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3ds Max File Formats

Contents

Scene Format

3ds Max saves scenes to a proprietary binary format with the extension .MAX. The specification of the format is not public. The content of the file is heavily dependent on the plug-in data used to build the scene, thus parsing the file outside of 3ds Max makes little sense (although certain data fragments can be extracted). The file format supports certain Windows standards like storing a thumbnail (a snapshot of the active viewport at saving time) and user data in the header of the file which can be viewed in Windows Explorer and similar. The data portion of the .MAX file can be optionally compressed using built-in ZIP compression, leaving only the header, thumbnail and user data uncompressed. MAX scenes saved using the "Compress On Save" feature can be two to ten times smaller (depending on the type of objects) and cannot be effectively compressed much more using external tools.

New versions of 3ds Max generally read .MAX files from previous versions but cannot save back to earlier file format. When opening a file saved in an older version of the software, the user will be informed of obsolete data present in the scene and will be prompted to resave the file. It is a good idea to save under a new name to preserve the older file just in case.

Other related formats used to save data from different parts of the application:

  • 3ds Max Character (*.chr)
  • Material Library (*.mat)
  • Skin Envelopes (*.env, *.envASCII)
  • UVW coordinates (*.uvw)

Geometry Formats Import and Export

In addition to its native .MAX format, 3ds Max exports and/or imports the following geometry formats:

EXPORT:

  • 3D Studio (.3DS)
  • Adobe Illustrator (*.AI)
  • ASCII Scene Export (*.ASE)
  • Lightscape - Material (*.ATR), Blocks (*.BLK), Parameter (*.DF), Layers (*.LAY), Preparation (*.LP), View (*.VW)
  • Autodesk DWF (*.DWF)
  • Autocad DWG (*.DWG)
  • Autocad DXF (*.DXF)
  • Autodesk FBX (*.FBX, *.DAE)
  • Motion Analysis HTR File (*.HTR)
  • IGES (*.IGS)
  • JSR-184 (*.M3G)
  • Wavefront Object (*.OBJ) and Material (*.MTL)
  • StereoLitho (*.STL)
  • Shockwave 3D (*.W3D)
  • VRML97 (*.WRL)

IMPORT:

  • 3D Studio (*.3DS, *.PRJ)
  • Adobe Illustrator (*.AI)
  • LandXML / DEM / DDF (*.XML, *DEM, *.DDF)
  • Autocad Drawing (*.DWG, *.DXF)
  • Legacy Autocad (*.DWG)
  • Autodesk FBX (*.FBX, *.DAE)
  • Motion Analysis HTR File (*.HTR)
  • IGES (*IGE,*.IGS,*.IGES)
  • Autodesk Inventor (*.IPT, *.IAM)
  • Lightscape (*.LS, *.LP, *.VW)
  • Wavefront Object (*.OBJ) and Material (*.MTL)
  • 3D Studio Shape (*.SHP)
  • StereoLitho (*.STL)
  • Motion Analysis TRC File (*.TRC)
  • VRML (*.WRL, *WRZ)
  • VIZ Material XML (*.XML)

Because export and import filters are plug-in types, 3rd party developers can provide additional filters to extend the I/O capabilities of 3ds Max with support for other formats.

Image File Formats for Render Output and Textures

READ:

  • AVI File (*.avi)
  • MPEG File (*.mpg, *.mpeg)
  • BMP Image File (*.bmp)
  • Kodak Cineon (*.cin)
  • Combustion* by Discreet (*.cws)
  • GIF Image File (*.gif)
  • Radiance Image File (HDRI) (*.hdr, *.pic)
  • IFL Image File (*.ifl)
  • JPEG File (*.jpg, *.jpe, *.jpeg)
  • OpenEXR Image File (*.exr)
  • PNG Image File (*.png)
  • Adobe PSD (*.psd)
  • Apple QuickTime File (*.mov)
  • SGI's Image File Format (*.rgb, *.sgi)
  • RLA Image File (*.rla)
  • RPF Image File (*.rpf)
  • Targe Image File (*.tga, *.vda, *.icb, *.vst)
  • TIFF Image File (*.tif)
  • YUV Image File (*.yuv)
  • DDS Image File (*.dds)

WRITE:

  • AVI File (*.avi)
  • BMP Image File (*.bmp)
  • Kodak Cineon (*.cin)
  • Encapsulated PostScript File (*.eps, *.ps)
  • Radiance Image File (HDRI) (*.hdr, *.pic)
  • JPEG File (*.jpg, *.jpe, *.jpeg)
  • OpenEXR Image File (*.exr)
  • PNG Image File (*.png)
  • Apple QuickTime File (*.mov)
  • SGI's Image File Format (*.rgb, *.sgi)
  • RLA Image File (*.rla)
  • RPF Image File (*.rpf)
  • Targe Image File (*.tga, *.vda, *.icb, *.vst)
  • TIFF Image File (*.tif)
  • DDS Image File (*.dds)

The Renderer can also save Autodesk ME Image Sequence Files (.imsq) - an XML based format containing additional information about the render output, and Combustion Workspace (*.cws) referencing the output of the Render Elements processing. Since the Combustion output is implemented via MAXScript, it could be easily extended by 3rd parties to support alternative compositing applications like Fusion 5 or Shake via the same interface.


Script Formats

The following file formats are being used by MAXScript, the scripting language of 3ds Max.

  • MAXScript Source (*.MS) - An ASCII Text File containing script source code.
  • MAXScript Encrypted (*.MSE) - An encrypted (protected) version of the .MS file created using the EncryptScript() method of MAXScript.
  • MacroScript (*.MCR) - An ASCII Text File typically generated automatically by 3ds Max when dropping source code onto the toolbars. Can be created manually by the user.
  • MAXScript Zip Package (*.MZP) - A ZIP file containing MAXScript source files and control files for deploying the scripts and related files to the correct folders. Can be dropped onto the 3ds Max UI or loaded for automatic installation of the contained scripts.




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