File Management in 3ds Max - Working with Relative Paths
In this tutorial, you learn about the importance of relative paths, especially in conjunction with project folders. Leveraging Relative Paths is a great way to remove complexity when transferring projects across systems.
- Recorded in: 3ds Max 2010
- This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2010 or higher.
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Relative Paths is an important concept to adopt when you use
Set Project Folder to manage your project contents.
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When you set a project folder, you typically ensure that all files
related to a project are placed in their appropriate folders.
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.max files are found in \scenes, bitmaps are found in
\sceneassets\images, sound files in \sceneassets\sounds etc…
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When you start using these files in a project, the Asset Tracker
lets you view the files that are in use in the scene.
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Sure enough, support files are listed as part of their appropriate folders.
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However, these files are currently dependant on the top-level
location of the project folder itself.
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In this case, the top folder named "biplane" resides under
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If you decide to copy the whole "biplane" folder structure and take it
to another computer, you would need to ensure the target computer
uses the same root.
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If you tried to copy the "biplane" structure to another computer under
"F:\My Projects" for example, you would receive an error.
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This is because the path listed currently for the support files is
looking for a "C:\My Documents" root.
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To bypass this problem, you can use Relative Paths.
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In Asset Tracking, use the Refresh button to ensure all assets are displayed.
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Select all the assets, and then with a right-click,
choose the Make Path Relative to Project Folder option.
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This strips the path to the sub-folder structure.
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Since the sub-folder structure is the same for all projects, you are
bypassing the top level that is potentially unique to a given system.
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At this point, it doesn't matter if the "biplane" project structure
is on the C:, D:, F or M drives.
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It doesn't even matter if the "biplane" structure is itself under
another sub-directory such as "My Documents" or "My Projects".
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What is important is that 3ds Max now looks for the subfolders
and will find the support files in the appropriate directories.
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If you add a bitmap to the scene, such as for the terrain for example,
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then refresh the Asset Tracker, the full path is taken again into account.
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One solution is to make the path relative as you did earlier.
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Another (better) solution is to access the Files tab
in the Preferences dialog,
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then enable the option "Convert Local File Paths to Relative".
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Using this option, try adding a bitmap to the scene, such as a texture
for the windbag.
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After refreshing the Asset Tracker, notice how the bitmap is already set
as relative to the project folder.
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From this point on, transferring this project folder from one system
to the next prevents you from getting any missing bitmap (assets) errors.