MAX News Archive

Archived Plugin News  –  March 2003

Plugin Update: Import / Export

Changes for v1.01b are:
- Fixed some memory allocation problems
- Fixes Normal calculation
- Exports the GMatrix constructor
- Fixed a problem when a tab parameter was not initialised
- Added better error checking for bones that do not exist
- Fixed coordinate conversion for OpenGL and Custom system
- There are now r4 and r5 binaries
- The exporter has been slightly enhanced, you can now save out individual mesh xml files for each node
- New method IGameMaterial * GetMaterialFromFace(FaceEx * face) added to IGameMesh

New Plugin: Import / Export

ZDeep is a plugin that imports 2D and 3D CAD DXF files. ZDeep draws solid body geometry eliminating the time consuming task of importing into Max and then tracing.

- Imports DXF files into separate Max entities according to standard DXF geometry types
- Once imported the Max stack contains a polygonal mesh
- Properly tagged 2D land DXF files when imported is extruded automatically for height (Z)
- 3D or 2D when imported are assigned two sides materials for ease of viewing and extrusion
- Individual DXF specific entities may be filtered in or out for easier Max usage
- The plugin has an auto fill function that automatically interpolates between spline entities to create solid geometry
- ZDeep goes beyond the current Max DXF importer by importing DXF entities as separate Max entities for easy modification to the imported file
- ZDeep supports AutoCad DXF datasets

ZDeep is available for Max 5 and costs $350. A demo version is available here.

Plugin News: GhostPainter v2.0 announced...

cebas Computer GmbH have announced the upcoming release of their plugin GhostPainter v2.0.

GhostPainter 2.0 is a solution for texturing and painting of 3D objects as well as post-production of rendered images. It integrates Adobe Photoshop and Max in a way never seen before. The seamless fusion between the world of 2D and 3D greatly enhances, speeds up and simplifies several every day tasks 3D artists have to perform.

You can read the full press release here.

Plugin Update: Texturing

Changes for v1.0.2 are:
- contains several bug and compatibility fixes

Plugin Update: Atmospherics

Changes for v3.0 are:
- AFCs: AfterBurn has always used Animation Flow Curves to vary parameters over particle age. Besides corner and smooth knot types, AFC's now supports the Bezier key type, which allows more control over the curve shape. Bezier knots and handles can even be animated over time.
- Gradients: Along with linear interpolation, Gradients now also support TCB interpolation. With this new addition, it is much easier to achieve non-linear color transitions between keys.
- Interpolation Controllers: In AfterBurn 3.0, both AFCs and Gradients have many new ways of interpolation. User will be able to choose between particle age, particle velocity, distance from emitter, distance from any object and expression editor. By using these new controllers, it is possible to create astonishing animations that were practically impossible to create before.
- Xplode Daemon: With new algorithms, calculations are up to several times faster! New color blending types allow more control and realism than before.
- AfterBurn Speed: Improved architecture provides up to 40% rendering time reduction. The highest speed gain is achieved when using very thin Raymarcher effect.

Afterburn is a DCP (Discreet Certified Plugin), and is available for Max 4 and 5. It normally costs $495 US, but until March 31st, AfterBurn 3.0 is being offered at an introductory price of $395 US. Additionally, existing AfterBurn owners, with proof of purchase may upgrade for only $95, and anyone who purchased AfterBurn 2.x after January 1st, 2003 can upgrade for free.

Plugin News: Codename: AURA

Chaos Group announced yesterday their new project, codenamed AURA. AURA will have fire, smoke and other fluid simulations all-in-one package, and the first images and animations certainly look very good.

You can read the full press release here.

New Plugin: Import / Export

This plugin exports scenes to *.NFD files used by the Nive 3D engine. It supports the following Max features:
- Geometric object
- Vertex data
- Texture Mapping
- Vertex painting (vertex color)
- Face Material assignments
- Camera (target)
- Light (omni)
- Materials
- Color parameters
- Diffuse map
- Diffuse map alpha mask
- Reflection map
- Sub-Materials
- All texture formats
- Keyframing info
- CS3 Biped and Physique
- and more...

The link above is only for the Max 5 version, the plugin for Max 4 is here.

