Poly counts shown at left are scene totals. Tree alone is 801353v, 954247p. Mini lights: 31408v, 59784p; Light bulbs: 292032v, 441504p; Garland: 148215v, 289140p; Balls w/hooks: 274700v, 528295p. (From the summary info).
Modeled to scale - 7' tree, 8' ceiling (file units = inches).
All materials and maps are included in the max archive. ***No special plugins needed to achieve the lighting (except that the current setup is for mental ray)***. Mental ray in Max 9 DOES apply glow as a render effect as long as you use Object I.D....
Two options currently set up for the lights:
The mini 'bulbs' are self-illuminated & really look best with the lights on in the room. Change color by changing the self-illum color & glow color. Modify the scatter parameters as desired.
The larger bulbs are real glass fixtures with a photometric light inside each (288 total, in individual assemblies; hide the minis or the real bulbs for the different look). To change the light color: Select the 288 assemblies, OPEN them (don't ungroup); you can then change the filter colors of the 7 instances (be sure to change the corresponding transparency color in the material editor as well.
Be careful: the render time for the real light bulb option on a dual quad core Xeon system with 16 GB ram was ~ 90 minutes, attributed mostly to GI & shadow maps; for convenience I have included the FG/Photon maps as well (generated from those renderings), using them will help cut the render time considerably.
The objects I used for distributing the lights are also included in the file, so rearranging the lights (or setting up new ones) is easy. The mini lights shown are two scatter objects (one white & one blue) - add/clone/modify as necessary if desired. For the bulb fixtures I used a crowd helper with a distribution surface.
All objects are named appropriately for ease of selection. The real lights are instanced by color.
**Important:** No materials or lights (including the light geometry) are included with the 3ds file, with the exception of the trunk (which has a texture map - see below). The needles, branches, balls, tinsel, garland, and star were simply given a diffuse color, and specularity level. Textures were not used to achieve the appearance of needles... they are actual modeled needles. Textures were also not used with the tinsel, garland, and balls (even the hooks that hang them). The max file includes all materials/textures/lighting.
Most of the renders show no lights at all; all but the first, and last 10 thumbnails were rendered with the default scanline; the first & last 10 with Mental Ray.