We all know the importance of organising our scenes and projects, whether its because we are freelancing for a company, working collaboratively in a large studio or simply trying to find that map we created a year ago. The benefits of being organised and methodical are obvious. This is where the ‘Asset Tracker’ system in 3ds Max comes galloping to our rescue.
If you’ve not used the Asset Tracking system before, then read on….
The most important part of this quick tip is: To quickly open this powerful toolset, press the ‘Shift + T’ shortcut combination. You will soon come to rely on this toolset, and knowing this shortcut will allow you to open and close the dialogue with ease.(Otherwise it can be found in File>Manage>Asset Tracking)
But why should you use it?
Well, the Asset Tracker is packed full of handy tools. for example:
1. Ability to quickly spot missing maps:
2. Quickly repath/strip paths/ make textures/shaders ‘absolute’, via the right click option:
3. Check map locations, (one thing I always do before I submit to Backburner, making sure there’s no stray maps or ‘C:’ maps that will upset the render node.)
4. View selected bitmaps, or open their file location directly in windows explorer.
5. Quickly change path locations from the default installed bitmaps, for example if you have quickly amended a standard map.
6. Preferences – quickly choose whether convert to UNC or Relative local paths.
There are many more of the above little nuggets, so as always I recommend you spend 2 minutes exploring all the options available to you.
If you’ve used the Asset Tracker in the past, you may have been put off by the exclamation icon seen in the interface and rightly assumed you had done something wrong or it wasn’t working correctly. Thankfully, this icon has now been removed in 2012 as it was simply highlighting that you have not plugged the Asset Tracker into another management system like Autodesk’s Vault or third party offerings, such as Alienbrain or Perforce. (If your from the Manufacturing world, then the Vault will be a stable part of your workflow, and certainly won’t need any introduction.) This was meant as more of a ‘did you know’ message than a run-and-hide error as it looked. Therefore if your using a prior version of 3ds Max then do not be put off with this workflow. Everything is fine, no need to cry.
I would unreservedly recommend making some form of asset tracking or management part of your pipeline. As with any new workflow, it will feel slow and cumbersome to start with when implementing, but very soon it will become natural and you will be glad you did, especially when opening old projects or network rendering.