CINEMA 4D R11 was released in September 2008, and it includes several new features and enhancements that make this software even more powerful. Furthermore, C4D R11 still retains the same ease of use as its predecessor (although, sometimes it’s too easy for my taste).
The new features available in CINEMA 4D R11 include a non-linear animation system, a new render engine, a camera projection manager called Projection Man, the User Data Manager and a new COLLADA exporter.
The Motion System is a system used inside C4D for non-linear animation. You can add “layer upon layer” of animation on your object in a non-destructive manner (resulting in an animation that is the combination of your different “clips”). Animation layers work similar to layers in Photoshop or After Effects, where you can add different effects on top of each other.
The non-linear animation system also serves as a way to combine animation clips. Imagine you have different animations for your object. You can now create motion clips and combine them inside the Motion System. You can add clips on top of each other, re-time them, loop them and also alter their overall weight in your final animation.
Non-linear animation can be very useful if you’re working with characters, as you can add different animations on top of each other. Maybe you need a character with shaky hands. You can add the base animation to one layer, and add the shake on a second layer.
Projection Man is used to create virtual 3D mattes in your scene. You can project textures onto your surfaces, and you can also use more than one projection, allowing you to have more freedom of movement.
Basically, what you do is create a projection from your camera that you can use to paint a texture. Since this is used mostly for animations, you create more projections from different camera positions (the camera positions you use are specific positions along your camera animation). Projection Man projects the different textures as your animated camera moves along the scene.
Sometimes your texture will stretch because the perspective you used was not the best for that specific area. This is where creating more projections is useful.
You can create your camera projections with either Photoshop or BodyPaint 3D. Most of the time, my weapon of choice will be Photoshop, but BodyPaint 3D will also do the job. (Projection Man can, however, be used with most 2D applications).
Keep in mind that even though Projection Man is a powerful tool, you can’t assume you can do all sorts of crazy moves, spirals, s-curves and such.
When it comes to rendering, the Advanced Render has been reengineered, making it faster than before. You can also see it take more advantage of multi-threaded systems than C4D R10. In C4D R10, it would take some time for the extra cores to kick-in (each of the different “slices” on your image that you saw when rendering was rendering in a different core). Now, the Advanced Render utilizes “buckets” to render your scene, moving through the scene faster as the buckets take on a different section of an image almost instantly (obviously, each tile represents a core in your system).
The AR module may now be easier to understand (at least it is to me). You have your basic settings already there (general, output, aliasing, etc.), and everything else (Global Illumination, Ambient Occlusion, Glow, DOF, etc) is added from the Effects drop-down list. To me, it is better as it helps better differentiate the basic rendering parameters from the more advanced ones. However, new users may be confused by the word “Effects”, since Glows or Hair renderings are considered “Post Filters” in other applications (like 3D Studio Max), but Global Illumination and Ambient Occlusion are considered part of the “core renderer”.
According to my experience, transferring data between CINEMA 4D and Maya has either been a walk in the park, or a complete nightmare. I had found that while I could send data from Maya to C4D without any problem, sometimes the problem has been sending it back. This is not so much trouble now that C4D has a COLLADA importer/exporter, though (Maya 2009 natively supports COLLADA as well). I’ve been constantly sending models we’re using for our short film (currently in production) from CINEMA 4D to Maya with no problem using COLLADA.
My only complaint would be the lack of “during export” options in C4D. You are indeed able to change the import-export options for CINEMA 4D, but the only way to do it is to go to your application preferences to change the options; other applications allow you to change those options during import/export instead.
Since Apple switched over to Intel architecture, developers have been slowly dropping the support for PowerPC computers (which is understandable, and personally I don’t encourage the use of old hardware/platforms for work). MAXON, however, continues to use the Universal architecture on CINEMA 4D R11. This is good news for people still using old G5 computers. Great news for Leopard users: C4D R11 is a 64 bit release!
BodyPaint 3D includes several enhancements when it comes to brush management. However, there’s a small detail that I really love: you can now export your TIFF textures including layers, as BP 3D now includes support for layered TIFF images. BP 3D was able to export to PSD in the past (and still is), however, to me this is a great deal as I rarely use PSD files in any scenario other than working directly inside Photoshop.
The BodyPaint 3D interface has been slightly updated. Now you can easily find your brushes, tools and such with a tabbed panel. At first this can be a little confusing, but once you get used to it you won’t be able to go back to the previous version of BodyPaint 3D.
Another nice and useful feature is the Doodle Tool. You can use this tool to make annotations in your scene.
Sometimes you need to make annotations in Photoshop (or the image editor of your choice) and you use that to tell any artist the changes they need to make in a scene. With the Doodle tool you can write those annotations directly in the viewport. You can also set keys on your doodle in case you needed to comment on an animation.
CINEMA 4D R11 also includes features like a connection with Renderman-compliant renderers called CINEMAN, 3D mouse support for the Mac platform, and also the Online Updater that lets you connect to the MAXON servers and download updates and add-ons automatically (The Online Updater works very similar to the Windows Update available in Windows Vista, or the Apple Software Update).
Additions such as Projection Man and the COLLADA plug-in are really welcome. It is also nice to have the new Motion System, as it makes C4D more suitable for animation, and users can now take advantage of a non-linear animation workflow. Some areas have not seen any major changes (such as modeling) so this release may not please everybody.
I do believe C4D R11 is a solid release, since it adds some killer features while still maintaining its ease of use. If you’re a CINEMA 4D user, you’ll find a lot to like in this version. On the other hand, if you’re not a C4D user, you should definitely give this software a chance.
Supported Operating systems for CINEMA 4D R11 and BodyPaint 3D R4
Minimum CPU requirements CINEMA 4D R11 and BodyPaint 3D R4
Minimum Processor Windows-PC
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Animation Alley is a regular featured column with Renderosity Staff Columnist Sergio Rosa [nemirc]. Sergio discusses on computer graphics software, animation techniques, and technology. He also hosts interviews with professionals in the animation and CINEMAtography fields.
March 9, 2009
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