Best Buy
  • Price: 499 . 1199 . 1949

  • Company: Maxon

  • Pros: New animation and scene-management tools gives the user far more control, and the redesigned interface is cleaner and more efficient than previous versions.

  • Cons: Some features, such as interactive rendering, merely bring Cinema 4D in line with its rivals, rather than offering anything new.

  • Our Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10 We rate this 9 out of 10

Cinema 4D’s latest incarnation represents a considerable overhaul of how the program looks and works. First impressions are good – the redesigned interface, with its flat 2D buttons and unobtrusive grey background, is readable and refined compared to the untidiness of previous versions.

The interface can be customized too, so you can set it up to suit your working habits. Toolbars feature a knurled tab that collapses if you control control-click them, giving you quick access to more screen space.

The version 10 update is about more than just looks, though. The program has undergone two core changes to the way Cinema 4D works. The first is concerned with object and scene management, while the second affects animation. Cinema 4D’s Object Manager is the heart of the program, and is as important to creation and modelling as it is as a simple organizer. However, on complex scenes the old Object Manager was inefficient and unwieldy.

The new system gives you much more control over your scene items, and makes organizing and finding objects much easier. It’s far more sophisticated, too. Layers let you organize items into colour-coded (non-hierarchical) groups, so you can easily display or hide items in the list. A new flat tree mode does away with hierarchies, and displays objects either alphabetically or in order of creation.

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Tags can also be changed to a vertical mode, in which they appear inside a Tags folder, under the item they belong to. This allows you to free up horizontal screen space. You can traverse the scene hierarchically, moving from level-to-level with the Object manager only displaying the contents of that level. 
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Object Manager views can be filtered with search text, by object type, by layer, or by tag. You can bookmark any current viewing state to quickly return to it too. It’s a vast and comprehensive update, and your productivity will benefit as a result.
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The animation system has been overhauled too, and not before time. The new system is quite different to previous incarnations of the software, but it still maintains some familiarity if you’re used to older versions.
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The sequences have gone, and the keyframes and function curves are displayed differently. The new Timeline offers two view modes: an integrated dope sheet/keyframe view with individual channels that can be unfolded to display mini function curves, and a full-function curve view (below). 
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<div class=floatedimage><img src=Benedict Cambell

Interactive rendering has been in all the other major 3D applications for some time, so Maxon is a little late to that party. However, the addition brings the program up to speed with its competition.

Interactive rendering functionality is based on the Sniper Pro plug-in previously available for Cinema 4D, and gives you interactive rendering in the viewports via a floating render marquee. It’s fast, and supports most rendering options. A quality slider on the side lets you optimize performance, and in use it works a treat. You can even save the renders to disk if you want.

There’s plenty more in this update to make existing users happy, such as BodyPaint updates, relative paths for textures, a new Fur mode for the Hair Module, and the inclusion of Pyrocluster’s Advanced Render module. The new animation and object management features are genuine revelations though, and will make a real difference to your work.

Check back here on Thursday October 26 to read our review of Maxon's new BodyPaint 3D 3, the 3D painting system that works with 3DS Max, Cinema 4D, LightWave, Maya, and Softimage|XSI.

Character animation tools: Mocca 3

Cinema 4D has leapt forward in terms of character animation in version 10. The toolset has been revamped with the new Mocca 3 module. The new joints system is generally a lot easier to use – setting up rigs is simple compared to Mocca 2.
The joint tool lets you create and edit joints simply and easily – just click and drag the joint nodes to reposition them. Once the skeleton is created you simply select the joints and the mesh and click Bind. The results are excellent. New muscle deformers can be used to create secondary skin animation and muscle flexion.

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The new Visual selector is similar to Softimage|XSI’s Synoptic view or MotionBuilder’s selection tool. It lets you create custom selection sets on an image map for easy selection and animation. The new system is a big improvement over the old and shifts Cinema 4D into new territory in terms of character animation.
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