What is SmartRefs?

SmartRefs is a new advanced external reference plugin for Autodesk 3ds max. With this tool you can Reference external files but keeping the ability to modify and animate the objects from that reference, in a similar way of the references of Autodesk Maya, but even more advanced.

SmartRefs is more flexible and robust than the classic XRef tool, even with the improvements made in 3ds max 2016. This tool is designed for artists and teams of any size, to allow them to have a better pipeline where big scenes could be splitted in several smaller scenes working as a whole in a seamless environment.

In a nutshell, SmartRefs makes 3ds max production ready.

SmartRefs tiger scene character

The importance of using external references

With external references you can use several assets in different scenes all interconected. For example if you have a character you can use it in 10 diferent scenes with a diferent animation in each one, if you need to modify that character you can do it only once in the character source file and the changes are updated automatically in the other 10 scenes.

With the current available tools in 3ds max this is not an easy task and very limited, and in the previous versions it was just impossible.

You can also split several process of the animation pipeline in different interconected scenes. The lighting artist can work in a diferent scene than the one that is using the animator, one scene can be connected to the other as a reference, making sure that the animator can't mess accidentally with the lighting work if he needs to modify the animation.

SmartRefs allows the use of proxy scenes. This is very useful for the animation process, an animator can have a very basic environment in his scene, so it will be faster to load and save. This can be very time saving if the environment has hundreds of models and textures. The final environment with the detailed models and textures will display normally at render time.

SmartRefs tiger scene character

With SmartRefs you can:

SmartRefs tiger scene character

Things that SmartRefs can do and XRefs can't: