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Verge3D 3.8 for 3ds Max Released

We are excited to present a new release of Verge3D for 3ds Max! Version 3.8 brings augmented reality to iOS via USDZ, dynamic ambient occlusion, a revisited approach to building 3D user interfaces, planar reflections with light probes, coverage transparency, many new Arnold nodes, new and improved Puzzles, and various optimizations.

Augmented Reality on iOS via USDZ

At the moment, the browser WebXR technology is only available in Chrome for Android, with Apple still working on bringing it to mobile Safari. However, Apple also offers its own way to web-based AR using Pixar Universal Scene Description (USD) format, even if lacks interactivity of WebXR.

In this update we managed to implement a run-time exporter to compressed .usdz format with Puzzles.

Verge3D puzzle for generating augmented reality content for iOS via USDZ

As a corollary to that, it is now possible to create AR content for iOS thanks to the following simple procedure: first, export to USDZ, and then, replace the link for your “Enter AR” button.

Verge3D export USDZ puzzle in action

For best results, we recommend using glTF-compatible materials. We have updated our Augmented Reality example to work on iOS. Check it out on your iPhone or iPad: link.

Augmented reality example working on iOS via USDZ

This Apple technology is rather limited compared to WebXR standard (which is currently under development for Safari). There is no animation, swapping model parts, etc. However, you can still change the materials, textures or colors in run time.

USD Materials

You can now conveniently use the only asset to export both to Verge3D/glTF and USDZ formats. This feature is provided by the Usd Preview Surface material, which – when exported to Verge3D – becomes a glTF-compatible PBR material.

3ds max usd preview material example

So you can make both WebXR-based and Apple’s USDZ-based augmented reality apps from the same scene! Please not that this node is only available in 3ds Max 2022 (with USD plugin installed). See the doc page for usage details.

New Ambient Occlusion

You can now use new dynamic ambient occlusion which is based on the Ground Truth Ambient Occlusion (GTAO) technique.

3ds max - ambient occlusion settings

Verge3D offers Distance, Factor and Trace Precision settings to tweak this effect.

Ambient occlusion example that uses Eevee settings

The new ambient occlusion turns out to be much better than the effect previously provided by the SSAO puzzle. As such, we decided to remove the old SSAO effect from the engine. So, there is no more SSAO puzzle available for adding – yet any SSAO puzzles in old scenarios won’t disappear, but invoke the new GTAO-based technique instead.

3D User Interfaces Revisited

The early Verge3D versions suggested using camera-parented 3D objects for buttons, panels, sliders or text labels. After we introduced the HTML Puzzles, we switched to recommending the web-based approach to building UI/UX (with third-party tools such as Webflow). Now has come the time to revisit 3D user interfaces, as we are bringing 3 game-changing features to Verge3D.

Verge3D for 3ds Max settings related to 3D User Interfaces

Feature #1: Sticking to the Edge

The first feature is the possibility to stick 3D objects to the viewport edge. The newly introduced setting Fit to Camera Edge, which becomes visible after you parent the object to the camera, does precisely that. It offers 4 parameters – HorizontalVerticalFit Shape, and Fit Offset – using which you attach your panels or texts where you want whem to be, regardless of screen resolution or device.

Ring demo showcases 3D user interfaces

Feature #2: Visibility Breakpoints

The second feature is Visibility Breakpoints. Similar to CSS breakpoints, they allow you to display different sets of objects for different screen resolutions or mobile device orientations (landscape/portrait). Similarly, it can be used to re-arrange the UI as well.

Feature #3: HiDPI Compositing

The third feature, which you might find helpful for building your UI, is HiDPI Compositing. It allows you to render an object (including its children) with a separate high-resolution render pass. Thus, you can significantly improve the quality on HiDPI screens (Retina displays and most mobile devices). This might be especially important when rendering Text objects, or any other elements you need to be sharp and precise.

We recommend using it with a simple shader (such as Emission), or for small objects, so that to not kill the performance.


We have improved our older demo application Ring to use the Fit to Camera Edge and the HiDPI Compositing for UI objects. They now look much sharper indeed!

We also improved the graphics quality of the Ring demo with refraction, used dynamic text to show the price, and added auto-rotation.

