Strategies for Implementing 3ds Max for the Entrepreneur

3ds Max is used in conjunction with many other programs to create content.  The list is long and continues to grow.  One reason for this is 3ds Max is simple to implement.  Additionally, implementation is less constrained by technical barriers with the software, than by the capability of the user.  Still, countless startups fail by not understanding the work involved with creating content using 3ds Max.  Too many try to be a studio that can do everything, but they don't have the capital or the workforce to accomplish the tasks appropriately, and sink. However, 3ds Max is not the anchor that pulls them down.  It is the studio and those implementing the workflows and procedures.  So, after speaking with various professionals in different industries using 3ds Max, I will share some advice for those considering 3ds Max as their solution for their services.

  1. Do not "wing it" or "fake it until you make it":Understanding the service and processes involved, allows implementers to break those down into steps that enable employees to succeed. Doing that helps to improve teams' capabilities while building skills necessary to be a professional.Generating a focused, project-based, stepped approach requires isolating the service(s) you wish to provide and divvying out tasks in a manner that will build skill, challenge users, and help them to create a great product.
  2. Focus on skill building, not software:For architectural visualization, a professional will understand area shadows, soft particles and atmosphere, depth of field, advanced post effects, parallax mapping, anisotropic and translucent shading, real-time refraction, reflection, caustics, rays, dispersion, and much more. They will also understand furniture placement, interior decorating, exterior landscape, human behavior, security concerns, vehicular and pedestrian travel behavior, and much more developed over time.Consider 3ds Max as a tool used to highlight a person's capabilities. Like a hammer, anyone can pick it up and start tossing it around, but not everyone knows how to build a beautiful home.
  3. Be flexible to new minds:Company owners are called decision-makers.If you happen to be one deciding whether or not to implement 3ds Max in your company, you have likely been outside production for a considerable amount of time. You have built your skills around negotiation, legal challenges, budgeting, human resources, accounting, and more.Recognize that while you developed those skills, others have focused on honing their technical and design capability. Add them to your team and consider them your best support and asset for implementation.
  4. Do not be afraid of the future (or bugs that come with it): Studies show early adoption is painful, but in almost every case, early adopters reap benefits; late adopters do not.Be at the forefront of innovation and be prepared to budget for its success and failures; your competition will be.
  5. Spread your wings:  Your implementer will need to maintain an understanding of current trends and challenges affecting everyday users and provide potential problems or solutions for workflow.  This information spreads by word of mouth shared through professional networks and connections.  Start by aligning yourself with professionals and forums like AUGI and others that focus on software solutions and where you will find mostly professionals.

Let me put all this in context.  While starting, it will be near impossible for a small shop to be a successful architectural visualization company while simultaneously creating assets for games, visual effects for film, and motion graphics for advertisements, but 3ds Max is used extensively for each of those. See Figure One, for example. Each of these requires an extraordinary amount of knowledge of even the basic components, to the advanced applications that take years to develop.

Figure 1 – Industries Served Using 3ds Max

It will be unlikely a studio stretched so thin can successfully compete with firms who focus their resources. Especially if bidding processes are or become involved.

Taking a lesson from sports, make sure the goal, the final product, is marked on the field.  Map out your positions and your playbook.  Identify what is in and out of bounds for the players and the team.  Map out the plays a person needs to practice the skills they need to build and inspire them to do just that.   Ensure every player knows their part and can execute it flawlessly most of the time.  Mapping these out ensures you implement realistic, obtainable goals. Do not be afraid to adjust as needed. Flexibility is an attribute of success, not a failure.  Don't have individuals play too many positions.  You wouldn't want your best pitcher to be a 3rd baseman, nor would you want to bench your best quarterback. Working with 3ds Max is no different. If your best lighting artist is stuck texturing assets, you risk not only substandard work, but losing them altogether.

Finally, expect at first, even simple tasks will take time to master.  For example, in an architectural visualization firm, importing and exporting FBX files is a necessary process.  While it might seem relatively simple, depending on the scene components, complexities, and bugs, building successful workflows for this can take a considerable amount of time that users must work through.  Since every file is unique, there may not always be a single solution.

Finally, success will be determined by whether or not you mapped out tasks in a manner that provides a consistent path to learning/skill-building while forming autonomy, creative thinking, and expression (3ds Max is a tool for artists after all) that challenges users to better themselves. Good luck!

Brian Chapman is an Autodesk Authorized Developer, Digital Artist, and a CAD Applications Specialist for an engineering firm located in Las Vegas, Nevada. Brian shares tips and tricks at with a portfolio of digital artwork and renderings at Brian’s email is

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