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Thread: 3Ds Max 7 Full Review

  1. #1

    Default 3Ds Max 7 Full Review

    im really thinkin about gettin this software, i mean if it can do all this shit... WHOA! the album covers ill make will be INCREDIBLE fa real! WHOAH!!!!!!! :thumbup:

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    Introduction

    Discreet's 3ds max is huge, feature-rich software package currently holding an elite spot as one of the most popular 3d modeling, animation and rendering packages, particularly for the game industry. It is found in the arsenals of many mega-game producers such as Rockstar Games, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft and Blizzard Entertainment. To maintain this preferred position, discreet has been aggressively updating 3ds max with new tools and features. 3ds max 7 shipped in October, 2004 and it marks the second major upgrade to the software in the last two years.



    With so much power in a single application, the question isn't whether you need Max. If you work in the gaming industry, this decision has probably already been made for you, but the real question is, "Are the new features in 3ds max 7 good enough to bug my supervisors to shell out for the cost of the upgrade?" This becomes a particularly tough question when you realize that you just bugged your boss last year for an upgrade.

    Last year's upgrade to 3ds max 6 included a lot of features geared towards architectural users including primitive objects for creating doors, windows, stairs and foliage and a complete set of architectural materials. But, for this year, I'm happy to say, many of the new features found in 3ds max 7 are geared towards game developers. A sampling of these new features include Character Studio, several new and much needed modeling improvements, the ability to create normal maps, a walkthrough navigation mode, an exporter for mobile devices, and a paint deformation feature. If you are using 3ds max for character animation, then the answer on upgrading should be an exciting, "Oh yea."
    Character Studio included



    The biggest new feature added to 3ds max 7 is the inclusion of the popular Character Studio plug-in within the base package. Character Studio was previously only available as a separate plug-in costing several hundred dollars, but it is now included in 3ds max 7 without a significant increase in the overall price. This should make any penny pinchers in your organization happy and should give you some good ammo to justify the cost of the upgrade.

    So, what's so special about Character Studio? Well, if you enjoy manually creating, constraining and rigging character skeletons, then maybe you don't need it, but Character Studio dramatically speeds up the animation pipeline for working with characters.

    Character Studio includes three unique modules—Biped, Physique and Crowd. Using Biped, you can create pre-made linked and realistically constrained human-shaped skeletons by simply dragging in the viewport. These biped skeletons can be edited by adding, removing and transforming links to represent other forms such as animals or monsters. Bipeds can then be animated walking, running or jumping by simply placing footsteps in the scene that define where the character moves. With the footsteps in place, the biped knows automatically how to create realistic secondary motion like swinging arms and bobbing ponytails.

    Once a biped is animated, Physique may be used to attach a high-res skin to the animated skeleton, as shown in Figure 1. Physique may also be used to define any muscle deformations such as bulging bicep muscles.


    Figure 1: A detailed skin is shown here beside the skeletal biped that is controlling it.

    The Crowd module is used to control the behavior of multiple characters moving about the scene by defining specific behaviors for the characters to follow such as pursuing a goal object or avoiding obstacles. Using the Crowd feature, you can quickly animate an entire scene of characters moving about a scene without worrying about whether the characters will walk into one another or walk through scene objects like walls or props.

    The Character Studio tools aren't new, but they have been improved with this version including an optimized crowd solver that computes solutions 10 times faster.
    New Modeling Features

    Max's modeling features have always been excellent, including support for meshes, patches, NURBS, Metaballs, Lofts, Booleans, Morphs and numerous other modeling types. But, perhaps the most robust modeling type in 3ds max is the Editable Poly object and most of the new modeling features in 3ds max 7 apply to Editable Poly objects. Perhaps the biggest new feature is the inclusion of the Edit Poly modifier, which lets you make changes to a primitive object using the Editable Poly features that can be removed or reapplied using the Modifier Stack. This ability to buffer your object from the current set of changes is extremely helpful on complex modeling jobs.

