Thursday, March 22nd, 2018 Posted by Jim Thacker

Autodesk ships 3ds Max 2019

Originally posted on 20 March 2018. Scroll down for news of the final release.

Autodesk has unveiled 3ds Max 2019, the next update to its 3D modelling and animation software, adding a new procedural Advanced Wood map and a Shape Booleans system for combining spline shapes.

The update also adds support for Open Shading Language, a Shared Views system for receiving feedback on 3D models online, and new VR editing functionality in the bundled 3ds Max Interactive game engine.

Author OSL shaders for rendering in Arnold, RenderMan, V-Ray and other compatible engines
Arguably, the biggest structural change in 3ds Max 2019 is support for Open Shading Language.

The open format for shader authoring was developed for Sony Pictures Imageworks’ in-house version of Arnold – the version bundled with Max also now supports OSL – and is supported in other key renderers.

As well as viewing shaders authored in other software, Max users can author their own OSL shaders via MAXScript, 3ds Max’s native scripting language.

Support for the language has been implemented via the OSL Map, an execution environment for OSL shaders inside Max.

It is exposed to the API as a regular C++ 3ds Max shader, so its output can be processed by renderers like Corona which don’t support OSL directly, but which do support the 3ds Max API.

To maximise compatibility with other renderers, OSL Map can be used to create procedural texture maps, but not entire materials: Autodesk recommends plugging the outputs into Max’s Physical Material.

You can read a discussion of the design decision here.

New Advanced Wood map with detailed, biologically plausible controls
3ds Max 2019 also adds Advanced Wood, a new procedural map for generating realistic wood textures.

It comes with a detailed set of controls for generating biologically plausible results, including separate parameter groups for early and late wood in growth rings, plus rays and pores.

Spline forms generated from the combination of two circles in 3ds Max 2019’s new Shape Booleans system.

New Shape Booleans system and updates to the Renderable Spline Modifier
Modellers get a new Shape Booleans system for combining splines to create new shapes using standard Boolean operations.

The toolset, which makes it possible to create complex spline forms more quickly builds on the update to Max’s spline modelling tools in last year’s 3ds Max 2018.2.

3ds Max’s Renderable Spline Modifier also gets new twist correction and capping options.

Share views of design assets with clients or collaborators online
3ds Max 2019 also implements a new Shared Views system, enabling users to share an interactive online view of a 3D asset with clients or collaborators for feedback, in the same way as in tools like AutoCAD.

Views display in Autodesk Viewer, which means that collaborators need an Autodesk account to comment on them. The system is primarily geared towards CAD file formats, although it does support OBJ and FBX.

New VR editing capabilities in 3ds Max Interactive
Outside the core software, 3ds Max Interactive, the bundled version of Autodesk’s now-defunct Stingray game engine intended for real-time visualisation work, gets new VR editing capabilities.

Users can view a project open inside 3ds Max Interactive via an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift headset connected to Steam on the same PC, and navigate the scene or select, move and delete objects using the controllers.

There is also a new Smart Placement tool for snapping, aligning and parenting objects, which works in both VR and standard views.

Photometric lights from 3ds Max can now be imported into 3ds Max Interactive as its physical lights; and there is now the option to sync transform controls between the two applications.

More new features to come over the course of the 3ds Max 2019 release cycle?
Other changes include minor updates to 3ds Max’s handling of the Alembic file format, and to extrusion and bevelling workflow, plus the implementation of digital signatures in MAXScript and executable files.

And that’s it so far: by the standards of a traditional annual update, not a huge list of new features.

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that with the 3ds Max 2018 release cycle, Autodesk rolled out functionality steadily across four quarterly updates rather than concentrating everything in the initial release.

Updated 22 March 2018: 3ds Max 2019 is now shipping. Subscription prices have risen slightly, from $185/month to $190/month, and from $1,470/year to $1,505/year.

Reaction from the user community has been decidedly mixed, with the most positive reactions coming from those who expect to use OSL in production: there’s an interesting discussion in this thread on CGTalk.

Pricing and availability
3ds Max 2019 is available for Windows 7+. The software is available on a rental-only basis, with a subscription costing $190/month or $1,505/year.

Autodesk has also posted a list of third-party plugins expected to offer support for 3ds Max 2019 within a week of release: historically a barrier to early adoption of new versions of the software in production.

It includes most of the key workflow tools, including the Corona, FStormRender, Maxwell, OctaneRender and V-Ray renderers; the integrations for Deadline, Shotgun and Substance Designer; and 3d-io, cebas, Ephere, ExLevel, iToo Software, Laubwerk and nPower Software’s plugins.

Read a list of new features in 3ds Max 2019 in Autodesk’s online documentation