Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why retarget missing bitmaps in 3ds Max?

I was just reading a blog post by Nick Covington about retargeting missing bitmaps in 3ds Max scenes. He has a perfectly clever idea for doing so, but I wondered why I've never needed to write something similar for my users. Or rather, why so many people feel that bitmap retargeting is necessary?

3ds Max has an "External File Paths" feature found under Customize/Configure User Paths. It allows you to list folders in which bitmaps can be found on your system, regardless of where they were when first assigned. For instance, if you load a Max scene containing a reference to "C:\my_killer_art\foo.tga", but that file or folder doesn't exist on your PC, it will automatically look for "foo.tga" in each of the External File folders until it's found.

It also works for shader files. As long as you have paths in that list that contain all bitmaps your scenes could possibly use, you'll never see another "missing files" error again.

So am I missing something? Do people just prefer to retarget in the scenes themselves, rather than maintain that list of external file folders? I don't, but mileage might vary.

Admittedly, one limitation of that external file paths is that they don't automatically recurse into subdirectories. If you have a folder below one listed there, it will not look in that folder, it needs to be listed explicitly. Rather dumb.