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September 2014
Issue: April 1, 2008

REVIEW: MAXON CINEMA 4D R.10.5

By: Tor Johansen
PRODUCT: Maxon’s Cinema 4D R.10.5

WEBSITE: www.maxon.net

PRICING: Cinema 4D, $895; Cinema 4D XL Bundle, $2,195; Cinema 4D Studio Bundle, $3,495

- New HUD commands
- Cross platform

There’s something about German software that instantly makes me feel at home — “cozy” if you will. Maxon’s Cinema 4D is no different. Kick the shoes off, walk around in boxers, teasing the neighbor’s dog. That kind of cozy. With their recent whopper of an upgrade, Release10.5 (which could have easily been a full, new Version 11 release), Cinema 4D has a ton of improvements that I will attempt to highlight in my meager columned space below.

Maxon seems to be picking up a bigger piece of the 3D pie these days, I’m not sure if there’s just more work to go around, or folks are migrating over? One clear advantage I see is the cross-platform nature of C4D, because when you only have one specific group of customers, or constituents…eh-hem, Hillary, then you will undoubtedly have a smaller turnout, or user base. Thankfully, Maxon serves the likes of both John “I’m a PC” Hodgman and Justin “I’m a Mac” Long.

WORKFLOW

Because none of us works in a vacuum, C4D includes support for a host of industry-standard file formats. Images and movies in PSD, TIF, Targa, JPG, QuickTime, AVI and other popular formats can be imported as textures or modeling templates, or used for final output. Support for vector formats extends to Illustrator import and Flash and EPS export. Assets can be exchanged with other 3D apps in DXF, 3DS, OBJ and other formats, and entire scenes can be imported using NewTek LightWave 3D and FBX formats.

I’ve actually found that C4D makes a perfect partner with the Adobe Suite of apps. In fact, I don’t think anyone integrates better than Maxon. C4D even allows you to render out in layers that are accessible by AE — for total creative control. For motion design studios who flirt with both 2D and 3D, this is the only way to go. The Adobe-Maxon combo has proven to be such a success, they’re actually “on tour” together this spring, hitting cities from Vancouver to New York.

GUI IMPROVEMENTS

Cinema 4D R.10.5 adds cool new features and numerous improvements to help your workflow, from its conception to the screen, between co-workers and team members, and even among different apps. The core app has new import and export capabilities, as well as modeling and lighting tools, and extensive upgrades to the animation system.

The all-new timeline that debuted in Release 10 has been further enhanced in Release 10.5 to offer even better control over animation and help tame your cluster of keyframes. It’s easy to create basic animation in Cinema 4D, and the upgrade makes it easier than ever to fine-tune timing and create motion magic.

Relative Keys in R.10.5 allow you to easily adjust the length of a motion sequence without changing the basic timing. Simply set intermediate keys to relative mode and their time value will automatically be adjusted as you tweak the timing of surrounding keyframes. This makes it simple to speed up an animation sequence without affecting the overall timing. This is similar to a great feature I use all the time in After Effects to quickly re-time segments.

In addition to the major changes, many smaller changes have been made to the timeline to help improve your workflow. Among these are improved display of keyframe data, expandable mini F-Curves within the keyframe view, the option to link the timeline selection with the Object Manager, and the ability to copy data between different timeline views.

GET YOUR HUD ON

Cinema 4D’s Heads Up Display has proven to be an outstanding workflow aid since its introduction with R.9. This powerful tool has been greatly enhanced in R.10.5 to make working on complex projects easier than ever before. Among the many HUD improvements, you can now drag and drop parameters directly from the Attribute Manager into the HUD. Objects can be dropped directly into the HUD as well to make selections easier. Object HUD elements can automatically activate the move, scale or rotate tools, or even execute any Cinema 4D command or script. HUD parameters are now stored with their associated objects as well so you can merge multiple scenes without losing track of your controls.The display of each HUD element can be individually customized with custom icons and unique colors for each element. HUD groups and sliders can also be set to automatically fold and expand on mouse over. This lets you keep elements out of the way until you need them.

R.10.5 introduces a revolutionary way of lighting your 3D scenes. With the new lighting tool you don’t arrange lights within the scene. Instead, you arrange the lighting itself. Just click on an object surface to create lighting that will affect that area. Activate various modes to control the overall surface lighting, diffuse or specular placement, or to move lights in a trackball or pivot fashion. Easily create complete lighting set-ups with keyboard modifiers to generate new lights and adjust existing lights. Quite a time saver.

STOP BY

The above is only a sampling of the some 90-plus substantial improvements. Go ahead and download a demo version and see for yourself. Or stop by their booth at NAB this year. You will see a range of motion graphics solutions that showcase the significant workflow enhancements C4D brings to creative pros. Industry folks from top broadcast and design facilities, including Rob Garrott, a seasoned broadcast designer and instructor at Art Center College of Design, will be on hand to provide real-world examples citing C4D’s intuitive interface, speed and stability.

Tor Johansen is an independent producer based in Los Angeles. He can be reached at:
tor@torphoto.com.