CINEMA 4D R12 Prime In Review

Product Review: CINEMA 4D R12

CINEMA 4D R12 improves the workflow in different areas, such as rendering, and animation, while also offering significant changes in the core technology. For this review I will be focusing on CINEMA 4D R12 Prime.

The quality of the images you render will drastically increase thanks to the new Linear Workflow. Basically, Linear Workflow can help create better looking images by adjusting contrasts and dark areas without having to add more lights to the scene, which could also cause overburned images.

With Linear Workflow, CINEMA 4D yields a better representation of the image colors. Note that any image, including textures, will take advantage of this. You can select the default color profile that would be used to display the images and textures. Some textures might include an embedded color profile, so you can choose not to use the default profile for those. The C4D OpenGL viewport can display the changes you make to color profiles in real time, so you can get a very good idea on how the final image will look.

Another improvement on the render side is the ability to use photometric parameters for lights. This is useful since you can now get your lights to behave like real lights, using light intensity and decay rate based on real lights. Combined with the CINEMA 4D units system, you will get a realistic behavior with your lights. Some versions of CINEMA 4D can even use photometric data files to simulate the actual shape and intensity of commercially available light sources, which would be especially useful for architectural rendering.

As you may know, my focus most of the time is animation, so it's good to know CINEMA 4D offers some nice features in this area. One of them is the new Weights Manager. The Weights Manager displays a spreadsheet containing the influence of each joint on every vertex of your model, which is very useful when trying to fix unwanted deformations on a vertex level.

CINEMA 4D R12 also ships with new deformers, like a smoothing deformer, camera deformer, and mesh deformer. The smoothing deformer can be used to fix deforming problems in your mesh. For example, you may get face interpenetrations when a mesh is bent, or in the elbow area of your characters. Smooth deformers can be used to fix these problems.

The camera deformer works like a free form deformer available in your compositing software, creating a grid on top of your camera view that you can modify by dragging the points. Objects in the camera view are visually deformed according to the modifications made to that grid. Modifying the grid is very easy, since you can use any of the available tools in CINEMA 4D.

If you're familiar with indirect skinning, you are already familiar with the mesh deformer (also called wrap deformer in other packages). Basically, you can use a low resolution cage to drive a high resolution mesh. This can be useful to animate a high resolution character, since you'd actually be skinning a low resolution character and use it to drive the high resolution one. However, you can also use this deformer to indirectly simulate a high resolution mesh, using soft bodies, cloth, and such. This deformer can be the best friend of anyone needing to animate high resolution meshes.

CINEMA 4D Release 12 continues to improve on the viewport. As I said before, if you're using the Linear Workflow, you can see the adjustments in your viewport in real time. Also, the overall speed of the viewport is faster than in previous versions.

Python is also available as a scripting language in Cinema 4D. Python has become a “standard” scripting language for 3D applications, and can be used to exchange data between all of them. Keep in mind that although many 3D apps have adopted Python scripting doesn’t mean there’s a built-in command for data exchange, so you’d still need to code that tool yourself. The advantage of using Python lies in being able to use a standard coding language across multiple applications.

CINEMA 4D R12 focuses a lot on rendering improvements and architectural visualization, as well as core technologies with the implementation of Linear Workflow, real-world units and Python scripting. However, the addition of the new Weights Manager, deformers and point cache are more than welcome in this powerful package.

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Editor's Note
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Sergio Aris Rosa [nemirc], is Sr. Staff Writer for the Renderosity Front Page News. Sergio discusses on computer graphics software, animation techniques, and technology. He also hosts interviews with professionals in the animation and cinematography fields. You can follow him on Twitter, and if you want to see what he's up to you can visit his blog.

December 27, 2010

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