Selectively backup and restore 3dsMax.ini settings with my new tool

Selectively backup and restore 3dsMax.ini settings with my new tool .
It’s part of my scriptpack . Check out the installation instructions here.

IniFileBrowserDialogClick on a item in the tree. Use the ‘Save Settings’ button to backup that sections settings.

Use the ‘Load Settings’ button to import saved settings from a file. This will over right the current 3dsMax settings.

Use the ‘explore 3dsMax.ini location’ button to open the Windows Explorer at the folder.

Note: You could also type this code into the MAXScript Listener

shellLaunch ( GetDir #maxData )

There’s some more info on the GetDir function in this post.


A bunch of settings are base on class ids ( long hexadecimal numbers  ).

For example 0x795c4168 0x669a1835 is the Radiosity setting for Advanced lighting there’s more in Market-Specific Defaults

Dumb max tip of the day : lost time slider


Arg I lost the time slider, it took me 15mins to find it again… deadline panic..

It seems to happen when opening the mini curve editor and switch to the dope sheet.

To recover the time slider go into the menus

  • Customize > SHOW UI
  • tick on track bar
  • Lastly click on the ‘mini curve editor’ button twice. ( far left on the time ruler )


There’s a few MaxScript commands that many help.

Open the MAXScript listener and type

timeslider.setvisible = true

if you lost the trackbar as well, then use

trackbar.visible = true.

Zaps Mental Ray Tips


“If you use 3DMax or Maya and use the Arch + Design / SSS / Mia shaders then you have Zap to thank”

I found this interview with mental ray wizard Zap

Here are Zaps top tips for mental ray

  1. Number one is perhaps to either turn off “scanline” acceleration completely or use the rasterizer (which is often found in the UI under “scanline” but is really a different thing). The “plain old” scanline acceleration can be memory hungry with not so much benefit for a large scene.
  2. Second is to use the new BSP2 acceleration structure and to try to use instancing as much as possible (since BSP2 can benefit massively from that).
  3. Thirdly, using render-time demand-loaded geometry, like assemblies or the mental ray binary proxies.
  4. Finally, you can use MAP texture format which is a tiled data format that is streamed off disk, never having to keep the texture in memory.

most people are unaware about the existence of the fast rasterizer mode for motion blur, their DCC application perhaps defaulting to the brute-force ray traced motion blur.

Joep van der Steen has written a very nice book about Mental Ray in 3ds Max. There’s also tons of stuff available online, for example at Zaps blog or the “fan site”


Now dead this uniquely useful bit of software is still availible on the nVidia forums

Mental Ray Books

I actually have Joep van der Steen’s book  Rendering with mental ray & 3ds Max it’s ok… but to be honest there aren’t many books out there to chose from, and this kinda makes it a ‘must read’

Personally I found  Roger Cusson’s book Realistic Architectural Visualization with 3ds Max and mental ray much more useful, and if you’re serious about mental Ray I’d recommend getting this as well.

However In the end both books are quite old (… pre iRay ) and I’ve yet to find ‘the book’ that really helps navigate the mental ray maze.

Max Tip: Check for scale transforms on your cameras

If a Camera or it’s parent node has a scale transform it will effect the way SSS looks in Mental Ray.


It’s common practice to rescale the root node to place camera motion from tracking software like pfTrack.

BUT … This will give you inconsistent lighting result with materials that use ‘real world’ scale.

til I figured this this out … I Lost a few hours today scratching my head. ..

Rendering with 3dsMAX on amazon EC2 cloud

I’m looking to boost my rendering power Amazon EC2 may be the way forward.

Hunting around the web I found Jud Pratt had made a bunch of videos on the subject of build your own render cloud. Alas Jud’s homepage seems to be down but here are the links to his Vimeo channel. Note that It has been some time since he made these videos, and some aspects of Amazon’s EC2 set-ups may have changed since then…

As well as creating your own virtual machines by hand you can also use an off the self solution from Thinkbox Software to manage it for you.
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