New! MAXtoA Version 0.9.608

By - - 3ds Max
6 mins

Released on January 19th, 2017, is our latest release of MAXtoA, version 0.9.608. This release includes all the features, improvements, and fixes of Arnold version

Changes this Release:

• Updated Arnold core to See the Release Notes here.
• New Arnold Properties modifier
• New Shaders
• Skydome Portal option
• Arnold Scene Source Export.
• Kick.exe now included.
• Miscellaneous plugin improvements and fixes.

The MAXtoA Beta Program

As we push towards our MAXtoA 1.0 release, we need beta testers more than ever to help push the plugin to its limits. If you are interested in helping test and get an early taste of what is to come, email for beta access.

Free Preview of Cloud Rendering with MAXtoA

Another great benefit for our early-adopters is our free "Render Pilot" program. This fast and simple cloud rendering service allows you to render your MAXtoA projects watermark-free. Visit the Render Pilot page for more information and the free plugin. We also supports ART and Scanline.

Using MAXtoA

The best way to get started using MAXtoA is to take a scene set-up for another renderer, such as mental ray/Iray, ART, or Scanline, and use the Scene Converter to convert the materials to our newer Physical Material, to convert the Daylight System into a Sun Positioner with Physical Sky and Physical Camera Exposure, and to convert legacy cameras into the newer Physical camera. The ultimate goal is that these newer features will be universal across most renderers.

With the Scene Converter, you get a “Preset” for ART that includes all of the conversions listed above and more. You can change the target renderer in the Edit tab to Arnold, or after conversion simply change to Arnold. This video gives a great introduction to this powerful tool:

With these scene options, you should be able to switch between several different renderers without trouble. In the last release of MAXtoA we added support for Photometric lights, so many scenes render with just a quick Scene Converter process or a change of renderer target.

The Arnold Properties Modifier

The biggest new feature in this release is the new Arnold Properties modifier. With an object selected in your scene, the new modifier will show up in the Modifier tab's drop-down list, and can be added anywhere in the stack:

Each roll-down group (General Properties, Displacement, etc.) has one or more Enable checkboxes, as you see below. This allows you to override the defaults on just the parts you want to control.

If multiple Arnold Properties modifiers are on the stack, the one at the top wins (as with any modifier).

If you collapse the stack the modifier will remain. Since, unlike the classic object properties, the options are not properties of the object itself, the modifier must be persistent.

One of the big reasons we presented this as a modifier, rather than expanding the classic Object Properties, is that the modifier allows you to better control the multitude of Arnold options, and you can copy/paste the modifier to other objects easily, and even reference them. If you don't render in Arnold, you won't have extra options on your objects you don't desire, and non-Arnold renderers will simply ignore the modifier unless they specifically support it.

See this page in the MAXtoA documentation for specifics on what the modifier options do.

The image below shows the General Properties section, which has the most Enable options:

If the check box for a group label (Visibility, Shadows, General) is not On (the default), then that group is completely disabled; the image above shows all the groups enabled.

It is important to note that this overrides whatever the object would have by default, and does not represent the current state of the object. For the Opaque flag, in particular, this can be important if you have a transparent object. It will have it's Opaque flag off and enabling this group will likely default to the opposite of what you want in this case.

New Shaders

With Arnold we got a few new shaders: thin_film, flakes, and complex_ior


Complex IOR

Thanks to Lee Griggs for the sample images above, and check out the online help for details on using these shaders!

Skydome Portal Option

The team at Solid Angle are working hard to give you the options you need to best render complex scenes. The new version of Arnold also brings us a new Skydome "Portal" option:

The Portal Mode option controls how the Skydome light interacts with Quad lights in Portal mode:

  • Off: Turns off portals
  • Interior Only: Blocks any light outside of the portal
  • Interior/Exterior: Light outside of portals is allowed through portals.

Arnold Scene Source Export and Archive

You can now Export an Arnold Scene Source file through the normal export options - simply choose the option and define your file name. You'll then get a dialog box with export options:

Also, in the Arnold render settings, is a new Archive tab and options for creating an Arnold Scene Source file instead of producing a rendering:

When enabled, it is important to realize that only the Arnold Scene Source file will be created, and no rendering.

Also, as shown in the UI, if you are using any legacy 3ds Max maps then those are not usable in other applications and are not exported to the file. Use Arnold features if you wish to export your scene for use as a Procedural object in MAXtoA or other plugins.


Now that we’ve got Arnold Scene Source export working great, “Kick” – Arnold’s offline rendering utility – is now provided in the 3ds Max 2017 root folder. See This Page for more details on using Kick.

And a lot behind the scenes…

There are a number of small changes, UI shifts, and development behind the scenes to make this a much more stable and feature-rich release.
You need to set the Warning Level to “Info” in order for the rendering progress bar to update during production rendering.

What’s Next?

Although I can’t comment on specifics, there is a lot going on at both Solid Angle and Autodesk around the features of Arnold and the MAXtoA plugin. We are pushing hard towards our MAXtoA 1.0 release soon, and supporting all the new things coming down the line for Arnold. If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out Marcos Fajardo’s SIGGRAPH talk last summer and get a glimpse of the future of Arnold.

Published In
  • 3ds Max
  • Rendering
  • Film & VFX
  • Games
  • Design Visualization
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