Autodesk unveils 3ds Max and Maya 2016 Extension 1
Autodesk has announced the subscriber-only Extension 1 updates to 3ds Max and Maya 2016, both adding a live link to the company’s new Stingray game engine, improved games export workflows, and a new 3D text tool.
In addition, Max users get new skin weighting tools and Max Creation Graph functionality, while Maya gets SVG support and further new nodes in the Hypershade. The extensions will go on show at Siggraph 2015.
3ds Max and Maya: Live link to the Stingray game engine
Both applications get a live link to Autodesk’s Stingray game engine, due to be released next week, enabling artists to edit geometry, cameras and animations and see updates in the engine in real time.
3ds Max also gets a new PBR DirectX shader intended to replicate that in Stingray, shown in the video above.
The live link is a key selling point for Stingray, which faces stiff competition from extablished engines like Unity and Unreal Engine, but Autodesk has also streamlined its games export functionality in general.
3ds Max gets a new Game Exporter, enabling users to create presets for exporting assets and to preview takes; Maya now includes screen height percentage for better LoD support when changing lens length or field of view.
3ds Max and Maya: New 3D text tools
In addition, both packages get a new 3D text tool: 3D Type in the case of Maya, TextPlus in the case of 3ds Max, described in the video above as a “bona fide typography tool”.
The tool includes font previews; tracking, kerning and leading control; character-level text editing; and a built-in editor for creating custom bevel effects.
Text can be animated through a new Animation Preset Controller, which enables users to transfer animations from one object to another. Text effects can also be controlled with MAXScript.
3ds Max: geodesic voxel binding and heatmap skinning
Of the features unique to an individual application, the largest single addition is probably that of geodesic voxel binding to 3ds Max: a feature previously added to Maya in the 2015 release.
A semi-automatic skinning system, it voxelises the character’s skeleton to compute bind weights, with the user able to select multiple meshes – such as a character plus clothing – and treat them as a single volume.
Max also gets a new heatmap option, which sets skin weights for a bone based on its proximity to the mesh.
3ds Max: updates to the Max Creation Graph
The Max Creation Graph visual programming environment has also been extended to support animation controllers and Bullet physics, as well as the geometry and modifiers supported in the original 2016 release .
The toolset lets artists set up custom animation and simulation controls by wiring nodes together, without the need to write code. The results can be packaged and shared across teams.
Maya: new nodes in the Hypershade
In Maya, the overhaul of the Hypershade begun in the base 2016 release has been extended with new procedural texture and image-processing nodes, plus general math and utility nodes.
The nodes, which are intended to streamline the look dev process, can be seen in action in the video above.
Maya: New SVG import and workflows
In addition the Extension 1 release adds support for SVG files to Maya, enabling motion graphics artists to import SVGs created in tools like Illustrator.
Once imported, vector outlines can be extruded, bevelled and animated via a workflow “similar to 3D Type”.
Pricing and availability
Both Extension releases are available only to Autodesk users on subscription contracts. 3ds Max 2016 Extension 1 is available today. Maya 2016 Extension 1 will become available on 9 September.