    Another neat new feature is the Bridge tool, that enables you build a bridge of polygons to connect holes in separate objects, like the arm shown in Figure 2. Using this feature, you can create seamlessly connect separate objects such as an arm and a hand and the number of vertices in each hole can be dissimilar.


    Figure 2: The Bridge feature can seamless connect two separate objects.

    Two more new modeling features to 3ds max 7 include a Paint Deformation interface that lets you deform the surface of a model using a brush to push, pull and relax vertices. With this feature, you can add more organic-looking detail to a model without having to select or work with sub-objects. 3ds max 7 also includes a paint selection tool that works with objects and sub-objects.

    Editable Poly objects also include a Preserve UVs feature that lets you edit an object after a texture map has been applied without altering the texture map's UV coordinates. This is a huge time-saver for projects that require any last minute geometry changes.

    The Skin Wrap modifier is also new to 3ds max 7. It lets you animate a low-res skin and then link the animated skin to a high-res version of the skin that receives all the animation keys applied to the low-res skin making the process of animating skins much easier.

    For those who avoid smoothing meshes until render time, 3ds max 7 includes an optimized version of the MeshSmooth modifier called TurboSmooth that can smooth objects much quicker for real-time updates in the viewports.
    Normal Maps

    Materials and textures are applied to objects in Max using a separate interface known as the Material Editor. Using this interface, you can create unique materials and map textures onto objects. Max also includes a Channel Editor that lets you manipulate which texture maps are applied to which channel. Max can also bake textures into objects to simulate effects such as lighting without the overhead.

    3ds max 7 includes tools for generating normal maps. Normal maps let you recreate the details of a high-res model and apply them onto a low-res model as a map that acts like an advanced bump map. Figure 3 shows a simple sphere that has been enhanced with a normal map produced from the high-res sphere object. This sphere still has the same number of polygons as the low-res sphere, but the normal map presents much of the detail of the high-res sphere without the additional polygons.


    Figure 3: Normal maps can enhance a low-res model with details taken from a high-res model using only a map.
    Animating

    Animating in Max is accomplished using traditional keyframe animation techniques using an intuitive interface with full access to function curves and a dope sheet, but you can also automate the motion of objects using what Max calls Controllers. These Controllers let you define specific types of motions such as flexing, spring-like motion, and expression-based actions.



    You can also animate objects using Max's built-in reactor features. The reactor interface uses the same routines used by many different gaming engines to simulate realistic dynamics based on physically-defined properties. Reactor includes support for soft and rigid body collisions, as well as, cloth, rope and water interactions.

    New to 3ds max 7 is the Reaction Manager that lets you drive the animation of objects based on the properties of another object. For example, an enemy can be set to rotate to face a hero as the hero moves about the scene. By setting up reactions, you can animate the main character and have supplemental objects respond as needed.

    One of the coolest new features is Max's Walk Through Navigation mode found in 3ds max 7. This mode lets you move through a scene in the viewport using the arrow keys and mouse just as if you were playing a 1st person shooter video game. With this mode, it becomes easy to locate the exact view you want, or animate moving through the scene.
    Rendering

    Max's rendering features are outstanding, including a cell-shaded rendering option, advanced lighting options such as Global Illumination and Radiosity, and raytracing. Network rendering support is also included. Max also includes an in-the-box license of mental ray 3.3. Improvements to the latest version of mental ray include physically accurate global illumination based on photometric lights, transparent shadows with caustics, and a generally easier setup method.
    Exporting to Mobile Devices

    Max can import several different 3d formats including DXF, OBJ and even IGES. It can also export rendered images and video to many common formats and some not-so-common formats including HDRI and Shockwave. In 3ds max 7, you can now export scenes and animations to the JSR-184 (M3G) file format for mobile devices. Max 7 also includes a separate Java-based player that you can use to view your exported M3G files.
    Expandability

    Another huge benefit of 3ds max is its ability to be expanded. Max ships with an extensive SDK that can be used to create plug-ins that install seamlessly into the interface. Many third-party plug-ins are available, or you can create your own. For small expansion tasks, Max includes MAXScript, a script-based authoring language that can be used to automate repetitive tasks or alter the interface controls. The Max interface also includes several customization features that let you change everything from menu commands to interface colors.
    Summary

    With its wealth of features, 3ds max has earned its right to be among the top 3d modeling, animation and rendering packages available. If Max has a downside, it would have to be its complexity. Becoming familiar with all the new features will take a fair amount of time and even with a lengthy study, many features will still remain a mystery after years of use. Thankfully, Max ships with a detailed web-based User Reference and a thorough set of tutorials that help befuddle the new stuff.

