Review: Maxon's Cinema 4D Release 17
Staff Writer By: Ricky Grove (gToon)
Cinema 4D was the first application I chose to follow when I entered the world of computer graphics technology as a reporter back in mid-2000. My good friend, M dot Strange, was an advocate of the program and encouraged me to learn more about it. Since then, I've followed Cinema 4D and the company that created it, MAXON, very closely. I've enjoyed attending the annual Press Luncheon at Siggraph that MAXON USA puts on and have learned a lot about the culture that MAXON has created around Cinema 4D. That culture, as I've come to know very well, is one that is focused on three things: listening to it's customers, providing significant and useful updates to it's application and making sure that any release of Cinema 4D is as solid and bug-free as they can make it.
These 3 elements of MAXON'S business culture are similar to other 3D companies goals, but the big difference between MAXON and those other companies is that MAXON actually delivers on their promises. Consistently, I might add. I've seen this happen over nearly 10 years covering Cinema 4D. As a software company, they are smart, consistent and friendly, especially to the artists (there are many) who use their application. Hence the quote at the top of the page by one of the co-directors of the Oscar-nominated 3D animated film, A Single Life.
With that said, let's take a close look at MAXON'S most recent release of Cinema 4D and see what's new.
Cinema 4D Release 17
Maxon as a rule make improvements across all aspects of Cinema 4D when they release a new update, but sometimes there are additions that are completely new to the application. In Cinema 4D R17 this would be the new Take System which completely reworks the way you deal with your projects, scenes, and workflow. In fact, workflow is "front and center in Cinema 4D Release 17" according to Maxon's website.
Briefly, the Take System was created in order to give the user more flexibility in managing their workflow. You can now use the Take System to record various "takes" of your scene with any specific variables you like and save it to a single scene file. You can nest parent-child take relationships in the Take System to create a version hierarchy. As MAXON points out, the Take System allows you to "maintain complete versioning and variation control while saving precious time exploring all possibilities and responding to client change requests"
In addition to the Take System, Cinema 4D R17 has added a new Color Chooser, a very powerful way to help the Cinema 4D user to create, blend and save color types in their projects. You can "Color your 3D world using a color wheel, photo reference, screen picker, customizable swatch library or one of many color models." There's also a Photo Mosaic mode where you can quickly generate color swatches from any photo. The new Color Chooser also looks great and is very easy to understand. Material Override deserves some limelight as do the Render tokens which are powerful components of the new Take System.
MAXON has also completely re-worked the Spline Tools in Cinema 4D R17 which will really increase the speed and accuracy of modeling inside Cinema 4D. There is a new user interface for creating points, lines, tangents, and arcs when you are modeling. You can quickly convert your splines to polygons and/or use Boolean operations like Intersect, Subtract and Union very easily in Cinema 4D R17.
And while we are on the subject of modeling, Cinema 4D R17 has "Dozens of new features and improvements in Cinema 4D Release 17 make sculpting a true delight". Some of those new features include a great "Sculpt to Pose Morph" which allows you to bypass converting your sculpted object to a polygonal object and instead creates morph targets for each layer you sculpt. This speeds up the transition from character design to character animation. There's also a nifty "Edge Detection" feature in the modeling improvements. This feature lets you sculpt hard-surface objects more quickly and creatively while letting Cinema 4D R17 worry about the edge.
Maxon has also made Metaball Enhancements: New „Line" and „Triangle" types, „Accurate Normals" method along with an improved OBJ import which will open up options for importing a wider variety of 3D resources.
New in Cinema 4D R17
Those are some of the major improvements in Cinema 4D Release 17 that I wanted to present in more detail. Now let's look at a short list of the some of the many improvements and updates you'll find in this new release. A more complete list of what's new in Cinema 4D R17 can be found at Maxon.net.
• Lens distortion function for determining and compensating for lens distortion.
Maxon's Cineversity, an excellent source of learning Cinema 4D, has a full list of videos on each major improvement in Cinema 4D R17 including the Take System, Color Chooser, Lens Distortion Tool, Motion Tracking and more. All of the videos are free along with many more tutorials at Cineversity.com
The newest version of Cinema 4D, Release 17, is a real gem. As usual, MAXON has managed to build this updated application in such a way that it is faster, more powerful and with new tools that really make an artists life a lot easier. Plus, the build is as solid as a rock. I'll crash in other applications that have new updates, but rarely do I ever experience an application freeze in Cinema 4D and this new Release 17 is no exception. The engineers at MAXON deserve a standing ovation for such thorough work in bug testing.
Although R17 focuses on improving workflow, there are lots of little details in Cinema 4D Release 17 that are just so very cool. I like the fact that the new Take System works on every system in Cinema 4D R17 including animation. It's a great time saver and is just so right, you wonder why it isn't a part of every 3D application. I'm also pleased that MAXON has continued to develop their modeling tools. The new Spline Tools and improvements in Sculpting are very welcome updates and will be very useful to users who want to model using Cinema 4D R17.
Even a small detail like the new Naming Tool can save users hours of work just trying to find their files. This is especially true on large projects with literally hundreds of named objects. And speeding up the performance in the timeline for animation is a welcome improvement. MAXON even overhauled their Free Content that comes with Cinema 4D in order to give the user a head start in getting their projects off the ground.
I'd also like to point out that MAXON continues to work with their competitors for the good of their user base. By including the ability for users of the excellent Houdini Engine to use Houdini Assets directly in Cinema 4D, MAXON has built a bridge between both user groups that is not only smart but puts both companies in a positive light. This kind of mutual support is rare in the computer graphics industry. You can find out more info on Houdini integration here.
I highly recommend Cinema 4D R17 for users who might just be starting out in 3D as it is THE most user-friendly 3D application out there. Designers who want to make the plunge into 3D will find this version a dream to work with as the learning curve is very short. But, also, continuing users will want to upgrade because of the increased speed of the application, the new functionality like the Take System, Color Chooser and Spline Tools. These last three new additions are alone are worth the price of the upgrade.
Cinema 4D R17 Versions
Cinema 4D R17 can be purchased in a variety of versions designed specifically for certain users. The versions of Cinema 4D R17 are:
Full Comparison Feature Chart
Pricing for Cinema 4D R17 starts at 995 dollars for the Prime version (395 dollars for the upgrade). Full pricing for all other versions plus Body Paint can be found at Maxon.net. Cinema 4D R17 is available for the Windows and Mac operating systems. You can read the minimum requirements here. You can download a free demo of Cinema 4D R17 here. And keep your eyes open for the Cinema 4D Release 17 Road Tour which runs from October 20 to December 3, 2015, to Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, San Francisco, New York, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. Over $50K in door prizes are being given away.
The Renderosity MarketPlace Staff is excited to now offer the latest software from Maxon right here in our MarketPlace.
Cinema 4D is a very popular program at Renderosity.com. There is free stuff built for use in Cinema 4D along with a Cinema 4D forum.
Note: My thanks to MAXON and, in particular, Paul Babb for providing a copy of Cinema 4D R17 Studio version for review.
Video on the new Take System in Cinema 4D R17