As Maxon announces the forthcoming release of Cinema 4D R14, 3D World technical editor and R14 beta tester Rob Redman offers his early assessment of the new features
I’ve been a 3D artist for a long time now, ever since Lightwave on the Amiga and in that time I’ve come to rely more and more on Cinema 4D as my main tool. It has flexibility, is efficient and renders quality result.
Saying that everything can be improved upon and this release of Cinema 4D proves that. As a beta tester I have been lucky enough to get to grips with the new tools, tweaks and overhauls for some time and I have to say I am very happy with what Maxon have achieved here.
The main focus of the R14 release is all about modelling, although there are new shaders and other features too. The modelling isn’t just about new tools but is as much about the workflow and use of space and time. A few of the standout new features are listed below. Some of these will be the wow factor features that get talked about but I have found it is the more subtle additions that have affected my daily work in Cinema 4D and are the real heroes of the software.
Cinema 4D now has a full suite of sculpting tools. Other apps have added similar concepts but Maxon have done a great job on making these more than a box ticking feature. The tools feel fluid and organic, letting you create fine detail or reshape a mesh easily and intuitively.
Simple subdivision of a model gives you multiple levels of detail, which can be stepped through and each level worked on. This is much how dedicated sculpting apps work and it feels good to have this in Cinema 4D.
Similarly, the tools for sculpting are predictable (in a good way) and intuitive, from the wax brush that lets you add material, to the push/pull brush where you will do the majority of the work.
Also included are a stamp brush, similar to alphas in brush. You can load in a bitmap and project that detail onto your mesh making easy work of adding scales or skin pores.
Symmetry is very well handled. This has often been a sore point for Maxon but it is implemented very well in sculpting mode, with all three axis catered for, individually or in unison.
I personally found it took a little time to get to love but after a few days I couldn’t go back. At least not easily. R14 has added construction/work planes, with a grid that actually is more than just a visual aid. You can now manipulate it, roaring and scaling and moving it, as you might in modo. There are different work plane modes too. I do a lot of archviz work and having a plane on each axis is very useful for me.
Not really a GUI element but I’ll mention it here as it works well with the planes, there is a new quantize button which helps incremental transforming of elements. With construction planes combined with quantizing and 3D snapping it is easy to create technical and precise objects very quickly. Less time is spent moving to the co-ordinates manager.
There is a new object highlighting element for the viewport too. hover over an object and you get a transparent white overlay and a white silhouette border. This makes selecting the right object in a dense scene much easier. Once deleted the overlay disappears and the outline turns yellow. This works selecting via the manager too, ensuring you always get a visual of what you are working on.
First up I’m going to mention something that is a cross between cameras and the GUI. This is a really neat little feature, which I liked for novelty value at first but now find really very useful. When you have multiple cameras in a scene it can become more complex finding your way around and it’s easy to get lost, in big complex scenes. R14 now transitions smoothly between cameras. You start looking through one, then choose another, and Cinema 4D animates smoothly to it. SOunds gimmicky and fun but in realisty is very useful. It helps you get a good feel for the scene and reinforces your understanding of the 3D space. Nice one Maxon!
Next up is the motioncam tag. Add this to a camera and it becomes a very powerful tool. You can define just about any parameter letting the camera become a fully rigged beats. There are presets for secondary motion, or you can build your own. My favourite is the steadycam operator, which gives very realistic movement to an animted camera. The animations themselves are simple to setup too. Just draw some splines and the camera will follow them over the defined frames, with as little or as much variation as you tell it.
This is a really powerful system. Third party options have been around for a while but now Maxon have added it in a tag it will soon become the default method for camera animation.
Some existing shaders have been tweaked or overhauled to make them either easier to use or give better results, including the brick and wood shaders, but the real news here is the addition of a weathering shader. People love grunge and adding a bit of organic mess and chaos can make all the difference between an ok material and a believable one. This is what this shader is for and it works very well indeed.
Then there is the normalizer. I see this banishing bump maps to the history books. Use this shader to turn any procedural shader or bitmap into a normal map. It really works well and although there are a couple of limitations (like needing to define procedural noises in 2D space) they are easy to deal with.
Fluid and logical
I’m still getting to grips with R14 but so far, so good. I’m liking the upgrade a lot. There aren’t so many big new additions this time round, apart from sculpting, but what has been done has created a more fluid experience, allowing more efficient and more logical working. Workflow is king these days and as it stands I think Cinema 4D is definitely heading in the right direction. Ill post more over the next few weeks and show off some of the features and tools in more detail, but if you have questions or comment please leave them below.