2019: The Year of Convergence

In my experience, 3ds® Max® has always been the friend that plays well with others on the playground, and because of that, I’m excited to see how far we can push it with advances in today’s software. Some of those programs made such incredible advances alongside 3ds Max they are impossible to ignore.  These advancements came together simultaneously to give us an extraordinary amount of freedom and power to create anything we want. I’ll present some of those in this article (not in any particular order).

Epic’s Unreal Studio

Unreal Engine was an underdog, arriving late in the game, placing it at a disadvantage in areas of publisher content, support, and documentation.  Additionally, it relies heavily on C++, where alternative programs utilize coding languages such as C#, a more popular language among the average population.  Still, the Epic team made exceptional strides to develop Unreal Studio with a few advances worth mentioning that might make users consider making it a part of their workflow.

First is the simplicity of the Unreal Datasmith export for 3ds Max. The exporter is one of the cleanest and simplest systems I’ve seen to date. Simply pick your objects in 3ds Max, export them to the Datasmith file format, then use the Datasmith import in Unreal Engine to import the content. Because the developers were sure to include compatibility with Vray (arguably the standard for realistic content and visualization), it’s an extremely powerful option for generating interactive content and cinematic scene development with 3ds Max. With Epic’s node-based blueprint and material system, modifications and customization after import are efficient and fun. 

Second is Epic’s announcement of high-performance physics and destruction system real-time tech.  It’s pretty incredible and frankly hard to put in words, so I suggest readers review their demo online. 

Last, it’s impossible to ignore the quality of their short film for photorealism called Rebirth. Using real-time, dynamic systems with 3D scanned assets for their environment, they demonstrate that using their engine makes easy work of cinematic-quality, high-definition, 60 frames-per-second content without rendering.  It’s hard to express how excited I am for this as I feel it puts the power to create cinematic or AAA-quality content in the hands of anyone who wants to create. 

Engines and Operations

The Max team continues to make strides to accommodate the popular rendering engines and tools 3D artists use today.  Consequently, developers continue to work toward improving compatibility with Max while providing new features for artists.  Some of these include advances in Max’s ART rendering and physical materials system, Substance and Arnold integrations, Vray Next advances including an AI-based denoiser system, improvements to the OSL shader system, and many more.

Figures 1-3 are some screenshots and graphics demonstrating some of the advances I’ve mentioned in this article:

Figure 1: Autodesk's presentation of the OSL Shader System updates coming to 3ds Max

Screenshots of Epic’s Unreal Engine Demo for Rebirth

Figure 2: Rebirth screenshot 1

Figure 3: Rebirth screenshot 2

Brian Chapman is an Autodesk Authorized Developer, creator of and a Senior Designer for an engineering firm located in Las Vegas, Nevada. Brian can be reached at

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