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Log Help

The Maxwell Log saves helpful information about how your project was converted into Maxwell scene. Inspect it for warnings and errors. With the Log as a guide, you can troubleshoot most issues yourself. See formZ | Plugin Log

Forum Help

To access the Maxwell for formZ community forum:

  • Select the Extensions > Maxwell Render > Forum from within formZ.
  • Copy the system info provided and click OK. The forum web page should pop up in a moment.
  • On the forum web page, click on 'Start a New Thread' if you need to post an inquiry. Paste the system info provided into your post.

Proceed to the Maxwell for formZ Forum...

Troubleshooting: Problems and Solutions

Problem: The Maxwell display menu item is "greyed-out" and cannot be selected

Most likely, the active window set to a 2-point perspective view type, and Approximate 2D Perspective Views is disabled. To enable this option, go to Display Options palette, Maxwell renderer, Camera tab, Shift Lens section.


  • Enable Approximate 2D Perspective Views (Display Options palette, Maxwell renderer, Camera tab, Shift Lens section)


  • Select another view type, such as View>Axonometric or View>3-Point Perspective from the formZ main menubar.

Problem: Auto-translated Materials are too glossy

The plugin attempts to translate formZ "Shaded" materials as faithfully as possible with the Fastest, Fast, and Realistic Match material hints. By default, formZ's materials are fairly glossy.


  • Decrease the "Shaded" representation Specular Factor, increase the Specular Roughness, or both.


  • Select Material Hint: Matte from the pulldown menu.

Problem: The plugin exports an MXS scene, but Maxwell (or Studio) is not launched to render it. (OSX only)

The MXS file type may not be associated with your current version of Maxwell Render.


  • 1. Quit Maxwell & Studio if they are running.

    2. Select any MXS file and 'Get Info' with the Finder.

    3. Set "Open With" to your current version of Maxwell

    4. Click the "Change All" button.

Problem: Maxwell can’t find the textures in my MXMs


  • Use the Resource Manager to set up a search path to the folder containing the textures.

Problem: Export fails; Log indicates that a bitmap from an auto-translated material cannot be found or read

Occasionally, formZ does not report the correct file paths to the plugin if the 'Keep Textures' project-level setting is enabled. We recommend that 'Keep Textures' be disabled permanently in formZ Preferences > Project > Project Files.


  • In File > Project Preferences, 'Project Files' Tab, disable 'Keep Textures.' Note that it may be necessary to manually reload the affected texture(s) after this step.


Problem: When Network Rendering, scenes are sometimes overwritten



Problem: Rendered scene is extremely dark (or black)


  • Confirm that your camera's exposure is correct; a real camera model is in effect. You are not in RenderZone anymore. (wink)
  • Maxwell’s emitters behave according to real-world conditions. Confirm that the Emitter power is sufficient. Don't forget efficacy for watt-based emitters.
  • Confirm that your scene scale is realistic. 100W spread out over 100 sq. meters will result in a very dim scene.
  • Check the Log to determine if the plugin is finding all HDRIs, IESs, and MXM emitter materials. If not, add a search path to the library containing these dependencies using the Resource Manager.

Problem: Scene has been rendered to a high SL, but still exhibits noise

If your scene has been rendered to a high Sampling Level (e.g, greater than 20) and still exhibits significant noise, it is likely there are one or more materials in your scene with unrealistic parameters. Observe these guidelines for best results:

For Autotranslated Materials:

  • Change any materials with the "Closest Match" hint to "Fast" "Closest Match" can lead to increased noise in the render, and is not recommended for new projects. (It is maintained only for continuity with legacy projects.)
  • With the Shaded "Ambient" parameter kept at the default (100%), make sure to keep the Shaded "Diffuse" parameter to 87% or less, to avoid unrealistically reflective materials which may introduce noise that is difficult to clear.

 For Referenced MXMs:

  • Do not use very white or fully saturated materials in your scene. For example, a completely white (255, 255, 255) material will take a very long time to clear and will also make the contrast in the image disappear. Also avoid completely saturated colors such as pure red (255, 0, 0). Pure white or pure saturated materials do not exist in real life so it is better to decrease the saturation a bit. For a white wall, around RGB 220, 220, 220, which is the albedo of white paper, is sufficient. See the page Realistic material reflectance for more info.
  • Avoid more than one Layer set to additive mode, especially if the Layer weight is set to 100%. This means the material can eventually reflect back too much light and introduce noise in the render. If you want to create a plastic material, instead of having two BSDFs (one diffuse bottom layer and one specular top layer set to additive mode), it is recommended instead to use a single BSDF set to diffuse, and add a Coating component to it. Set the thickness of the coating high (eg. 5000nm) to avoid any coloration effects in the coating.


Problem: Export process is slow


  • Avoid face-level materials assignment on complex objects. This makes the translation of the object take significantly longer.
  • Reduce the display resolution of smooth (ACIS) objects.
  • Make use of References. See formZ | MXS References
  • Use formZ's Join tool to merge entourage with many similar elements

Problem: Maxwell rendering is slow


  • For test renders, set the Scale parameter in Render Options>Image to a value less than 100%.
  • Disable Dispersion or Refractions (Render Options>Scene)
  • For test renderings, temporarily disable non-critical features such as Grass or References (Render Options>Scene)
  • Reduce the number of lights in the scene.
  • Merge like emitter-mapped objects into a single object using formZ's Join tool.
  • Use simpler MXM materials. Matte, Fastest and Fast hinted materials will render very quickly. Materials with complex IORs, translucency, or subsurface scattering take longer to clear noise.

Problem: Rendering exhibits triangulation artifacts

Maxwell Render works with triangulated, facetted objects only. When Formz’s mathematically-defined ACIS (smooth) objects are encountered, the plugin will use the facetted representation of the ACIS object. This is the same representation that the Shaded render mode uses.


  • Adjust the Display Resolution Facet Density option. Increasing the facet density will usually resolve this issue, but will also result in longer export times. Use the minimum value that produces acceptable results, especially on complex objects.


Problem: Error 'There is no MAXWELL3_ROOT environment variable on this machine'


This issue occurs on Windows systems only. If you encounter this error when attempting to load the plugin, it means that either:

  • Maxwell Render is not installed on the machine. Download and install Maxwell Render to fix the problem.
  • Maxwell Render is incorrectly installed on the machine. Uninstall/re-install Maxwell Render to fix the problem.

If this does not solve the issue. A System Environment Variable is a value that is available to every application on your computer. As such, the MAXWELL3_ROOT variable points to Maxwell's home directory, and provides the ability for any application that wishes to locate Maxwell to be able to do so. So, it is very important that it is correctly set when you install Maxwell. Usually this is no problem, but there are always cases where installation is not completely successful, and it is possible that you may need to manually create the variable. Note that you should proceed with caution when accessing Environment Variables. If you alter Environment Variables without having very specific reasons, you may encounter problems with the applications that rely on them. To view and edit your System's Environment Variables, go to: Start > right-click My Computer > Properties > Advanced > Environment variables. If Maxwell Render is installed correctly, there should be a MAXWELL3_ROOT variable present.



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