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Book Review: CINEMA 4D 11: Workshop by Arndt von Koenigsmarck

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CINEMA 4D is the 3D software package gives you the ability to model, animate, and create objects in 3D. It is popular with matte painters in film as well as motion picture artists. It has been used in such films as We are the Strange, Polar Express,Open Season, and Monster House.

CINEMA 4D 11: Workshop is a book whose goal is to give you a feel for real-time project development. The author is the owner of a 3D production studio in Germany, a member of the CINEMA 4D beta team, and a freelance trainer. This is the seventh edition of this book. CINEMA 4D 11: Workshop is 304 pages in length and is divided into four chapters.

Chapter one, "Short projects," jumps right in to working on some shorter projects. It is explained that typical projects can take several days to complete. To facilitate practicality, the author takes you through some basic projects to give you real world examples. They were chosen to demonstrate a complete production cycle from modeling, to texturing and lighting, right up to the final render. These projects include creating a flashlight, the modeling of a carabiner; a small clip that might be found on a lanyard, and an antique vase.

Chapter two, "Advanced Workshops," now takes on some more challenging techniques. Till now you have worked with individual objects. Now you will work at taking a 3D object and setting it into a scene, applying the fitting textures, and setting up the lighting. Because CINEMA 4D has made big strides in the area of realistic renderings through the Advanced Renderer, global illumination has become easier to use with a quality of result much higher than before.

In this chapter you will model a room which includes setting the windows, modeling the floor and ceiling, and setting up the lighting. You will then set the vase that you created in the first chapter into the room as well as adding other features. Next you will work on an outdoor scene in which you create a lantern and apply light. You then create a stone stairway, a green hill, ivy, and create the sky lighting for both day and evening.

Chapter three, "Animation Techniques," are explored next. With CINEMA 4D there are different techniques and modules that are available for animation. There are basically two types of animation that are created. The first type of animation is a Simulation which relies on things like explosions or one thing running into another to affect the object. And then there is Keyframe animation where movements that are determined manually by conditions of parameters and objects.

When begin an animated scene you need to create the scene first and the animation later. But you need to decide what the keyframe will be early on to makes sure you get things correct. In this chapter you will step through the best way to set everything up so that when you are ready to animate, you won't have to go back and refit everything. One of the items that you will work with is creating a swinging pendulum that interacts with two stationary cubes.

Next you will work with particle effects. Particles are used when a large number of objects are needed and need to possibly animate them. This allows you to flow a river, or fill a stadium full of people, both of which you will do. Keep in mind he does not spend time on detailing the people in the stadium, but rather showing how it can be done.

Chapter four, "Character Animation," now looks at creating a model creature. While this is one of the most interesting, it is also one of the most challenging things to do. The MOCCA module of CINEMA 4D is used almost exclusively for this purpose. Here you will learn how to model a character, edit the UV coordinates with BodyPaint 3D and apply a texture to it. Then you will animate it.

The last part of this chapter you will take a journey into the world of game development. Through the use of Unity 3D software you will see how your character can be exported into a game engine and how to use interactively control it there.

There is also an online chapter called CINEMA 4D Basics who's goal it is to bring you up to speed for the task of working daily with 3D projects even with little or no prior knowledge of the software. Seasoned users will find that they are able to get up to speed with the new features as well. The online chapter is 88 pages in length and will take you through all of the important parts of the interface and working with CINEMA 4D quickly.

When I first looked at the book, it struck me strange that there was no intro to the book, no preamble, no "this is what I expect…" It just starts off with the first short project and continues on. If found out later that the original book is written in German and translated to English, but still it seemed strange. I still don't know why there is no introduction, other than the online chapter has a little more intro to it, but even that gets down to nuts and bolts quit quickly.

What I also found is that this is a very efficient book that will teach you CINEMA 4D, and teach you well. The book is well laid out and there are a lot of clean and clear screen shots. The text is well written and very clear; a good translation. If you want to get to the next level of CINEMA 4D, then I highly recommend this book.

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.