MAXON is an award-winning leader of products used extensively in the film, television and digital industries. MAXON is also a sponsor of the APDG Awards: in 2014 it was the MAXON Award for Design on an Animated Feature Film and, in 2015 it was the MAXON 4D Award for Title Design. The APDG spoke recently to Friederike Bruckert from the MAXON headquarters in Germany about the latest offerings from MAXON and the design industries.
APDG: What are the latest innovations offered by CINEMA 4D software?
FB: Thank you for giving us the opportunity to explain.
The latest version of Cinema 4D (Release 17) offers new features and improvements in many areas of the application including workflow, modelling, sculpting, animation and rendering. I’ll focus on a few of the highlights.
Take System: This brand new feature for Cinema 4D has truly revolutionised the workflow for our users. I know that may sound like a strong statement so I’ll back it up.
The Take System supplies a function that many users have requested – Render Layers. Render Layers allow you to render elements of a scene in separate layers. The idea is to take these layers into a compositing application for assembly. This is useful for color correcting certain elements separately, creating depth of field effects, and many other uses. Using Render Layers can also save artists from having to re-render the entire animation each time something needs to be changed – only those layers which are affected need to be re-rendered.
However, the Cinema 4D Take System is so much more than Render Layers. Takes can also be created for variations in a project. Nearly every parameter can be changed for intuitive variations all saved in one scene file eliminating file management hassles and wasted disk space. Takes are saved in hierarchies, so variations can be made on variations saved in a parent-child nested relationship.
The Take System also includes a new Token System for rendering. This eliminates the hassles of file naming when rendering multiple takes. The Token System maintains complete versioning and variation control saving precious time for artists to explore all possibilities and respond to their client’s needs more efficiently.
New Spline Drawing Tools: We’ve completely reworked Spline Drawing in Cinema 4D offering tremendous control and precision. There are new drawing tools (Pen, Sketch, Spline Smooth and Spline Arc Tool) and new Boolean operators (Intersect, Subtract, Union, and more). There’s nice workflow additions like a preview of where you are drawing, segment tweaking, shortcuts to add and remove points, etc.
Pipeline Integration: Cinema 4D is very innovative when it comes to integrating with other products. This is a key feature for any artist. If the tools you use do not work well together, it makes your job that much harder. We are always looking for ways to remove those obstacles. While C4D already integrates well with so many (Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, Illustrator, etc. plus external renderers like Arnold, Octane, Furryball, Vray, iRay or Pixar’s Renderman) we are always improving those connections. Release 17 offers new support for Sketchup, Houdini Engine, and improved import/export for OBJ, FBX and Alembic.
If you’d like to see a more Illustrative description of the highlight features of Release 17, I’d suggest you watch the video series on Cineversity: http://www.cineversity.com/vidplaylist/r17_quickstart
APDG: Are there any designers you know of who are using the software masterfully?
FB: Indeed. Though it is not so easy to select among a large group and I don’t want to forget anyone important. Just to name a few – pretty much every 3D broadcast design your watching on television is probably Cinema 4D (NFL, ESPN, NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox Turner, BBC, SAT, Netflix, Amazon, etc.); there are many small and large studios using C4D in visual effects for films like The Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Hunger Games, Spectre, The Martian, etc.; there is some incredibly innovative work being done in the visualisation areas (scientific, medical, engineering, architecture); there are indi games developers like mDotStrange and ThirdFrame Studios; VR producers like WEVR, live projection companies doing some amazing work on Broadway, etc.
It’s so exciting and inspiring to see what our customers do every day.
APDG : Are there currently any misconceptions about the software you could clear up in this interview?
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to clear up some, although we would prefer to call them well-kept secrets 🙂
For designers it is very important that they feel at home with their product, that’s why we entered into partnership with Adobe. As you know, we offer customers C4D Lite which is a tool within After Effects – designers may play around with the lite version of our product and find the best solution for seamless integration of 3D assets in After Effects compositions because they can load native Cinema 4D files into After Effects.
It seems that still a lot of people don’t know that there is a C4D Lite inside of After Effects to work with.
What a lot of new customers probably don’t know about Cinema 4D is that it has now become the most complete 3D package which also includes a full painting/texturing tool (BodyPaint 3D) as well as a sculpting and a character animation tool – at an affordable price. And, everything is completely integrated.
APDG: How often does MAXON issue updates on the software, when was the last and when will the next one be?
MAXON launches a big new version of Cinema 4D annually, plus we have approximately one service patch per quarter which includes smaller workflow improvements and fixes.
Most of our customers already know MAXON ships a new version generally in Fall – this year it will be the same, exactly like last year and the years before. Follow SIGGRAPH closely – that’s where you get a sneak peek of the new release, traditionally.
As a recent user of Cinema4D, APDG member Scott Geersen (Titles Designer / VFX Supervisor) also has a question for Friederike:
SG : Cinema 4D is always highly recommended to designers as a way to bring 3D into their workflow, and the easier learning curve of C4D makes adoption simpler than other 3D solutions. Features like mograph and X-Particles, as well as the After Effects integration have helped make Cinema 4D part of many designer’s toolkits. However C4D is also capable of amazing and complex photorealism, despite it not being the industry standard for that (at least here in Australia).
While MAXON has hinted at the future roadmap of the product in terms of rebuilding the core, is there anything they can reveal about the dynamic between these two areas of 3D (design vs physical realism), and if they will continue to develop and target for both together, given that C4D’s historical strength was 3D for motion design?
FB: With the addition of camera tracking and lens distortion/correction tools, Cinema 4D is expanding its portfolio in that realm, and adding a powerful toolset for which you previously had to purchase additional software.
The roadmap for Cinema 4D is very diverse and most certainly includes motion graphics as well as other industry-related features.
SG: How does MAXON plan to reconcile the two seemingly different directions without trying to be all things to all people? Can MAXON streamline the workflow and learning curve for physical/realistic 3D, to help designers create those types of images much faster?
It’s not just up to MAXON anymore. In recent years, a vast number of render engine manufacturers have developed plugins and integrations for Cinema 4D and have made those available to its customers.
The most important task right now for the customer is to choose which of these render engines to use in their pipeline for an efficient workflow, based on the tasks at hand.
MAXON will continue to inform the customer of all available options by offering tutorials, presentations during our major shows and organisng webinars around design & physically correct rendering.
Of course, since our customer base has always been keen on getting an all-round product, we will definitely continue to develop and enhance our own tools for creating realistic 3D renderings in parallel.
Also, materials in Cinema 4D have been updated. The last example was the Variation shader which is important for adding natural diversity to any scene file. We’ve hired additional developers in the past three years to tackle a broad spectrum of applications.
And we’re still hiring, by the way …
The APDG would like to thank Friederike Bruckert for taking part in this interview and also thanks Mark Richards, the Australia/NZ MAXON representative, for their generous support. The APDG would not exist without the generosity of its sponsors.