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Are 3ds Max 2016's powerful new tools worth the upgrade?

Visualiser Paul Hatton lifts the lid on the latest release of popular 3D software 3ds Max.

Our Verdict

3ds Max 2016 really does deliver in terms of providing new features that will actually integrate into your production workflow.


  • Camera Sequencer to layer multiple shots together
  • OpenSubDiv support so you can utilise smoothing tools developed by Pixar
  • Max Creation Graph to create bespoke tools with no programming required
  • Multi-touch support which is great if you’re using it on a tablet
  • The Plus button is back for the Layer Manager


  • Change in UI may frustrate those who spent time getting used to the last one

Many people were understandably frustrated with Autodesk for releasing 2015 and taking away some beloved features, only to introduce others which could be accessed through plug-ins already on the market.

Even messing with the Layer Manager and removing the Plus button was criticised. Let's see how the 2016 version shapes up in comparison...

Some people believe Autodesk release a bad version of their software to then release a later version which performs better by comparison. I think this is a little harsh but understand the frustration.

To be fair to the 3ds Max development team, they've been through a lot of changes in recent years and at the release
 of 2015 had many features they wanted to integrate but for various reasons were not able to.

I feel with 2016 we've seen the result of a lot of hard work and the culmination of their desire to release some truly impressive features.

Max Creation Graph

The most exciting feature to note is the all new Max Creation Graph (MCG). They claim this is "a completely unique method for customisation and tool creation within 3ds Max." It's a node-based scripting environment that allows artists in all industries to create custom scripted tools, all without having to write a single line of code.

Every studio has unique challenges and requirements and this tool enables studios to develop their own bespoke solutions to common tasks. It's a very powerful solution, especially as it can all be done inside their bespoke node-based interface.

Even better, these tools can then be packaged and shared with others – either 
in the same studio or all around the world. I really like the way they've set the workflow up and I'm looking forward to using it in the production environment.

Camera sequencer

I imagine it'll be different for everyone but my next favourite feature that has been introduced is the Camera Sequencer. It enables you to sequence multiple camera shots while providing the functionality to adjust their timing and how they flow.

3D Review

3ds Max provides new features that integrate into your production workflow

I've always thought setting up animations was a bit disjointed in 3ds Max so I'm glad they've addressed it. The tool works quickly and efficiently for an initial implementation. I'm looking forward to its further development in future versions of 3ds Max.

From a quick investigation of the many other features introduced there seems to be something for most people, which is good. The development team are so pleased with the range of tools that they are now calling it The Biggest Max Ever. Though we as the users should be the judge of that!

The UI seems to change with every release and 2016 is no different. This will either frustrate you or be a good thing depending on whether you're an 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' kind of guy.

Overall a good release. Last year my studio stuck almost entirely with 2014 due to the annoyance of 2015, but I think we'll now adopt 2016 more quickly.

Reviewer: Paul Hatton

Paul Hatton leads a studio of visualisers based over on the East Coast in Great Yarmouth. He delivers a whole host of projects including video and interactive environments.

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The Verdict

out of 10

3ds Max 2016 Review

3ds Max 2016 really does deliver in terms of providing new features that will actually integrate into your production workflow.

Dom Carter is a freelance writer who specialises in art and design. Formerly a staff writer for Creative Bloq, his work has also appeared on Creative Boom and in the pages of ImagineFX, Computer Arts, 3D World, and .net. He has been a D&AD New Blood judge, and has a particular interest in picture books.