3ds Max 2009 announced! (milking the cow dry continues)

loocas | 3ds Max,opinions | Thursday, February 14th, 2008

autodesk’s message to the 3ds Max usersOut of the blue, Autodesk today announced a big news, the release of 3ds Max 2009 and also a “brand new” package, 3ds Max Design 2009. So, what is so special about Max it deserves a new full version number and a specialised, different, version? Well, let’s take a look at the facts.

According to the press release and the additional, more detailed and concrete PDF documents, the new 3ds Max 2009 introduces a new technology called “Reveal Rendering” used for complex iterative rendering workflow, which, in my opinion, sounds great and quite useful (if only I didn’t have to write all those scripts and tools for such tasks in the past…), but we’ll see what it really is and how this technology really proves itself in the harsh and unforgiving real studio environments. The next one is enhanced UVW editing that introduces a Spline mapping tool and enhances the current Relax and Pelt tools. Good, helpful, but is it really worth the update? I personally think not. Then biped, finally, you can actually create a quadruped with the enhanced system. I can’t resist to not mention that I personally don’t even load biped up on my Max installation, so, there you go. Then the documents go about a better support for inter-application workflows. This is great news as we’ve actually been more successful at bringing Softimage XSI’s rigs into MotionBuilder than from both Max and Maya, considering that MotionBuilder, Max and Maya have been developed by a single company, one cannod stop wondering, WTF?! Well, to be fair, yes, I’ve managed to bring rigs from Max to MotionBuilder to Maya and vice versa, but XSI has actually been a bit more comfortable and easier to do so than the aforementioned packages. The other question is a direct transfer between Max <=> Maya, I hope this got addressed in this service pack full blown brand new release.

Personally, I hope and believe these will be strong features that’ll really boost up my workflow and efficiency. The rendering versioning and management system sounds promising as well as the interoperability enhancements, these are truly strong points when it comes down to the real deal in the day-in-day-out work we perform. Really, there’s nothing more frustrating and annoying than spending 27 hours at the office figuring out why the hell won’t your point caches translate correctly from Max to Maya (did I forget mentioning there’s no Renderman connection available for Max?). So, yes, I am, in fact, looking forward to try the 2009 out as soon as the 30day eval version is out. Also, the Vista Aero support is quite a nice touch, even thou I don’t have Aero running on my system (kinda like the plain ol’ Win95 look), but when you promise “Windows Vista Compatible” which in reality turns out to actually mean “you can install it on Vista”, while DX10 are virtually unusable on 2008, that sucks ladies and gentlemen. I believe that was a little glitch on the side of Autodesk and that they addressed it promptly along with many other things which they thought, from the marketing point of view, deserved rather a pricey full point version releas than a standard, but free, service pack. Fair enough, now make me believe the thousand bucks (if you’re not on a subscription plan as that makes this upgrade a no-brainer for you = it’s free, in other words, you paid for the upgrade in advance with the slight bit of uncertainity of not knowing what Autodesk was going to, if ever, release a new version during the period of your subscription) are worth it as I can easily purchase Unfold 3D (much better UVWs editor than Autodesk can ever dream of) + Softimage XSI Essential and still save some change for a few useful plugins.

So, what is that mysterious 3ds Max Design 2009? Well, obviously, I haven’t seen either of the 2009 iterations of the packages, but from what it souds like, it’s a copy of 3ds Max 2009 WITHOUT SDK! but with an exclusive “Exposure Lighting Analysis Tool” for sun and light in general analysis and application. The SDK part bugs me most, however. I’m not sure whether Max 2009 and Max Design 2009 will be able to share plugins or not, but not being able to write (i.e.: release) plugins or your own proprietary tools that interact with Max more directly is a big minus from my point of view. Well, it might not be a problem for some smaller houses especially in the Arch&Vis segment, if they’ll be able to use plugins released for Max 2009, which seems they will according to this statement:

With the exception of the SDK, 3ds Max Design has 100% of the features in 3ds Max. 3ds Max and 3ds Max Design share a single binary. This means that both applications will be able to simultaneously advance from a technological perspective. When 3ds Max is updated for the latest version of Microsoft Windows operating system (OS) or DirectX application programming interface (API), 3ds Max Design is updated . A single binary also means that there is 100% file compatibility as well as plug-in compatibility between the applications.

There isn’t much more info on why Autodesk decided to split Max in half and pack those for different market segments. One sentence cracked me up actually, which reads:

3ds Max 2009 icons will remain similar to 3ds Max 2008 icons.

Oh, sheeesh… I got worried for a second I’d have to get my 3ds Max tattoo re-done, which certainly wouldn’t “greatly improve my user experience”. Anyways, the products’ comparison PDF will clarify your doubts and questions should you have any, so help your self and get through reading it.

From my point of view and in my opinion, Autodesk simply ditched 3ds Max VIZ, renamed it to a much “cooler” and “trendier” 3ds Max Design 2009, increased the price tremendously (not mentioning or even thinking of the strange habit of missplacing Euro for Dollar signs when putting price tags on Autodesk products in the EU) to match up 3ds Max’s price tag, created some nice PDFs explaining how much we’ll benefit from this illogical step of offering us a half-baked service pack for the price of an upgrade and decided to release it along with a, again, renamed 3ds Max 2009 just after a few months from 3ds Max 2008 launch. How clever! Oh man I so regret not owning any of the Autodesk shares.

Anyways, I’m still looking forward to the 3ds Max 2009 as it may pleasantly surprise (just like Max 4, 6 or 8 in my case in the past) us, the users and it may actually bring some cool features and increased productivity to the table. We’ll see this spring when this 2009 lineup should be available as promised in the press release.

1 Comment

  1. pls nechceš to napsat aji česky? :-)

    Comment by Cejky — February 14, 2008 @ 15:55

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