MAXON’s CINEMA 4D R16: An Excellent Upgrade

January 6, 2015 11:45 am

Tags: 3D, Animation, C4D, Cinema 4D, Maxon, modeling

“Honestly, It’s been a while since I have been this excited for a Cinema 4D release. This new version adds some HUGE new features.”

-Greyscale Gorilla

MAXON, the creators of CINEMA 4D, an increasingly popular modeling, animating and rendering application, is one of those companies that has a reputation for releasing updates that are thoroughly tested and are ready for pro level work right out of the box. They take the update/upgrade process seriously and in this new release (R16) have even introduced a new “user participation” feature which (only if the user agrees) sends anonymous info on preferences and user commands within CINEMA 4D R16 so MAXON can better learn where their future improvements to the application can have the most impact.

CINEMA 4D R16 is a significant release for MAXON. Large and small, MAXON has updated and improved practically every aspect of their already excellent program. Let’s take a look at some of the most important new additions.


What’s New in Cinema 4D R16

“CINEMA 4D Release 16 was developed with all aspects of the application in mind and features were integrated or enhanced that simplify workflow and make working with CINEMA 4D even more efficient and effective. With CINEMA 4D Release 16 you’ll enjoy that optimized workflow throughout the application.”

CINEMA 4D R16 emphasizes visual effects and realism in this upgrade with features like motion tracking and multi-layer reflections. There are considerable workflow improvements and the modeling toolset continues to be overhauled and updated. Rendering, always a strong aspect of CINEMA 4D, is expanded to 3 separate rendering systems, and the content library has been completely reworked along with new content packages being added. MAXON’s very informative overview of the new additions is here.

Some of the key additions/improvements in CINEMA 4D R16 are listed below. A complete list of the new additions can be found here.

  • New Texture Engine – Reflectance
    Controls for both specular and reflection have been merged into a single “Reflectance channel.” Now you can control multiple layers of reflection and specular with this new materials channel.
  • Built-In 3D Motion Tracker
    Combine live footage with 3D elements with new Motion Tracker. Automatic/Manual tracking with full 3D environment and constraints.
  • Procedural Bevel Deformer
    All the power of the Bevel tool introduced in Release 15 can now be applied non-destructively to entire objects or specific selection sets. Animate bevel attributes to create all new effects
  • Polygon Pen
    The poly pen offers a completely new modeling workflow enabling full control over your points, edges, and polygons without switching tools and rarely switching component modes.
  • New Team Render Server
    In CINEMA 4D R15, Team Render introduced a new concept making network rendering more intuitive and easier to set up than ever. New in R16, Team Render Server lets users directly upload, monitor and control network rendering jobs, and view the log status messages from the server and all clients.
  • New Bi Render Engine
    Enjoy greatly enhanced speed and quality when rendering Hair or Sketch lines, thanks to a completely new unified effects render engine. Seamlessly raytrace Hair and Sketch lines within the same render, managing fewer options to achieve higher quality results in a fraction of the time.
  • A Re-Organized and Improved Preset Content Library
    This includes a preset library which contains custom made solutions, such as new house and stair generators, as well as modular doors and windows.
Your brave reviewer being motion tracked


Using CINEMA 4D R16

Unlike several other 3D applications which have a steep learning curve and a daunting interface, working with CINEMA 4D R16 is smooth and unintimidating. I always start to work on a project with CINEMA 4D and end up getting pulled into the fun of creating. Even when I have to stop and look something up, I find the help I need quickly so that I get back to work with little interruption. Kudos to the Help documentation in the app and Cineversity, MAXON’s tutorial website (free and subscriber-based).

Take the brand new Polygon pen: the amount of clicks required to modify a model is now dramatically reduced. Retopologizing a high polygon model is simple with this new tool. I found working with the Polygon pen to be a very unique experience. Rarely do you find a single tool that allows you to do so much with a model’s geometry.

I also enjoyed working with the new Motion Tracker in CINEMA 4D R16. I decided to do a quick test and had a friend shoot a short video of me sitting at my work desk. I decided to use the “Full Solve” (you also get a “Manual Solve” choice) in CINEMA 4D, which automates the process of motion tracking. After a 2D and 3D solve pass, I had my camera track which captured the original hand-held movement of the camera very well. I added a model figure from the new content library and a small plane underneath it to catch shadows. I then rendered out two layers: one with the original footage and another with just the model figure, lights and shadows. Importing this into Premiere Pro CC, I composited the two layers and did some simple color correction and animation. I think it turned out quite well.



This all took about 30 minutes from start to finish. Obviously, more detail work needs to be done with lighting/shadows and texturing, but the basic camera track is excellent. This tool will come in handy for those artists and teams who want a quality track for VFX work, but don’t want to go to another program to get it.

The new updated FBX format in C4D makes getting materials and models into Unity (and other applications) a simple and more effective process. Improved and reworked content library is easy to use and very helpful with much easier search functions and brand new preset content.

The new Reflectance channel, which combines the old specular and reflection channels into one new Reflectance channel, the Solo Button (isolate objects in the viewport) and new Bevel Deformer are some of my favorite improvements in this new release of CINEMA 4D. And, as I mentioned earlier, all three of these new features are designed to save time and speed up your ability to get to the creative work that matters most to you.
Cinema 4D R16 new Reflectance Channel


Final Thoughts

MAXON gets all of the small things right in CINEMA 4D R16. They manage to improve practically every aspect of the program and at the same time provide big improvements like the 3D motion tracker, Reflectance channel and the Polygon pen. Plus, the entire application is extremely stable. I experienced zero crashes during testing and research, but then again, that’s typical for a MAXON product. They simply don’t release buggy upgrades.

CINEMA 4D R16 is an exciting release of an increasingly popular 3D program. This new version of CINEMA 4D will improve your workflow, give you more opportunities to work creatively and expand the possibilities of what you can accomplish inside of a 3D application. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s really a lot of fun to work with.

MAXON’s CINEMA 4D R16 has my highest recommendation. This upgrade is an absolute must and I strongly encourage independent or small group filmmakers to consider adding CINEMA 4D R16 as a one-stop VFX package. It’s well worth the money.

Try out the free demo and discover just how fun CINEMA 4D R16 is to work with.


CINEMA 4D comes in four packages: Visualize, Broadcast, Prime and Studio. I reviewed the Studio version which contains all of the features found in the other 3 versions. Full pricing details can be found here.

System requirements (available for Windows & OS X) are here. Information on Cineversity is available here. Renderosity’s own CINEMA 4D forum can be found here.

My thanks to MAXON for providing CINEMA 4D R16 Studio for review, to Greyscale Gorilla, which is the coolest and most informative C4D site on the net, and to my friend, Vicky Gray-Clark, for just being her charming self (and for setting this review up).

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.




January 6, 2015

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