    Despite its complexity, 3ds max has everything you need. If you want a state-of-the-art computer animation package with all the bells and whistles, especially for creating game content, you need not look any further. 3ds max version 7 adds some much needed features to the mix and the packaging of Character Studio makes it well worth the upgrade price.

    3ds max has a long history of 6 versions prior to this release, but the majority of the workflow from the first version hasn't changed. Each 3ds max release focuses on adding features and improving the workflow on what is a stable and well-rounded 3d modeling and animation package. This seventh release is no different. It builds on what exists, adding a number of new features to the base product.

    The major additional features are the inclusion of mental ray 3.3 and character studio, a leading system for the production of motion of bipedal characters from both key-framed and motion capture data. In addition, Discreet has included some useful improvements to the modeling, animation and rendering workflow in this release.

    Moreover, the version 7 renderer now has full support for Normal Maps, one of the most highly-anticipated new features in the product. According to Discreet, the Normal Maps are one of the top 3 most important new features in 3ds max 7 and have been the biggest focus for 3ds max engineers over the past few years. Certainly the Normal Map support will be a boon for texturers and games engineers using max.


    'Les Jumelles'

    Modeling

    As a modeler, 3ds max is hard to beat. It has a useful number of geometry classes including numerous parametric primitives. They are great for beginners and pre-viz artists to get quick results. It also has:

    * Editable meshes, the legacy polygonal editing tool
    * Editable polygons, the updated and more powerful modeling tools with sophisticated features
    * Splines: as construction primitives these Bezier based splines are familiar for anybody with experience with a vector based drawing package
    * Patches: these allow for creating detailed surfaces by filling the spaces between three and four sided hole in Bezier curve lattice with patch geometry and NURBS surfaces

    This variety of tools allows you to produce quality models in a short amount of time. The NURBS tools are somewhat dated but still functional. As far as flexibility and ease of use go, the editable polygon class of geometry is difficult to match. This class of geometry has been upgraded again in 3ds max 7. Combine these with a customizable UI comprising of menus, icon based buttons, hotkeys and gizmos that has been refined over 7 iterations of the software and you can work in a way that suits you and create models within a tight deadline.


    New Modeling Features in 3ds max 7

    Edit Poly modifier
    This was perhaps the missing link from the editable polygon geometry type. Now all the tools you've grown to love from the editable polygon are available as a modifier. They are animatable too! Just being able to have access to the edge loops tools ring and loop at a modifier level is great! It's a pity that these edge and loop selections aren't system-wide, for instance in the skin modifier and the edit UVW modifier, without having to add additional scripting. All the updates to the editable polygon base object can be found in the modifier also.

    Editable poly enhancements

    Relax
    Relax is now applied at the sub-object level so that you can average out 'jaggies' in your model without the need to make selections and add a modifier – a very useful tool indeed.

    Border: Bridge
    This works at the border sub object like the Connect Boolean object, allowing you to have full control of a connection between two open holes in your model. This is perfect for stitching a limb onto a hole in the body.

    Preserve UVW
    The model can be edited independently of the UVW coordinates, allowing a modeler to make changes to the model without ruining UVW coordinates. Vertices, edges and polygons can slide underneath the map. Of course it cannot make adjustments for major changes in form, but will allow you to move around a few edge loops here and there without having to repaint your model. This is a great 'get out of jail free card' for unexpected hiccups in the intended pipeline.

    Turn edges
    With this enhancement, you can now edit the triangulation with a single click of the mouse – an improvement on the click and drag action required in older versions.

