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If you are contemplating a new purchase of a 3D modeling environment, then I can very highly recommend Cinema 4D R17.

Software Review: CINEMA 4D R17 Studio From MAXON

CINEMA 4D R17 is the latest release of the high-end 3D motion graphics, visual effects, painting, and rendering software application from MAXON. It is extremely popular among professional 3D animators and motion graphics artists. It has been used for film and television in The Martian, Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 2, District 9, and Avengers: Age of Ultron. It also has its use in many other fields such as graphic design, science, engineering, and architectural visualization.

Cinema 4D R17
Cinema 4D R17

CINEMA 4D R17 can integrate with a wide variety of other commercial products including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects, Final Cut Pro, and more. CINEMA 4D can be used for modeling and comes with a complete set of spline primitives and spline drawing tools, which means that you do not need to switch to an external tool. In this version, many improvements have been added to make your sculpting and modeling much easier. With these improvements, you will have better performance and usability

While there are a lot of new features in this release of CINEMA 4D, let me delve into some of the ones that really make this a good release for me. First, we have the new Pen tool. The pen tool was been rebuilt from the ground up. The first thing that you will notice when you start to draw is that you will get a preview of where the line will line will go. This will give you some feel for what your output will look like. If you click and hold you will get tangents and angles making it easy to form whatever object you are creating. You can easily add additional points as well as manipulate existing ones as you see fit. If you need to find your old options, you just go to your pen tool attributes to select them. If you click on your last point it will continue with the same spline instead of creating a whole new spline.

Adding on to the changes with Pen is Spline Smooth which lets you take segments and smooth them without a lot of manual work. You can pull, inflate, spiral, as well as project on another surface. You can draw Splines with Spline Sketch or just reshape parts of them. You have Radius and Stroke Smoothing that you can reshape segments without having to redraw new splines. You have full flexibility to adjust lines, stretch them, and generally manipulate your creation. With the Arc tool you can apply a perfect arc quickly and easily. You can combine arcs that have different diameters. There even are six different ways to grab and alter your arc. In addition, there are other spline changes to improve your ability to create.

Cinema 4D R17
Color Chooser

There is also a new Color Chooser. Compared to the prior version, you now have a lot more flexibility to your selection of color with the multi-selection color chooser. You can select from your standard colors, a spectrum, or even from a photo or other picture. You can even switch from RGB, to Hue saturation, or degrees Kelvin.

Cinema 4D R17
Take System

Next, is a new Take System in CINEMA 4D that gives you more flexible scene management. You can now create various, independent takes of an individual scene and then change almost any parameter providing variations. These are saved in a single scene reducing file management and saving space. You have nested parent-child relationships in your takes so you can create hierarchical versions of your scene. This also means that memory intensive objects are only calculated once and then inherited by the children. The Take System also works with animation so you can create multiple versions of your animation.

Another little change that does a lot is the Variation Shader. This allows you to change material properties over multiple objects or polygons on a single material. You can change things like colors, hue, saturation, and gradience. You can do everything from variations on a single color all the way to totally randomize colors over a set of objects. You can also add a secondary texture over a range of objects as well. This allows you to provide many varieties to your various objects without a lot of work. There is also a new Formula Shader that can be used to apply surface attributes based on mathematical expressions. These can range from simple patterns to very complex simulations.

There are also improvements’ to Metaballs. Metaballs allow you to take multiple objects and mesh them together. This combining is based on how close they are together. As they come into proximity, they begin to merge. In the past, if you tried to merge a cube with a ball, the cube would turn into a blob. Now you can change the Metaball geometry. If you add a cube to a ball, the geometry lines on the cube will merge and the shape retains the cube structure along the lines of the cube. There is also a triangle option that will let it triangulate the whole thing. This will let you work with all kinds of objects. Another new feature is the accurate normal switch. This allows the textures to combine more correctly and provide a more consistent look among varying objects.

Cinema 4D R17
Animation

There have also been improvements in animation as well that will give you more control and proportions on your animations. On the timeline from the main screen, there have been some additions as well. You have Autokey Classic, but you also have Autokey weighted which takes into account the time between the changes of your animation for better proportionality.

The new 3D Motion Tracking views provide you with a couple of ways to find and remove bad tracks from your video. In Top-Down, you can visualize all of your track points. The ones in green are good and the ones in red are bad track data. You can simply locate the bad tracks and eliminate them. Likewise, in Graph View you will see bad tracks as curves. Again, once located they can be removed. In 2D Tracking you can turn on error threshold, you can remove shorter tracks.

In Cinema 4D R17, you also have a Lens Distortion Tool that will help you when working with a wide-angle lenses when tracking and compositing. What it does is provides you the ability to take your 3D and match it up with the wide-angle footage so that you have more accurate results when compositing. You create a lens profile from an image and match that to the lines within the image and it will compensate for the distortion to the other objects in your scene.

So what other things are new CINEMA 4D R17?

• Houdini Digital Assets – can be used directly in Cinema 4D. Just download from your TD or from the Orbolt Store and let Cinema 4D and the Houdini Engine work in the background.

• SketchUp – integration means that you can easily populate your scenes using the free, ready-to-use objects via the SketchUp user community.

• Content libraries – have been updated with ready-to-use materials, surfaces, objects, scenes, and other items that let you create a completely customized scene quickly and easily.

• Additional sculpting enhancements – include the ability to sculpt hard-surface models with edge detection so you don’t have to work on the edges. You can paint more freely with faster and more accurate work. Sculpt to Pose Morph means you don’t have to convert your sculpted object to polygonal objects. Pose Morph automatically creates morph targets for each sculpt layer.

• Material Override – lets you create clay renders quickly and easily. You can replace all of just selected materials from your scene with a basic material. If you need to exclude a specific channel from the materials override, it is as easily as the click on a check box.

Cinema 4D R17
Cinema 4D R17

To me, there is a lot I really like about the R17 release of Cinema 4D. The Take System is nice. It lets you create variations on your scene quickly and easily. You can swap out an element and bring other things in and easily render your variations for whatever your needs are. The Color Chooser also gives a lot more flexibility on working with your color choices via the color wheel and eyedropper color selection.

The spline tools provide you with more control over your editing points and lines and with the add and subtract abilities you can really do a lot more when working with tools like the pen tool. The Lens Distortion tool is great when you need to generate profiles for lenses that are used for capturing footage and then bringing it in and the Houdini Engine integration adds more for filmmakers to use other assets when working in Cinema 4D.

With these and all the other features that come with this new version of Cinema 4D, it is very easy to justify this upgrade. If you are contemplating a new purchase of a 3D modeling environment, then I can very highly recommend Cinema 4D R17.

About T. Michael Testi

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

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