3ds Max for Production

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Old 03 March 2013   #1
3ds Max for Production

First of all: I love Max and I have been studying it for years. And I have just made my first short animated movie in it, and I am currently finishing the second one.
Some guys have approached me and told me that if I wanted to seriously get into production I should better switch app. They claim that Max is not very suitable for prods, and they have recommended me other apps instead that I am not going to mention because it goes against the forum rules. I do not know what to think. I surely went through a lot of difficulties and crashes during production with Max, but, hey! does it happen in any app? "But other apps are more robust and Max is not frequently used for production" they say to me. And I can't answer, since all I know is Max. And I love it.
So now I would like to know what (notable) productions out there have been done using Max. If I am not wrong, some of the Warcraft III videos (if not all) were made in Max. Please, tell all you know about other productions.
And any other comment related to Max for production would be nice!
Old 03 March 2013   #2
Blizzard shifted from 3ds max to Maya years ago for their cinematics as they needed access to better rendering capabilities at that time and the best option for them was RenderMan. I am not sure what they are currently using for actual game production as that stuff can change. The realization is that most larger production studios use the best tool for the task at hand, or what their pipeline is based around.

Most character stuff is typically Maya, most "highend" effects is Houdini, Cinema4D for motion graphics (or OSX based studios), and Blender when the studio doesn't have the money for other tools. Where 3ds max typically comes into play is when those tools may not do what is needed, or there is a need for an off the shelf 3rd party solution. The other products have 3rd party tools, but most of the tools being used in production are typically developed and only used at those studios.

"The Evil Monkey hiding in your closet."
Old 03 March 2013   #3
Also seems to come in handy any time you need to blow up a city block for a movie using Bullet.
[Invivo Animation Reel]
Old 03 March 2013   #4
3ds max is heavily used in games industry & arch vis. studios like Blur use 3ds max as their main package along with softimage for animation. in film industry 3ds max seems to be mainly used for FX work and not really as the main package but there are studios like Pixomondo which some of their studios use 3ds max as the main application. alot of the larger studios have multiple software and if your a modeller you can pretty much use what you want as long as you know how to take it into the target app with no problems.

honestly it just depends on where you end up working, its not too important what software you know but its important to understand the theory and have good artistic/technical skills. lots of studios have proprietary software which you would have to learn so its good to be flexible.

also ask them what they mean by 'serious production'? i'm guessing they mean film VFX which is kind of starting to annoy me, there are other industries and we work just as hard
Old 03 March 2013   #5
As far as I understand Max still out sells Maya. Take that as you will.
Paul Neale
Old 03 March 2013   #6
Ilion studios used Max for Planet 51, which as a movie in my opinion was not that strong, but it did look good and had some really beautiful and fluid character animation.

MAKE studios uses Max primarily and puts out some really nice looking stuff.

Though very small productions these shorts were done in Max and I think easily stand up to or surpass production done in other "better suited" packages:

One More Beer

The Normals - Test

Salesman Pete

I'm sure there are others, too.

I've been told over and over too that if I want to do animation seriously I need to switch to Maya, but every time I get in to that program I feel like I'm in hell. The UI and workflow tools are so cumbersome and clunky that I literally can't wait to open Max again.

Even basic stuff like selecting/unselecting stuff in the viewport to moving/scaling/copy/pasting keys in the timeline, to me just seem counter-intuitive, and not just because I'm used to Max. Back in school we were learning both programs I gravitated towards Max immediately because the functionalities were almost self-explanitory. To me the organization just made sense, you'd find things exactly where you expected to find them, not buried in some random sub-menu like seems to be the case in Maya.

I can definitely see the value of Maya's node based systems, especially where rigging is concerned -- very, very flexible there. But for better or worse I'll probably cling bitterly on to Max until it's just not possible to anymore.