    Paint selections
    You can now paint a selection (as a system-wide selection) which is very useful. It allows you to create and add and remove from a selection with a round brush from any viewport. It's another welcome alternative to the other marquee-based selection tools.

    Flatten polygon
    The flatten polygon tool can now be used in X, Y or Z dimensions, allowing you make co-planar polygons quickly and easily.

    Polygon sub-object: Select by angle
    Polygons can now be selected according to the angle they share with adjoining polygons, which means you can select a whole face of a cube with one click, as adjoining faces will likely be beyond your angle threshold.


    Paint Deform for poly objects
    Paint deform allows the user to use three operations (pull, push and relax) along the surface normal of the polygon you are editing. It is similar to the artisan tools in Maya. This is an invaluable tool for the creation or normal maps and editing of both low and high polygon models. As an artist chipping away at a model in the same way you would a lump of clay, by adding to its surface or digging away at it, the paint deform tool for poly objects is much more intuitive but lacks the accuracy of directly moving specific vertices.

    Paint soft selection
    Rather than just having a soft selection falloff with a radius from the nearest selected vertex, you can individually paint the amount a vertex or face selected with colored feedback. In the past this could only be achieved using a vertex paint modifier followed by a volume select. This improvement in workflow is a great gain for modelers and technical directors alike.

    3dstudio max has a comprehensive shader creation system called the material editor. This allows you to create a complex tree structure of procedural maps and bitmaps to generate any material your mind can imagine, while giving you constant feedback and a clear shader tree navigation system.

    Textures can be arranged on to the surface of your models by using procedural UVW map modifiers or using the UVW edit modifier to customize the arrangement of your maps at the polygon level if needed.

    Now that 3ds max has mental ray support, the shaders that can be created are unlimited, as you can draw from the pool of work created by mental ray shader artists from over the last 10 years of production.

    As 3ds max has always been the primary choice for game development, the real time environment has not been forgotten. With DirectX 9 support in a content creation tool you can use 3ds max as a WYSIWYG editor for the real-time textures. DirectX .fx files can be viewed in max and there is extensive support for the creation and viewing of lighting maps, bump maps, normal maps through the 'render to texture' interface which now has mental ray support.

    Whilst tuning your materials an 'active shade' view can be used, which allows the user to adjust materials in the scene and have them update in a fraction of the time that it normally takes to do a render.

    Normal-mapping tools
    The renderer now fully supports Normal maps in a normal bump map type. The Projection modifier can create Normal maps on a low polygon model from a high polygon model. This is invaluable for both real-time games work and adding detail to pre-rendered shots without having to use displacement or high polygon counts.

    mental ray shader: Subsurface scattering
    These are the sub surface scattering (SSS) family SSS Fast, SSS Skin, and SSS Physics phenomenon. All give you the subsurface scatters that give things such as wax, marble, cheese and skin its unique look. These shaders are very fast and give a look that is convincing but not necessarily 100% accurate with the exception the Physics phenomenon.

    mental ray shader: Ambient occlusion
    The ambient occlusion shader is a good alternative to global illumination which gives you the look without the overhead of time.

    Material Editor: Right click copy and paste
    This is a handy feature to take a few button presses away from the act of copying a material, map or color into your clipboard on the fly.

    Improved UV editing
    The UVW Map and the Unwrap UVW now have an optional gizmo to represent when texture seams lie on your model. That the seams can be highlighted before you go to the effort of painting your maps is great! Unfortunately, however, the Unwrap UVW doesn't have the full complement of selection tools. The lasso selection and ring and loop selection are missing, but the paint selection has been added to make selections easier. Also a 'relax' selection that considers the length of each edge after it relaxes is missing. In my opinion UVW coordinates should just be another sub-object level allowing you to select vertices and edges in a 2D environment for use in other manipulations beyond simple texturing.

