Discreet recently announced that they have begun shipping the long-awaited upgrade to 3D Studio MAX, 3ds max 4. 3ds max 4 delivers a new and extensible character animation architecture, advanced game development tools and extensive rendering productivity with ActiveShade, Render Elements and unparalleled support for the new Direct 3D technology. These advancements give animators a flexible and realistic working environment for rich media content creation - whether for motion picture visual effects, 3D Web production or next-generation game development for PC game titles or gaming consoles such as Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation 2 or Nintendo GameCube. "Discreet's continued leadership in 3D animation is exemplified by 3ds max 4 and its relevance to an extremely broad audience of animators," said Phillip Miller, senior director of Discreet software products. "As the industry's preferred animation package, 3ds max 4 is once again setting the standard for integrating 3D within the total workflow for effects, animation, post-production and game development studios." While Discreet is positioning 3ds max 4 as the ideal choice for game developers, they're also playing on the fact that this new version makes it easier to put 3D animation onto the Web. With support for Flash, Cycore, Pulse, RichFX and Viewpoint, 3ds max 4 can export to the Web catering for a wide range of purposes - whether it's a 3D rotating mobile phone for an e-commerce site, or an animated short film or show reel being distributed via the Net. 3ds max 4 is available now for a suggested retail price of US$3,495.