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Autodesk has been under a lot of heat because of the way they are treating the prices for their professional Maya and Max products, but the company still keeps updating and releasing new versions of the software to justify the prices. The newest version of the flagship tool 3ds Max 2018 delivers a lot of improvements, which were described in much detail in the official blog.
- Smart Asset Packaging allows users to create, share, and update portable assets that are flexible, connected, and react to changes in design data.
- Customizable Workspaces offer a more responsive, modern, and personalized user experience.
- Blended Box Map gives users the ability to morph visible seams by blending as many as six materials applied to an object. More on this here.
- MAXtoA 1.0 plug-in is integrated into 3ds Max 2018, giving artists access to Arnold’s latest features.
- The Data Channel Modifier allows users to derive information directly from their model and then use it to drive other types of modifications. This simplifies tasks such as smoothing objects based on curvature and making a vertex color mask based on an angle, as examples. More on this here:
- Motion Paths allows you to visualize your animation as a bezier trajectory, giving you a new way to modify your animation.
- Max to LMV translation cloud service gives uses the ability to view their Max files with Forge Viewer in a web browser, making it easier to review and share assets.
Here’s a more detailed list of important highlights from Autodesk‘s official documentation.
Arnold for Max
Updated MAXtoA plugin including Arnold 5
volumetric effects with OpenVDB support
Procedural (proxy) objects allow scene interchange with other Arnold plugins
Extensive array of built-in Arnold professional shaders and materials
Supports third-party shaders compiled for Windows and Arnold 5
Easy image-based lighting workflow with separate environment and background capabilities
Arnold Properties modifier controls rendertime effects and options per object
Abitrary Output Variable (AOV) support for compositing and post-processing
Depth of field, motion blur and camera shutter effects
New VR camera
New easier to user layered Standard Surface with Disney compatibility replacing Arnold Standard Shader
New melanin-driven Standard Hair Shader with simpler paramenters and artistic controls for more natural results
Supports photometric lights for easy Revit interop. Full support of 3ds Max Physical material and legacy maps
All in one Arnold light supports textured area lights, mesh lights, Skydome and Distant light sources
New Portal mode for Quad and Skydome lights to improve sampling interior scenes
New Roundness and Soft Edge options for Quad and Spot lights
Scene Converter presets and scripts to upgrade legacy scenes
User interface improvements
QT5 framework with enhanced docking
Ongoing hi-DPI icon conversion (370 icons converted)
Tear off menus
Faster switching between workspaces
Modular main toolbar
Easy Map adds the ability to map over an operator by connecting an array of values for graph simplicity
Live Type displays computes types in the editor as you work
MCG type resolver improved so you no longer need to add extra nodes to provide hints about the type system in MCG
Compiler significantly improved to better optimise graph expressions, particularly with functions
No longer need to unpack MCG graph and MCG now uses compounds from the package
Consumes graphs in package form (.mcg) by simply dragging in the viewport
Automatic tool input generation
More artist-friendly operator/compund naming and categorisation
New Node Properties window with better operator/compound descriptions
78 new operators
Remember, that Mental Ray is no longer included with 3ds Max, but it is still compatible.