Documentation

August 2000 – January 2005

A model created to help testing lighting and materials

A model created to help testing lighting and materials

After 3d Studio Max 3.0 was released, I left the engineering department and became a Lead Technical Illustrator in the documentation team.

The first goal for the next version of Max was to revive the documentation illustrations, as they were few, and often quite raw.

Together with a contractor, I created 500 new illustrations trying to establish a new quality baseline. For the printed documentation, I also created 18 full-page chapter openers.

After that initial rush to upgrade the documentation, the job became more relaxed and while illustrations kept of being created, I also spent time working on side projects for tutorials.

Then, I proposed the idea of a new booklet that became the New features Guide, and is presented in its own project page.

Here are some samples of the illustrations created.

And some characters, most of them fully rigged and skinned.

 

User Experience

The 3D Studio Max splash screen was being redesigned at that time, and the documentation team was responsible for the short introductory videos planned to be launched from there.

I designed the splash screen and did a prototype in Flash. After approval, it was converted to JavaScript and released. It’s still surviving today (after 8-9 versions) with small updates.

A similar version was created for 3D Studio Viz.

3Ds Studio Max Welcome Screen

3Ds Studio Max Welcome Screen

3Ds Studio Viz Welcome Screen

3Ds Studio Viz Welcome Screen

 
A second idea I conceived was to radically change the whole documentation structure. The idea was to accommodate different styles of learning.

I did some research with surveys and discussions on forums, and realized that users were using all type of learning materials we provided, like references, tutorials, forums, videos, etc.

Screenshot of one topic of the new documentation prototype

Screenshot of one topic of the new documentation prototype

This was creating a nightmare for us as every concept had to be documented into all formats. I was looking for a way to avoid repetitions and concentrate the documentation into a single point of access.

After 2-3 months I proposed a new format and a small prototype of how this new system would work. I’m still looking at it today and thinking that it was (and probably still is) a great idea.

But because of the large rewrite effort required and the fact that another team in Autodesk was working on a documentation indexing tool, the idea was shelved. But not by me. Maybe one day I’ll resurrect that system and repurpose it.

 

  2005 /  Last Updated April 11, 2013 by Roberto Ziche