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Software Review – Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suites 2013 Ultimate: 3ds Max & MotionBuilder

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Autodesk has released the 2013 editions of their Entertainment Creation Suites. This offers artists and production facilities access to a powerful range of creative toolsets. There are three kits that have been released – the Standard suite, the Premium, and the Ultimate suite. With the Standard you get either Autodesk Maya or Autodesk 3ds Max as well as Autodesk MotionBuilder, Autodesk SketchBook Designer, and Autodesk Mudbox. The Premium Suite additionally contains Autodesk Softimage. With the Ultimate Suite you get all six of the products. I will cover all six products and will break this down into three reviews. The first will cover 3ds Max, and MotionBuilder, the second will cover Mudbox and Softimage, and the third will cover Maya, and SketchBook Designer.

Autodesk 3ds Max 2013

Autodesk 3ds Max is a 3D animation, modeling and rendering software application that is used for simulation, visual effects, rendering, and compositing. There are two versions of 3ds Max – one is for game developers, visual effects artists, and graphic designers working on games, films, and television. The other is for architects, designers, and visual specialists. At the core, the versions are the same – it is the toolsets that are different. My review is based for the former.

3ds Max has been used on films like Fantastic Four and The Dark Knight, and Kung Fu Panda, Animated TV series like Olivia the Pig, and in the gaming industry for games like Assassin’s Creed II and Dance Central. Complete system requirements are located at the Autodesk site.

Autodesk 3ds Max 2013

So what is new with 3ds Max 2013?

• Adobe After Effects Interoperability – will give media design and graphic artists who use After Effects more capability and better interoperability. 3ds Max now sets a higher standard for 2D/3D data exchange. The new Media Sync functionality provides two-way transfer of cameras, lights, null objects, plane objects/solids, footage (including footage layering), blend modes, opacity, and effects; with it, artists can iterate more effectively and reduce rework to complete projects in less time.

• Render Pass System and Photoshop Interoperability – provides greater flexibility when finishing renderings in Adobe Photoshop software. There is a new ability to output renderings in a layered PSD format that retains layer order, opacity, and blend modes. Your Scenes can now be more easily segmented for downstream compositing. A state recorder enables artists to capture, edit, and save the current state, while a visual interface shows how compositing and render elements are wired together to create the final result. Artists can more quickly set up and execute multiple render passes from a single file and individual passes can be modified without the need to re-render the whole scene, enhancing productivity.

Autodesk 3ds Max 2013

• ActiveShade Interactive iray Rendering – 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, you can more efficiently fine-tune your scene, making it faster and easier to achieve the look you are aiming for.

• Slate Compositing Editor – gives you the ability to perform simple compositing operations directly within 3ds Max. The schematic node-based interface enables rendered layers and passes to wired together and combined with compositing nodes. The resulting composite can then be sent to Adobe After Effects or Adobe Photoshop for further refinement.

• Nitrous Viewport Performance and Quality – graphics core has received a number of enhancements in Autodesk 3ds Max 2013. You’ll find increased interactivity on large scenes, together with new support for image-based lighting, depth of field, and accelerated particle flow display. In addition, improved support for shadows in large scenes and improved workflows for interior scenes all extend the Nitrous functionality.

Autodesk 3ds Max 2013

• MassFX Enhancements – gives you the ability to 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. There is a new mCloth module that features tearable fabric and support for dynamic ragdoll hierarchies and in addition, improved constraints, better handling of pivot points, and enhanced UI readability help improve overall workflow.

• Tabbed Layouts – provide you with the ability to easily create and switch between a variety 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. Selecting a different layout is as simple as clicking on its icon, or pressing a hotkey. You can also share customized View Tabs with other users by saving and loading presets.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.