Rationale for 3D UI

Finally, why/when use 3D for user interfaces? Definitely, this approach is more “native” to the 3D artist than using HTML/CSS, and does not require external tools. But there is more in it: since the UI elements are genuine 3D objects, you can apply shaders, lighting, animation, morphing – you name it – making them truly interactive and seamlessly integrated into the scene. Potentially, this allows for effects much more engaging and interesting compared to the HTML/CSS-based approach.

Upgraded Light Probes

The Global Illumination demo that features light probes introduced in version 3.7, is now available in the Verge3D distribution. Check it out live: link.

3ds Max version of the global illumination demo

In the 3.7 release, we first introduced light probes with Reflection Cubemap as the only supported class. From now on, you can use planar light probes, which are enabled by adding V3DReflectionPlane objects. The object can be found in the Create panel -> Helpers category -> Verge3D subcategory.

button for adding V3DReflectionPlane

As a result, you can now implement real-time mirrors or floor reflections! The reflections respect normal mapping as well. See how it works in the updated Load Unload demo.

Demo Load Unload showcases planar light probes 

Also, the light probes feature obtained a new option – Custom Influence.

custom influence parameter for light probes in 3ds Max

Using this option, you can distinguish what objects a light probe will affect, thus making the final render even more realistic (especially noticeable when using many overlapping light probes).

comparison of rendering quality with light probes custom influence enabled

We used this feature to further improve the previously introduced Global Illumination demo. On the screenshot above you can see that the local lamp from kitchen no longer affects the ceiling.

We also fixed an issue with importing scenes containing a Reflection CubeMap object.

Coverage Alpha Mode

We supported Coverage for Alpha Mode. This feature allows you to get rid of triangle sorting artifacts thus achieving order-independent rendering for transparency. This type of transparency will only work when MSAA is enabled (which is usually true with the default Auto option selected for antialiasing).

3ds max settings for coverage alpha mode

More 3ds Max-Specific Features

For this update we supported a bunch of new maps: Checkerboard, Image, Two Sided, Float To Int, Float To Matrix, Float To RGBA, RGB To Vector, RGBA To Float, Vector To RGB, Shuffle, Clamp, Color Convert, Color Correct, Range, Float To RGB, and RGB To Float.

3ds Max newly supported maps: Checkerboard, Image, Two Sided, Float To Int, Float To Matrix, Float To RGBA, RGB To Vector, RGBA To Float, Vector To

We added a new setting named Fix Ortho Zoom. You can use it to make your orthographic camera properly work with objects parented to it, so that they don’t move when the user zooms the camera.

Fix Ortho Zoom setting in 3ds Max

The previously introduced Clipping Planes feature obtained a new parameter – Render Side (including FrontBack, and Double-sided options). It may help for rendering complex geometry with cuts and holes.

3ds Max clipping plane settings - Render Side setting

We tweaked and rearranged the Verge3D-related settings and options to make them more compact and consistent with native UI of 3ds Max. Particularly, we reorganized the Export Settings window by adding tabs.

3ds max - reorganized Verge3D export settings

New Puzzles

New puzzle, is scene loaded, is available. You can use it to check if a particular scene has been already loaded in dynamic loading scenarios. For real usage example, please refer to the Load Unload demo.

Verge3D "is scene loaded" puzzle

Another new puzzle, check performance, can be used to measure rendering capabilities of the user’s computer or device. Under the hood, it uses the open source library detect GPU to quickly run a benchmark and classify the user’s GPU as “good” or “poor”.

usage example for Verge3D "check performance" puzzle

So, you can use this puzzle’s slots to load a simpler scene, or to disable some graphically intensive features (such as post-processing effects) for poor GPUs. On the other hand – if the user’s GPU appears to be powerful – you can boost the quality up!

WebGL report page with performance benchmark output

We also added this benchmark to the WebGL Report page so that you can quickly check your GPU by simply opening this page in the browser.

Updated Puzzles

The puzzles save state and undo state can now remove and create objects. Before, they could only change the objects’ state.

Verge3D "save state" and "undo state" puzzles

The puzzle get camera direction now works with ortho cameras.

