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Category: 3dsMax New Features

3dsMax 2023.3 Organic Noise

I know it is gross. This is the new OrganicNoise OSL map from 3dsMax 2023.3. It makes organic-looking noise! Like the above image.
It is so cool because…

  • First of all, it ships with 28 ready-to-use presets!
  • Lots of options to play with
  • 3D procedural noise. You don’t need UV
  • Animation-ready Phase parameter
  • Work well with displace modifier and gradient map

I renderers all 28 presets as animation. Check it out. Don’t forget to music on!

 

3dsMax 2023.3 Highlights

It has been only a little bit more than a month since we got big USD updates. But, this is December, the month of the last PU of the year.

The new Organic Noise OSL map will allow you to create organic looking noise patterns by modulating and filtering OSL noises.

The best part of new #3dsMax 2023.3 Organic Noise is that it comes with 28 ready-to-use presets. It is like having a holiday gift basket!
I rendered all 28 presets with Phase/Scale animation and even put some background music. It is interesting to see that the scale adds even more variations.

When #3dsMax 2023.2 Array modifier was released, I had to connect a few OSL nodes to randomize maps per clone. Now you can just use a single UVWRandomizer OSL map for the randomization part

#3dsMax core optimization effort never stops. This time Poly to Mesh conversions performance has been improved across 3dsMax. If you have a stack with lots of channels and jump around Poly/Mesh a lot, you will feel the difference.

3dsMax USD 0.3

3dsMax USD 0.3 has been released. Here is the highlights.

USD Stage Object

  • SD Stage Node is now supported in 3ds Max. Reference a USD stage directly into 3ds Max to create a scene with USD assets from an existing file. Using this workflow, you can view and render USD data directly in 3ds Max.
  • File > Reference > USD Stage….
    Create Panel > Geometry > USD >  USD Stage
  • Stage Masking support
  • Full access to working with in-memory stage data. You can build Python, C++ and MAXScript tools to interact with the data inside a USD Stage Object. The stage has a read-only property called CacheId that can be used to access the stage from a global USD cache. Using this you can directly manipulate and interact with USD data (moving prims, changing visibility, etc.)

USD Stage Rendering

  • USD Stage fallback rendering mode allows rendering USD Stage even when renderers do not support accessing a USD stage directly.
  • UsdPreviewSurface material support using texture transforms (UsdTransform2d) and texture wrap modes.
  • Assign USD Materials button to build a Multi/Sub material for fallback rendering mode. Users can override any parameters of the material tree.

USD Export & SDK

  • USD Stage Objects can now be exported as USD references.
  • SDK includes all you need to build your own PrimWriter, ShaderWriter and Chasers to hook into our USD Exporter using C++ or Python
  • 3ds Max USD SDK comes with a set of working (simple) samples covering ShaderWriter, PrimWriter and Chaser, written in both C++ and Python to get everyone going rapidly with the new SDK

3dsMax Array Sample Pack

These are some Array modifier sample max files from me and other beta testers. I’ll eventually post something ti explain some of these files. But, if you are impatient, just open these files and figure it out! Enjoy!

Download3ds_Array_Sample_Pack here!
* Array_Spline_MetalHose requires Tubo MCG.

Credit

  • Array_Cobblestone_Road – Sergio Santos
  • Array_DNA, Array_Radial_Tower, Array_Spline_Chain, Array_Spline_Fence – Michael Spaw
  • Array_Grid_Chainmail – David Almeida
  • Array_LostShipLoadFloating – Paul Erdtmann
  • Array_Rope, Array_Tire – John Martini
  • Others – me 🙂

3dsMax 2023.2 Highlights

3dsMax 2023.2 – Array modifier

  • -A brand new feature-packed Array Modifier. As a modifier, it provides a fully procedural non-destructive modeling and animation experience.
  • Based on the brand new geometry processing engine, MNMesh2(MNMesh means Poly), which is built for performance, stability, flexibility, and scalability. It is the foundation for the future of 3dsMax, and Array is the first practical implementation using this technology.
  • Supports Mesh, Poly, and Spline
  • 4 Distribution Methods – Grid, Radial, Spline, Surface
  • Array by Element allows each element as an array source
  • Extensive Transform options such as Incremental, Alternating, By Axis, Incremental By Axis and provide very flexible control.
  • Randomization
  • Clone ID UV data
  • Remove allow to remove clones by % or object volume
  • Create Instances – bake to instanced individual objects

3dsMax 2023.2 – Physical Material to glTF conversion

The Scene Converter contains a new preset called “PhysicalToGLTF” that allows you to easily convert all physical materials in a scene to glTF materials.

