Review: Autodesk 3ds Max Entertainment Creation Suite Premium 2012
It feels strange reviewing the latest build of 3ds Max as most of my work with it in the past few years has been more on the scripting side or using it as a conversion/export step in the pipeline. I have spent over 10 years with almost equal time bouncing between Maya, MotionBuilder and 3ds Max animating and rigging so I am excited to check out the latest release. Much like the Maya Entertainment Suite, the latest release of the 2012 Autodesk 3ds Max super software mashup, will help cut the cost of buying each software separately and provide a serious set of powertools for us artists.
Because the Premium suite now includes Softimage to the bundle you now get Face Robot for dealing with complex face rigging, the simply incredible ICE visual programming system and the much envied Lagoa Multiphysics dynamic solver system written in ICE. As a 3ds Max user, why should you care? Autodesk has made it easy for you to add its very powerful toolset to the pipeline. With new one click Send To functions letting you push and pull data between the other suite software via the updated .FBX format,you and your studio can be running the same software combination that Blur Studios uses including Softimage Face Robot and ICE with flexibility of render choice in 3ds Max.
In my experience the workflow of 3ds Max matches the Softimage workflow and mindset and can be an easier transition than with Maya.
More easily take advantage of the focused toolsets in the Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suites Premium, with new single-step interoperability between Softimage and Autodesk Maya, Autodesk 3ds Max software, and Autodesk Mudbox. Export Softimage scene elements to Mudbox to intuitively add organic sculpted and painted details, and then update the scene in Softimage in one simple step. And use the power of the Softimage ICE particle system in your Maya or 3ds Max scene.
For a more in depth review of MotionBuilder and Mudbox please read over my Maya Entertainment Creation Suite review here on AWN. As of this writing there have been hot fix releases for most of the 2012 software. The nice thing is that the new 2012 hot fix patches and service packs install faster and don't require an uninstall first as they used to do for previous versions.
3ds Max 2012 First Impressions - The Launch
The first launch of 3ds Max 2012 comes up with the Autodesk dark UI scheme that, while useable is easily switched to a light UI scheme through the Customize-Custom UI and Defaults switcher. I have always liked how easy it is to store different UI schemes in Max and the other Autodesk teams could take a note from them and let users chose light or dark in Maya, Mudbox and MotionBuilder.
“Improved Startup Time and Memory Footprint” is one of the many new improvements that show up from the start. I noticed it did launch much faster than past versions, even on my older hardware, though some of the GUI like the Ribbon and the new tool Caddy (floating tool options) feel sluggish to update compared to past version of Max. I expect that this will improve with driver updates and as Autodesk gets more feedback from users, along with better graphics cards.