Software review: Cinema 4D R13 Studio
Maxon has overhauled R13 and the latest release offers a change of focus and a host of new features, says Rob Redman
Upgrade from R12
Prime: £650 / $995 / €727
|| Prime: £240 / $395 / €289
Broadcast: £1,200 / $1,695 / €1,238
Broadcast: £420 / $695 / €508
Visualize: £1,500 / $2,295 / €1,676
Visualize: £510 / $795 / €581
Studio: £2,800 / $3,695 / €2,699
Studio: £700 / $995 / €727
Windows / Mac
- Physical camera and rendering
- New character object and toolset
- Rewritten sub-surface scattering
- Lots of new I/O options
SEE CINEMA 4D R13 STUDIO IN ACTION
Download and watch videos for the Cinema 4D R13 review (43.3MB)
Rigging and animating characters is quicker in Cinema 4D R13
For the past few incarnations of Cinema 4D, Maxon has concentrated on the motion graphics market, where it has a name for providing the best tools for the job.
The MoGraph module and, more recently, the new dynamics engine have formed a solid core for animators, but other areas of the software have been left less developed. Character rigging and animation tools, rendering and a few other areas have begun to feel old and tired.
With R13, Maxon aims to fix these problems and bring Cinema 4D to the cutting edge of 3D technology by introducing a new render engine, a new suite of character tools, a bunch of workflow improvements and some file handling changes.
The new physical render engine offers advanced effects
Let’s start off with the render engine. Previous versions had raytracing and GI modes, with a set of effects ranging from ambient occlusion and depth of field (DoF) to glow and motion blur.
The engine was good, if not the fastest around, but the main problem came when you tried to use multiple features. Combining DoF with transparency or the hair engine, for instance, caused all manner of problems, and ridding an animation of GI flickering could also prove problematic.
Rigging and animating in R13 is improved, and enables you to easily build a rig for any character, with preset templates including bipeds, quadrupeds and fish
R13 rectifies these issues with its new physical camera and renderer. The physical camera works much like a DSLR, with f-stop settings for DoF and ISO and shutter speed for exposure control. There are settings for chromatic aberration and iris shapes too, which can be applied using shaders or bitmaps for some lovely bokeh effects. The engine uses a single calculation for DoF and motion blur solutions, making rendering significantly faster. The other benefit to this is that the interactive viewport renderer is now very useful: setting up lights and materials is a joy, with almost instant feedback.
Maxon has rewritten the sub-surface scattering shader, making it both more realistic and faster. It’s also more intuitive to set up: it’s a simple case of adding to the Luminance channel and tweaking some simple controls. For even faster results, you can start with one of an array of presets and adjust it to suit. In everyday use, all you need are two controls: the colour and the ray depth will get you 95 per cent of the way there.
The previous character module was okay, but rigging and animating a character took longer than in options like MotionBuilder. R13’s new character tools provide an auto-rigger that actually works and is great for building preset animations.
You can now rig and animate a biped in a few minutes, so you can spend more time on storytelling and less working around technical limitations. To start a rig, all you do is add the character object to the scene, choose which components you need, adjust the scale and position and drag your mesh into the binding box. All the appropriate weightings are added automatically, as are controller objects and IK/FK set-ups.
Weightings are added automatically when you set up a rig
The new CMotion feature is similar in use but caters to animators, enabling you to apply preset animations to your rigged characters. Instead of spending time making a basic walk cycle, just apply one from your library and have it automatically follow a spline or underlying mesh. No more accidental moon-walking!
CMotion lets you apply a preset walk to a character object rig
For many users, these tools will be the main reason for buying or upgrading – but the real value lies elsewhere. The axis widget has been completely overhauled and is intuitive, useful and efficient. The three axes no longer meet visibly where they intersect, so selecting and viewing points is much easier. The handles now resize to stay in the viewport, and can be resized on the fly to help alignment. The object axis itself is now available while modelling with just a press of the [L] key, and will snap to any component you select. Very useful.
This is an impressive update, with many new features that will wow users from various disciplines, but it’s the solid reworking of workflow that makes this a valuable upgrade. The Studio edition is still priced a bit high – and appears to be rising while other applications come down. This lessens the value a little, but overall R13 is possibly the worthiest update since R10.
- Great quality and versatile renderer
- Workflow has improved massively
- New SSS shader is fast and realistic
- Character toolset is powerful and intuitive
- The Studio edition is expensive (but is cheaper outside the UK)
- The Prime edition doesn’t include many of the most useful tools
R13 is a major upgrade, bringing powerful tools to areas that were previously lacking, and is now a major contender in all markets. Autodesk beware…
3D World’s technical editor Rob Redman has worked for brands such as The Who, O2 and Red Giant Software, and is also a software tester and trainer
on Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 at 10:22 am under Applications, Reviews.
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Tags: 3D training, Cinema 4D, Cinema 4D R13 Studio, Maxon, training videos, video tutorial