Tutorial: Collaboration with 3ds Max and Stingray
One of the best solutions for collaboration provided to us recently is Autodesk’s Stingray. Stingray is a real-time engine based on Swedish Bitsquid technologies for game development. Autodesk did what it does best and integrated and improved the software to provide us with the opportunity to take advantage of its power and simplicity. Through Stingray, Autodesk gives us the ability to collaborate with real-time visualization where the viewer—our customers—can navigate scenes with game-like keyboard controls for an interactive experience and review. This article will present a tutorial using 3ds Max and Stingray to create such a scene.
First, in order to use Stingray with 3ds Max®, users must have 3ds Max 2016 with Extension Pack 1. To connect with Stingray and use the Stingray menu inside 3ds Max, users must install the plug-in. Once Stingray is installed, the installation file for the plug-in can be found under C:\Program Files\Autodesk\Stingray\extras folder and is called StingrayDCCLink2016.msi. This installs the menu displayed in Figure 1, which contains the connect and import functions needed to transfer 3ds Max scenes into Stingray.
Figure 1: Stingray menu in 3ds Max
Starting a Project
To work with Stingray, ensure that both Stingray and 3ds Max are opened simultaneously. If they are, begin your project in Stingray simply by selecting the “empty” template inside the Project Manager as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2: Select Empty Template in Stingray Project Manager
The Stingray interface is relatively organized and the documentation provided with Stingray, coupled with information available online, will help you as you learn to navigate through the system. To demonstrate the simplicity of using Stingray with 3ds Max and to keep the article a reasonable length, I recommend that users refer to those documents as I continue to the next step.
Importing a Scene
To import a scene, first select the “Connect” option in the 3ds Max Stingray menu shown in Figure 1, then select “SendAll.” The plug-in should navigate you to the correct folder to export your 3ds Max file. The file exports the scene to an FBX file format and will display the options shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3: 3ds Max export options for Stingray
Now you can switch to Stingray. You will notice inside the Asset Browser the file that was just created. Simply click on the asset and drag it into your Level Viewport as displayed in Figure 4.
Figure 4: Importing 3ds Max asset into Stingray Level Viewport
Figure 5: Stingray and 3ds Max example
At this point in the tutorial you can select the green (play) arrow to test the level (or press F8). This will open a separate window where you can use your mouse to control the eye position and the keyboard controls “WSAD” to walk. These are the same controls used by many computer games available on the market today.