Verge3D "get camera direction" puzzle

We added the load option to the HTML event puzzle. Thanks for the suggestion!

The comment puzzle’s max length was increased from 50 to 120 characters.

Puzzles set transformset object direction, and change local transform now can accept Vector (or List) inputs as well.

Puzzles set transform, set object direction, and change local transform now can accept Vector (or List) inputs as well.

Puzzles set morph target and get morph target can now use Text inputs instead of having to select morph targets in the drop down menu. This might help implement a more procedural approach in your app by using variables.

Puzzles set morph target and get morph target can now use Text inputs

You can now enable the name field for the add annotation puzzle, thus making annotation name different from its label (useful when you have multiple annotations with the same label).

enabling the name field for the add annotation puzzle

The limit constraint and copy constraint puzzles now have options distance and transform respectively.

 limit constraint and copy constraint puzzles

There is a new entry in the Puzzles library – Detect Pressed / Released. This combination of puzzles might come in handy for implementing interactivity with 3D UI elements. Basically, it detects if mouse/touch is being pressed or released upon the selected object.

new entry in the Puzzles library – Detect Pressed / Released

Also, some other entries in the Puzzles library were simplified and/or commented for clarity.

API Changes

We synchronized Verge3D with the underlying Three.js library (r130). Major changes in the code base include:

  • JS API for multiple render targets (MRT);
  • support for realistic transmission in MeshPhysicalMaterial;
  • support for WebXR layers to allow compositing between AR/VR scenes;
  • improved performance for multi-shader materials.

Also, all programming APIs in v3d.module.js are now class-based.

Finally, we added extensive end-to-end and unit tests for the engine code. It should improve the stability of Verge3D in the long run.


We documented instructions on server side rendering. There were other various updates in the User Manual as well.

chinese user manual

With help from our Chinese community, the User Manual has been translated to Chinese. Also the Russian version is almost ready.

Compatibility and Optimizations

We created a variant of the engine runtime specifically to support legacy browsers such as Internet Explorer 11 or Safari found on very old iPhones/iPads. The engine uses this file (v3d.legacy.js) when you select the IE11 option at the app creation screen. Please note that this runtime is rather bulky and slow. The default Verge3D build is more compact and considerably faster – and it will work with >99% of the nowadays browsers.

Please note that Microsoft officially discontinued Internet Explorer. As such, we are likely to remove IE support from Verge3D in the future.

Further, we optimized the engine performance on Intel hardware thanks to using a simplified sRGB conversion technique in WebGL shaders.

Ray casting (used in when clicked, when hovered and ray cast puzzles) now works significantly faster for batched objects (created by applying the batch geometry puzzle) thanks to using acceleration structures.

We ensured Verge3D compatibility with upcoming Windows 11, as well as with the ARM version of Windows 10. We also ensured that WebGL 2.0 system works on recently released iOS 15.

Other Improvements

Information about light probes used in the scene is now shown by the performance profile puzzle (or through P-P-P hot keys).

output of the performance profile puzzle that shows light probes

Also, the very same print performance puzzle (or P-P-P quick keys) now outputs potentially problematic issues in regard to performance (red-colored warnings). For example, on the screenshot below, the shadow map appears to be too big (4k) which may result in slower rendering.

another output of the performance profile puzzle that shows potentially problematic issues

On the other topic, we improved the quality of FXAA when HDR rendering is enabled. We also improved the stability of HiDPI rendering.

Bug Fixes

  • We fixed the issue with missing background when exiting the AR mode. Thanks for reporting this!
  • We fixed the performance regression in download file puzzle. Thanks for the report.
  • We fixed an issue with the comment puzzle that caused the Puzzles Editor to crash in some cases. Thanks for the report.
  • We fixed engine crashes on older versions of iOS 11-12.
  • We fixed the critical issue with recently released Safari 15 that failed to initialize WebXR. Thanks for raising this issue. On the bright side, Safari 15 implemented WebGL 2.0 – thus bringing more advanced graphics with it!

Wrap up

Get the new version of Verge3D from the downloads page! Let us know how it works for you or suggest new features for implementation on the forums. We’d be happy to hear your feedback!

By Yuri Kovelenov

Chief 3D Verger

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