Issue: Volume 36 Issue 3: (Mar/Apr 2013)

Reviews


David Balsuto

When I took over the animation program at San Marino High School, I was certain of two things: I wanted to teach the kids the basics of Adobe After Effects, and I wanted to teach them a 3D program that was easy to learn, and consistently getting easier to use.

As I look back at my decision to go with Maxon Cinema 4D, I now know I really made the right choice. Not only did most students "just get it," but they were creating amazing models and animations. Also, seeing Maxon's progress at trade shows, such as NAB, and watching its progression with the product has created a lifelong learner in me. I just love how creative I can be using it.

In the latest release, Release 14, Maxon is offering a new sculpting system (a personal fave that I will explore more this review), camera matching, the ability to send C4D into Adobe Photoshop Extended, and a plethora of UI and workflow enhancements, as well. I tested it out on my MacBook Pro.

A Closer Look

Cinema 4D R14's new fully integrated digital sculpting tools alone are reason enough to buy this version. The level of detail you can sculpt is amazing. Subdivide your model up to 12 levels and millions of polygons. Pull, smooth, flatten, and grab the areas you want to effortlessly. It truly feels like playing with virtual clay!

As a Wacom tablet user, I loved the ability to tweak settings of my pen in the Effector Setting menu. This really nailed tilt, pressure, and direction to my liking. A nice addition.

Also, now available in the sculpting mode is the ability to use stamps and stencils. While I have yet to put it to real-world use, I am having a heck of a time exploring this creative function.

As we move more and more into photorealism with 3D models, it is important to play nice with Adobe Photoshop. Import your C4D file effortlessly into Photoshop Extended and change geometry, textures, lights, and cameras, too. Want to keep your textures as is? Bake them in Cinema 4D first. The ability to integrate with Photoshop Extended really opens the floodgates to professionals who want to sell their photorealistic hard work.

Lights, Camera, Placement

A rock-star new addition to the application is the new Camera Calibrator. I have to say it's always been a bit of a struggle to align 3D images on an object without camera trackers. In After Effects CS6 it's a breeze, but not in some other 3D programs I have used. Cinema 4D's Camera Calibrator makes it extremely simple to specify vanishing point, focal length, rotation, and 3D coordinates, allowing you to place your object accurately in the scene.

The Camera Calibrator is tremendously useful for previs mock-ups and designers who want to present their creations. I can now grab a still from a video I have shot, import that still into Cinema 4D, use the Camera Calibrator, and work on that set extension or the addition of a spaceship . . . or, well, you get the idea. Very forward thinking.

Maxon spared very little in this version. The improved dynamics is a lot of fun to use. I can play God by manipulating wind, turbulence, rotation, and gravity just by enabling and changing the properties in the AeroDynamics mode. The ability to create more realistic flying or breaking is easier to do.

Cinema 4D R14 now has seamless integration with The Foundry's Nuke compositor. Since a lot of industry folks have made the move to Nuke, this is a huge plus.

The only real negative I found was there is no node-based texturing. Artists who are used to this function will want it. I am hopeful Maxon will listen and add it in the future.

Final Thoughts

With over 200 enhancements and new abilities, like the sculpting tool set, the Camera Calibrator, and Photoshop integration, this a must-have upgrade for the Cinema 4D user. New users will enjoy its ease of use and amazing tool box.

I have already put in a request with my boss to allow us to upgrade because I truly feel the sculpting tools will open minds to a new levels of creativity. n

David Balsuto is a producer, editor, animator, and instructor. He can be reached at davidbasulto@me.com.


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