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Software Review: CINEMA 4D R11, Part 1: The Core from MAXON

CINEMA 4D R11 – Part 1: The Core is the first of a multi-part series covering MAXON's new CINEMA 4D Release 11's offerings. Because this product has so many items available for the user, that I could not do it justice in a single write-up, and so I will break it down in separate articles. This first one will cover the core product functionality.  (Note: you may need to update QuickTime before viewing the videos linked in this article, which you can do here)

CINEMA 4D R11 is the latest release of the commercial cross-platform, high-end 3D graphics application from MAXON Computer GmbH of Germany. It is extremely popular among matte painters in film, and motion graphics artists. It has been used for films such as Polar Express, The Incredible Hulk, Beowulf, and The Golden Compass. It has been used in The Weather Channel's 100 Biggest Weather Moments, as well as in architectural modeling, graphic design, science, and engineering.

Cinema 4D Release 11
CINEMA 4D R11 has tight integration with Adobe Photoshop and MAXON BodyPaint 3D which simplifies the editing and manipulating of extensive digital mattes and even fully immersive 3D environments. It also has an enormous following among users of Adobe After Effects because the exporting of 3D data and separate alpha and depth information is efficient and simple. The export feature also supports Apple's Final Cut Pro, as well as other software, and thus allows it to fit in to a number of post-production studio configurations.

What do you need to run CINEMA 4D R11? On Windows you will need XP Home, Pro, or Pro 64-bit, Windows 2003 Server (32- or 64-bit), Intel Pentium 4, Athlon 64/MP (K8 with SSE2), Sempron (K8 with SSE2), and VIA C7. On Mac you will need Mac OS X 10.4.x or Mac OS X 10.5.3 or higher (10.5.0 thru 10.5.2 are not recommended), IBM PowerPC G5, or Intel CoreSolo. You will also need a modern video card, a DVD drive, and an Internet connection to register and activate your product.

CINEMA 4D is a product that was first released in 1993 in Germany. It stepped into the U.S. market at MacWorld in 1998 and took the Best Product award at SIGGRAPH, the annual conference of computer graphics. After winning many other awards and acclimations over the years, it soon found its way to the film and graphics industries, as well as into the fields of architecture and engineering.

Its claim to fame is its combination of state-of-the-art technology and its ease of use, which makes it possible for those who are new to the technology to become productive much more quickly than other similar products. Because of it modularity, the core product gives you everything that you need to create high-end 3D images and animations. As you need additional features, you can get those as well. There are a number of integrated modules that are available for purchase individually, or in bundles.

While when working with CINEMA 4D, the actual steps performed may differ depending on what you are trying to accomplish, but a basic workflow would go like this. First you would make a model of the items that you are trying to create. Take for example the spoon in the image listed. Using the primitives you manipulate and shape the spoon into its final form. The next step would be to add texture to the model. This is effectively giving it its outer coating. From there, if this were an item that had animation you could work that in. Then you would set up the lighting so that it further gave that 3D look. Once all that was done, you could render the image into its final form as was done in the donkey scene listed below.

About T. Michael Testi

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

    Contrary to the information in the review, Cinema 4D was available to the U.S. market several years before 1998. It was available for the Amiga platform (in the US) as early as 1994 (if not actually 1993).