easily customize, merge, and visualize shortcuts keys with a new hotkey system and enhance your workspace experience by extending your viewports across various monitors.

Plus, building upon the feedback we received on the 2020 chamfer modifier updates, we have polished and provided an additional update to bring you a more predictable modeling tool.


Check the What’s New page to see what we’ve been up to since 3ds Max 2016!
Release Notes for 3ds Max 2020.1.

Beyond 2020.1 – 3ds Max Public Roadmap

The Autodesk® 3ds Max® product team is excited to post an update to our public roadmap. We first posted a public roadmap when we release 3ds Max 2020 and we want to continue updating you over time as things evolve. The goal is to further engage with the 3ds Max community and to share high level direction for the product. The team has been busy pushing as much value as possible to you and we want to provide some insights on what we are working on for the future as there is a lot that we believe you will also be excited to hear about.

Now, some ground rules before we go any further:

This roadmap may make statements regarding future events and development efforts for our products and services. These statements reflect our current expectations based on what we know today. Our plans are not intended to be a promise or guarantee of future delivery of products, services or features and purchasing decisions should not be made based upon these statements. We do not assume any responsibility to update this roadmap to reflect events that occur or circumstances that exist after the publish date of this roadmap.

New Ways of Delivering Value
We think it's worth sharing that we've updated the way we build 3ds Max and how we deliver you value.

Delivering smaller chunks at a time
We develop capabilities and features in a truly iterative way, approaching the big problems first to de-risk the unknowns upfront and deliver the quality and functionality you expect.

Turning around feedback more frequently
We can iterate on feedback we get from our user base more rapidly to quickly adjust the course.

Working hand in hand with 3rd party developers
We work closely with 3rd party plugin developers to make sure the plugins you depend on are ready and available for each release.

Why is this important?

These changes allow us to deliver a higher quality product more rapidly. Since we have shifted to this model, our quality indicators are showing significant positive trends. Our goal is to provide the highest quality tools with each release, so you can upgrade at any time, secure in your expectation of feature richness and product stability.

Looking at the last 2 years, here is a high-level view of what this model has allowed us to deliver:

For a complete list of capabilities shipped in the past, see What's New in 3ds Max

The 3ds Max product team uses three main themes to categorize our efforts. The themes might change over time, but they reflect our vision for the products we offer. We organize our development around these three themes, so we’ve structured this public roadmap around them to help communicate the story:


The roadmap below is structured by product theme to help you see more of a continuous story per main areas. For each theme, you will see a handful of tracks for which we show value that was shipped in the recent past as well as things we are considering for the future. 

The list of capabilities presented below is certainly not exhaustive. We have released more than what is showed, and we are working on more than what you will see here. The intent is to give
you a good sense of our areas of focus and direction.

Create: Modernized procedural tools
3ds Max simple and procedural tools are critical for artists, as is maintaining full control over the details. We have recently released numerous spline-based improvements, new modifiers and Boolean tools to modernize the spline-based modelling experience. We then moved to review 3D modifiers to modernize 3D procedural based modelling tools.


Environment Layout: 3ds Max is often used to layout small to large environments but lacks dedicated tools for this workflow. We are exploring building procedural environment layout capabilities based on Bifröst to provide out of the box workflows (Bifrost is our procedural engine used in 3ds Max and Maya).

3D Booleans: To provide a modernized experience for 3D Boolean workflows, the team has worked on making complex volume intersection management simple in chamfering. Additionally, the team is looking at converging the different Boolean workflows to streamline the experience similarly to the work done with Shape Booleans.

Create: Enhance core tools and performance
The overall 3ds Max user experience is critical to enabling artists to focus on the creative process. As such, we are constantly reviewing existing workflows, trying to speed up manual steps, fix unexpected behaviors, and better match evolving experience expectations.


Track View Revamp: animators need to view and manipulate the keyframes in an efficient way to be productive. The current Track View dialog is old UI technology, and in order to both improve animator’s efficiency and continue the modernization of the 3ds Max UI, we are evaluating redoing this tool.

Create: Consolidate the rendering experience
Over the years, the 3ds Max team has introduced several workflows for rendering to satisfy the numerous rendering integrations and the growing community of 3rd party renderers. We are now looking at consolidating that experience based on modern best practices to facilitate the overall rendering setup and maintenance while staying renderer agnostic.


Arnold GPU: we are working hard at making Arnold able to leverage the GPU power when available. For 3ds Max, it would mean faster rendering time, either as a final frame or in the viewport through Active Shade, while allowing to get the very same results on a CPU render farm without having to tweak the content.

Arnold as the default renderer: we are reviewing our rendering settings and experience so that Arnold is always ready to be used in product, right at your fingertips when you need it. We are also reviewing our default settings and parameters to align them to modern standards.

