Software Review: CINEMA 4D R14
In Release 14 there are a ton of enhancements regarding your camera. There are new tools to aid in your camera composition, your camera animation, and for matching your camera to a photo. When you create a new camera, there is a new Composition Tab. In this tab lies a series of options to overlay your camera to help make sure your composition is the strongest it can be. You have options for a grid, crosshair, Golden Spiral, and several others. Each option gives you control over color, orientation and more. This is surely going to be a major asset to designers and layout artists as they compose their shots.
For animating, there are two new tags, called Motion Camera Tags, to put on your camera that make this process easier. The first one is the Camera Morph tag. What this does is let you create a morph blend between 2 or more cameras. This morph can then be animated to create your camera move. There are settings to control the interpolation between the cameras, as well as the ability to control the tilt in the camera by defining a stabilize object, or an up vector to make sure that your camera's Y axis is pointing exactly where you want it. One of the best things about this though, is how the workflow is set up to make this extremely easy. You can simply lay out your cameras, and once they are all set, select them all and choose Create>Camera Morph. It will automatically create a camera set up properly to morph between the selected cameras. If you have two cameras created, it will do a Simple Morph between them. Three or more cameras will automatically switch to Multi Morph. While this may seem minor, this makes it so you can focus on your camera placement rather than the technical aspect of setting up the tag and all the settings.
The second Motion Camera Tag type is called the Motion Camera tag. This tag is pretty intense with the sheer number of settings available. The purpose of this tag is to help simulate a cameraman. You will notice that when you add this tag there's a crude stick figure man that appears to be holding the camera. It’s like your own boom or crane camera in the program. You also have control over the animation the camera has, and so much more. You give the tag a spline path and you can animate movement along the path. It’s like the align to spline tag, but you can add some natural elements like a handheld camera so as each step is taken the camera may have a slight movement added. You can dissolve between two spline paths as well to create complex animations. Those extra movements for things like footsteps, head rotation, camera motion, etc. can all be finely tuned to whatever you want. There are a plethora of settings for each of these things and more.
Now, as if those were not enough enhancements to cameras, there's also a new Camera Calibrator tag. What this tag allows you to do is match your camera's settings to that of an image. This makes it easy to add CG elements into your scene and have them match your back plate properly. The process of doing this is really easy as well. You simply add the tag, choose your image, and then you define your axes using either lines or grids. Then you can create background objects and camera mapping tags to begin building your CG elements into your scene. Never has there been such a substantial upgrade for working with cameras as there has been with Release 14.
The next major upgraded feature of R14 is the new work plane and snapping algorithm. The work plane allows you to define a new origin as you are modeling. By modifying the work plane, you are essentially changing the world orientation of the axes of objects. You may be asking, well what good is this? It's good for a variety of reasons. Firstly, if you align the workplace to the current object axis or your component selection, then when you create a new object it will already be aligned to the work plane. This makes it easy to move your object along another object when modeling. By aligning the work plane in such a way it's easy to configure objects onto other objects. The other cool thing is you can do the opposite. You can choose to align the selected object to the work plane. There are many options for changing, manipulating, and resetting the work plane, so using it is a breeze.
The new snapping algorithm makes snapping a breeze. You can access the snap settings by either clicking the magnet icon on the left, or by trying out the new Modeling Mode for the Attribute Manager. The two are linked, so whichever you prefer you can use. When you click and drag you get a nice HUD element that tells you the object that you are snapping on, and what type of snap that would be, e.g. vertex, edge, axis snap, etc. In addition to these enhancements, there is a new object type called guides. Guides are very similar to the lines you could find in the camera calibration tool. They are essentially either a line, or a plane. Their purpose is to provide you with something to snap along. When setting up guides, you can use snapping on them as well. This means you can very quickly and very easily snap a guide so that it is aligned along the edge of an object. You can then have the guide be an infinite line, which can then be used to snap other objects to so that you know your objects relation to that particular edge orientation. This is a huge boost for technical modeling.
In addition to those large brand new features, there are tons of smaller enhancements throughout the application. For instance, the XPresso window got a facelift. A darker scheme, rounded corners, and smooth wires make it a lot easier on the eyes. The smoother wires especially make following connections much easier. While that is a purely cosmetic change, it is not the only change for XPresso. For instance, now you can easily create in and out ports on nodes by dragging parameters from the Attribute Manager directly onto the node. This means you no longer need to sift through various menus and hunt for the correct parameter. Simply grab it from the AM and drag it into the XPresso window. This is huge for adding User Data quickly and easily. The new Performance view that allows you to see what part of your XPresso is causing a bottleneck in terms of a nodes execution time, or the number of times a node is called. There are also a couple new nodes pertaining to animation as well as dynamics.
Speaking of dynamics, there are some new enhancements there as well. These new changes include aerodynamics properties, plastic deformations for soft body dynamics, and breakable connectors. The aerodynamics settings can be enabled for certain force objects (e.g. Wind, Gravity, etc.) that will be combined with the lift and drag attributes of dynamic objects to create even more realistic simulations. This can even be combined with soft body dynamics to create realistic simulations of sheets of paper, feathers, or leaves falling from the sky. You can also use these properties to simulate wind turbines and propellers as well.
Soft body dynamics can now retain its deformations with new settings for stretch and bending limits. This allows you to simulate things like a rock falling and denting a soda can. The dent can now stay put but still seem stiff. This opens the door to a lot of simulation possibilities of objects crashing into other objects. The elastic limits have also been expanded to the spring objects as well. This allows you to specify a limit that will make it so the spring will not try to bounce back to its original position. In addition to this limit, there is also a breaking point for both springs and fixed connectors. When an object reaches this limit, it will no longer be connected to the spring or the connector and fall if applicable. This makes possible things like chains breaking or objects breaking off of the objects they are connected to. With some of the new Dynamics XPresso nodes, you can make it so any connector can be broken as well, not just fixed types.