Figure 1: Image of my last remaining shred of sanity mocking me as it leaves (2018 Colorized)
Above is the bane of my existence and the reason for various broken objects around my desk. The rough translation of this heinous text is “hahahaha… screw you.” This image haunts my dreams. It’s a constant reminder that I failed to be responsible and take the various necessary steps to, well, not prevent, but diminish the pain that comes from this. I work mainly in 3DS Max and today im going to outline a few tips on dealing with the inevitable crashes someone might face.
If you ever have the passing thought “I should probably save…” then for the love of god SAVE. Crtl+S is the quick, simple, and easy tool to save your life. It’s pretty damn obvious, and almost every single program has this, but it’s amazing how many people don’t utilize it.
Saving in iterations is one of the best ways to combat lost data. While simply using Crtl+S will overwrite your current save information, using iterative saves will allow you to go back several versions of your project if you find the file has become off track or even corrupted. I use it mainly when I make a substantial amount of changes that would be difficult to revert later, and Ctrl+S periodically with small changes. To do this in 3DS Max for example, follow these steps:
- Go to FILE
- Select SAVE AS
- Now name your project and add “_01” to the end of the name.
- Adding the number at the end will tell the program that this is an iteration
- Afterwards, for each iteration, just go to save as again and press the “+” symbol next to the name, and the program will automatically save and update the file name with the next number as shown here:
Just be mindful of storage, as you’re essentially creating a copy of the current file, and the size can build up quickly.
Remove Unnecessary Entities
Sometimes with large complicated files, it can be advantageous to remove thing you don’t use anymore. This will just make things easier on the program and your computer, as it wont have to take as many factors into account in its operations under the hood. For example: If your model had a lot of reference objects like lines, image planes, and helpers that you dont need anymore, just remove them. (A tutorial on how to use reference image planes can be found here: Use A Reference) If you’ve been saving in iterations, you can always reimport the objects from old files if you find you need them again later.
Import Into a New File
Sometimes if a file is crashing very often, starting fresh can be helpful. Open a new file, and import all the assets from the project in question. Sometimes a file can become corrupted or burdened with excessive cache info etc… So bringing everything into a fresh file can often help. Now this doesn’t work if it’s actually one of the assets that’s causing the issue.
Be Humble About Your Computers Capabilities
To be honest, a lot of us don’t have industry standard computers that can handle everything we throw at them. So, when working in a deep and powerful program like 3DS Max and other similar programs, it’s important to respect your systems limitations. A large portion of crashes happen simply because you tried to do something your system just can’t handle. For instance, I’ve had several crashes occur from trying complex simulations and/or using advanced particle system procedures. You simply have to recognize what your system can, and can’t, do. Also, if you’re unsure if the action you’re about to do is feasible on your computer, just save before hand. Seriously, SAVE.
Sometimes a crash isn’t the end, 3DS Max has a nifty feature where is periodically saves your work for you and puts it in a designated folder. If your project crashes, you can check to see if your stuff was saved. Go to your project folder (which you should ALWAYS set up before starting a new project) and you should have a subfolder labeled “Autoback.” In here you may be able to find the most recent autosaved version of your file. Just keep in mind that it doesn’t always save at the times you would have liked and you may still have to redo some work. The other issue arises when the most recent autoback saved right as the crash happened, so you may open it just to have the file instantly crash again.
Now, I’m not gonna pretend like I know all the ins and outs of complex programs like 3DS Max, these are just a few useful tips that I’ve found through trial and error, and some guides. For more information and other help on crashes, and problems in general, refer to the programs publishers website and utilize the provided support and forums. Autodesks support forums for 3DS Max and their other products can be found here: https://forums.autodesk.com/ <=== Bookmark it, trust me.
That’s it for now, I hope someone finds these tips useful for your projects and saves you from a few headaches in the future.
Poignant tagline: The computer fucking hates you, SAVE OFTEN