Cinema 4D R14: Another Big Step Forward for MAXON

Product Review: MAXON's Cinema 4D R14

"R14's new arsenal of animation tools make our workflow faster and more fluid than ever. With the addition of the new sculpting tools we can do everything we want all in one application. CINEMA 4D just keeps getting more awesome!"
-Chris Boeska, Producer at "Fuse

I've been covering MAXON's development of their “cornerstone 3D motion graphics, visual effects, painting, and rendering software application,” Cinema 4D, for several years now. MAXON is committed to making Cinema 4D a major player in not just the motion graphics market, where it already holds a significant market share, but in the standalone 3D program market as well. That is, a 3D program that will model, animate, texture and render at a very high level.

With the release of Cinema 4D R14, MAXON has stepped right to the front of the line as an all-around 3D program that can enhance the quality and speed of any 3D workload. Cinema 4D has increasingly become an attractive and significant alternative to some of the big gun 3D applications that have been around for decades. And much of this is due to MAXON's insistence on quality and careful planning of upgrades, like this one.

From Cinema 4D R12 (2010), where Dynamics and Linear Work-flow was added, to R13 (2011) which added major Character Tools and a new Physical Render Engine, MAXON has steadily improved every aspect of Cinema 4D. This new release, Cinema 4D R14, is another major step forward for the company that prides itself on keeping their application simple to use, but with deep functionality. And with MAXON's recent website redesign, logo update and overhaul of their learning site, Cineversity, they've shown that they are determined to stay up to date and responsive to the needs of their users.

Excellent New Additions to Cinema 4D Studio R14

Cinema 4D R14 has over 200 improvements included in the program. The three major areas of these improvements are in Modeling, with a new sculpture toolset, redesigned snapping tools and work-plane updates; Camera Enhancements, with a Camera Calibrator which allows you to match a 3D camera image to a 3D environment, Motion Camera and Camera Morphing (more on these later), and Rendering which has new and improved Shaders and Materials, improvements to Global Illumination and Position Pass, which allows you to relight a scene and/or do quick color correction with new Interactive Grading Curves. You can find a full list of new additions to Cinema 4D R14 here.

And here are more notable improvements and updates to the new Cinema 4D R14:

  • Object Highlighting – much easier to see the object you are working with.
  • New Open GL with real-time soft shadows.
  • Very detailed Wood and Weathering Shaders
  • Excellent improvements to Dynamics, especially in Aerodynamics and Breaking Connectors.
  • A great new Animation Preview Path
  • Brand new To Do function, tag and To Do Task Manager
  • Cinema 4D files can be opened directly in Adobe Photoshop and After Effects
  • Completely new (GUI)Xpresso design.

And the list goes on and on. To see what is included with each Cinema 4D package check here for a full feature comparison. I'm reviewing the Studio Release, but there are also the Prime, Broadcast and Visualize editions, each one tailored to a specific workflow and creation/design focus.

Using Cinema 4D R14 and Final Thoughts

After reviewing other major 3D software applications over the last year, it's a real pleasure to come back to Cinema 4D: the interface is so clean and intuitively designed that there is literally no need to get up to speed. I really like the color scheme and layout of Cinema 4D. Makes it easy to jump right in and start creating. And that's exactly what I did with the new sculpting tools. What a smart addition to the program. You have tons of brushes and presets to use. Plus, using layers you can create an object with no fear of getting lost or making mistakes. Now, it's not as powerful as a dedicated sculpting software package like ZBrush, but it's much faster and easier to use. Probably my most favorite addition to this release of Cinema 4D. It's simply a lot of fun.

Aerodynamics are also a big fun factor: combine drag and lift with wind on a two-sided object and you've got instant aerodynamics which you can adjust to your heart's content. Flying leaves, papers, bits of stuff, it's all in the adjustments you make that determines how your objects will react.

Of course, the new camera tools are wonderful. I'm particularly interested in these as I'm working on my first 3D film. Being able to morph between camera placements is a fantastic help. And, I spent a lot of time working with the new camera calibration tool which was fast to set up and fun to work with.

Cinema 4D R14 also upgrades your ability to work with other programs. Adobe Photoshop has always been a staple in my creation kit and being able to open C4D files directly in Photoshop is a huge improvement. I also had no problem with using C4D files in Adobe After Effects, which has been beefed up a bit in this release of Cinema 4D. Although I don't use NUKE, it's a huge community for VFX and Cinema 4D R14 provides direct integration with that software by exporting directly from NUKE into Cinema 4D R14.

MAXON has spent considerable time planning this upgrade, because every addition is practical and helpful to the user's workflow. Upgrades are well implemented, and at times quite subtle. Plus, MAXON has added a wide range of improvements, from small things like an object highlights when you select it, to large improvements like brush sculpting and plastic deformers. This is a high quality upgrade which is well integrated and solid as a rock. I had zero crashes using Windows 64-bit over many hours of play and research.

I'm very excited about Cinema 4D R14 as it's quite simply the best release I've ever seen from MAXON. I've only just touched on what makes this version of Cinema 4D so special. It's easily THE best program for those just starting out in 3D, and with the kind of care MAXON is putting into the program it's also fast becoming a major competitor for other major 3D applications now on the market.

MAXON's Cinema 4D Studio 14 is an excellent, professional 3D application that will satisfy the needs of the most demanding 3D artist. My only complaint with the program is that the ability to sculpt in 3D only comes with the high-end Studio edition of Cinema 4D and in BodyPaint. It's a shame that it couldn't have been implemented in some kind of tiered fashion for every version of the program as it's such a spectacular addition to Cinema 4D.

Cinema 4D Studio 14 has my highest recommendation. It's solid, well-designed, and most of all, it's a lot of fun to work with. What a great program! If you have never used Cinema 4D, download the demo version of this release and give it a try. You won't be disappointed.

Notes

Cinema 4D R14 is available for Windows and Mac operating systems. System requirements are here. A full breakdown of what's included with the Prime, Broadcast, Visualize and Studio editions of Cinema 4D R14 is available here.

Prices range from $995 for the Prime Edition to $3,695 for the Studio edition (reviewed here). Studio upgrade from R13 is $995. MAXON's excellent service agreement, which includes special access to the completely new Cineversity and preferred technical support is also available for an annual fee.

I'd also like to applaud MAXON for making a fully functional free Student version of Cinema 4D available to legitimate students all over the world.

My thanks to MAXON for providing Cinema 4D R14 (Studio Edition) for review. Thank you also to Vicky Gray-Clark and Paul Babb for their support and encouragement.


Editor's Note: Be sure to check out the following related links


Ricky Grove [gToon], Staff Columnist with the Renderosity Front Page News. Ricky Grove is a bookstore clerk at the best bookstore in Los Angeles, the Iliad Bookshop. He's also an actor and machinima filmmaker. He lives with author, Lisa Morton, and three very individual cats. Ricky is into Hong Kong films, FPS shooters, experimental anything and reading, reading, reading. You can catch his blog here.

 

 


December 17, 2012

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