    Modular DX materials
    Any standard .fx file can be loaded and displayed in the viewports and material editor, giving game artists a chance to preview the DirectX shaders in their working environment

    DirectX standard material
    Any standard material can be converted to an .fx file for use in a game engine immediately or be viewed as a DirectX shader in 3ds max. These are then loaded into the DirectX 9 material for viewing and editing.

    Pixel-based camera mapping
    As an alternative to regular matte-based object material or camera-based mapping there is now a pixel-based camera map that allows you to project adjusted matte-painted images back onto your geometry with precise pixel accuracy.

    Flat shaded view
    This view allows you to see your entire scene as if its materials were 100% self illuminated. It is a powerful way of seeing your ambient colors without the effect of the current lighting solution.

    Animation

    3ds max has an animation system that opens up opportunity to create motion in a number of ways. Its support for key-framed animation is comprehensive with both auto key and set key modes. There are five ways to edit your keys: the dope sheet, the curve editor, the motion panel, the time slider and the mini curve editor. You can adjust your timing and curves easily in the way that suits you best. There is also full support for secondary animation via the use of expression and script controllers to directly create functions. In order to create relationships between objects there are IK and constraints tools and the capability to wire together parameters to enable technical directors to create custom rigs.

    Everything in 3ds max can be animated, including materials, parameters and relationships. There are a number of modifiers specifically designed to deform animated objects and characters. For the specialist animation task of animating dynamics, 3dstudio max includes the havoc package under the reactor badge, which can solve soft and rigid dynamics quickly. Particles can be animated with particle flow, which is tightly integrated with the rest of the package and makes use of a 'drag and drop' block diagram UI. And then for character animation character studio is an obvious choice as it is included in the core package for no extra cost.

    New Animation Features in 3ds max 7

    character studio

    With release 7 of 3ds max the famous character animation system character studio is now included as part of the core system. Character Studio 4 has often divided the CG community in argument as to whether it is simply a toy or a powerful work tool. Those who consider to just be a toy have probably had no real hands on experience with current versions of the product. It now has a level of control that can be found in custom rigs without the effort of customization. It is also great to be able to work with motion capture data without having to buy a separate package. It is also invaluable on its own, even if you parse.



    Motion capture
    Character studio is compatible with both BVH and CSM data and allows you to convert to and from keyframe reduction data with powerful filtering software that can also be run in batch mode.



    External file formats
    Character studio allows character animation to be moved from one character to another, taking into account different proportions of your characters. Now even your own custom IK bones can be saved into the .BIP format

    Crowd systems
    There is also an impressive set of crowd systems, designed to deal with large numbers of characters in a scene. By simply seeding the crowd with a number of motions and behavior rules, you can get a complex result in a fraction of the time it would take to do it all by hand.

    Non-linear editing
    character studio 4 has introduced the concept of non-linear animation editing, where the software can take care of a transition from a walk to a run by itself.

    Animation analysis
    The new work bench makes it easier to work with your curves, which are modeled in quaterion space which makes things hard to visualize. It also allows you to find where the kinks are in your animation by highlighting where they are and how to smooth them out.

    Props
    Bipedal props have been added, allowing you to animate a sword or weapon within the package.

    Motion flow editing
    This part of character studio is a great tool for games and crowds. It allows you to create believable transitions between a network of motions and then string these motions together into a performance



    Skinning
    Physique is character studio's skinning system which allows you to create detailed skinning solutions using a number of parametric controls. This works with all geometry types within 3ds max.

    Parameter collections
    The Custom Attributes editor, which required a certain amount of commitment have been replaced by the Parameter Collector which provides you with fast access to a number of related controllers. The Custom Attributes editor itself has now been replaced by the Parameter Editor which has greater ease of use.

    Skin Morph modifier
    This is a replacement for the skin morph angle deformer which works in a more predictable way for all three axes. It has an improved workflow as a separate modifier, allowing you to create tidy deformations of all joints, adjust the shape of a joint by using the full complement of modeling tools, and automatically blend to the adjusted shapes as the join approaches the joint angle.