Plugin Update: Import / Export

Changes for v1.6.1 are:
- Fixed a bug when the MAX SDK has trouble finding the I_BIPINTERFACE on a biped object

New Plugin: Animation

HumanIK gives you a sophisticated array of tools to make your characters walk, run and jump in minutes. From a fully integrated, advanced Max character rigging tool that lets you drag out a fully rigged skeleton with a minimum of fuss, to easy motion retargeting controls that allow you to transfer motion from one HumanIK character to another painlessly, this plugin will ultimately let you concentrate on the aesthetics of your creation's motion, rather than on the mechanics of how to make the tool work.

And since HumanIK was developed by the same team that brought you FiLMBOX and MotionBuilder, you can be assured that it will fit directly into your existing animation pipeline giving you a dependable solution for both the import of motion capture data (including the popular .bvh, .htr, .asf and .fbx formats) and export of data (through the .fbx file format) above and beyond its excellent Max workflow. This means that you'll be able to seamlessly move your characters and animation into Max no matter where they were created.

HumanIK is also an excellent companion tool to Character Studio, as it compliments and extends the strengths of Discreet's own plugin suite. Human IK is also fully scriptable through the MAXScript language, meaning technical directors can tweak the user interface and controls to suit a particular project's needs.

HumanIK is a DCP (Discreet Certified Plugin) and is available from TurboSquid for Max 4 and 5. The plugin normally costs $995, but is on offer until March 31st 2003 for $895.

Plugin Update: MAXScript Extensions

Changes for v13.0 are:
- Added IAdvancedLighting.Remove/IsActive/SetActive
- Added ImageFileInfo.IsValid/Is8BitGrayscale/IsMonochrome
- Added ModifierChannelsUsed
- Added ModifierChannelsChanged

Plugin Update: Import / Export

Changes for v2.02.02 are:
- Changed NMF file format to be more robust
- Added a conversion program NMFConvert to change old NMF files into new ones
- Cleaned up memory usage for visibility, should use much less memory now

Plugin Update: Import / Export

Changes for v2.01.03 are:
- Modified sampling code to only cast rays that actually fall within a triangle boundary
- Improved super-sampling code to sum contributions from multiple triangles per texel
- Fixed -v option (which specifies maximum distance for normals from the low resolution model)
- Added -a and -A options to change cutoff angle that determines if a normal is even considered as a potential normal
- Improve tangent space computation to remove singularities
- General code cleanup and organization

Plugin News: psd-manager for VIZ...

cebas Computer GmbH have just released their psd-manager plugin for VIZ4. There are no differences to the max version, and it costs $150. There is no demo version available.

Plugin Update: Import / Export

Changes for v4.3.0.45 are:
- Submaterials now use full namespace so that materials using the same name don't clash
- Animation tab shows how many keyframes to expect with current FPS and length settings

Plugin Update: Animation

Changes for v1.4 are:
- SceneGenie for Max 5 has finally been released. It is available in the usual place (registered users know where to look...), as sgenie50.exe - but you will need a new authorization code.

Plugin Update: Modelling / Animation

Changes for v1.8 are:
- Staple hybrid 2D/3D mode is now much faster
- Optimized texture generation improves memory consumption and system performance
- Transparencies improved due to an optional billboard triangulation feature
- New 'Optimize' button automatically streamlines a hybrid tree by removing any unnecessary billboards
- New '2D Copy' button in hybrid mode enables the user to rapidly generate a 2D billboard of the selected tree and blend it into the scene

natFX is available for Max 4 and costs $990 including 10 plants. A demo version is available here.

Plugin Update: Import / Export

Changes for v1.6 are:
- Added an option to remap UVs from triangles to polygons
- Updated the UI
- Extensive testing with max 5

New Plugin: Modelling

Absolute Character Tools: Modeling Tools Set (or 'ACT-MTS' for short) is a sophisticated musculature system for Max that helps you add extra realism and believability to characters that you create. ACT-MTS gives you several new object classes for modeling muscles and skins and also has a whole skin deformation technology that does both sub-skin deformation and in-skin deformation. It is extremely fast, stable, customizable, and open for scripting and wiring.

