Maxon Cinema 4D R11.5 review

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10We rate this 9 out of 10 Best Buy We rate this 9 out of 10

  • Price When Reviewed: 619 . 229 . 999 . 1549

  • Pros: Snow Leopard/Windows 7 support; streamlined performance; increased rendering speed; enhanced MoGraph; sizeable collection of broadcast assets.

  • Cons: Pricey unless you’re a dedicated 3D artist; MoGraph is restricted to controlling gravitational and collision effects for Clones.

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Maxon’s modelling, animation and rendering software fills a technical and economic niche between the likes of quick modellers, such as SketchUp, and the full-blown power of Maya. The application now runs faster, offering a quick, fluid modelling experience when running on Mac OS X Snow Leopard on our MacBook Pro, but also holds up well on Leopard on a PowerMac G5 (R11.5 also offers support for Windows 7 and older).

Cinema4D is widely used in television VFX, so there’s new support for Apple Motion’s 3D space – the ability to export solids to After Effects – and support for multiple 3D camera export in both. Also welcome is support for FBX 2010, which facilitates the transfer of joint-based character rigs and multiple UV sets between applications.

The Broadcast Edition we reviewed includes royalty-free video and audio clips, a library of 3D models and materials for news production, scene files for lower space thirds, over-the-shoulder graphics and title screens, and preset lighting and camera setups. The latter lets you apply instant ‘looks’, such as Docu-cam, which mimics the shaky movement of hand-held cameras.

The motion-graphics capabilities of this edition centre on the MoGraph2 module. This includes MoDynamics, which harness the power of rigid body dynamics – so, for example, you can add gravitational effects to make a pile of boxes fall to the floor plane. The simulator can recognise which MoGraph objects (including Cloner and Instance) should have dynamic qualities applied; you can set scene-specific parameters such as bounce, friction and collision noise.
In the example with the boxes, which are built from cubes within a MoGraph cloner object grid array, the simulation will apply gravity automatically to the array, but not to the plane that acts as static collision object – the ‘floor’.

Also in MoGraph2, PolyFX applies effectors to the individual polygons of an object, enabling quick and easy explosion effects, while MoSpline allows you to clone existing splines and apply MoGraph’s newly enhanced effectors and forces to animate them. There is also a new Camera shader that can apply a CCTV look, placing the view from the 3D camera onto a surface as texture.

Other dynamics systems, such as the Nucleus system in Maya, may be more complex, but MoGraph2 is capable of some great effects when these new features are used in conjunction with traditional animation. This version also has ‘bucket’ rendering, which uses each core in a multi-processor system to render a square region of the scene. The result is visibly faster rendering time, with greater optimisation of RAM. You can define the size of the buckets, or just leave the application to work out an automatic bucket size for your system.

The optional Advanced Render Module now offers new features, such as dithering for sky colour and atmosphere, and gives you the option of calculating the Prepass only for creating and saving the Irradiance Cache file.

The Picture Viewer has been revamped, with your renders stored automatically in a History list, complete with render times. You can now compare a test render with previous iterations from the history using the AB Compare Tool. With the amount of experimentation we did with MoGraph2, this was a real bonus.

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