3dsMax 2023.2 –  Object Color mode Material Evaluation Override

3dsMax 2023.1 Highlights

3dsMax 2023.1 – Performance

Improving/optimizing performance #3dsMax has been one of the big focus for a while. #3dsMax 2023.1 has another round of big performance boost. Especially these updates are for animators.

3dsMax 2023.1 – Spline Extrude

3dsMax is known for the best spline tool on the market. Yet it has gotten even better!

3dsMax 2023.1 – Progress bar update

File IO operations will show progress and progress will displayed in task bar icon.

#3dsMax 2023.1 – Isolate selection updates

Zoom Extents On Isolate (ZEOI) is now persistent from session to session (in 3ds Max.ini). Default value of ZEOI is set to off, means do not zoom extents on isolation.

#3dsMax 2023.1 – New Triangulation algorithm

New Triangulation algorithm prevents inverted or collapsed triangles, generates more regular fewer long, thin triangles and handles non-planar faces better. Chamfer and SmartExtrude utilize this new algorithm. It will eventually be deployed more broadly.

#3dsMax 2023 1 – Vertex Paint modifier Capture

A new button is available called “Capture” which copies all of the existing vertex colors that exist under the current Vertex Paint modifier into this level. This will allow you to blur and work with the existing data easier.

#3dsMax 2023 1 – Background Playback & Merge Performance

Improved playback speed with animated background if the source image is in sRGB or gamma 2.2. It is 2x-3x faster.
Improved performance of Merge dialog when dealing with large number of nodes.

3dsMax 2023 Retopology 1.2

3dsMax 2023 includes the updated Retopology modifier. Retopology modifier is an automatic retopology solution that was introduced in 2021.3. It is based on a Autodesk’s proprietary tech called Reform.

If you are new to this modifier here are some links you can read.
Retopology Gallery     Tutorial Video Collection     Quick Start 1     Quick Start 2

Preprocess/Remesh

One of the main update is “Preprocess Mesh” checkbox(On by default). If this option is on, Retopology modifier will preprocess/remesh to make a evenly triangulated mesh first before retopolizing the mesh.

Reform really love this preprocessed mesh which makes the retopology process really really faster. Especially, when you go from very high poly count to low count target. The  above bunny has almost 70k triangles. When I retopo to 5k without preprocessing. It took 34 seconds. With preprocess, it took only 4.7 second.

Second, because the preprocess smooth out small details(or noises), it produce a better edge flow as you can see from the following image. Of course, if you want to keep all the details as much as possible, you might want to turn off preprocess.

Another important benefits of the preprocess is that it actually allow to retopo a highly detailed mesh to a very low target. Reform tend to try to keep all the details as much as possible. Because of this, Reform sometimes just fail or give you a result that has a lot more poly than you wanted. Preprocess solves this issue.

Here are some examples of retopo with preprocess on. I have Ryzen 2700X. Both models were sliced half and reassembled with Symmetry modifier.

Left – 2.4 million poly        Center – 20ok poly / 77 seconds         Right – 24k poly / 20 seconds

730k poly        39602 poly / 25s       10282 polys / 9s       2978 polys / 7s        1003 polys / 6s

Data Propagation/Preservation

3dsMax mesh has more data than just vertex and faces such as UV, normal, smoothing group and material id. Now Retopology modifier keeps any of this data which you set as “Auto Edge” while preprocessing and processing. For example, if you turn on Auto Edge > UV Channel, it will create edges along the uv seams and re-project uv data to the new mesh.

