Autodesk has announced version 9 of its 3ds Max 3D modelling, animation and rendering software at the Siggraph trade show in Boston.

The upgrade concentrates on making the software more efficient to use – including releasing the first 64-bit version of the application – and boosts its rendering capabilities.

When running under Windows XP x64, 3ds Max 9 gains access to more memory than the 3GB limit offered by the 32-bit version of Windows. This enables the software to run faster, and allows users to work on much more complicated scenes.

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The new hidden-line display mode shows a wireframe view with only line visible from the current position shown. This boosts DirectX performance by two to three times, according to Autodesk.
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The software has also been optimized for greater performance in areas such as vertex soft selection, vertex and edge display, viewport interactivity with meshes, bounding box and spline display. 
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Support for layered animation has been added. Layers can be turned on and off, allowing animators to work on specific elements within complex scenes. 
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In 3ds Max 9, the Biped character animation system (below) has a separate track for fingers and toes. Keyframes can be moved past each other, allowing animations to be quickly reversed. Full support for Max’s bézier tangent types gives animators the same curve controls as custom rigs.
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