need advice for best practices for sharing files

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  04 April 2012
need advice for best practices for sharing files

I'm a software engineer specializing in real time rendering at a small company with tight budgets. We are lucky to have 2 aspiring 3D artists on staff. Unfortunately, I think we are not very efficient when it comes to team work.

For example, several times I have asked for max scenes so I can test a MaxScript I wrote to help the 3D artists make batch changes to some materials. I opened the scene and Max told me that many image paths were missing. All the paths are to places I do not have on my system. Is there a trick that veteran Max users recommend for making path to files that the scene depends, but will also work on other people's systems? Can I easily fix the paths so that I can share the max file with others so that they see how the paths should be done?

Do you have resources that would provide best practices that I can gently pass on to our 3D artists to improve our team work efficiency?

Many, many thanks for any tips.
  04 April 2012
When I have worked offsite between a studio and my office, I have generally mirrored the drive structure of the studio server with a mapped folder on my NAS at home, that way, the files work without problems as long as the assets are kept up to date between locations. I have used gotomypc or a VPN to keep this up to date. In the past this has worked fine for small to medium projects. I have even submitted jobs to the network render farm in the studio from my remote location as there is no path conflict.

You could also look into using the Resource Collector. It's something in max that Your 3d artists could use to collect all assets within a scene into one location so that they can zip or transfer a maxfile with assets that will open on another computer. If the maps are included within the same directory as the maxfile, max will look for them there (and in the locations in your paths setup dialog) and it will open without any missing assets. The only thing i ever noticed that the resource collector missed was any textures that contained an IFL.

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  04 April 2012
Mirroring drives and folders is exactly the way that I like to work with remote clients as well. I recreate their drive system on my end and usually on an FTP as well. Often clients don't want or don't have the means to have me logging into their system for security reasons.

Part of the problem I have found and even in production on site is artists that save textures to their desk top or other locations that they are not supposed be because they are lazy. Scripts can solve this on those machines that check paths on save and could even possibly move the resource and change the path in the Max file to the correct location.
Paul Neale
  04 April 2012
You could try something like this,
just make sure they include the missing bitmaps with the maxfile so u have a copy of it.
  04 April 2012
Thanks for the info guys. I see your points that mirroring a drive and folder structure is a good way to work with external clients offline or with limited connection access and it can definitely be used successfully with my team.

Mirroring folder setups still leads to some headaches (especially for me, I don't use Max everyday) when we move from project to project at the whim of our manager. Our clients are internal (each other on the team). I think it would be ideal if Max would use local paths relative to some top-level folder so that the top level folder is what we pass around instead of full file paths to all the scene resources. It seems like 90% of the resources are in folders relative to a top-level project folder, so our artists are not completely lazy (we always have exceptions), but even these well-placed files are referenced with full file paths.

Is there an option to tell Max to use local paths?

@YujiKytori: Good idea. I actually tried the 'relink bitmaps' tool a while back. If I remember correctly, it only works for standard max material types. We have a custom renderer with custom material types in Max. I have another thread on CGTalk where people helped me using the MaxScript API so that I could make something close to 'relink' for our custom materials.
  04 April 2012
not too sure if its changed lately or not but it works for me on vray materials.
  04 April 2012
Yes there is a local path option. I think it is under Preferences/Files.
Paul Neale
  04 April 2012
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