Tuesday, August 12th, 2014 Posted by Jim Thacker

Autodesk releases Maya & 3ds Max 2015 Extension 1

Pixar’s OpenSubdiv libraries have been incorporated into 3ds Max as part of the Autodesk’s latest subscriber-only Extension release, along with support for Alembic, and an expansion of the ShaderFX toolset.

Autodesk has launched its Extension releases for 3ds Max and Maya 2015, adding OpenSubdiv and Alembic support to Max and expanding the new ShaderFX toolset; and a new Color Management system to Maya.

The announcements were made to coincide with Siggraph 2014.

Popular additions for Max users
After the comparatively thin pickings in the 2015 release itself, the new features in 3ds Max 2015 Extension 1 will come as a pleasant surprise to many users.

The most popular of these – it’s currently topping Autodesk’s official user request system – will probably be the incorporation of Pixar’s OpenSubdiv libraries for fast, GPU-capable subdivision surface workflow.

The implementation in 3ds Max adds a CreaseSet modifier, for fine control of where smooth and hard edges meet without the need of extra geometry to adjust surface curvature, and a new Crease Explorer feature.

Alembic support and new shader-authoring options
The Extension also finally adds support for the increasingly industry-standard Alembic data interchange format, a full three years after it was introduced in Maya.

Autodesk promises that the new functionality will enable users to “view massive datasets in the Nitrous Viewport, and transfer them more easily through your production pipeline”.

The ShaderFX shader-authoring toolset introduced in the 2015 release has also been extended, adding a range of new procedural noise types, a new bump utility node, and a searchable node browser.

Maya gets a new colour management system, designed to provide “more accurate colour reproduction in Maya’s editors and windows, plus frames rendered using mental ray”.

It loads OpenColorIO config files, so if your pipeline is based around the open standard, it should enable Maya to slot right in.

Another feature of the update is a new performance profiler for isolating (and removing) the causes of lag in viewport playback on heavy scenes. You can see both in action in the video above.

Less headline-grabbingly, but significantly for day-to-day workflow, the modelling toolkit has been overhauled.

Old single-function tools have been combined into new, multifunctional tools – Merge Edge and Merge Vertex have become a single Target Weld tool, for example – the UI has been updated, and new hotkeys added.

Available to Subscription customers
The Extension releases are free to users on Subscription contracts, and are not available to other users. The Max Extension is out now. We can’t yet find a download page for the Maya Extension, but we’ll update if we do.

Read more about 3ds Max 2015 Extension 1 on Autodesk’s AREA community site
(Includes longer demo videos)

Download 3ds Max 2015 Extension 1