File Management in 3ds Max - Cleaning up Imported Data

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  • Design Visualization
  • 2016
  • Importing and Exporting
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
13 min

File Management in 3ds Max - Cleaning up Imported Data

In this tutorial, you learn to clean up data imported or linked from other 3D applications. This includes organizing inbound geometry by combining elements that go together by using Layers or Selection Sets. You also pay attention and correct any material and mapping problems, as well as adjust lighting specifications and other camera parameters and POVs.


  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2016
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2016 or higher.


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When you link or import data into 3ds Max, you need to do some cleanup work to be able to manage your project better.

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If you haven't done so already, you may want to start with the tutorial named Linking to Revit before starting this one.

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After you've linked a revit model to 3ds Max, it is inevitable that some problems will occur.

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These can include sorting out geometry, material & mapping inaccuracies, as well as light and camera setups.

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Start or reset 3ds Max.

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You will follow some of the same workflows shown in the Linking to Revit tutorial, albeit with fewer details.

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Set the Workspace to Design Standard

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In the Get Started tab, access the Units Setup.

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If the Display Units are set to Generic, switch them to US Standards to match the units used in the Revit model you're about to link.

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Click OK to dismiss the dialog.

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Use the Link Revit File option to link the model named monastery.rvt you downloaded for this tutorial.

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A link to download this file is provided in the description section of this movie.

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Select either view to import, in fact, all Revit views will be converted to 3ds Max cameras.

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In the Manage Links dialog, choose the Combine by Revit Family Type option, and then click Attach this file.

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When prompted to use Exposure Control, answer Yes to confirm and exit the dialog.

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Once the scene is displayed, you can dismiss the Manage Links dialog, you'll come back to it later.

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With the cursor hovering over the perspective view, press Alt+W to maximize that view.

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Adjust the view to see the model better.

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By default, any materials or maps defined in the source project are not automatically displayed.

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You can fix that using the Design ribbon.

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Looking at the scene objects listed in Scene Explorer, some names make sense such as Church Walls,

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or Monastery walls,

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other objects are more difficult to make out and only show dimension specs, such as 7'x3' or 8'x6'

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These represent doors and windows, or at least the iron work in the windows, and the names are derived from their Revit Family Type names.

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As part of the Cleanup process, you may consider combining objects together, based on criteria that you define.

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There are various ways of combining them, but you would most likely use selection sets or layers.

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Selection sets are always easy to create and use. To create a selection set, you select objects that belong together such as all floors,

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and then you type a Selection Set name in the drop-down menu on the main toolbar and press Enter.

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From that point on, the selection of multiple objects is made easier via the drop-down list, which can be accessed on the main toolbar,

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but also from within Scene Explorer.

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Having a Selection Set makes it easy to select and manipulate multiple objects, for example to hide them from view.

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Layers can also be used. They require a bit more work than selection sets, but they offer more functionality.

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If you are already using the Design Standard workspace, you can access layers from the main toolbar.

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However, you also have direct access using Scene Explorer.

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By default, a scene is sorted hierarchically but it can also be sorted by layers.

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In the case of a Revit model, all objects are hierarchically linked to a top parent helper.

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However, you can also sort objects by Layer.

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Here you can create empty layers and give them names such as Floors,

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or Doors.

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You can then select scene objects and drag them into their target layers.

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Again, this is a convenient way of combining objects together, and it's certainly a practical way of controlling their visibility.

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Hierarchically, all scene objects are still linked to the same parent,

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but layers offer a practical way to categorize them.

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Aside from sorting objects, you have to look for other issues such as materials and mapping.

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Problems may arise when going from one 3D application to another, or simply when you decide to make a color or map change.

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In this case, the iron bars inside the window openings seem to be too bright.

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A darker gray color would be more appropriate for the period.

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Use the Material Editor to sample the material from the iron bars.

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Sure enough, the material name says Black Metal but the associated color is off white.

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Double-click the material to see its properties; it says it is an Autodesk Generic material which is directly translated from Revit.

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Simply change its color to a dark gray to fit the scene better.

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More importantly, there may be mapping issues at hand. Take a look at the Spanish tiled roofs.

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The mapping looks fine for the most part, except for the circular areas where the tiles are flowing in the wrong directions.

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You can try and remap these surfaces using elaborate UV unwrapping techniques, or let the Map Scalar modifier do the work for you.

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Set the Scale to 1" to get the tile size right.

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Lighting is another area you need to consider when importing or linking data from other applications.

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Fortunately, when it comes to linking Revit files, lighting works rather well and data is transferred properly.

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Photometric light specs are the same between the two applications and so are the parameters of the Daylight System.

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Mind you, depending how you set up the Daylight System in Revit, controls may be currently working in Manual mode.

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As a 3ds Max user, you are more likely to use the Date and Time option so you can set this mode active.

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Finally, you may decide to make changes to the linked cameras or add new ones.

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In this case, there are two cameras stored in the .rvt file: one with a view within the cloister, and another with a bridseye view shot.

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The birdseye view camera in particular is interesting because it is set to Orthographic mode.

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In fact, if you minimize the viewport again, you can see that the birdseye view camera is close to the floor level.

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Sure enough, if you were to disable orthographic mode,

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you would then need to dolly out from the camera view to see the project clearly.

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Also note that cameras stored in the Revit file are recognized as Free cameras.

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When working in 3ds Max, it is often easier to work with targeted cameras for easier placement.

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Newly created objects like camera targets require some management as well.

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They are created as part of the current layer, which means they may need to be moved onto another,

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But they're also not automatically linked to the existing hierarchy, which you would need to do manually.

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You can decide to do the opposite and unlink the cameras and daylight system from the rest of the hierarchical structure.

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Finally, it is important to consider what would happen to the changes you made if and when you decide to update the linked file.

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If a change is done to the Revit project, you need to update the 3ds Max scene as is relevant in a collaboration project.

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This is done by revisiting the Manage Links dialog > Files tab.

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A red flag shows that the Revit file has changed and needs to be reloaded.

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However, there are options to consider. If you update the file with the Lights, Daylight System and Cameras options enabled,

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then all of this information from Revit comes back to overwrite all the careful changes you have made yourself.

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In this case, this includes changing options on controlling the Daylight System and editing camera parameters and placement.

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After doing all this cleanup work, it would be a shame to lose it, so you may want to disable these options.

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Similarly, you've made changes to materials and mapping to improve the scene and you don't want to have to go through that process again.

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In that case, you'd need to enable the options to ensure you keep those changes current when you update the Revit file.

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Once you update the changes, you'll notice that your cameras are as you last left them;

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and that the mapping of the Spanish-tiled roofs is properly laid out.

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The iron bars in the window openings are dark gray as you have adjusted them in the Material Editor.

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Lastly, the two added doors are visible in the scene and are an integral part of the object named 8'x6'

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Selection Sets and Layers that you have created previously are preserved making scene management easier to handle.

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As an exercise, create a few more layers and/or selection sets to further the cleanup process.

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At this point, the 3ds Max file is still dependent on the linked .rvt file.

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If you wish to make it independent, you can do so by using the Bind option in the Manage Links > Files tab.

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This also means that no further updates from Revit would be accessible.

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A finished version of this file is available as part of the zip archive you downloaded for this tutorial.
Posted By
  • 3ds Max
  • 2016
  • Importing and Exporting
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