Design Visualization

First Look Review: 3DS max-Popular Visualization Tool

1 Jan, 2006 By: Ron LaFon

Latest release speeds mapping, among other new features


It's that time again! Autodesk released 3ds Max 8, which includes a number of features that users have been waiting for.



Perhaps one of the most anticipated features in 3ds Max 8 is pelt mapping, which reduces mapping time from hours to minutes by allowing users to quickly unwrap the UV coordinates of geometry using custom-placed seamss. New Relax methods remove distortion for stretch-free mapping.

3ds Max 8 also adds an integrated user interface to asset-tracking systems such as Autodesk Vault and other tools that support the MSSCC API (Microsoft Source Code Control) standard, including Microsoft SourceSafe and Perforce. This feature lets users centralize data assets and control user access, while sharing and managing assets with other Autodesk products.

 3DS Max 8
3DS Max 8

There's so much more that's new. The new-feature guide runs some 115 pages and lists many refinements to existing components of the software. 3ds Max now supports OpenEXR, an image file format that can store floating-point data values, making it particularly useful for high dynamic range images. Use this format for input and output anywhere in 3ds Max where a bitmap is accepted.

New parametric spline primitives called extended splines and mesh painting brushes, which can be used to paint deformations, weights, vertex colors and soft additions, are two of the many new features that can speed up daily production work.

In 3ds Max 8, animation clips can be loaded in the Motion Mixer to provide nonlinear animation editing for any 3ds Max rig
In 3ds Max 8, animation clips can be loaded in the Motion Mixer to provide nonlinear animation editing for any 3ds Max rig

At first glance, the 3ds Max 8 interface appears the same, but a few subtle differences reflect underlying changes. Functionality from Autodesk VIZ 2006 software is now integrated, including radiosity-adaptive mesh subdivision, real-world mapping and new parametric spline objects. Motion Mixer now manages all types of animation, not just biped clips. The interface changes are more a process of discovering new features than having to relearn how to use the application.

Good news for 3ds Max users who rely on third-party plug-ins—plug-ins for 3ds Max 6, 7 and 7.5 should work, although there may be unforeseen problems due to the changes in the underlying architecture and command structure. 3ds Max 8 is the third consecutive release of Max to not require the recompilation of plug-ins, which makes life a lot easier. We've done preliminary runs of the MAXBench 4 benchmark that we use for testing workstations and graphics cards and found that it works quite well, though a moderate number of image maps had to be moved for the benchmark to work correctly.

Though you might speculate on the future positioning of 3ds Max in light of Autodesk's recent acquisition of Alias, for now there is a whole new version to explore, discover and use. 3ds Max 8 offers far more new features and improvements than we can possibly cover in this brief review.

Pelt mapping cuts mapping time to minutes by allowing 3ds Max artists to unwrap the UV coordinates of geometry using custom-placed seams.
Pelt mapping cuts mapping time to minutes by allowing 3ds Max artists to unwrap the UV coordinates of geometry using custom-placed seams.


About the Author: Ron LaFon


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