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In which we talk normal mapping, subscription packages, and performance.
Discreet 3ds max 7 has been in release for a little over month, and in that time new features like Normal Mapping and Turbosmooth have shown they will have a big impact in the architectural, gaming, and visual effects industries. Digital Media Net's Stephen Schleicher had a chance to talk with Dan Prochazka - Product Manager for 3D Animation software at Discreet to discuss some of the key new features.
DMN: I was going over your 99 page PDF file on your website that seems like it covers everything one would want to know about the new features and improvements in 3ds max 7. That seems to be quite a bit of new material.
Dan Prochazka: Its a studly release, thats true.
DMN: In the past you have done the .5 or the .x release. Did you decide to go with a full number release because of the number of new features?
Prochazka: When we normally do a .1 release, it is because we have a great deal of stabilization issues. For example, when we released max 5.1 we fixed something like 700 bugs. With 3ds max 6, and what will probably need to happen with 3ds max 7, is to release a service pack to fix a dozen or so bugs that slipped through the cracks. We typically dont do releases between major releases that include functionality, so we didnt do a 6.5 we went from 5 to 6 to 7. With so many new features, that is why we have a 99 page document to cover it.
DMN: Wasnt 3ds max 6 released about a year ago?
DMN: So you have been really busy since then?
Prochazka: We do not stop.
DMN: For users, doesnt the cost of the upgrade become an issue?
Prochazka: We have a subscription service that has been quite popular. We dont promise any particular schedule for releases, but we do have a history of releasing a new version of 3ds max every 12 to 14 months. So if someone goes on our subscription service, they get that new release every year. Right now they pay $440 (US), which is much less expensive than the $795 it takes to upgrade.
In addition, with the subscription, there is a lot of education material to help get people up to speed, or if you are already familiar with it, there is also bonus material and high end tutorials on some of the new features. But the real kicker for people is the new functionality. Between 3ds max 6 and 3ds max 7 we released a huge piece of functionality called File Linking that is especially useful for the architectural and design users.
DMN: Can you explain File Linking a bit more?
Prochazka: If you are using AutoCAD or Architectural Desktop, you can actually link that file to 3ds max 7 and do your visualization inside of 3ds max. That is a huge bit of functionality.
This is similar to when we dropped Particle Flow in between the 3ds max 5 and the 3ds max 6 release. It did get rolled up into max 6, but for people on subscription, they saw it 9 months before anyone else did. It was fully functional and usable with no limits to it. So it (subscription service) is a great way to cap your costs and figure out your long term costs, plus you get a great bit of functionality between releases.
DMN: Just to be clear on the new File Linking function you build a model in AutoCAD, you open it up in 3ds max 7 for visualization, and then if you need to make a change in AutoCAD, the new information will automatically transfer to max?
Prochazka: I couldnt have said it better myself. You simply hit refresh and any changes you make in Architectural Desktop for example changing it from a shake roof to a tile roof you hit refresh and max sees the texture and geometry changes instantly.