Review: Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suite Ultimate 2013
The Nitrous accelerated graphics core has received a number of enhancements. Artists will enjoy the increased drawing performance on large scenes, together with new support for image-based lighting, depth of field, accelerated particle flow display, and a new clay shader. In addition, the ability to change the bokeh shape via MAXScript, support for shadows in large scenes, and improved workflows for interior scenes extend the Nitrous functionality.
3ds Max Animation or what I didn't like
Each release for animation has gotten slower and comparing FPS with the same file, a simple rig in max 9 vs. 2013 we can see the animation playback difference.
3ds Max 9 = 67-72fps
vs. 3ds Max 2013- 42-27fps
This is a significant drop and during my tests with skinning and working with large models from Mudbox on my system I couldn't really check the final deformations and would have had to reduce the polygon count where Softimage and Maya were extremely interactive and responsive. The new Gpoly surface is supposed to address some speed issues of the edit poly object type but because it changes the vertex count direct upgrading of existing character rigs isn't an option.
New updates to CAT are great but if you can't work with a character at interactive speeds then it doesn't help and for now I will be sticking with other tools for Animation.
3ds Max gets many things right and makes a good modeling and rendering solution with animation feeling rough even with a large update to the CAT auto rig system and has slowed down to the point of painful when trying to animate in it.
Alone each software has and does offer some unique tools and nice updates for users but the true power of a team is how well they work together and in this regard Autodesk has done well for animators in giving them a shared edit interface. With the curve editors and hotkeys it should go a long way to help smooth over switching between software and getting up artists on a different production environment. If the team has a weakness it is the .FBX file exchange format since one bug can cause a problem with the entire Suite of tools and be difficult to track down and fix without it being a true open source file format.
By the time most teams upgrade most of the bugs I hit hopefully will have been patched in a service pack or two. Several have been released already just during the writing of this but for now I would say test out the software but hold off on rolling out full updates until more of the bugs are fixed and are able to fully move on to the new versions. For users that are working in only one package though, there will be much fewer issues to worry about and you can make the upgrade sooner.
Autodesk® Maya® and Autodesk® 3ds Max®
Autodesk® Sketchbook® Designer