Create: Accelerate time to preview
Previewing results, whether for real-time or rendering, is increasingly important as content creation teams are continually looking for faster iteration time so they may deliver the highest quality work in the shortest amount of time. The 3ds Max team wants to let you experience the best preview of the final result possible before publishing.



Viewport quality settings: The 3ds Max viewport is extremely capable, but has become complicated to configure. The team is looking at making viewport quality configuration the simplest experience possible, especially when targeting industry standards such as PBR preview.

Physical Material as the default: There are many different material types available in 3ds Max, and as we are exploring the convergence of similar material standards in the industry, we are looking at standardizing our many workflows on the Physical Material to provide better support for the viewport and any renderer.

Collaborate: Simplify character animation workflows
3ds Max has several independent rig systems: Biped, CAT, Populate, and custom rigs. As each has different strengths, you might have to move animation data across those rigs to benefit from a different animation toolset, or move animation data in and out of 3ds Max with other animation packages. We are working on lowering the interoperability barrier to provide easier workflows and greater flexibility.

Character rig interop and retargeting:
With many different rig systems, 3ds Max provides solid foundations for animation but since it is not possible to step out of those rigs without baking the animations, it is difficult to collaborate with animators in other software or use mocap data easily. The product team is experimenting with live retargeting capabilities with HumanIK, to provide simpler ways to get animation data in and out of 3ds Max without baking animations to keyframes.

Populate customization: By leveraging our research in retargeting, 3ds Max would become capable of retargeting populate animations to any rig, allowing to drive any character from populate, while making those characters able to interact in real-time with dynamic environments, walk on slopes or climb up and down stairs.

Collaborate: Embrace open standards
The 3ds Max team thinks that pipeline managers should have the freedom to use the right software at any step, so, we believe that Open Standards are essential: they create more opportunities to tailor the pipeline to each user’s need without locking them to a specific solution or recipe. We are considering all opportunities to support Open Standards as the industry's ever-increasing expectations for large scale content creation and artist collaboration grow.


USD: The open Universal Scene Description standard promises significant improvements to collaboration over large content creation pipelines, and for AR use cases. Across different industries, 3ds Max users are experimenting with USD, and the team is experimenting with various workflows leveraging a native USD integration.

MaterialX: Material interoperability is a significant bottleneck in constantly evolving content creation pipelines because of the pressure for increasingly fast iterations to preview and review content. We consider the open MaterialX standard a strong option for simplifying interop and preview of materials in a complex pipeline involving multiple content creation solutions.

Collaborate: Efficiently bring data into 3ds Max
Efficiently importing various formats in 3ds Max has great value for everyone. We constantly work on adding support for new formats and improving our existing import processes to make bringing data into 3ds Max as easy as possible.


Sketchup import: The 3ds Max Sketchup importer is becoming older and fails to properly support newer versions. The product team considers updating our libraries to make that import process more streamlined, and easier to use.

We will most likely add to this list in a future update

Collaborate: Partner for real-time workflows
Publishing content for real-time experiences is critical to game workflows, but also for the growing demand in real-time web and AR use cases. Autodesk has partnered with game engine providers to simplify this process and we are looking forward to accelerating the iteration process when real-time engines are involved.


Unity Partnership: After collaborating on the FBXExporter for Unity and in the context of a larger collaboration between Autodesk and Unity, our teams are discussing further improvements to data interop to improve material transport, in addition to other opportunities. More details will come on this topic in the future.


Automate: Free time for creative work
Automating mundane and repetitive tasks for artists is one of our goals. One key area to improve relates to repurposing assets, such as creating LODs, but more generally, it could be anything involving going from a specific asset and recreating it to match the publishing constraints. To achieve this, we wish to improve the toolset in three areas: create new topologies as fast as possible, layout UVs without effort, and easy bake data and textures easily from source assets to targets.

Baking to Texture: The Render to Texture tool in 3ds Max requires an update. To better support the creation of LODs and the repurposing assets in general, we are redesigning the baking tool in 3ds Max from the ground up. While leveraging Arnold for the baking process, we will continue supporting 3rd party renderers, making the entire experience more robust and efficient.

Automated retopology: We’re experimenting with integrating Reform in 3ds Max to provide fully automated retopology capabilities. We are also looking at semi-automated retopology capabilities using artist-driven constraints, such as important edges for UV seams or animation purposes. Combined with the new baking capabilities, we hope to use these tools to improve support for LOD creation and facilitate asset repurposing.

Automate: Portable simulation solvers
Following ideas submitted by 3ds Max users, the team has integrated a fluid solver based on the Bifröst technology in the product. This work is being done in collaboration with other Autodesk product teams to maximize our engineering efficiency while rolling out the capabilities in a way that fits the experience expected by 3ds Max users.


