3ds Max and Revit Interoperability - Part 02 - Basic Setup and Interoperability Principles

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  • Design Visualization
  • 2015
  • Interoperability
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Intermediate
6 min

3ds Max and Revit Interoperability - Part 02 - Basic Setup and Interoperability Principles

In this tutorial, we explore different ways of getting a Revit design across to 3ds Max. In the process, we'll discuss basic principles and optimal setup procedures.


  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2015
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2015 or higher.


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Interoperability tutorials are interesting because they deal with at least two pieces of software, sometimes more.

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Here, we're looking at bringing together Autodesk Revit and 3ds Max, and in particular 3ds Max Design.

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For the purposes of this tutorial, I will be using 3ds Max Design because I'm actually running the Autodesk Building Design Ultimate Suite on my system.

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This suite includes Revit and 3ds Max Design, but also a plethora of other Autodesk applications which I will not be discussing here.

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Don't worry if you don't have the suite, everything I will show you can work equally well with the stand-alone versions of Revit and 3ds Max Design.

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In fact, if you have plain-old 3ds Max, you can make it look and behave like 3ds Max Design so that following along is a bit easier.

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For that, you can use the Custom UI and Defaults Switcher function to set your UI in light mode, as is the default in 3ds Max Design,

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and also to use Mental Ray as is also the default when working in Design and Visualization.

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You get a breakdown of how the defaults change, the most important being that mental ray is active by default,

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and that Real-World Texture Coordinates will be applied when creating materials and applying Mapping Coordinates.

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Once you click on Set, the interface changes, but for good measure, you need to exit and restart the application.

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That's it! From this point on 3ds Max will look and behave like 3ds Max Design, and you'll have no problems following this tutorial.

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If you later need to reset 3ds Max to its default look and feel, then you can use the appropriate options to that effect.

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Again, you will need to restart the application for the changes to take place.

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In my case, and as I mentioned earlier, I will be using 3ds Max Design as I record this tutorial, although I may be referring to it simply as 3ds Max.

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As you may have noticed, 3ds Max and 3ds Max Design can happily co-exist on the same system.

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One thing about interoperability that my experience has shown me is that a user is seldom an expert in both applications.

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That's ok because a tutorial such as this one can be beneficial for both the Revit user who wants to use 3ds Max for better rendering and animation,

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and also for the 3ds Max user who needs to rely on Revit's superior architectural tools for quick and easy building designs.

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This can also be beneficial for the 3ds Max user who doesn't own Revit, but occasionally gets Revit data from clients and partners.

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As you go through this tutorial series, you will learn how to make the best of Revit models even if you don't own Revit.

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If you do, then that's even better, and you'll have a better experience with this tutorial.

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There are a few basic principles to remember though, and they relate to project units.

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First, let's talk about units in Revit:

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When you start a new project, you can base it on a template type, and even on a template unit preference, such as imperial or metric.

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You can also change the display in a way that works for you.

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What you need to remember though is that no matter what unit setup you choose, Revit always exports its data in Feet.

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This is important to remember because it will affect interoperability with 3ds Max.

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To prevent any scale issues between the two applications, AND knowing that Revit always exports in Feet,

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I would suggest that you set up 3ds Max to also work in Feet.

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To adjust units in 3ds Max, you go to Customize > Units Setup.

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There are two areas to set up your units: The Display setup seen at first, but also the System Units setup.

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The System Units setup is the important one here, and that's the one that needs to match Revit.

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By default, it is set to Inches but you need to set it to Feet anytime you work on interoperability between the two applications.

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An inch base unit is fine to design small objects but working in feet usually works better for architectural structures anyway.

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This takes you back to the Display Units.

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These are set to Generic by default but you can choose to set them to metric or imperial, whichever you are more comfortable with.

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Units setup will remain active until you change it again, even after closing the application.

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If you are interested in more detail about units as they relate to sharing data, there is a tutorial on this channel that explores these issues in depth.

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With these basic principles in check, watch the next movie to learn about the various way to export data from Revit to 3ds Max.
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  • 3ds Max
  • 2015
  • Interoperability
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