Central to ACT-MTS are its cgMuscle and cgTube primitives. These are the fundamental building blocks for creating muscle rigs and deforming the skins of your characters. In contrast to its big brother (ACT 1.6 Pro), ACT-MTS is strictly designed for the serious modeler. The cgMuscles and cgTubes do not animate over time like it's sibling, however the musculature rigs will fully deform the overlaid skins on a single frame, making it an effective addition to your modeling arsenal.

ACT-MTS is available for Max 4 and 5, and costs $345.

Plugin Update: Objects

Changes for v4.1 are:
- Radius parameter now allows negative values
- Push and pull sequences by changing the radius sign

Plugin Update: Import / Export

Changes for v4.2.0.44 are:
- Bitmap scaling to nearest power of 2 and texture full path support
- Bug Fix on Convert Bitmap option

New Plugins: Materials

Michael Spaw has released 6 new procedural material plugins for max 4 and 5.

BozoNoise v1.0 - This procedural actually has a history, as it was one of the first solid textures proposed by Ken Perlin back in 1985. While not being too useful by todays standards it gives some glimpse of how powerful the basic noise function can be.

ColorNoise v1.0 - This is a simple spin on the standard Max noise procedural. It rotates the values for the R, G and B components of the noise function so that the result is chromatic. In addition the color can be blended with a base color or map, and there are various flavors of the base noise function.

Confetti v1.0 - This Max procedural texture started its life as a direct copy of a tutorial sample in Steve May's RmanNotes, and has subsequently been added to. It's really more of graphical test than a real useful map. That being said, it is fairly full features as far as Max maps go.

CrossTile v1.0 - This Map is derived from an example from Steve May's excellent RmanNotes. The shader uses a series of pulses to generate each stripe. Then the stripes are layered atop one another and finally over a solid background color. Once I got the basics of it going, it was fairly straightforward to expand on the parameters and add in a bunch of goodies the original Renderman version didn't have. The parameters give control over the placement, width, rotation and blurriness of the stripes.

MultiColor v1.0 - This rather unusual looking shader comes directly from one of Ken Musgrave's chapters in 'Texturing & Modeling A Procedural Approach' Second Edition. If you are interested in coding up your own procedural textures and materials this is the book to pick up. I hadn't seen anyone actually implement it for a commercial package so I gave it a try. The result is rather pleasing but rather slow and not too friendly for the parameters.

VectorNoise v1.0 - This solid procedural is based on one of Ken Musgrave's contributions in 'Texturing & Modeling A Procedural Approach'. It's essentially the standard Perlin noise function with the addition of a distortion applied just to spice things up. You can get some fairly wild effects as the distortion becomes more pronounced.

Plugin News: SplutterFish offers competitive upgrade...

SplutterFish, LLC are offering a limited-time upgrade promotion allowing registered owners of cebas finalRender to receive over 30% off of Brazil r/s v1.0.

Customers who provide proof of ownership of finalRender may purchase the Brazil r/s 'Artist Bundle' at a reduced price of $799 (USD) during the period from March 3, 2003 through March 15, 2003. That's a $400 saving off the regular retail price of $1200.

For more information about how to purchase the Brazil r/s competitive upgrade, look here.

Plugin Update: Renderers

Changes for v1.09.02u are:
- Includes separate builds for Max 5.x and Max 4.x
- Greatly improved distributed rendering (DR) in terms of stability
- DR now supports Max 5.x and Viz4
- DR setup wizard added to help set up your render slaves for DR
- Some improvements to the VRaySpawner
- The bucket-mode irradiance map has been enhanced to produce much less obvious seams between the buckets
- Some problems with Falloff opacity/filter maps have been resolved
- Horizontal and vertical flip parameters have been added to the irradiance map
- Fixed a bug in the Spherical camera that caused distortion of the image when mapped back as a spherical environment
- Max's own displacement mapping did not always work - Fixed
- Fixed Color mapping being incorrectly applied to the background through transparent objects when Affect background is unchecked
- Some compatibility problems with AfterBurn3 have been resolved
- Fixed a bug that could cause exceptions when building render normals
- New parameter (max density) added to the global photon map parameters allowing you to limit the spatial resolution of the photon map thus saving memory (and render time) while allowing many more photons to be shot (thus producing smoother results)
- The Delone triangulation method for irradiance map interpolation has been slightly improved
- The translucensy algorithm has been improved to produce a smoother result