Performance, Productivity Increases

The team at Autodesk presents us with 3ds Max® 2015 and a wide range of modifications, improvements, and new features designed to increase performance and productivity. Noteworthy are the new placement tools and several improvements to the populate feature, an extremely powerful tool for populating scenes with animated characters. I’m most excited, though, to introduce two features I believe will become user’s favorites.


First I’d like to mention ShaderFX and its node-based visual editor. ShaderFX was first introduced to Autodesk MayaLT users in early 2014. The ShaderFX editor allows us to create networks by connecting nodes together for building complicated shader effects—all while utilizing the familiar click-drag-connect action we’ve adopted using similar features in Max (the material slate, for example). Ultimately, ShaderFX allows us to export complicated shader effects to a various number of configurations including HLSL, GLSL, and CGFX.  In short, we can create incredibly complicated shaders without code and see the results live on screen.

The interface is simple.  When using the Nitrous DirectX 11 driver, the material browser will allow users to select and apply the DirectX Shader. Once created, users can simply select “Open ShaderFX” to access the visual editor where two nodes appear: “Material” and “TraditionalGameSurfaceShader.” By selecting “Material,” the properties window will populate, letting users choose a shader language and save the code out to edit and work with various engines.  By simply right-clicking in the shader editor window, we can access various nodes we’d like to add to our shader network as well as toggle to advance mode where more node options become available. 

Figure 1: ShaderFX

Quad Chamfer Modifier

Also introduced with 3ds Max 2015 is the Quad Chamfer modifier. This modifier allows us to quickly create standard or quad-based chamfers with proper triangulation using various options including amount, segments, and tension. Among other options, users have the ability to open the chamfer to reveal remaining faces or invert the selection, leaving only the chamfered faces behind. This will definitely speed things along a bit.

Figure 2: Quad Chamfer Modifier

Additional Improvements

Some additional items included with this release are render output naming options, nested layers, a new scene explorer, and more.  As a BIM enthusiast, I was especially excited to see Civil View installed in the default menu set with objects located in the drop-down on the Create panel.

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