Autodesk has announced 3ds Max 2008, the latest version of its 3D modelling, animation and rendering software. This is an upgrade from 3ds Max 9, but Autodesk has moved the product over to the year-based naming conventions of its other tools.

The new version boasts improved viewing and handling of large complex scenes, according to Autodesk. New viewport technology and optimizations provide improved performance with large and complex scenes consisting of tens of thousands of objects. Artists can select thousands of objects and perform material assignments up to 10 times faster, says the company, and they can also transform objects up to 60 times faster

3ds Max 2008 offers a new Scene Explorer, which provides artists with a hierarchical view of scene data, as well as scene analysis and editing tools. This facilitates working with complex, object-heavy scenes. It also includes a new Adaptive Degradation System, which improves the software's interactivity by automatically simplifying the scene display to meet a user-defined target frame rate.

There is a new modeling user interface options hides buttons and palettes to give artists a less menu-dependent modelling experience.

The new Review toolset provides iterative rendering workflows with interactive previewing of shadows, the 3ds Max sun/sky environment, and Architectural and Design material settings. 3ds Max 2008 also provides several mental ray workflow improvements, including a new mental ray Sky Portal, which simplifies lighting indoor scenes using outdoor lighting and supports HDRI-based lighting effects.

New tools and enhancements for complex workflows and pipelines include the integrated MAXScript ProEditor, which is designed to make it easier to author scripts that automate and customize 3ds Max. Major improvements in file-linking and interoperability with other Autodesk design solutions provide faster, more accurate importing of data into 3ds Max.

3ds Max 2008 will ship in October 2007 for $3,495 (£1,885) in the US. Upgrades cost $795 (£389). UK pricing has yet to be announced.