I picked a Megascan asset and retopoed from high res model to 5000 poly target which is same as their LOD0 mesh. The left one is Retopoloigy modifier result. It took 26s with the default setting.

UV after/before retopo

But, Let’s talk a little but more about Auto Edge especially for uv seams as Auto Edge.

I have scanned model. The green line is th euv seams. Do you see all those tiny uv elements? If I turn on Auto Edge with UV Seams, Retopology modifier will try really hard to keep all of them, which means retopo will likely fail unless you set the target really really big. So, please check your UV if your retopo process fails with Auto Edge/UV seam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To solve this issue, you will likely create a new uv with less elements and bake maps to the new uv. This is the result after I created new seam abd used BTT to transfer the texture to new uv. It took 104 seconds to retopo to 25000. I’ll have a new post dedicated to this process in the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is some images of retopolized Megascan assets. Most of them was just one click.

Output Mesh type

Now you can choose to output either Retopology mesh or Remeshed Mesh(Preprocessed mesh) to the stack.

As you can see, remeshed mesh has extremely simulation friendly topology. As of now, you can’t just get remeshed mesh. But, remesh process usually a few seconds. You can just press ESC when retopology process starts to get only remeshed mesh.

That’s it for today!

3dsMax 2023 Pipeline Integration v2

The pipeline integration which was introduced in 2022.3 has a small but very very important update in 3dsMax 2023,

%ADSK_3DSMAX_MAJOR_VERSION%  and %ADSK_3DSMAX_MINOR_VERSION%

  • %ADSK_3DSMAX_MAJOR_VERSION% – represents the major version of the 3ds Max (3dsmax.exe) process. For example “2023” for 3ds Max 2023
  •  %ADSK_3DSMAX_MINOR_VERSION% – represents the minor version of the 3ds Max (3dsmax.exe) process. For example “1” for 3ds Max 2023 Update1

In a not shell, you can set all pipeline integration folders per 3dsMax version and even for each PUs.

For example, this is my ADSK_3DSMAX_PLUGINS_ADDON_DIR setup.

When 3dsMax launches, it loads plugins from D:\PROJECT\_maxDefault\plugin_2023

One more example?

Setting ADSK_3DSMAX_STARTUPSCRIPT_ADDON_DIR as
\\server\3dsMax\%ADSK_3DSMAX_MAJOR_VERSION%.%ADSK_3DSMAX_MINOR_VERSION%\scripts\startup

will make your startup script path to be
\\server\3dsMax\2023.0\scripts\startup

When 3ds Max 2023 Update 2 is is installed, the path becomes
\\server\3dsMax\2023.2\scripts\startup

With this new edition, the following article need to be updated. You don’t have to use batch file or script anymore.

How to manage tools part 2 – Plugins (featuring new 3dsMax 2022.3 pipeline integration)

ADSK_3DSMAX_USERTOOLS_DIR

ADSK_3DSMAX_USERTOOLS_DIR allow you to set user settings folder,
The default location is C:\Users\[username]\Autodesk\3ds Max 2023\User Tools\

Why it is important? Because this is the folder where MCG goes.
This is the default MCG installation location.
C:\Users\[username]\Autodesk\3ds Max 2023\User Tools\Max Creation Graph\Packages

So, now I can set ADSK_3DSMAX_USERTOOLS_DIR as D:\PROJECT\_maxDefault\MCG and put all my mcg package file in D:\PROJECT\_maxDefault\MCG\Max Creation Graph\Packages.

After I set this up one time, I will not need to set MCG folder forever and ever. Update? re-install? new version? PR? I don’t need to do anything to get my MCG back.

And more…

ADSK_3DSMAX_AUTOBACKUP_DIR – Defines the path used by Autobackup to save files.

ADSK_3DSMAX_ROOT – An environment variable defined by the 3ds Max process that contains the directory from which the current 3dsmax.exe program is running, regardless of where 3ds Max is installed. Only defined when auto-tokenization is enabled.