Fire and smoke
: after having delivered a built-in Fluid simulation system based on Bifröst and as the Bifröst technology keeps evolving, we are looking at rolling in more simulation tools in 3ds Max.

We will most likely add to this list in a future update.

Automate: Simplify development experience
The 3ds Max community of third-party developers is important to the success of 3ds Max. Additionally, many 3ds Max users extend and customize 3ds Max to achieve very specific needs. The product team is working at enhancing the developer experience over time, while providing up to date integrations for the different programming languages supported. To enhance the experience, the team also expects to work on the documentation, simplify the learning curve,
clarify the SDK, tools and samples. Our efforts are focused on C++ and Python, leveraging Qt for all UI related integrations


Python 3: Python 2 may soon be not officially supported; therefore, it is important to provide a Python 3 integration to enable you, as 3ds Max users and pipeline managers, to progressively migrate your tools and automations. We anticipate supporting both Python 2 and 3 for a certain time to permit a smooth transition of the different pipelines. At the same time, the 3ds Max team is considering improving support of Python to make the scripting experience more natural and easier to configure with external IDE or extend with third-party Python modules.

SDK consolidation: Over the years, 3ds Max received many SDK additions to expand the possibilities for third-party integration. However, it also became increasingly complex for you to choose the right programming language and for the 3ds Max team to support them all properly. The product team is reviewing the different SDKs being provided and is considering consolidating, or possibly reducing, the offering to focus on the highest quality level for our main SDK. Additionally, the team expects to help developers make better development choices by providing better learning content and support.

Automate: Scale automation
More and more, 3ds Max is used for automations. The product team has delivered many improvements in recent years to provide the best automation experience, with a true headless mode, strengthening security, and create bridges with cloud platforms. We expect this to benefit all users with in-product experiences, but also to enable new possibilities of using 3ds Max as a backend service powering users and third-party applications and services.


Autodesk ForgeTM Design Automation: The demand for building automation with 3ds Max is increasing. As such, the product team has delivered important improvements to the automation experience and experimented with connecting 3ds Max to the Autodesk cloud platform. Recently, we added beta support for 3ds Max in Forge. Forge is the Autodesk developer program giving access to our cloud infrastructure, making 3ds Max accessible through a REST API called Design Automation. This allows anyone with a Forge developer key to leverage 3ds Max automation for any workflows. The product team is planning to leverage this infrastructure to provide 3ds Max desktop users with an easier way to run batch automations.

Get Involved!
We want to connect with you! Here are a few ways you can reach out:

  • Comment directly here on this post
  • Post on the 3ds Max public forums where you can get support and answers to your questions from the community, our Autodesk support team, and the 3ds Max product team.
  • Suggest an idea on the 3ds Max idea site about what you’d like to see implemented in the product. You can also vote on existing ideas proposed by the community.
  • Join the 3ds Max beta where you can engage with the product team directly and provide invaluable feedback. This engagement level requires a bit more commitment but provides high-touch and direct contact with us.

We hope you find this information useful, looking forward to hearing from you!

The 3ds Max product team

Consult the 3ds Max 2020.1 Release Notes for further information.


























