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Product Review: Cinema 4D r10.5

Tim Danaher of Architosh reviews the latest C4D by Maxon Computer of Germany

Continued from page 2


As mentioned previously, BodyPaint is now rolled into the main application. This is a complete environment for painting and UV mapping characters. It allows you to paint directly onto the model’s mesh and the results update in real time in the Editor Window. (see image 02) You’ll need a pressure-sensitive graphics tablet for best results, and there can be a lag with painting and updating, when using complex, layered textures, but with newer Intel processors this is becoming less of a worry. Coupled with the new Advanced OpenGLmode, this allows not only painting of Color texture to be previewed in real time, but also Bump, Noise and Specular channels. (see image 02).

02 - The BodyPaint 3D painting interface is now rolled into the base application package. Full UV mapping environment provided.

02 – The BodyPaint 3D painting interface is now rolled into the base application package. Full UV mapping environment provided.

Architectural Edition (AE)

Cinema 4D has had a wide application in the 3D industry in general but now Maxon (along with quite a few other companies are going after the architectural visualization market with this $1,795 version of Cinema.

Cinema’s modular nature lends itself to this type of re-application and this incarnation features the base application plus the Advance Render module. The latter provides Radiosity and HDRI illumination, essential for getting top-notch photorealism — especially in interior scenes. However, for non-photoreal images, the highly extensible Sketch & Toon module is provided, which can produce a whole slew of hand-drawn effects. HDRI is essential in modern visualization, to get easily-achievable, naturalistic lighting. However, in comparison to other apps, Cinema 4D’s HDRI setup is a little more complex than it needs to be, relying, as it does, on setting up a double-skydome setup with the HDRI texture mapped to the skydome objects’ Luminance channels.

Another aspect of Advanced Render is the Sky object option. This allows the creation of either 2D or 3D Volumetric skies (the latter are more accurate but render more slowly.) Fifty pre-sets are supplied to start, and more can be derived and saved from these. Crucially important is the Sky object’s ability to accurately show the effects of the Sun (and the Moon) according to time of day and geographical location — vital for sun and shadow studies on buildings. Also introduced is the Shift Camera — basically a software implementation of a perspective-correction camera. This will give a two-point perspective, in which vertical lines will remain parallel. (see images 03 – 04)

03 - C4D 10.5's new Shift Lens Camera. Here the shift is off.

03 – C4D 10.5 features a new Shift Lens camera. Here it is turned off.

04 - Here the Shift Lens Camera is turned on.

04 – Here the Shift Lens Camera is turned on.

Cinema’s interface layouts have also been tweaked to reflect better the workflow of visualization specialists with ready-provided modeling, texturing, lighting, animation and rendering layouts. Also, the layer structure introduced in the Object Browser in v.10 means that elements such as trees, people, cars and structure can sit on there own layer and be turned on and off at will.

Maxon Computer GmhH is a Nemetschek AG company, with the European AEC software giant owning a majority of its shares. With Nemetschek AG’s recent global re-branding efforts it should come as no surprise that Maxon has Cinema 4D import filters for AllPlan, ArchiCAD and VectorWorks — all sister products within the emerging Nemetschek AG juggernaut. But oddly enough, Google’s ubiquitous modeler, SketchUp is not provided for. These import filters allow for the easy exchange of ready-built CAD information into Cinema 4D to give a more presentation-style output.

These plug-ins output from the aforementioned programs in native .c4d format, and give the option, for example, of automatically re-grouping the scene according to materials. Any changes made in the originating program can then be re-imported back into Cinema 4D. Any material property changes made in Cinema 4D will, however, be preserved on updating the model file. This is fine with native .c4d files, but if you’re importing via exchange formats like FBX or 3DS, you still have to tellCinema 4D where to find the model’s texture files — the setting is buried in the Preferences dialog. Unfortunately, there also seems to be a bug in the Mac FBX importer that causes some imported texture maps to come out black. Maxon is aware of the problem and they are working on a solution.

Architectural visualization depends heavily on ‘Entourage’ — scene elements like vegetation, people and cars that give context and scale to an image. To this end, Cinema 4D architectural edition ships with libraries containing just such material– all available for inspection through the new Object Browser. There are human silhouettes from Zygote and content for interior furnishings fittings, although there’s no great variation in style — most of the stuff would look right at home in a bank. And curiously, while there’s an abundance of bathroom fittings, there are no kitchen furniture and fixtures at all. Also plants and automotives are under-represented, with just three of the former and one of the latter.

Closing Remarks and Recommendations

Given the meager upgrade price from 10.0/10.1 to 10.5, this new release clearly is an absolute must-have release for anyone with a Cinema license. The inclusion of the BodyPaint module in the main application — at no extra cost — is also an additional incentive. There were a few quirks — we hope the FBX texture import is fixed as soon as possible. Animation control continues to be further refined, and (you’ll wonder how you ever did without it) the new XRef system in particular will enable users working in effects production houses to implement new– and more efficient — workflows, saving that most precious of commodities: time. —- TIM DANAHER, Associate Editor

Pros: Tailored toolsets & layout for visualization; fantastic rendering quality via Advanced Render Module; Full multi-processor support; excellent animation controls; modular nature allows tailoring app; BodyPaint 3D now built-in; 10.5 upgrade is good value for money; AE kit dovetails nicely and uniquely with Nemetschek AG CAD/BIM apps.

Cons: Price can mount as modules are added; platform-agnostic interface can throw up a few oddities; quirks in UI when using multiple monitors; no SketchUp import filter.

Advice: If you are looking for suppior rendering and animation for ArchiCAD, Allplan or Vectorworks Maxon’s modules for C4D offer strong round-trip support; new Xref system keeps C4D a major contender for VFX houses; competitive pricing, powerful rendering and speed.

Cost: $895.USD, base, AE Kit $395.USD / Mac OS X Universal Binary Support


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