Review: Autodesk 3ds Max 2009 / Page 2 | WebReference

Review: Autodesk 3ds Max 2009 / Page 2


Review: Autodesk 3ds Max 2009 [con't]

The Mental Ray ProMaterials

These are a set of high quality materials modeled on materials commonly used in construction, design and the environment. They work best when used with Photometric Lights and geometry modeled with real-world units. The result is being able to create scenes with realistic textures.

(See Figure 8) Using these materials allows you achieve realistic results quickly. These images are based on supplied data from manufacturers and real-life images.

(See Figure 9) This scene was rendered using Photometric Lighting.

Photometric Lighting

One of the first things to note is that when you decide to make use of lights in scene, the popup defaults to Photometric and you have two main lighting options, Free Light, Target Light and mr Sky Portal. In the popup, you also have the Standard option, which includes: Target Spot, Free Spot, Target Direct, Free Direct, Omni, Skylight, mr Area Omni and mr Area Spot.

(See Figure 10)

(See Figure 11) In this scene , I made use of three Free Lights and enabled Ray Traced Shadows on one of them.

Iterative Rendering

(See Figure 12) (accessible from the Render Production button) which allows you to check parts of your rendering without needing to render the entire scene. In the screen shot above, in the popup by Area to Render, you have 5 choices: Region, View, Selected, Region, Crop and Blowup. I chose Region, then moved and resized the bounding box to enclose the object I wanted to check. Only this area will be rendered.

Parting Thoughts

Overall, there have been some great new additions to this version of Max. Of the new viewport controls, the ViewCube option is definitely the hands-down winner here. The Steering Wheels are also effective, but for the most part, the motion is a bit too extreme for me.

There are many other additions, not all of which have been covered here, some of which are the UVW Unwrap, Hands Like Feet Options, Updated Composite Map, etc. Some of these will be covered in upcoming tutorials.

In working through the various videos and help files, ran into some issues with settings and continuity from one video to the next. To elaborate, when attempting to use the ProMaterials, applying them to the objects seemed to go smoothly, but the rendering did not. I watched several videos trying to nail down the issue, but finally had to give up and call tech support. There, I learned I was missing a couple of settings in the Environment and Effects dialog box (located under the Rendering menu). Specifically, these were to turn on the mr Photographic Exposure Control and to under the the Exposure setting, choose Physically Based Lighting, Indoor Nighttime. I also had to experiment with the EV (Exposure Value). Once all of these were enabled, my renders worked as I'd hoped.

There's no question that this version of 3ds Max offers many improvements and upgrades. From my perspective, it's great value for the money.

System Requirements



  • Windows Vista/XP Pro (SP2 or higher)
  • Intel Pentium $ or AMD Athlon XP or higher
  • 512 MB RAM (1 GB recommended)
  • 500 MB Swap space (2 GB recommended)
  • hardware accelerated OpenGL and Direct 3D supported
  • MS mouse
  • DVD-ROM drive


  • Windows Vista/XP Pro x64
  • IE Explorer 6.x
  • DirectX 9.0c
  • Intel EM64T, AMD Athlon 64 or higher
  • AMD Opteron processor
  • 1GB RAM (4 GB recommended)
  • 500 MG swap space (2 GB recommended)
  • hardware accelerated OpenGL and Direct3D supported
  • MS mouse
  • DVD-ROM drive
Note: Apple computers with Intel processors that run MS operating systems aren't supported currently.

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Original: August 8, 2008