    Skin Wrap deformer
    This deformer allows you to deform the vertices of your mesh according to the position of the vertices on a neighboring object. This means you can add clothes to a character with a few simple mouse clicks, or drive a high polygon mesh with a low polygon mesh among other possibilities. It is a must for any character deformation pipeline.

    Reaction controller
    The reaction controller has been dusted off and improved. It allows you to make a relationship between several animation controllers to create secondary animation according to your master keys. It is going to be an alternative to having technical directors writing reams of expressions and MaxScript because simple curve mixers can be used instead. At first it's not simple to use, but compared to the alternative it is worth learning!

    Lighting and Rendering

    The lighting system in 3dstudio max incorporates a set of fairly standard approaches to synthetic lighting, with omni and directional lights as well as IES-based lights that mimic real world lights. There are also a number of ways to create environment-based lights. Most of these lights will illuminate models in the viewports for direct feedback. The ability to then bake your lighting solution to maps and vertex data is a great drawcard to both real time environments and optimized pre-rendered solutions.

    Earlier generations of 3ds max only had the default scan line renderer which is powerful and reliable, but now we have a radiosity renderer spawned from lightscape, Mental Ray renderer which is an industry standard renderer, and the light tracer global illumination renderer. There are also a number of third party plugin renderers available for 3ds max: namely Brazil, Vray and Final Render. These give you the flexibility to use the best tool for the look you are trying to achieve with the resources you have available.

    In terms of output, 3ds max has support for a number of output solutions. These include floating point data output for a number of channels, such as color, shadow, specular, shadow, z-depth, normal, and velocity, to all industry standard formats.

    A number of post effects can also be processed directly through the renderer as render effects with a preview window helping you to fine-tune your effects before committing the effect for a sequence. This means that if you have no post processing package, some simple effects can be added directly to the renderer.

    Overall, the lighting and rendering from 3ds max is a stable and easy to use solution that has benefited greatly from the addition of mental ray. Moreover, the update to mental ray 3.3.3.36 is a welcome change.

    Mental Ray 3.3

    * Physically-based indirect illumination
    * Photon distribution and energy levels are now physically correct. The results from using mental ray to calculate global illumination are now close to those obtained from radiosity and the scan line renderer. Materials with a translucent shader reduce the energy of transmitted light correct amount
    * Support for the IES Sun light
    * Improved handling of the Physical Scale setting in exposure control
    * New rapid scan line options
    * Changed settings for the BSP and Grid ray-trace acceleration methods.
    * New options for final gathering
    * New information in the messages window
    * Simplified controls for handling shadow map, photon map, and final gather files
    * Correct backface culling
    * Transparency in shadow maps
    * An option to globally apply motion blur and the ability to move lights and cameras to generate motion blur
    * The ability to access maps in memory (rather than from disk), or to skip masks and use only surface color in test renderings
    * A new diagnostic to test Final Gather



    Render to texture support for mental ray
    This addition, gives you the full control of mental ray when baking out light maps, bump maps, normal maps and mapped procedural and composite materials.

    Render dialog settings
    With the introductions of new renderers and the additional array of settings involved, you can now save and load a number of presets to and from external files, saving you time.

    Incremental echo with mental ray
    This feature allows the standalone Mental Ray renderer, (including the Linux version) to receive the smallest data set from 3ds max as it records only the changes to the scene in the .mi file it creates.

    Render to texture enhancements
    Now artists can specify multiple render passes in single session and individual settings for unwraps and channels. This is ideal for a set and forget style workflow.

    Rendering control
    The distributed renderer “backburner” has been updated and now gives system administrators the opportunity to control other non-Discreet packages through the backburner interface. Conversely the command line renderer has also been updated so it can be controlled by third party network renderers. Either way, network rendering has never been better.

    Renderable Spline modifier
    This modifier makes it easy to create wireframe diagrams from your construction curves and is compatible with AutoCAD files.

