Maxon has launched Cinema 4D Release 11 (R11), the next generation of its 3D animation software suite. New feature highlights include a non-linear animation system, a new global illumination render engine and dramatically improved render speed.

The company says that users will also benefit from the powerful Projection Man matte painting system, developed by Maxon for Sony Pictures Imageworks, support for the COLLADA file format and CineMan — a RenderMan-compliant tool that connects to Pixar’s rendering solution. Additionally, multiple improvements were made to MAXON’s popular texture painting toolset BodyPaint 3D Release 4.

Boosts in performance for both PC and Mac users mean that rendering speeds are now more than twice as fast as the previous version, says Maxon. Cinema 4D R11 also boasts an all-new Cocoa-based architecture supporting 64-bit processing under Mac OS X 10.5.

The non-linear animation system (above) includes animation layers and motion clips tools let users build, layer and loop discreet motions containing hundreds of keyframes in complex hierarchies.

Maxon says that users of Cinema 4D R11 can take advantage of the most current algorithms and computer hardware with the new Global Illumination engine (above). This technology delivers heightened flexibility to achieve ultra-realistic results with a minimum of setup time, even for animations, according to the company.

The BodyPaint 3D module gains tools for painting detailed textures onto a 3D model as well as an improved workflow. The improvements facilitate even tighter integration into industry-standard painting pipelines with brush import, WACOM tablet support, PSD format enhancement and more.

Projection Man (above) was developed for the creation of matte paintings in films such as Hancock, Speed Racer, Beowulf and Surf’s Up. Maxon says that the formerly exclusive toolset enhances workflow and makes it easy to create and patch the mattes, with tight integration with Photoshop and BodyPaint 3D that simplifies editing and manipulating extensive digital mattes and even fully immersive 3D environments.

High-end users can render Cinema 4D R11 projects utilizing Pixar's RenderMan Pro Server, or other RenderMan-compliant engines including 3Delight and AIR through the CineMan module and support for the RIB format.

R11 supports COLLADA, an open standard XML-based format that facilitates the transfer of 3D assets between applications, which makes exchanging scenes with other 3D applications easier. The upgrade also offers optimized render control settings, animation ghosting, a doodle tool and support for 3D Connexion devices on both Mac and Windows).

Cinema 4D R11 is expected to ship September, 2008. Pricing begins at £549 plus VAT for the standard version, £1,349 plus VAT for the XL version, and £2,399 plus VAT for the Studio bundle.