3D Animation Workshop: Lesson 113: First Look at MAX 4
Lesson 113 - First Look at MAX 4 - Part 1
I've spent my first couple of weeks with MAX 4.
Notice that I didn't say "3D Studio MAX 4." Discreet (Autodesk) has decided that the name of the program is now "3ds max." This superficial change, to no apparent purpose, mystifies me, but I suppose that the marketing minds at the company feel that it refreshes the product image. As my young daughter would say, ".... Whatever."
My relationship with MAX is similar to that of many other people. In a perfect world, it would not be my first choice. It suffers from considerable weaknesses. But I have come to use it almost to the exclusion of other packages because I have to. It is the primary 3D platform used at my employer, and it dominates the Web 3D landscape generally. There are many more licensed (and unlicensed) copies of MAX out there than any other professional-level package, and thus all of the Web 3D initiatives have decided to support MAX first. And from the point of view of this very Web site, coverage of MAX is of interest to a considerable audience. MAX is much more powerfully marketed than its competitors, and the price is compelling for the feature set it offers. In short, I've found that I have to live with MAX regardless of my qualms and reservations.
MAX has a long history. It was developed to replace the original 3D Studio product line, which was well respected in its day. From the very start, MAX sought to be original and revolutionary, and was characterized by approaches to 3D graphics that diverged strongly from the standards set in other programs. Most of MAX's original ideas were terrible, and much of the history of the product involves its reconciliation with standards that have proven successful in its competitors.
In the past, the steps between major MAX releases have been very significant. MAX 2 was a considerable advancement over MAX 1 (actually MAX 1.2 after a bunch of bug fixes). MAX 2.5 offered little change from MAX 2, but MAX 3 was strikingly ambitious. There has been no MAX 3.5, and thus the release of MAX 4 was anticipated as another great stride. There are some major changes in MAX 4, to be sure, but I suspect that most people will feel that only marketing considerations drove the decision to number this release as 4.0, instead of 3.5. There are not nearly as many changes as those introduced in MAX 3.
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Created: February 27, 2001
Revised: February 27, 2001