    The ability of 3ds max to work with other programs is demonstrated by the number of import and export options available. The one major improvement to this flexibility, however, would be an ASCII-based version of 3ds max files which has been lacking from day 1 of 3ds max development. That being said, the MaxScript scripting language and C++ software development kit (SDK) allows software developers to expand on the functionality of 3ds max to create plug-ins and utilities. These in turn allow 3ds max to scale to a pipeline production environment with customized features to suit the artist and developer alike. A great number of software plug-ins and scripts, both freeware and commercial, can be found on the web. And if that resource doesn't do what you need, the community of max developers and scripts is extensive.

    Additional New Features in 3ds max 7

    Update Snapping Improvements
    Now all your snaps are at your finger tips (ALT F5-F10) and in a floating tool bar panel.

    Mobile Gaming Features
    With the increasing presence of Java games on mobile phones, Discreet has included a JSR-184 exporter that allows you to make your models in 3ds max and export them directly and test them in a standalone player.



    First Person Camera
    The first person camera view is easy to use for anybody who has played a first person shooter. Simply hit the up arrow to enable it and then use standard first person shooter controls to navigate your scene.

    Clone & Align Tool
    This tool allows you to lay out your scene with place holders and replace them with the finished object in a much more intuitive interface than using x reference objects. It's much like being able to copy and paste the transform of one object into another and swap the geometry.

    Array and Align
    The Array tool now has a quick preview so you can experiment with your settings before committing and use bounding boxes if there is too much detail in your model being cloned to maximize interactivity. There is a now a quick align tool (Shift + A) for quickly aligning two objects together according to their pivot, saving you 6 mouse clicks per align.

    Vital Statistics
    Product: 3ds max 7
    Manufacturer: Discreet
    Price:

    US$3495
    3ds max6 upgrade US$795
    3ds max5 upgrade US$1295
    Hits:

    - inclusion of mental ray
    - inclusion of character studio
    - support for Normal Maps
    - polygon editing enhancements
    - paint deform modifier
    Misses:

    - no ASCII-based file format for 3ds max files
    - big learning curve for beginners, as it's a 'heavy' application
    Comments:

    A well-rounded 3D solution suitable for both small studios large pipelines. While it would benefit from a complete rewrite to remove 'baggage' practically everything CGI is achievable in 3ds max 7.


    Summary

    3ds max is a well-rounded 3D solution for both the real time and pre rendered market. Its place in a small studio and a large pipeline is equally relevant. This means that you can grow to match the software's capability from a beginner level to industry expert. Being such a mature product is a double-edged sword as it has all the improvements collected with 7 revisions of the software, but also the baggage. I think 3ds max could benefit from a rewrite from the ground up, but that is because I have personally used it since version 1. If you have never tried 3ds max before, invest time to learn it, because there is little that it cannot do. If you are unsure whether you need an update or not, mental ray 3.3, character studio, and updates to polygon editing are the stand out, 'decider' features.

    [img][/img]

    "Problems are the price you pay for progress."

  2. #2

    Default Re: 3Ds Max 7 Full Review

    i dunno im takin a class on this program at my highschool and its MUCH harder than anything photoshop does. I mean the thing is so complex. So many options and etc.

  3. #3
    Straight Up Piff A. Woods's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3Ds Max 7 Full Review

    3dsmax is a modeling/animation/game building program so yeah it is complicated. Basically Photoshop is 2d or 8-tracks compared to 3dsmax which is 3D or CD's

  4. #4

    Default Re: 3Ds Max 7 Full Review

    im just sayin that its not the best for makin mixtape covers. this is more for bizness like prototypes of products like cars or cell phones. I dunno i just think its meant for a different purpose.

  5. #5

    Default Re: 3Ds Max 7 Full Review

    no if u can simulate yourself into a situation you're most likely not to experience... it would make a great cd cover... but yeah i think it would be worth learning to use... a lot of things are possible graphically speaking... especially when it comes to cd covers... they are an expression in their own way outside of the music... know what i mean?

    [img][/img]

    "Problems are the price you pay for progress."

  6. #6
    I, I got it / Elite GFX Artist UP06's Avatar
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    Default Re: 3Ds Max 7 Full Review

    i have this program, been usin it since 6, they're on 8 right now.

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