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To meet modern creative needs, Autodesk rolls out array of next-gen updates across 3D tools

Autodesk unveiled a series of feature-loaded updates to its portfolio of 3D tools for artists working in the film, television, games, and design visualisation industries. New solutions in Maya, 3ds Max, Bifrost, and Arnold debut on 30 March, adding next-gen workflows that expedite artists’ work and help creative teams deliver high-quality VFX and animated content with greater ease and efficiency.

“Whether enhancing the user experience, simplifying virtual production workflows, integrating open standards, or empowering artists to manage complex projects, our goal is always to help artists and studios deliver incredible work that pushes the limits of what’s possible. Our latest updates to Maya, 3ds Max, Bifrost, and Arnold put robust tools and workflows, and the ability to collaborate and share data more seamlessly, into the hands of creative teams everywhere,” Engineering VP Eric Bourque said. 

Maya:

Focused on helping artists work faster while raising the creative bar at every step of the pipeline, this update adds more power to Maya’s already robust animation, modeling, and rigging toolset. Autodesk continues to build rich USD workflows into Maya, including a brand-new integration with the visual programming environment, Bifrost. 

  • Unreal Live Link for Maya: Stream animation data from Maya to Unreal in real-time with the Unreal Live Link plug-in, ideal for virtual production and game development.
  • Blue Pencil 2D Drawing Tools: Draw 2D sketches over scenes directly in the viewport in a clean and non-destructive way. Building on Maya’s Grease Pencil tool, this new toolset allows users to sketch poses over time, define motion arcs, mark up shots, and add annotations and comments for review. 
  • Cached Playback Improvements: Experience faster scene playback with new Cached Playback support for the Jiggle deformer and Bullet solver. 
  • Animation Performance Updates: The Evaluation Toolkit now includes a new Invisibility evaluation mode and a Reduce Graph Rebuild option for animation workflows. 
  • USD Across Maya’s Toolset: This update integrates USD in Bifrost for the first time, allowing Maya to be used almost anywhere there’s a USD implementation in the pipeline – from familiar Maya workflows to procedural Bifrost workflows. Support for USD in the Channel Box is also improved, accelerating the editing process for layout and assembly, while the Attribute Editor makes it easier to distinguish between USD and Maya data. Manipulate large USD data sets faster with point snapping performance in the viewport, edit attributes while preserving changes with a new USD locking feature, isolate ‘select’ to focus on where work is being done in a scene, and visualize materials in the viewport with new MaterialX support.
  • Improved Boolean Workflows: Create and edit Boolean operations in fewer clicks with improvements to the Boolean node and options in the Boolean stack that make it easier to edit meshes live and preview changes in scenes. The Boolean toolset has also expanded with five new operations, providing further flexibility when generating complex shapes.
  • Upgraded Modeling Tools: Maximize efficiency with Retopologize tool enhancements, faster manipulation of mesh compounds, QuadDraw performance improvements, and more.
  • Rigging Improvements: Rig with greater precision using a new Component Editor normalization option; enhancements to the Solidify, Morph, and Proximity Wrap deformers; improved deformer weight visualization; a new Manage Pins menu for UVPin and ProximityPin nodes which adds support for curves; and improved GPU override support. 
  • An Enhanced User Experience: New to Maya? Get up and running faster with new interactive tutorials. With user experience top of mind, Autodesk has also added a tablet API setting for pressure-sensitive pen tablets, Script Editor upgrades, and viewport support for unlimited lights. A faster rendering experience with the latest version of Arnold and updates to the Create VR immersive design tool further round out the release.  

3ds Max:

New support for glTF, flexible modeling tools, and productivity enhancements that save artists significant time are just a few of the updates in 3ds Max that drive modern asset creation forward. 

