• Price When Reviewed: 3050 . 775 . 1500 . 375

  • Pros: Graphite modelling toolset and ribbon interface; render-preview effects in the viewport; enhanced OBJ support; Containers; Material Explorer; mental mill.

  • Cons: Some features already appeared in subscriber-only Creativity Extension for 3DS Max 2009; some known bugs and limitations; expensive.

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

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There are other big changes to the viewports in this version, too. There’s a new clickable shortcut menu, and three labels that quickly control the viewport display, with options for point of view and shading of objects.

Unless you have a graphics card that doesn’t support hardware shading, you can also take advantage of Review 3, an impressive new preview rendering mode. This lets you work with objects in the viewport, displayed with real-time rendering effects such as soft-edged shadows, HDRI lighting and ambient occlusion. It also allows you to interactively adjust exposure control within the viewport.

Currently ambient occlusion isn’t supported in Orthographic views, but the Review 3 feature is clearly going to cut out time previously taken up by sample renderings to calibrate these effects. Version 2010 is also the first 3D application to take advantage of the new mental mill technology from mental ray. This provides a graphical platform to create and test complex shaders with interactive, real-time visual feedback.

Productivity also gets a boost from the new Material Explorer. This aims to simplify the way you interact with objects and materials, giving the ability to quickly browse and replace materials in the scene, as well as to view material properties and relationships. However, the main benefit of the Material Explorer is the ability to change material properties and settings, either globally or individually, from a central resource.

There’s no need to enter the Material Editor when you need to make quick changes: the Scene Explorer enhancements offer similar shortcuts for greater scene organization. You can have several Scene Explorer dialogs open at one time, and this configuration will be saved along with your 3DS Max scene.

Containers are another new feature, and are highly useful for collaborative working in larger 3D, post or game design studios. You can collect large amounts of related objects (building in a city block, characters, props and buildings for a particular level in a game) as a Container. You can then place and manipulate them in a scene together by transforming a Container helper object. You can save time by updating all the objects in a container at once, or by instancing the container and then enable the instances to inherit the changes.

Containers can also be used to make scenes simpler, as although the contents are visible in the viewport as part of the container, they are in reality removed from the scene. You can unload the container, move it to a
new location, and then load it again. An administrator can grant different levels of access to different users, for example by locking down the basic contents but let subordinates instance and reposition containers.