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Improve your 3ds Max workflow: handling massive scenes

By Paul Hatton
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Date Added: 25th August 2014
Software used:
3ds Max

Remove modifiers from multiple objects

If your modifiers are starting to get out of hand then believe it or not but there is a way to remove modifiers from multiple objects. You can do this by making use of the Schematic View. To open it, go to the Graph Editor file menu and New Schematic View. Then simply select and delete the modifiers that you don't want. Make sure the Modifier Stack is
set to display.

1906_tid_paul-hatton---3d-total---handling-massive-scenes---step-5.jpg
The Schematic view is brilliant for deleting multiple modifiers, either on one object or across multiple objects

Point cache modifier

If you have a large scene and you have objects animating with complex rigs then did you know that you can ditch the complex rigs but still maintain the animation. You do this by utilizing the Point cache modifier. By applying this to an object you can record vertex transform data and then remove the underlying rigs. The modifier will store all the vertex locations on a per frame basis enabling you to playback animations incredibly quickly.

1906_tid_paul-hatton---3d-total---handling-massive-scenes---step-6.jpg
Store vertex positions of animations in a point cache file to enable quicker playback

Use instances, not copies

3ds Max will be able to better handle multiple instances of the same object rather than multiple copies. Keep this in mind when you're duplicating your objects. Instances allow you to have one type of object which all the other instances just reference. Copies are much more memory hungry in that they each require their own little space of memory.

1906_tid_paul-hatton---3d-total---handling-massive-scenes---step-7.jpg
If your object doesn't need to be unique then make sure you copy it as an instance

Object isolation

Isolating objects is a brilliant feature that I use time and time again. It allows me to focus only on those bits of geometry that I really want to see at that point in time. It is also a great saver on your viewport performance. With your chosen objects selected simply hit Alt+Y and see the rest of your objects disappear!

1906_tid_paul-hatton---3d-total---handling-massive-scenes---step-8.jpg
Work only on those objects which are important to you at any point in time. Object isolation is perfect for making this possible


Minimize the impact of crashes

When you deal with large scenes with complex modifiers, the reality is that your scene is going to crash. Unfortunately this is just the reality. However, what you can do is minimize the impact of a crash. The main way of doing that is to ensure you have your auto-save set to regular intervals. Backups are key, especially as 3ds Max may at times corrupt the current file you're working on.

1906_tid_paul-hatton---3d-total---handling-massive-scenes---step-9.jpg
Make sure your auto-save settings are all set up. There's nothing worse than 3ds Max crashing
and losing all your work since your last save

Get better hardware!

This probably sounds harsh and obvious but often the best thing you can do is to just get better hardware. If you are doing everything you can to optimize your scene then maybe a new processor or graphics card needs to make it onto your birthday or Christmas list.

1906_tid_paul-hatton---3d-total---handling-massive-scenes---step-10.jpg
Sometimes you just need to get better hardware. Maybe it's time to think about getting an upgrade

Top tip : Get the latest 3ds Max version

This might be a little controversial because I know each new version can have new bugs and it can take a while for those to be ironed out. But in general I've found that the improved viewport performance and handling of large scenes to be of great improvement with each new release.

1906_tid_paul-hatton---3d-total---handling-massive-scenes---top-tip.jpg
If you have the spare cash, an upgrade to the latest version of 3ds Max will help with scene management

Improving your 3ds Max workflow – previous chapters:
1. Top 10 interface secrets
2. Better modeling workflow

Related links

Check out Paul Hatton's personal site
Are you a 3ds Max user, or looking to start? You could try our collection of 3ds Max eBooks or purchase our books, 3ds Max Projects and Photoshop for 3D Artists




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