Autodesk spiffs up its 3D software

Updates make next-gen workflows more efficient.

Autodesk updates its Arnold rendering software in addition to other 3D tools. (Source: Autodesk; courtesy: Heribert Raab)

Autodesk has added a new layer of polish to its popular 3D tools, updating its Maya, 3ds Max, Arnold, and Bifrost with new features that will enable artists and animators in the film, television, games, and design visualization industries to tackle modern workflow challenges more easily and with greater efficiency.

“Our latest updates to Maya, 3ds Max, Bifrost, and Arnold put robust tools and workflows, and the ability to collaborate and share data more seamlessly, into the hands of creative teams everywhere,” said Eric Bourque, VP of Engineering at Autodesk.


Boolean interactivity and visualization are improved with the Maya updates. (Source: Autodesk)

Since its introduction in 1998, Maya has been a popular content creation tool for those delivering visual effects and animated content. With this 2023 update, Autodesk has provided more functions to Maya’s animation, modeling, and rigging tools, along with added USD workflow capabilities, including an all-new integration with the visual programming environment, Bifrost.

This update integrates USD in Bifrost for the first time, allowing Maya to be used almost anywhere. There’s a USD implementation in the pipeline—from familiar Maya workflows to procedural Bifrost workflows. Support for USD in the Channel Box is also improved, accelerating the editing process for layout and assembly, while the Attribute Editor makes it easier to distinguish between USD and Maya data. Artists further can manipulate large USD data sets faster with point snapping performance in the viewport, edit attributes while preserving changes with a new USD locking feature, isolate the select function to focus on where work is being done in a scene, and visualize materials in the viewport with new MaterialX support.

Other new noteworthy functions include:

  • Unreal Live Link for Maya for streaming animation data from Maya to Epic’s Unreal in real time.
  • Blue pencil 2D drawing tools that allow users to draw 2D sketches over scenes directly in the viewport in a clean, non-destructive way.
  • Cached playback improvements for faster scene playback with the new Cached Playback support for the Jiggle deformer and Bullet solver.
  • Animation performance updates as the Evaluation Toolkit now includes a new Invisibility evaluation mode and a Reduce Graph Rebuild option for animation workflows.
  • Improved Boolean workflows that now make it easier to edit meshes live and preview changes in scenes. The Boolean toolset has also been expanded with five new operations, making it easier to generate complex shapes.
  • Upgraded modeling tools for efficiency.
  • Rigging improvements for greater precision when rigging.
  • Improved user experience through interactive tutorials for new Maya users, as well as a tablet API setting for pressure-sensitive pen tablets, Script Editor upgrades, and viewport support for unlimited lights, and more.

3ds Max

Existing mesh data can be propagated with 3ds Max’s retopology tools. (Source: Autodesk)

What can users expect in this new update to 3ds Max? New support for glTF, flexible modeling tools, and productivity enhancements for more timesavings.

With added glTF support, artists can now more easily publish assets directly to gITF 2.0, the standard 3D format for Web and online stores, while maintaining visual quality. A new glTF Material Preview also makes it possible to open glTF assets in the viewport and accurately see how they will look when exported to different environments outside of 3ds Max.

In addition, large and complex mesh data can be processed faster with a new pre-processing option in the ReForm retopology tools, allowing users to generate high-quality results without preparing meshes with modifiers. This update also makes it possible to propagate existing mesh data, such as Smoothing Groups, UVs, Normals, and Vertex color to the new Retopology mesh output.

Other updates include:

  • New Working Pivot tools that enhance modeling, animation, and rigging workflows, including tools for adjusting the position and orientation of pivots, interactively realigning axis orientation, easily adding Pivot and Grid Helpers.
  • Autobackup enhancements to the Autobackup system and a new Autobackup toolbar in the default UI.
  • Faster rendering with Arnold through the latest version of Arnold, along with tools for handling complex projects and customizing pipelines.


Updates to Bifrost’s procedural toolset enable artists to deliver lifelike VFX much faster than before. USD is now fully integrated into the software, and enhancements to the Aero and MPM solvers simplify the creation of complex simulations.

Now that USD is fully integrated with Bifrost, artists can apply Maya USD functions from traditional workflows to Bifrost USD for procedural workflows. (Source: Autodesk)
Triplanar shading in Arnold projects a texture from all six sides without using a UV map. (Source: Autodesk)

The new Autodesk product updates are available now as standalone subscriptions or with the Autodesk Media & Entertainment Collection ($2,480 USD annually). Bifrost is available to download for free as an extension for Maya.