I’ve started work on creating a Maxwell Render based ASCII text scene description format. This will make it easier for a visual effects artist, or a rendering technical director to make quick edits to a Maxwell scene file using a programmer’s text editor and allow for scene modifications using a simple find & replace command.
If you use Maxwell Render with any of the supported host packages like Maya, 3DS Max, Softimage, Cinema4D, Houdini, or FormZ you will be able to use this ASCII scene format translator script to edit and revise your .mxs scene exports. If you want to change the sampling level, image output names, active camera, IBL lighting settings, camera parameters, or any other attribute in the Maxwell scene, you can just open up a text editor and revise the settings in place without the need to load each .mxs sene file in Maxwell Studio or regenerate a new .mxs export from your 3D package just to do a small tweak.
The Python based mxs2ascii.py scene translator script runs using PyMaxwell and will convert a .mxs binary scene file into a human readable ASCII plain text file with the .mxa extension. This toolset is available on GitHub with an open source GPL v3 license:
So far I have implemented the Maxwell “Render Options”, “Environment”, and “Camera” properties in the new .mxa ASCII scene format. I am slowly working my way through implementing the rest of the data formats that are present in a standard binary format .mxs scene file.
A nice thing about the current Python translator script is that it allows you to easily convert either a single .mxs file, or you can process an entire directory of .mxs files by editing the same “mxsFilePath” variable in the mxs2ascii.py script.
Maxwell ASCII Syntax Highlighting
There is also a set of Notepad++ (Windows), TextWrangler and BBEdit (Mac), and Gedit (Linux) syntax highlighter modules for the new “.mxa” ASCII scene format that are available on the GitHub project page, too. The syntax highlighters make it easy to see a colorful version of your .mxa Maxwell ASCII text file and helps you visually check as you edit the file if your document has any typo issues for the object types or parameters with a uniform color code applied to the elements in the scene.