Author Topic: 3D Studio Max: How do I export a model?  (Read 70860 times)

3D Studio Max: How do I export a model?
« on: November 29, 2010, 05:28:53 pm »
November 29, 2010, 05:28:53 pm
3D Studio MAX: How do I export a model to Lumion?


  • Lumion can only import Editable Meshes or Editable Polys.
  • If you export to any other format than FBX and DAE format, please use meters as units (Customize -> Units setup -> Display Unit Scale -> Metric and Customize -> Units setup -> System Unit Setup -> 1 Unit = 1 Meter)
  • Select all objects in the scene, right-click -> Object Properties -> Backface Cull = On (This means that single-sided polygons will no longer be displayed as double-sided: this is how Lumion will see the models after you have imported them).
  • Select all objects in the scene, right-click -> Convert to: -> Convert to Editable Mesh.
  • Lumion will combine all surfaces that use a particular material. If you want to be able to edit the materials of surfaces separately in Lumion you need to apply a unique material to each surface.
  • Make sure that you convert all materials in the scene to Standard materials in 3DS Max. If you are using any other materials than the Standard material (eg, V-Ray, Arch & Design, MentalRay, Raytrace materials etc), the models will remain untextured in Lumion. V-Ray and MentalRay materials can be converted with this script.
  • Lumion can import diffuse textures that have been assigned to the Diffuse Color map channel (Optional: a 2nd texture can be added to the Self-illumination map channel, e.g. for Lightmap textures, dirt/detail textures. See the Lightmap question in the Troubleshooting section below for more information). Any other texture map types will not be included (for example Specular, Opacity, Bump etc).
  • Use one of the following texture file types for the diffuse textures: .jpg, .tga, .bmp, .tif, .png, .dds.
  • You can also include an opacity mask in the alpha channel of the diffuse texture if required (use a 32-bit .tga or .png texture). Then apply a Standard material to the surface in Lumion, and set the Reflection or Clip slider to maximum, so that it uses the alpha channel in the texture as a clipping mask.


1) Install the latest version of the FBX exporter
3D Studio Max has a built-in FBX exporter.

However, please update this to the latest version by clicking on "Web updates" in the exporter dialog window.

2) Export the scene:
Select "Autodesk (*.FBX)" file type in the export file dialog window:

3) Export options:
Select the "Autodesk Media & Entertainment" preset.


1) Install the OpenCollada exporter

Download the free OpenCollada exporter for 3DS Max:

Please use the x86 installer if you're using 3DS Max 32-bit or x64 if you're using 3DS Max 64-bit.

2) Export the scene:
Select "OpenCollada (*.DAE)" file type during export:

3) Export options:
Please use the following export settings:

You can also use *.3ds and *.obj files as intermediate formats, but we don't recommend using these file formats as they're too old. It is possible to import directly from *.max file but requires that 3DS Max is installed on your PC. This export process takes more time, and is less reliable than exporting to FBX and DAE formats.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I update the model in Lumion after making changes to it in 3D Studio MAX?
Use the Reload model function in Lumion.

How do I import Move/Rotate/Scale animations from 3D Studio MAX?
It is possible to import move/rotate/scale animations from some 3rd party modelling 3D applications, e.g. 3DS Max and Maya. The frame rate has to be set to 25 frames per second and the preferred export format is FBX file. Collada format (DAE) also works but the interpolation between keyframes will be linear.

It is not possible to import vertex animations, morph animations or bone animations in Lumion.

1) Time configuration -> Frame Rate -> PAL
2) Animate your object with move/rotate/scale keyframes.
3) Every animated object in the scene needs to have a start key at frame 0, and an end key on the last frame of the animation sequence.
4) File -> Export...
5) FBX format -> Preset -> AutoDesk Media & Entertainment
6) Import the FBX file in Lumion -> "Animation On"
7) Place the object anywhere in your scene to see the animation.

TIP: The animation will loop automatically in Lumion.  If you need to have objects hold their transform after the the last animated object, so that the length of playback matches the length of a clip in Lumion, then you need to increase the length of the animation in 3ds Max to match the time in Lumion, and ensure each object has a key on that last frame.

TIP: In some cases if the animation does not import as expected, then you can set the FBX export to "bake" the animation for each frame (FBX export settings -> Bake Animation -> Resample All -> On, Steps = 1).  This adds keys to all animated objects at each frame, and adds significantly to the replay load in Lumion, so should only be used for less complex models or as a last resort.

I can't assign a Lumion material to individual surfaces?
Lumion will always combine surfaces that use the same material in 3DS Max. If you want to assign a Lumion material to a specific surface, you must assign a unique material to that surface in 3DS Max before exporting the model.

How do I prepare Lightmaps in 3D Studio Max?
Lightmaps have to be baked into the Self-Illumination map channel of Standard materials in 3DS Max. It is also possible to use a second map channel for the Lightmap texture coordinates (UVW Map channel: 2). After importing the model, simply apply a Lightmap material to the model in Lumion and adjust the sliders to your liking.

Some Faces Are Invisible or the Object is Flipped:
Usually that happens when parts are duplicated or mirrored and then flipped or rotated.

The most important part is that you need to collapse the mesh (including the modifier stack) to 'Editable Mesh'.

When you work with mirrored parts, you should also apply a Reset Xform (Utilities tab), and right-click on the model (Object Properties -> Backface Cull -> On) to see what it will really look like in Lumion.
Some Faces Are Invisible for an Animated Object:
 1) In 3ds Max, turn on "Backface Culling" as above.
 2) Flip the polygons so they are facing the right direction.
 3) Apply a Shell modifier to your invisible parts of the model.  Any small shell number will do for this matter.