Let’s take a look at how Spaceball works with the following graphics applications:
3ds max Support
The integration with 3ds max is very well rounded. The plugin comes with over 200 pre-defined commands you can assign to the Spaceball keys. Almost all the features of the Spaceball can be controlled inside 3ds max. Move Camera enables the user to move the camera in the scene. When enabled, Auto Key will move the camera around the camera path animation. Conversely, Move Scene keeps the camera stationary while the scene rotates. Users can toggle between the two as needed while working. Center of Rotation sets the camera’s center of rotation to the selected item or to the scene if nothing is selected. It’s a very comfortable workflow and I never felt the need to change it but the options to change it are there if preferred.
Disable Rolling disables the camera roll feature. This feature is to help you get used to the Spaceball faster. When rolling is enabled, the user can roll the camera by pushing and rotating the Spaceball towards the upper and lower left/right corners. This is a function that enables the user to rotate the model to any angle and get to the hard-to-reach areas with ease. First time users may have a hard time getting used to this motion right off the bat, so I recommend new users disable rolling until they feel comfortable with the unit.
2D View Movement controls how the Spaceball behaves in orthographic views. Users can either pan, zoom or disable the 2D view interaction altogether.
Enable Object Movement, when turned on, allows the user to move and rotate the object with the Spaceball. The nice thing about this mode is that the current selection becomes the pivot of the camera rotation and movement. Working at the sub-object level, users can change their pivot on the fly by selecting different vertexes, edges or faces which then become the pivot point while moving the object.
The Enable Dominant Axis filter is another feature intended to help the new user. When enabled users can only rotate and translate on a single axis. The driver detects the most dominant transformation and filters the rest. The Spaceball is very sensitive and I found it easy to accidentally rotate the scene when all I wanted to do was move left. Thanks to this filter new users have better control over their scene. The sensitivity of the Spaceball can also be adjusted within Max via the sensitivity and rotation sliders.
Overall, the plugin integration with 3D Studio Max is very solid. My only gripe is that users must manually change between Pan and Zoom to modify the orthographic view behavior. It would have been much better if upward and downwards motion controlled the zoom while pushing to the sides controlled panning like it does in other applications.