Autodesk has announced the new features in 3ds Max 2013, including improved interoperability with After Effects and Photoshop, a new render pass system and a built-in Slate compositing editor – find out what we think
As with the Maya 2013 announcement, we don’t have a date for the release of 3ds Max 2013, but we do know what the proposed new features are.
Let’s take a look at some of the new features and enhancements in 3ds Max 2013, and then we’ll tell you what our initial thoughts are. (Click the link if you want to jump to see what we think below.)
Top features in 3ds Max 2013
(Many of these features were introduced with the Subscription Advantage Pack (SAP) in September, explains Autodesk’s Ken Pimental on his AREA blog.)
After Effects interoperability
Now different artists can work collaboratively with updates happening at either end and everyone remaining in sync.
Custom render element pathing
Custom file type pathing including EXR. This tracks parameters for output file formats, as well as formats, and, in the case of EXR, includes render elements, gbuffers, bit depth, colour channels, and more.
iray and Quicksilver render parameter tracking
Better UI interaction through render-dialog refreshing
Tracking of viewport layouts
Object and solid scale tracking to After Effects
Ability to copy state sets
Tracking of V-Ray object properties
Tracking of V-Ray cache
Enhanced interoperability with Photoshop
Enjoy greater flexibility when finishing renderings in Photoshop software, with the new ability to output renderings in a layered PSD format that retains layer order, opacity, and blend modes.
Render Pass System
Scenes can now be more easily segmented for downstream compositing. Thanks to an entirely new render pass system, render elements can now be more efficiently created for Smoke 2013, After Effects, Photoshop, or certain other image compositing applications.
Slate Compositing Editor
Perform simple compositing operations directly within 3ds Max with the new Slate Compositing Editor. The schematic node-based interface enables rendered layers and passes to be more easily wired together and combined with compositing nodes, for example: blends and color corrections; the resulting composite can then be sent to After Effects or Photoshop for further refinement.
ActiveShade interactive iray rendering
Experience an interactive creative process for finalizing renderings, with new ActiveShade support for the Nvidia iray renderer. ActiveShade enables artists to iterate more effectively by providing an interactive rendering session that constantly updates as changes are made to cameras, lighting, materials, and geometry. By shortening the feedback loop, artists can more efficiently fine-tune their scene, making it faster and easier to achieve their intended look.
Autodesk's YouTube video shows what it's being doing with Nvidia around MassFX and iray
Artists can now enjoy a more integrated and accurate dynamic toolset, thanks to a wide range of enhancements and additions to the MassFX unified system of simulation solvers. Highlights are a new mCloth module that features tearable fabric and support for dynamic ragdoll hierarchies. In addition, improved constraints, better handling of pivot points, and enhanced UI readability help improve overall workflow.
Focus on workflow
3ds Max 2013 includes a number of improvements: the ability to manipulate the camera when cutting polygons and during the creation process, enhancements to the skin modifier, and a modeless array dialog.
Easily create and switch between a number of viewport layout configurations, in order to have efficient access to the views required for a particular task. Layouts can include both 3D and extended viewports.
Artists can now adapt 3ds Max to their personal way of working by selecting from a choice of default or custom workspaces. For example, you can configure one workspace for modelling and one for animating.
Track View retiming
Animators can now retime portions of animations to increase or decrease their speed. The retiming is achieved by changing the tangency of the existing animation curve.
Autodesk HumanIK Interoperability with CAT
Animators can now convert 3ds Max CAT (Character Animation Toolkit) bipedal characters into characters that are compatible with the Autodesk HumanIK solver used in Maya 2013 software and MotionBuilder 2013 software in a single step.
These portable characters enable animators to transfer existing character structure, definition, and animation between the software packages in order to take advantage of particular feature sets. Animation changes created in Maya or MotionBuilder can be updated back onto the original CAT character in 3ds Max, facilitating a round-trip workflow.
The iray renderer now offers support for motion blur, helping artists create more realistic images of moving elements.
The Nitrous accelerated graphics core has received a number of enhancements. Artists will enjoy the increased drawing performance on large scenes, together with new support for image-based lighting, depth of field, accelerated particle flow display, and a new clay shader.
In addition, the ability to change the bokeh shape via MAXScript, support for shadows in large scenes, and improved workflows for interior scenes extend the Nitrous functionality.
And there’s more…
3ds Max 2013 introduces a new gPoly base object for increased animation playback performance with deforming meshes; in some cases, artists can see up to three times faster playback. gPoly delivers accelerated playback in cases where mesh deformation does not change topology.
3ds Max now has Maya navigation style. Artists familiar with using Autodesk Maya software will appreciate the new Maya interaction mode that enables them to use the same mouse and key combinations in 3ds Max as they would in Maya to navigate viewports.
Enhanced interoperability with Autodesk Revit Architecture: Revit files are now directly supported, enabling 3ds Max artists to select a data view of choice to load from within the Revit file.
The Autodesk Animation Store
Included with Autodesk 3ds Max 2013 is the new Autodesk Animation Store, powered by Mixamo, where you can purchase hundreds of motion clips for your Biped or CAT characters. Now you can preview the motion clips on your characters in your scene prior to purchasing them.
Autodesk has added support for Apple’s QuickTime in the 64-bit versions of 3ds Max and 3ds Max Design.
The CPU-based object picking system has been replaced with a new GPU-based picking system. This should tackle some of the ‘lag’ issues people were seeing with complex scenes.
The Array dialog is now modeless, which means that you can navigate viewports while the dialog is open.
Hair And Fur has new Flyaway, Clumping, and Multi-Strand features and improvements.
To make the 3ds Max Track View animation editor conform more closely to suitemates such as Autodesk Maya, the menu layout has been redesigned, producing a more-compact interface.
For more efficient management of bones attached to a Skin modifier, you can now sort the list of bones in ascending or descending alphanumeric order.
For Skylight objects you can assign Sky Color maps, including high dynamic range (HDR) maps, that provide illumination for all renderers. They also provide lighting levels and shadows for Nitrous viewports. Now Sky Color maps no longer require the Light Tracer.
Viewports can now have a vertical gradient as a background. This is the default for Perspective viewports. You can set custom colors for the gradient by using the Customize User Interface Colors panel.
The Slate Material Editor interface has been updated to improve usability.
For more details visit the AREA website
Ken Pimentel’s detailed blog contains a full list of the new features. Here he also talks about the restructuring of 3ds Max (XBR) – Autodesk is planning a XBR public webinar around XBR some time this month, so watch out for that too.
WHAT WE THINK
So, looks like with Max Autodesk is taking a leaf out of Maxon’s book. I think Cinema 4D has given the big boys a bit of a fright over the last year or two. It’s gained a load of the market and a lot of that has to do with how easy it is to get stuff into Adobe apps. Not just render layers and passes but 3D data too, inlcuding cameras and lights.
Max has started joining in with output to After Effect and Photoshop. I can’t comment on how well they’ve done it but it will have to be amazing to compete with C4D.
One new tool which looks very cool is the built-in slate compositor. Being able to do simpe composites in Max will be quite useful, and if you can then easily send all that to After Effects they might be on to a winner.
Thanks to Rob for his initial thoughts…
3D World technical editor Rob Redman is a 3D veteran with an extensive client list, including Daft Punk, Red Giant Software, Ministry of Sound and many others www.3dworldmag.com