Review: Maxon Cinema 4D Release 12
Issue: November 1, 2010

Review: Maxon Cinema 4D Release 12

PRODUCT: Maxon Cinema 4D Studio


PRICING: Studio, $3,695; Visualize, $2,295; Broadcast, $1,695; Prime, $995; 

- Dual Transformers for precise animation

- Python scripting

- Linear workflow as a default

I love companies that continuously push the envelope. Apple and Adobe come quickly to mind. In my opinion, each and every product from those companies get better and better. When Adobe introduced CS5, not only did I fill my computers with it, but also made sure the school started using it. Recently, when Apple introduced Apple TV, I bought two for my house and love them. 

So what does this have to do with Maxon Cinema 4D? Well, to me, Maxon is also one of those companies pushing the envelope. Being a user since Version.9, each and every release has brought something new and important to the table. Features that make me think, “How did I live without that?”


Cinema 4D Release 12 now comes in four delicious flavors: Prime, Broadcast, Visualize and Studio. Cinema 4D Prime is the perfect entry point for anyone wanting to add 3D graphics to the toolset. Cinema 4D Broadcast was made with broadcast motion graphics artists and designers in mind. Cinema 4D Visualize is geared toward character animators and visual effects artists. Last, but not least, is the Studio bundle, which I like to call the granddaddy of them all. With the Studio Bundle at your disposal, the possibilities are absolutely limitless as to what you can create and design.

Studio Bundle, which I am reviewing here, contains the toolsets of the other editions and cloth, hair, rigid and soft body dynamics, thinking particles and all the presets that come with the various modules. Just open up the program and let your brains spill out onto the page and create.

For those who know me and know that I love Cinema 4D, the main reason is it was so simple to learn. Many of the other 3D programs, in my opinion, required me to get a masters degree in mathematics. The Cinema 4D user interface is intuitive and allows me to get started quickly. The presets that come with the various versions are excellent starting places for many different projects.


One of the things that’s has been lacking in previous versions of Cinema 4D was Python scripting. Python is a scripting language used by 3D artists and is the standard in the industry. Cinema 4D R.12 now allows Python scripting.

Dual Transformers is another cool feature in R.12; it allows you to freeze the position scale and rotation of an object enabling you to zero out coordinates to animate. Artists can now be extremely precise.

Cinema 4D R.12 introduces, for the first time, the ability to have true units of measure. True units will allow you to be exact and choose the units of measurement you want and export that information with your file.


Maxon really had the end-user’s pocketbook in mind when they created Release 12. Many of the new features really speed up a lot of the processes that go into creating 3D content. And, as we all know, time is money, right?

First of all, let’s talk about the new linear workflow. Linear workflow allows you to work with eliminated gamma, allowing you to have a more real look. It is enabled by default when you create a new scene and allows for much cleaner work. You will have a quicker time lighting the scene and when it comes time to render, you will be pleased at the speed.

One of my favorite features in Cinema 4D R.12 is the ability to really do some fun stuff when lighting. New to this release is photometric light intensity, IES-based fall off, color temperature and white balance options, and much more. If you ever dreamed of lighting a movie set all by yourself, just create a scene and go to town. The photometric lighting has units based on real-world examples, such as Candela and Lumens. Put this all together with true units of measure and your lighting will have the exact proper shadows, fall-offs, etc. 

It’s so cool to be able to have IES-based files that provide real-world specs on lighting fixtures. Did you have in mind the perfect sconce to hang near your door in your scene? No worries. Find the IES file and bring in the specs.Just open up your content browser in Cinema 4D R.12 and search away.


Maxon really went to town adding OpenGL 3 support in R.12. For machines that can handle that, the user will really see dramatic speed improvements when working in the application. 

The improved and awesome picture viewer now allows for full-screen playback. If you are on an older version of Cinema 4D you will love the picture viewer added in the last release. The new version is really ramped up now for added navigation and even has a histogram.

The ability to batch render in the Cinema 4D render queue has been completely streamlined with a task manager making it great for keeping track of multiple file renders. Find the files you want to render and simply import, drag from a finder or window, or use Cinema 4D’s content browser,  and off you go.


Being able to use true units along with IES files make this a must-have upgrade. For animators, check out the new dynamics system with simple connection of objects to hinges, springs and complex joints. New users should try Cinema 4D Prime as an entry point.