ADSK_3DSMAX_ENVVAR_TOKEN_SUPPORT – Enables auto-tokenization of 3ds Max installation files, similar to the -envartoken command line switch.

3dsMax 2023 Highlights

3dsMax 2023 – Snap Working Pivot
Quick way to place and align working pivot. Just place the mouse near where you want to have a pivot and press CTRL+ ~ to see the magic happens! https://help.autodesk.com/view/3DSMAX/2023/ENU/?guid=GUID-5516D160-4031-4CF6-A655-A9D70752F890

3dsMax 2023 – Retopology 1.2
Pre-processing == faster and better retopo result.  Data propagation == Now it preserves UV and more! Preprocessed mesh(Remeshed mesh) is super sim friendly. https://help.autodesk.com/view/3DSMAX/2023/ENU/?guid=GUID-65A60AD3-CDB1-48F2-A103-C7168FD56EFC

3dsMax 2023 – glTF Material and Exporter
Not just an exporter. A dedicated glTF Material and accurate viewport representation. https://help.autodesk.com/view/3DSMAX/2023/ENU/?guid=GUID-EFBB037D-C4EB-42D2-9CE1-30FCAD483C31

3dsMax 2023 – Autobackup Improvement
Your voice has been heard. A lot of work has been done to make autobackup experience smoother. New Autobackup Toolbar – Enable/Disable button, Autobackup Time Interval progress indicator, Reset Timer. Minimize user activity interruption – Timer only progresses when the scene is changed. Timer will pause when users are interacting with max. Compress on Autobackup, Prepend Scene Name , Better handling of simultaneous Max sessions. https://help.autodesk.com/view/3DSMAX/2023/ENU/?guid=GUID-0378F364-72C4-4C8D-9E05-B918656E1761

3dsMax 2023 – Compress Save Performance
Continuing file save performance improvement of 3dsMax 2022.Save with compression performance has been greatly improved(500% to 2500% in my test) with New zstandard compression engine. Now saving with compression on will only take 10-15% longer than with off in my test case. Before this improvement, turning on compression on used to be 400-600% slower than off. In many cases, now saving with compression on in 3dsMax 2023 is even faster than compression off in an older version.

3dsMax 2023 – Pipeline integration v2
Now you can control pipeline integration env var per 3dsMax version! Also now autoback and MCG folder can be set by env var.%ADSK_3DSMAX_MAJOR_VERSION%, %ADSK_3DSMAX_MINOR_VERSION%, ADSK_3DSMAX_ENVVAR_TOKEN_SUPPORT,ADSK_3DSMAX_AUTOBACKUP_DIR,ADSK_3DSMAX_ROOT, ADSK_3DSMAX_USERTOOLS_DIR

3dsMax 2023 – Occlude selection mode improvement
Further optimizations have been made to the Occlude Selected functionality. The selection performance and accuracy has been greatly improved.

3dsMax 2023 – Physical Material Autodesk Standard Surface Compliant mode
Thin Film and Sheen support.  https://help.autodesk.com/view/3DSMAX/2023/ENU/?guid=GUID-A9CF77A3-48EF-4103-9DCB-22AD856D0BD0

3dsMax 2023 – FBX Maya Interop
Improved FBX so now it supports the physical material and you can send to/from Maya without much loss of data.

3dsMax 2023 – Render/Viewport Instancing API
This new API provides a consistent way for third party developers to provide instancing data for a Renderer and viewport.

3dsMax 2023 – Volume Display API
This new API simplifies displaying a volume in the viewport when a plugin provides the voxels data, positions and display options. MaxToA Volume object in MAXtoA 5.2.0 is using this API.

How to manage tools part 2 – Plugins (featuring new 3dsMax 2022.3 pipeline integration)

This is the second part of how to manage tools series, Plugins. I’m sure most 3dsMax users know about the plugin,ini file. When 3dsMax starts, it looks for the following 2 plugin,ini files.

