Autodesk has unveiled the latest version of its 3D modelling, animation and rendering suite, 3ds Max 2014.

3ds Max 2014 features a new Populate tool set for automatic crowd generation, an augmented Particle Flowtoolset, and a more powerful viewport that now supports Microsoft DirectX 11 shaders.

Populate (above) allows artists to bring worlds to life in a few simple steps, with the new crowd animation feature set in 3ds Max 2014. Offering high-level control of plausible human animation, Populate enables artists to generate moving or idle crowds within selected areas of a scene – which Autodesk says is mainly aimed for architectural presentations or film previsualisation.

Populate comes with a set of animations and characters for use in common public settings: pavements, hallways, lobbies, and squares; while crowd composition tools enable artists to connect walkways into patterns of pedestrian flow.

Autodesk says that interactive and playback performance for complex scenes and deforming meshes is significantly improved in 3ds Max 2014, thanks to new adaptive degradation techniques, improved texture memory management, the addition of parallelized modifier computations, and certain other optimizations.

Artists can now take advantage of Microsoft's DirectX 11 software to help create and edit high-quality assets and images in less time, with new support for DirectX 11 shaders in 3ds Max 2014. In addition, a new API exposes DirectX 11 capabilities in 3ds Max with HLSL (High Level Shading Language) support.

In 3ds Max 2014, the power and flexibility of the Particle Flow system has been enhanced to help motion graphics artists and visual effects specialists create more sophisticated, realistic, and customised physical simulations in less time.

The new Advanced Data Manipulation toolset enables artists to create customized Particle Flow tools from different combinations of up to 25 different suboperators. With the new mParticles module for the MassFX simulation system, artists can simulate natural and man-made forces, create and break bonds between particles, and collide particles with each other and with other objects. The new Cache Disk operator offers the ability to precalculate and store Particle Flow simulations as separate files on disk, while the Cache Selective operator enables artists to cache only certain types of data – both helping to facilitate faster iterations. And finally, a set of Particle Flow ‘Freebies’ from Orbaz Technologies: Camera Culling Operator, Camera IMBlur Operator, Copy Out Test, Display Script Operator, Stop Operator, and Stop Gradually Test is now included by default.

The new Perspective Match feature enables artists to interactively match the camera view of a scene to the perspective of a photo background. With this feature, artists can easily place a CG element into the context of a still-frame photographic background, making it ideally suited to print and advertising composites.

Now artists can load vector graphics as texture maps and render them at dynamic resolutions; no matter how much the view is zoomed in, graphics will remain crisp and clear. With PDF support that includes animated page transitions, artists can create textures that change over time, while designers can create richer and more dynamic CAD illustrations through the support for AutoCAD software PAT Hatch Pattern files. The feature also supports AI (Adobe Illustrator files), SVG, and SVGZ formats.

3ds Max 2014 also offers Windows 8 support, 2D Pan and Zoom, an automatic gamma option, and integration with After Effecrs that now supports type. There are also fixes to UV Unwrap, Snapping, Caddies, and Viewport switching; Isolate tool enhancements; unified poly editing shortcuts; and improved scene management related to missing plugins.

UK pricing hasn't been announced yet.

3ds Max 2014 also features new branding as part of Autodesk's new identity.