Asset Reference

The Asset Reference extension allows you to synchronize models between your modeling application and Maxwell Studio, without the need for a connection plugin

When you're working with a modeling platform for which Maxwell doesn't have a connectivity plugin, you export your models to a compatible geometry format and import them into Studio, which then embeds the geometry into a MXS file ready for material assignment and scene setup. The problem with this approach is that if changes or adjustments are needed in the model, you need to go back to the modeling application, adjust the geometry, export it and import the new object into Studio - thereby losing all the progress made with the scene stage.

The Asset Reference feature allows you to import an object and keep it as a reference until render time, in the same way that Maxwell works with textures or referenced MXS files. This means that the geometry is not pre-converted to MXS files but is instead referenced until you are ready to hit render, and you can modify the model at any time during render set-up whilst keeping everything synchronized in the pipeline. As soon as you re-save the referenced file it will update in Maxwell Studio. Additionally, if the file has information about the materials (as .obj, .fbx or .dae) it will show in Maxwell Studio and you will be able to edit the materials assigned to the reference. The synchronization with the materials modified in Studio will be kept in the geometry even if you update the referenced file as long as the material names are not changed.

This feature has been developed to provide better support for modeling platforms such as Rhino for Mac, Blender and 3D platforms without a direct connectivity plugin. 

To use it, simply export your models to any of the compatible formats listed below and load them into Studio using the Asset Reference extension object. If you make changes to the model afterward and re-save it, Studio and Maxwell will automatically update with the new geometry.

You can create an Asset Reference extension object from the right-click menu in the objects panel > Create Extension Object > AssetReference


You can find the Asser Reference extension object in the right-click menu of the objects list


Here you can find a more in-depth explanation of a possible workflow with the Asset Reference Extension Object: Asset Reference workflow example.

And here you can find a video showing it:


The Asset Reference object panel 

File Name

Path to the referenced object. It imports objects in any of these formats: OBJ, FBX, DAE, BLEND, 3DS, ASE, IFC, XGL, ZGL, PLY, DXF, LWO, LWS, LXO, STL, X, AC, MS3D, COB, SCN, BVH, CSM, XML, IRRMESH, IRR, MDL, MD2, MD3, PK3, MDC, MD5, SMD, VTA, M3, 3D, B3D, Q3D, Q3S, NFF, OFF, RAW, TER, 3DGS, MP and NDO

Axis System

Indicates the axis that will serve as the scene's up-axis, derived from the axis system with which the object was created. Some applications consider Z as the up-axis, while in others Y is the up-axis.

Display Type

Defines the shading mode for the referenced object in the display. You can choose between Bounding Box, Points and Meshes. 

Although it is technically possible for a plugin to load the Asset Reference extension, that is only because Asset Reference happens to have been built using the extension system (as opposed to having been built directly into Studio, like the MXS Reference feature), but it does not mean that this is the intended use. Likewise, though it is even possible to create an MXS file which uses Asset Reference to reference external content, and then to reference that MXS file using the MXS Reference feature, this also is outside the intended use, and is therefore not officially supported. That is not to say it may not work, because it may, but it simply is not officially supported.

There are many technical reasons for these limitations, but mostly it comes down to the fact that there needs to be a lot of custom communication between Maxwell Studio and the Asset Reference extension; mainly, without this, the extension is unable to properly manage its internal data caches, and the materials it generates and manages for the geometry loaded from a referenced file.