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Software Review: CINEMA 4D R14 Studio From MAXON

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CINEMA 4D R14 is the latest release of the commercial cross platform, high-end 3D motion graphics, visual effects, painting, and rendering application from MAXON. It is extremely popular among professional 3D animators and motion graphics artists. It has been used for films such as Prometheus, Men in Black 3, The Amazing Spiderman, and Hotel Transylvania. It has also been used by NBC, HBO, the NFL, The Weather Channel as well as in many other areas such as architectural visualization, graphic design, and scientific animation.

CINEMA 4D R14 integrates with a wide variety of other commercial products including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, Final Cut Pro, and more. CINEMA 4D renders passes in any desired format (image sequences, AVIs or QuickTime movies) and creates a compositing project file that automatically brings all sequences together in the correct format. Depending on the compositing application used, additional data such as 3D cameras, 3D lights or reference objects are exported as well.

CINEMA 4D R14 Studio

 

So what is new CINEMA 4D R14?

• Sculpting – is a new and completely intergraded modeling toolset with sophisticated brushes, symmetry options, hundreds of presets, masking, layers, including levels and object baking. A custom sculpting layout has been added with the goal of making sculpting much easier. When choosing the sculpting layout, you have the ability to interactively subdivide the geometry of your object giving you the ability to sculpt fine detail on your objects. You have the ability to push, and pull, morph, grab, and more to your object. You can also enable symmetry so you can mirror your sculpting on all three axes.

• Camera Calibration – gives you the ability to calculate the proper position of the camera in your scene according to a photo. You apply a tag to the camera and add data to define the perspective of a photograph you have imported. To do this you go into calibrate tab, and draw lines and grids to define the X, Y and Z axes in the images. For most situations you only need to solve for two of the axis and the calibration will solve for the third. You check to make sure that your focal length is close you can then add a camera mapping tag and/or background object to build a matte environment. Once that is done, any object added into the scene will match up with the perspective of your image.

• Aerodynamics – provide new dynamic forces that you can apply to the aerodynamic properties to any object. For example, when applied to the Wind particle modifier it can help create more realistic movement within your geometry. If you go into the soft body dynamics under the force tab you have the ability to select Drag, Lift, and Two-sided options. The first two are pretty self-explanatory. The third adds abilities when working with two-sided polygons. So you can create something like a sheet of paper and use aerodynamics to blow it through your 3D space and collide with other objects realistically.

 

CINEMA 4D R14 Studio

 

• Plastic Deformation – adds new options to your soft body settings that will allow objects to retain the effects deformations. In the past you were not able to squish something and keep it at that shape very easily. You now have shape conservation capabilities which give your options such as Stiffness which controls how well your object keeps its shape and Elastic Limit which controls the force you need to squish your object. So when you create something like a car and run it into a wall the deformation will be retained.

• Interface changes – include the ability that when you hover over an object, it is now highlighted and selected items are shown with an orange boarder as opposed to the bounding boxes used in prior versions. You can also choose to enable or disable wireframes as well as customizing the width of the outline. You now have the ability to customize the colors and width of the outlines on a global basis as well through the preference box. You also have the new Raycast selection mode that will let you quickly select objects while the move, scale, or rotate tools are set to active.

 

CINEMA 4D R14 Studio

 

• Adobe Photoshop Extended – means that now you can, through a Photoshop plug-in, import .C4D files directly into Photoshop. Geometry, lights, cameras, and textures are all brought in as Photoshop Extended layers giving you the ability to work with them directly.

• New XPresso – features include the ability to drag-and-drop an attribute parameter directly on to an existing node to create a new input or output port. Also the attribute manager displays a custom icon that will show if a parameter is driving other parameters or being driven by an XPresso tag. Hovering over the icon will provide information about how it is being driven. As well there is a new XPresso performance view that will let you isolate bottlenecks by giving you the ability to visualize the time it takes to calculate each node.

• Commander – gives you the ability to search in areas all of CINEMA 4D for any object, command, or button. Say for example you want to add a cube to your stage. You hit Shift-C to open commander, type in the first few letters of the word and click on the appropriate item that pops up and your cube will be dropped to the screen. This is a real time saver and works with just about anything especially those things that you do not use very often and spend a lot of time searching for by hand.

 

CINEMA 4D R14 Studio

 

• Color options – for Lights and Nulls. What this means is that you can have your lights designated by color in your object browser so when you are trying to figure out which light is which in your scene, you can tell at a glance. This also works for Nulls as well. Just go to the basic tab and select Icon Color – for Lights is based on the light color slider and for Nulls it is based on a color picker.

• Camera Morphing – using the Morph Camera allows you to set up multiple cameras and morph between them. You just set up your cameras, select them and apply the Create->Camera->Camera Morph which will automatically setup a new camera that contains the selected cameras. You then just use the blend slider to animate between each camera, as well as reordering the morph order as well

• Filters – have been added to the Picture Viewer. These filters give you the ability to do some basic color correction right in CINEMA 4D. These corrections include things like saturation, brightness, gamma, and such but they also include Curves for overall correction as well as for each individual RGB channel. You can also save these settings as presets as well.

CINEMA 4D R14 not only builds on the foundations of R13, but it also brings some exciting new features that are really welcome. First and foremost is the new sculpting tools and workflow. The whole sculpting user interface has changed dramatically and now gives you both much more freedom as well as control on everything you do. They are very easy to pick up on if you are familiar with the CINEMA way of doing things and they are a lot of fun to work with.

 

CINEMA 4D R14 Studio

 

The ability to work with and round trip in Adobe After Effects has been improved upon, but now you also have the ability to work with CINEMA 4D files in Adobe Photoshop as well. This gives you a lot more power when working in R14. Then the Camera Calibrator is a great new feature as well giving you the ability to orientate your scene based on the contents of a photo.

These items alone make this upgrade worth the price as it is, but when you add in some of the other items such as the camera motion tags, Radiosity maps, improvements to XPresso, Shift-C Commander, and all the other items listed above, I think this update is a true no-brainer and so I highly recommend CINEMA 4D R14.

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About T. Michael Testi

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