  1. C:\Program Files\Autodesk\3ds Max 2022\en-US\plugin.ini
  2. C:\Users\[username]\AppData\Local\Autodesk\3dsMax\2022 – 64bit\ENU\Plugin.UserSettings.ini

This is a usual ini file with sections and keys and values like this.

[Directories]
Additional MAX plug-ins=C:\Program Files\Autodesk\3ds Max 2022\PlugIns\
[Help]

You can edit one of the above files with a text editor to add your own plugins folder or use Customize menu > Customize Users and System Paths dialog > 3rd Party Plug-Ins tab.

Usually a commercial plugin would have an installer to take care this for users. Then, users would make a plugins folder and throw all free plugin there and add the path to plugin.ini. Or, some still just throw everything in C:\Program Files\Autodesk\3ds Max 2022\Plugins folder. If your studio has TDs or IT department, they probably already have their own way to do it. Also you can specify a plugin,ini to use via command line option -p while launching 3dsMax

But, there are also 2 not-so-well-known ways of managing plugins to know.

  1. [Include] section in plugin.ini
    This allows to nest plugin ini like this image.
    https://help.autodesk.com/cloudhelp/2022/ENU/3DSMax-Customizing/images/GUID-0E41A3C7-B6B5-4CA3-9A36-6208D8F2799C.png
    This is great for central management and exactly the same principle as my “seed startup script”. You just deploy a caller and do the real job in another file. This is what I have been using.
  2. Autodesk Application Plug-in Package
    This is the new official way to distribute any plugins and a great way to de-couple plugin files from 3dsMax installations. VRay already has moved to this method and hopefully more commercial plugins adapt to this format. But, you can also utilize this for your own plugin management. It is a little bit involved. So, it might not be great for individual users or small studios. But, if you have TDs or IT department, it is worth checking.

ADSK_3DSMAX_PLUGINS_ADDON_DIR

The new pipeline integration also supports custom plugin and application package folder. You can use these two following env vars to control plugin loading location. Again this means I don’t need the seed .ini anymore!

  • ADSK_3DSMAX_PLUGINS_ADDON_DIR
  • ADSK_APPLICATION_PLUGINS

But, one thing you need to understand is that the current pipeline integration in 3dsMax 2022.3 is mainly aimed for using a batch file or Python script. Because of that, it doesn’t have a way to specify the 3dsMax version. That means all 3dsMax versions will pick up the exact same folder when you have multiple versions installed. This can cause problems if any folder you set has version specific data likek plugins folder. As you know, often plugins are not compatible between versions, if you set “ADSK_3DSMAX_PLUGINS_ADDON_DIR” as system env var, all the 3dsMax versions will try to to pick up plugins from the same folder. That wouldn’t work.

With 3dsMax 2023 updates, the above issue has been addressed. Please check the new post here.

Therefore, you need to set env var only for a session instead of the whole system. You can do this by using a batch file or Python script to run 3dsMax. If you have a Python launcher, you probably wouldn’t need a tutorial from me. Here is a sample batch file for “artists”. A good thing about this sample is that it doesn’t leave the command shell after 3dsMax started.

SET ADSK_3DSMAX_PLUGINS_ADDON_DIR=D:\PROJECT\_maxDefault\plugin_free_2022
c:
cd "C:\Program Files\Autodesk\3ds Max 2022\"
start "" "C:\Program Files\Autodesk\3ds Max 2022\3dsmax.exe"

“SET” command is the command to set env var in a batch file.

As you can see, this allows you to define the combination of plugins dynamically while launching 3dsMax easily. Imagine you need different versions of VRay, ThinkingParticles per project. Before the pipeline integration, you would need to build a plugin.ini per project and load. Now, you can just add directories directly in the launcher script.

This is it for plugins! But, the potential of the pipeline integration doesn’t end here. WIth new env var controls and token support in various ini. You can actually install each PUs side by side now like 3dsMax 2022.1, 2022.2, 2022,3. You can even install 3dsMax in a network folder and load from there. Sure, you need to figure out how exactly execute this for your studio. But, the technical foundation is there. So, try it!

Do you want to improve your pipeline? renderStacks could be the start.