  • gITF Support: Easily publish assets directly to gITF 2.0, the standard 3D format for web and online stores, while maintaining visual quality. A new glTF Material Preview also makes it possible to open glTF assets in the viewport and accurately see how they will look when exported to different environments outside of 3ds Max. 
  • Retopology Tools 1.2: Process large and complex mesh data even faster with a new pre-processing option in the ReForm retopology tools, allowing users to generate high-quality results without preparing meshes with modifiers. This update also makes it possible to propagate existing mesh data, such as Smoothing Groups, UVs, Normals, and Vertex color to the new Retopology mesh output.  
  • New Working Pivot Tools: A series of new Working Pivot tools enhance modeling, animation, and rigging workflows, including tools to adjust the position and orientation of pivots, interactively realign axis orientation, easily add Pivot and Grid Helpers, and more.
  • Autobackup Enhancements: Focus on completing tasks with fewer disruptions via improvements to the Autobackup system and a new Autobackup toolbar in the default UI.
  • Faster Rendering Experience with Arnold: 3ds Max includes the latest version of Arnold, adding powerful tools for handling complex projects, customizing pipelines, and delivering high-quality renders. 
  • Occlude Selection Improvements: Generate occluded vertex, edge, or poly component selections faster than ever – even on polygonal dense models of millions of triangles.
  • Smart Extrude: The Edit Poly modifier now includes the partial cut-through Smart Extrude union/subtraction functionality and support for cutting into non-planar quads and n-gons.
  • Unwrap UVW Keyboard Shortcuts: Work faster when creating and manipulating UV data with new keyboard shortcuts in the Unwrap UVW modifier. 
  • Compressed Scene File Save Performance: Compressed scene files now save twice as fast as before.
  • Python 3.9: 3ds Max ships with Python 3.9.7, boasting improved quality and performance.
  • Per Viewport Filtering Updates: Advanced users now have access to all-new functions in MAXScript for Per Viewport Filtering and can perform a multi-selection of items in the Per Viewport Filtering dialog. 

Bifrost:

The latest updates to Bifrost’s procedural toolset enable artists to deliver stunning, lifelike VFX in a fraction of the time. USD is now integrated, and enhancements to the Aero and MPM solvers simplify the creation of complex simulations. 

  • Bifrost USD: Pixar’s Universal Scene Description (USD) is now fully integrated with Bifrost, allowing teams to apply Maya USD functionalities from traditional workflows to Bifrost USD for procedural workflows. Use USD data as inputs, author USD data as outputs, and automate the processing of USD data for next-generation production pipelines.
  • Low-Level Nodes: Virtually any USD workflow can now be implemented and automated in Bifrost, as Bifrost’s USD low-level nodes are the USD API.
  • High-Level Compounds: Bifrost USD also includes high-level compounds, which are particularly useful for scattering and instancing, and perform common operations such as converting Bifrost data to USD and the reverse. 
  • Aero Solver Enhancements: The robust Aero tool benefits from new field-mapping, scalability, and stability improvements. 
  • MPM Solver Improvements: Simulate with confidence via enhanced MPM stability and MPM Cloth upgrades. Interpreted auto ports control tearing thresholds, allowing the use of fields or vertex data to mark areas that tear more easily. 
  • Color Picker: Enjoy more interactive controls with a new color picker tool, integrated with Color Management.
  • Slider Multi-Selection: Adjust multiple sliders simultaneously via multi-selection functionality.

Arnold:

With new tools for consistent, high-grade denoising, growing USD workflows, and optimized interactive rendering, the latest updates to Arnold let artists handle complex projects, customize their pipelines, and render with mind-blowing speed. 

  • OptiX 7 Denoiser: Render photoreal results on GPU with NVIDIA’s OptiX 7 Denoiser, which supports consistent denoising of multiple AOVs – essential for compositing workflows.
  • Triplanar Shader: Project a texture from all six sides without using a UV map.
  • USD Enhancements: Handle instances more efficiently with improvements in the USD procedural and the Hydra Render Delegate, which now supports environment, background, and ramp shaders with linked colors. 
  • Interactivity Improvements: Benefit from an optimized user experience when interactively rendering a scene, including enhanced imagers and atmosphere shaders on GPU and CPU, and augmented interactive GPU rendering with fixed minimum frame rates when working with more complex scenes. 

Newly updated Maya, 3ds Max, and Arnold are now available as standalone subscriptions or with the Autodesk Media & Entertainment Collection. Bifrost is available to download for free as an extension for Maya. To understand more, connect with other members of the community as well as Autodesk experts in new product and industry groups on AREA.

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