Autodesk has launched two new versions of its 3DS Max modelling, animation and rendering software -- splitting the software into 3DS Max 2009 for artists working in entertainment markets and 3DS Max Design 2009 for architects, product designers and visualization specialists.

Both versions of the software offer new rendering capabilities, improved interoperability with industry-standard products including Revit software, as well as additional time-saving animation and mapping workflow tools. 3DS Max Design 2009 further provides lighting simulation and analysis technology.

Key features in 3DS Max 2009 include the new Reveal rendering toolset, which streamlines iterative workflows; and the ProMaterials material library for simulating real-world surfaces. The release also delivers numerous biped enhancements and new UV editing tools. Improved OBJ and Autodesk FBX file formats import and export vastly enhance interoperability with Mudbox, Maya, and MotionBuilder software programs and other third-party applications. In addition, Recognize, a new scene-loading technology, significantly improves the inter-application workflow with Revit Architecture 2009.

3DS Max Design 2009 includes all features offered in Autodesk 3DS Max 2009, with the exception of the software development toolkit (SDK). The SDK is a set of development tools used in the entertainment markets to integrate software into a production pipeline and develop in-house tools to be used in conjunction with the application. 3DS Max Design also includes Exposure technology for simulating and analysing sun, sky, and artificial lighting to assist with LEED 8.1 certification.

Autodesk expects that 3DS Max 2009 and 3DS Max Design 2009 will be each available during spring 2008 for £2,600 plus VAT. Upgrades cost from £675. From 31 March to 17 July 2008, existing Autodesk VIZ 2008 software Subscription customers will be able to cross-grade to 3DS Max Design 2009 for £189 -- with owners not on the subscription programme able to get the new version for £375. During this same timeframe, Autodesk VIZ 2006, 2007, and 2008 customers who are not on Autodesk Subscription will be able to cross-grade to 3DS Max Design 2009 for £675 if they purchase Autodesk Subscription for 3DS Max Design 2009.