Here's a rundown of the new features to expect in 3ds max 9.0 (this information was just released at the SIGGRAPH convention in Boston):
64-bit Release for Windows:
3ds Max 9 marks the first full release of 3ds Max with both 32-bit (Windows) and 64-bit (Windows) executables. It allows you to address considerably more memory than you could in the past, allowing you to handle larger and more complex scenes.
Easily Render Realistic Scenes:
mental ray 3.5 software adds powerful rendering functionality to 3ds Max 9. Create photorealistic skies based on the position of the sun with Physical Sun and Sky mental ray shader. New Architectural and Design shaders make it easier for designers and architects to create effects such as blurred reflections, frosted glass, and glossy car paint. The ability to create bump mapping on glossiness only and to simulate round corners and soft edges makes objects appear even more natural and true to life.
mental ray 3.5 Core:
mental ray 3.5 adds a simplified user interface for working with Final Gather. It also has a unified indirect lighting model that provides consistent results when switching between different 3ds Max radiosity modes.
Core performance enhancements have been made to 3ds Max 9 to maximize your productivity and accelerate your creative workflow. For example, enjoy greater viewport interactivity when working with dense meshes and switch between high-res and low-res bitmap proxies to allow for better interaction.
The ability to place animation into separate layers allows you to easily tweak dense and complex animations. Layers can be turned on or off to evaluate an animation, can blend new keys with existing motion, and allow for a full range of adjustments without having to modify the key frames of the animated object.
Character Animation Workflow Improvements:
Craft and refine your character animation more easily with numerous enhancements to Biped. For example, you can now move keys past each other and work in negative frames. This saves numerous steps when tweaking a Biped animation and is particularly useful when trying to reverse an animation, since one can now negatively scale an animation range.
Pro Booleans is a new tool for modeling with Boolean operations allowing you to quickly and easily model inorganic shapes—useful for prototyping geometry, creating game level layout designs, and complex architectural elements. Merge, intersect, subtract, or add meshes to create rich and complex objects. Pro Booleans re-evaluates the topology to remove bad triangles, allowing you to create higher quality meshes with fewer small edges and skinny triangles.
Hair and Cloth Improvements:
Easily work with Cloth and Hair in 3ds Max 9. Create, manipulate, and style hair directly in the viewports using standard navigation and selection tools. As of 3ds Max 9, you can cinch waistlines, shorten hems, and tailor clothing in the stack without the need to edit the original pattern to make clothes fit.
XRef Object Enhancements:
Many enhancements have been made to XRefs in 3ds Max 9. You can now reference scene geometry, materials, and controllers and can maintain dependencies between XRef’d items. The XRef system’s new dependency handling lets you preview object relationships in both merge and XRef operations, providing more control over how external objects are used.
Enhanced FBX Support :
The Autodesk FBX 3D authoring and interchange format allows you to exchange assets between 3D applications. Enhancements in FBX include improvements to mesh compatibility, pixel accuracy when transferring assets and data between 3ds Max and Maya software.
Display Support for DirectX and CG Shaders:
Support for all DirectX shaders and performance enhancements have been made for 3ds Max 9. You can now load cgfx files into the DX material and have them displayed in the viewport.