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Published In
  • 3ds Max
  • 3ds Max
  • Film & VFX
  • Games
  • Design Visualization
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| 5 months ago
@Nicholas Fonta. ok, thanks...
| 5 months ago
@Tuchukwu. I assume you are referring to the new Indie pilot that we started 2 weeks ago. If so, let me shed some light on the topic. We just launched a pilot to test the value, the price point and the details of this offering. Based on the result of the pilot, we would (or not) move forward with an official offering, that could be made available more broadly. So the pilot offering is currently just available in some geos, but this does not mean that the same would apply to an official offering.
| 5 months ago
since you have just put it this way, i'm sorry i may have misunderstood you from your earlier comment. This is great news then...please, i'd also like to humbly request you make the new rental arrangements for max available in Africa. Nigeria specifically. We have a growing industry there. A lot of us have been able to learn so much from the student package to be able to produce.
| 5 months ago
@Tochukwu. I am not sure I understand your response. To be clear: we are pushing on both the procedural modeling AND the FX sides with both the Maya and 3ds Max teams with plans to integrate both capabilities in both products. I can also assure you that many users see value in both capabilities.
| 5 months ago
@Nicholas Fonta. a lot of people wont be happy about this though. all weve asked so far, has been fx and character animation tools.
| 6 months ago
Absolutely! On the 3ds Max beta right now, we have integrated Bifrost to develop procedural modeling while the Maya has been pushing for FX. So, we have an instance modifier that is based on Bifrost allowing millions of instances to be super efficient memory and CPU wise, and this is all procedural and therefore, non-destructive.
| 6 months ago
The plan is to push on both fronts simultaneously (procedural modeling on the 3ds Max side and FX on the Maya side) and then leverage the work on both sides. You can therefore imagine that in the future, you could build these procedural recipes in one dcc and bring them over to the other without having to bake anything and rather being able to keep editing things procedurally.
| 6 months ago
hi, @Nicolas Fonta. now we've seen bifrost in maya, hope we are getting the same technology in max, as somewhat implied here.
| 6 months ago
@Hany. Yes. I agree that this is annoying, and we are looking into this specific problem. Thanks for bringing it up! Nic
| 7 months ago
can you please fix the transform spinners wrap drag jump problem 1st and then add stuff its a very freaking major problem and its there since 2018 we need update please https://forums.autodesk.com/t5/3ds-max-forum/cursor-jumps-on-screen-wrap-at-transform-spinners/td-p/7696955 can't believe your even released 3dsmax 2020 while this problem still there
Edited by Ph50UQA3 7 months ago
| 7 months ago
@Jan: we unfortunately don’t reveal this sort of information. What I can tell you though, is that the 3ds Max team grew bigger in the last 2 years. Cheers, Nic
| 7 months ago
@Tochukwu: yeah. I understand. We have more in the pipe than what you see on the public roadmap since this is just a subset. At the same time, we can’t do everything of course. In any case, animating things and adding life to a scene is an important part of our value proposition, so we hear you. Thanks!
| 7 months ago
Hi, How big is the developer team for 3ds max?
| 7 months ago
@nicholas. once again, let me reiterate how much impressed I am at the pace of development recently. Most of us are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's just that I feel if we get updated in areas of animation, or at least come to pace with the trends, max users would become extremely confident.
| 7 months ago
@nicholas, I know... But I meant dedicated tools. More like xgen, muscle systems or even something as basic as pose space deformers and smart collisions.
| 7 months ago
Hi @Tochukwu Nwankwere, We hear you! We are considering more detailed animation capabilities for the future. Also, in the section called “Collaborate: Simplify character animation workflows”, we have 2 items listed that are directly related to animation. There is also the topic of Track View revamp that you highlighted yourself. This public roadmap is not going into that much level of details, but what you see here are important steps to strengthen our core animation toolset.
| 7 months ago
@Nicholas, when are we getting anything on character animation, please?
| 7 months ago
We finally get hotkeys and viewport we can tear off? I think you spelled wrong the date, that's the roadmap for 2000 not 2020. I have even more features on lame apps on my mobile phone. Max is sad day, where did developers go?
| 7 months ago
Hi @Sbarcea. We know UI and Qt is an important topic and we hear you and the other users highlighting this. That is why it is on our roadmap. This is a very significant effort for us with all the capability we have accumulated over the years. 3ds Max is 28 years old and there is a lot to unify there, which means it requires a thoughtful and strategic approach. Thank you for your feedback, Nic.
| 7 months ago
Great news so far. I love that efforts are being made to redesign the track view for animators. That being said, can we have a unified curve editor?. Something like what we see in Adobe aftereffects, for instance. Also, we need more animation tools. This can't be said any louder. We need deformers like can be seen in Maya. Something as simple as a pose space deformer would be highly celebrated in the community. While this would be a welcome Improvement, it should also come along with other capabilities like smart collisions and so on. A new muscle system used to be top of the list, but I guess a lot of people may have either lost hope in it being realized, or they have moved to other softwares... I love what has been done with preview animation, viewport speeds, and chamfer modifier. Also, like I said on the other roadmap blog, preview animation still gives artifacts even with the quality set to the highest, when skylights are used in the viewport.
Edited by TIx2ckjj 7 months ago
| 7 months ago
I see the ongoing QT transition on your roadmaps but the new UI style revamp you started a couple of years ago always remain incomplete. You need to standardize/ unify the UI style one more time. Max is still a mix of different styles of icons, menus, bars, Windows etc check this large but no exhaustive request https://forums.autodesk.com/t5/3ds-max-ideas/standardize-unify-the-user-interface-one-more-time/idc-p/8572166#M5893 Seriously, have you guys checked out Blender 2.80b ?? I dare to say that's among, or the most consistent,amazingly clean, performant, snappy interface of any 3d application I've ever seen! - everyhting is consistent (icons, panels, menus etc ) - everything scales smoothly, fonts, icons (vector graphics I guess) - incredibly fast - no glitches, no artifacts - nice tabbed workspaces - re-ordered icons in a meaningful manner - everything's definable and customizable ... just at a first glimpse. They really got their stuff together after all..
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