Earlier this year Autodesk acquired Solid Angle, the creators of the Arnold renderer. Today they released v0.6 of MaxToA, a 3ds Max to Arnold renderer plugin for 3ds Max 2017. This new plugin more tightly integrates 3ds with Arnold. From the announcement:
Deformation Motion Blur
MAXtoA now supports both Transform and Deformation motion blur options:
Ensure that Motion Blur is enabled in the Physical Camera, and adjust the settings in the Arnold settings in the Render Setup dialog box (shown above). The Motion Blur settings in the camera are not used.
AOVs in ActiveShade
You can now use ActiveShade to interactively view AOVs. There is a new drop-down menu item which shows the AOV names previously defined in the Arnold settings:
New “Preview (AA)” Setting
In the Sampling and Ray Depth settings is a new “Preview (AA)” setting and adjacent enable checkbox:
This setting, when enabled, creates a fast low-quality prepass rendering prior to the final-quality rendering specified in the “Camera (AA)” setting. For normal rendering use, a prepass settings of -3 gives a fast idea of scene lighting, and you can cancel the rendering if adjustments are needed. Prepass should be used for ActiveShade.
Disable this setting whenever you are creating final renderings to save on render time, particularly to network or cloud machines.
Additional Arnold Shaders
We now have two categories of Arnold shaders shipping with MAXtoA: “built-in” and “MAXtoA_Shaders”.
The new MAXtoA_Shaders category contains numerous shaders needed for creating complex and interesting materials in Arnold. Both categories of shaders are documented here: https://support.solidangle.com/display/AF3DSUG/Shaders
The 3ds Max Blend Material
The legacy 3ds Max Blend material is now supported in MAXtoA.
Additional Environment and Background Options
The Physical environment mode now includes an Enable checkbox, along with a Samples setting. We are also providing a button to quickly open the Environments & Effects dialog box so you can define the environment map:
The Enable option enables the automatic Skydome that is (now optionally) added to your scene at translation time. This option allows you to easily produce high-quality image-based lighting to your scene with just an environment map.
It is not recommended to use a Skydome for interior scenes; Distant and Quad lights will produce faster and higher-quality images with reasonable AA settings. Skydomes are noisy for scenes lit through a portal. See the Solid Angle site for more information on ideal workflows.
The Samples setting allows you to optimize your rendering by adjusting just the sampling of the automatic Skydome. Adjusting the specific source of rendering noise, rather than adjusting the overall Camera (AA) settings, will typically produce faster results.
In the Advanced mode you now have more control over the automatic Skydome:
The Samples setting shown in the Physical mode is duplicated in the Advance settings.
Depending on your Environment map, you may need to increase the default “Custom Resolution” that Arnold uses to sample the environment. Higher values improve the accuracy of the lighting but will increase render time. The default of 1000 works for many scenes, however a too-low setting may result in inconsistencies in rendering, particularly animations. You may need a larger number if your environment has small bright light sources like those found in the Physical Sky or an HDR sky image.
The plugin is available for download here.