Anyway, that's my opinion for whatever it's worth...
Old 03 March 2013   #7
Max for FX? I thought that was the weakest spot about Max! It also seems that not many are willing to animate with Max, but I really feel comfortable with the animation tools (not that much with the rigging tools available, about which I have been told several times they are easily beaten by the ones at Maya).
@CompanionCube: "serious production"... we mean making an animated film from zero. You see... I make short films as a freelancer (I am not hired to any studio and maybe I will never be, because there are no studios in my country so far ), so I can pretty much choose my apps. Anyway, I try to keep my pipeline with as a few apps as possible, because of budget and app availability. So, for example, I do all my 3d in Max: Modeling, animating, FX (not much), rendering (I use MR shipped with max)... So all that is left after that is compositing and editing. I am a Max guy. Adding more apps into my pipeline would be complicated due to some obvious reasons it is not worth to explain right now. So as long as we are a little bunch of guys (me and my production pals, four in total) we will pretty much do all of our 3d in one app. And the thing is that we have been told "If you are to choose one app for all that... you better not choose Max". It hurts. All I know is Max.
@Pacermike: Good to hear! And I have also been told something similar about Maya's interface... but on the other hand they claim it is more "stable" as an app. I suffer from continuous crashes in Max when I get a really complex scene (not RAM crashes) during production, but somehow I manage to work around them. I must admit that is a little anoying, but hey, maybe Maya crashes too? On top of that I am still using Max 2010, and I have also heard about the Xcalibur project to rebuild Max, so maybe the newer versions are more stable? Many questions I cannot answer.
Anyway, by the beginning of this thread I was wondering if I should start learning maya to switch to it... but now... I feel like I can stick longer to my good old Max buddy.
Old 03 March 2013   #8
Originally Posted by Pacermike: Ilion studios used Max for Planet 51, which as a movie in my opinion was not that strong, but it did look good and had some really beautiful and fluid character animation.
From my understanding they have moved over to Maya, just check their open positions.

Part of the other reason you may see a lot for Maya is the market is flooded with Maya artist. It is what is taught at most schools, and most of the VFX places that have gone under recently have had a large pool of Maya artists. It is also multi-platform with python support that makes it a great pipeline tool so you can code once (using Python) and use those libraries across multiple applications and operating systems. Currently with 3ds max it is Windows OS and dotNet, or with some of the recent tools and workflows posted there are ways to use Python with 3ds max but it may not be as direct as the other applications.

If you really want to know what the studios you may want to work for are looking for then look at their open positions and see what the requirements are. If you are planning on doing your own startup stuff then you get to make the choice. If you want to see what talent is most available I would approach a reseller in your area as they may know who is looking for what and the types of tools they are using.

"The Evil Monkey hiding in your closet."
Old 03 March 2013   #9
Originally Posted by PiXeL_MoNKeY: From my understanding they have moved over to Maya, just check their open positions.

Yeah... that doesn't surprise me. There are just too many really, really cool character tools in Maya to ignore. Just look at the tech Disney's developed with it. Still though, I hate the interface and being "in" Maya. I wish there was a way to get Maya's functionality wrapped in Max's workspace.

I guess if you're working for yourself you use whatever makes you happy, otherwise you use what the studio's using, and more and more increasingly that's likely to be Maya.
Old 03 March 2013   #10
You also have to realize it is often not just the software but what people know. Mayas animation tools, not necessarily their rigging tools are more robust and have a smoother work flow. This and the fact that Max can't run on anything but Windows has created far more top notch animators that use Maya. So even if you want to create a Max house you will run into the problem that you can't find enough Max animators to use it, doesn't mean it can't do the job.
Paul Neale
Old 03 March 2013   #11
I really love that....
Old 03 March 2013   #12
linux is a factor for larger studios

Last edited by Stellios : 03 March 2013 at 02:12 AM.
Old 03 March 2013   #13
Originally Posted by Cadedra: On top of that I am still using Max 2010, and I have also heard about the Xcalibur project to rebuild Max, so maybe the newer versions are more stable? Many questions I cannot answer.

Try to grab a trial of Max 2013 or the soon to be released 2014. Many people complain about the recent versions of Max, but I find the overall performance and stability when using heavy scenes is far higher than Max 2010. 2012 up is using the new Nitrous engine from the Xcalibur project, in most cases it is much better than Direct3D!

Current version of Max (subscription) has added particle flow Box 2, giving Max more options as an FX tool.
Michael Wentworth-Bell | 3D Artist & VR Designer | Melbourne, Australia

Espire 1: My VR Stealth game - CGTalk thread
Old 03 March 2013   #14
Originally Posted by MGernot: I really love that....

There! When you find the guys that say Max isn't a package suited for serious work you show then this video. All done in Max.

I guess what everyone said before makes sense - if Pixar had chose Max instead of Maya back there I'm sure today's picture would be very different. Even when a beautiful animation is done inside Max even Autodesk manages to FBX the scene to Maya and make people believe it was done there... Talk about bad marketing, right Paul? :P

Maybe Frank can help build a stronger/easier rigging and animation workflow to turn the tables in favor of Max.
Old 03 March 2013   #15
Originally Posted by davius: Pixar had chose Max instead of Maya back there I'm sure today's picture would be very different.
But Pixar has used 3ds max. Their digimattes department used it and Brazil r/s on the Incredibles. I am not sure how much it is used or still in use there.

There are sources out there and articles that show that 3ds max is still being used in feature production, such as here on wikipedia.

"The Evil Monkey hiding in your closet."
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