Review: Autodesk 3ds Max Entertainment Creation Suite Premium 2012
Uvs and Rendering get some big love in this release as 3ds Max users get iray first. For the photo real crowed, I think this might be the new go to engine. Also if you have the Nvidia hardware with CUDA Iray will render much faster.
To wrap up rendering stuff, when Mudbox showed off Vector displacement maps everyone went ooooohhh and then Autodesk left us asking how do we render them? I am happy to say they are now supported for rendering in 3ds Max with the latest mental ray upgrade. This will let all those great Mudbox details come over for rendering without having to create huge, heavy meshes. Though if you have the ram most of the software in the 2012 suites are now powerful enough to take on heavy assets, details and all, giving you faster render times, you just have to figure out how to rig them!
And for a full breakdown of all the new features and some extra notes check out this blog post from Ken Pimentel at Autodesk or just read through the help files, as I would recommend doing anyway for new and experienced users.
Animating in 3ds Max 2012 has gotten better with a new streamlined Unified F-Curve Editor and made both the GUI and the animation curves standard across the entire entertainment suite. Having worked between MotionBuilder and Maya and Maya and 3ds Max 2012 I really like the new standardization. Also, hopefully the new standard curve and keyframe tangent types will let .FBX data keep the exact same animation no matter which software you open it in. Another small but helpful keyframe edit tool called Regions has been added, originally found in MotionBuilder, it allows for fast moving and scaling of groups of keyframes. I did hit a bug in the new Regions manipulator tool that caused it to keep redrawing my selection area and would not let me move anything. This only happened after I used the new Track View hide controllers button but could just be a display issue. The regions manipulator is a nice addition but I do wish that it also had the numeric inputs for the scale handles like the one in MotionBuilder, maybe next year.
There are lots of tweaks and changes curve editor and I think most of them are good, animators will find the curve and keyframe tools fast to work with and should have little trouble adjusting from the past UI.