January 22, 2012 11:36 pm

Tags: 3D, Animation, C4D, CINEMA 4D, MAXON

Product Review: MAXON'S CINEMA 4D R13

MAXON has recently released a major update to their cross-platform 3D modeling, animating, painting and rendering application: CINEMA 4D Release 13. This update comes amidst MAXON's re-imagining of their company, which includes a new logo, new website design and a complete overhaul of their already excellent learning site Cineversity. MAXON is focused on bringing their company into the future intelligently and the new update to CINEMA 4D certainly shows their commitment to that goal. Already a mature software package (see my review of C4D R12 here), this new release is a huge step forward for a company that has a place among the very best 3D applications on the market.

MAXON has always tried to include significant improvements across the board with their updates, and Release 13 is no exception. Despite the ominous numbering, this release is filled with improvements to 3D work-flow, advances in rendering, important character animation tools and much, much more. For a full break down of the new updates, check this MAXON link. In the meantime, here are some of the major improvements in more detail.


Major Updates to CINEMA 4D

  • New enhanced rendering capabilities including a brand-new Physical Render Engine which uses real world camera settings to create true 3D depth of field and motion blur. Rendering skin and other translucent material is made easier with the new Subsurface Scattering Shader. There's also a new Terrain Mask Shader for creating better aged surfaces. Anti-Aliasing Filters get a boost in this release resulting in top quality anti-aliasing.
  • New Stereoscopic Workflow in Release 13 allows you to convert existing projects by turning any camera into a stereo rig, or you can create a new stereo project and view your work in realtime by turning any view-port to Stereoscopic mode. You can also render merged stereoscopic images or render images for each eye. Release 13 allows for a high level of manual control of stereoscopic images.
  • Outstanding new Animation and Character Rigging tools include a new Character Object which makes the rigging process SO much easier. A spanking new CMotion system gives users the ability to create realistic walk cycles. There's also a new Muscle object you can attach to joints on a rig for full control over the shape of muscles on a model. The new Collision Deformer enables models to interact with their environment more realistically.
  • Comprehensive overhaul of the CINEMA 4D user interface (GUI) includes project files with preview images, font preview, vertical tabs, and a lot more. Work-flow is a major focus of this release and it shows.
  • Optimized Modeling Workflow – Although there are no new modeling tools, the whole modeling process in Release 13 has been drastically improved. From auto tweaking to axis toggling and advanced selection tools, modeling in CINEMA 4D is much easier. Full list of improvements can be viewed in the MAXON YouTube video.
  • New Export/Import features in Release 13 make CINEMA 4D one of the easiest 3D packages to incorporate into an existing pipeline. It also makes it much easier for an individual user to move data in and out of CINEMA 4D to other tools, like ZBrush, Maya and more. Updates include contemporary FBX support, Collada 1.5, Multi-Channel OpenEXR, enhanced sound format support and very complete After Effects integration.
Adjustments to C4D interface include vertical tabs

Using CINEMA 4D Release 13

CINEMA 4D is the most accessible of practically any 3D application. Its design is clean and intuitive. New interface improvements, like preview images of project files (very nice) and the new Mesh dropdown menu which makes it much easier to get to the controls you need to manipulate your mesh. I also found the new "sticky keys" short cut system in Release 13 to be a big time saver. You simple press and hold the shortcut key to perform your particular action, then when you release the key you return to the original tool you were using before you used the short cut. This functionality is also reflected in tools like extrude and rotate. Hold down the 'R' key to rotate, release and return to the original tool.

I was able to rig a character for the first time using CINEMA 4D Release 13. Rigging has always been a complex process and I believe Release 13 is the first 3D application to simplify the process so that it doesn't become a head-scratching, frustrating experience. Simply import your model (biped, quadrupeds, fish, etc.), add a custom built rig and position the joints to the model (you can adjust the rig symmetrically), then automatically bind the rig to your model. The new CMotion system is really easy to use. I created a spline path and had my character walking easily. Further animation is easier with fine tuned F-curves and new colored animation path.

Rendering was already excellent in CINEMA 4D, but the new Release 13 Physical Rendering Engine is like night and day compared to previous rendering options. I had no problem figuring out how to adjust camera type or size. Being able to reproduce real-world camera flaws, like chromatic aberration and lens distortion, really has an impact on the realism of the image you are working on.

I've only scratched the surface of how effective and fun it is using MAXON's new Release 13 of CINEMA 4D. In fact, it was hard to tear myself away from the program enough to write this review.

Rigging a character in C4D R13 is so much easier now

Conclusion – MAXON's Best Release to Date?

It's hard to find flaws in Release 13 of CINEMA 4D, especially if you are having to good a time using the program. Being able to rig your own character with relative ease gives you quite a feeling of accomplishment. Although this release updates practically every aspect of the program, it's the Rigging and Animation improvements that really wow me. CINEMA 4D has made huge inroads in the motion graphics industry, but major improvements in these two areas will open up the program to a whole new market of users. Where one might choose Maya or 3ds Max to be the basis for a 3D film project or advertising project, CINEMA 4D will now be a strong alternative choice.

Documentation is even better than in previous versions of CINEMA 4D. MAXON is the only company who still includes a short printed manual with every copy of the program. Cineversity has just been reimagined and is the singular best source of C4D training (and perhaps any 3D package). You can access the very deep manual from within the program and there is a growing community of users who share their tutorials and plug-ins. M dot Strange's new film "Heart String Marionette," shot in CINEMA 4D, is due to be released this year and will immediately attract the solo or small team 3D filmmaker.

This release of CINEMA 4D is certainly the strongest in years (and that's saying a lot). There's no doubt in my mind that the program is the best overall 3D package you can buy for high-end and amateur 3D production. That MAXON is paying such close attention to artist work-flow in addition to its already intuitive design makes CINEMA 4D Release 13 a perfect package for beginners and for current users looking to add power and speed to their work-flow. It's a dynamite upgrade that I think will impress just about anyone who uses the program.

CINEMA 4D Release 13 has my highest recommendation. MAXON is to be congratulated for packing so much into a 3D application, and at the same time, keeping the price point attractive and affordable. No matter what kind of 3D user you are, you will be very pleased with this new release.

Sub Surface Scattering Shader in C4D R13 creates natural skin look


CINEMA 4D Release 13 comes in several packages, depending upon your needs. This review was made using the top level Studio version, which costs $3,695 (upgrade $995). Other versions of the program include Prime, Broadcast and Visualize which are tailored for specific types of users (motion graphics, broadcast, etc.). Full list of prices starting as low as $995 for Prime are available at the MAXON website.

MAXON also offers a yearly service agreement, which includes complete access to the new Cineversity site, updates, preferred technical support and free online training. Check MAXON for more details.

Full list of hardware requirements are here. This review was conducted on a self-built medium level PC with Nvidia Quadro card and 12 Gbs of Ram running Windows 64-bit.

Sincere thanks to MAXON for providing this NFR copy of CINEMA 4D Release 13 Studio Edition. Thanks also to Paul Babb at MAXON US and Vicky Gray-Clark at Ambient Public Relations for their help in putting this review together.

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.



January 23, 2012

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Article Comments

Afrodite-Ohki ( posted at 10:55PM Thu, 26 January 2012

I'll start saving my money for it if it has real-time symmetry (that doesn't require deleting half your model to apply the symmetry modifier) and good .obj importing and exporting tools.

nemirc ( posted at 11:28PM Sun, 29 January 2012

Hi Afrodite-Ohki, according to my experience, C4D has always had a very good .OBJ importer/exporter. As for the real time symmetry, there's an operator inside C4D that does just that and works like a breeze.