Software Review: CINEMA 4D R14
In Release 13, MAXON gave its users an extremely powerful tool for character TD’s and those who don’t do much in the way of rigging. The Character Object made it easy for people to rig characters, while the Component Tag made it so character TD’s could easily build their own templates to make it extremely easy to reuse. In R14, there are a few changes to make these tools even better, and easier. In terms of the Character Object, there were a lot of changes and fixes to the templates of R13 to make them more stable. In addition to those updates, the mocap template now includes templates to easily retarget from Daz and Poser. The Advanced Biped also got a few new components including new finger and thumb types, eyes, and a separated jaw. There is also a brand new Advanced Quadruped template that provides users with a very powerful quadruped that has more features than the basic quadruped template.
The component tag received a lot of updates as well. The biggest one is the ability to bring in materials with components. This opens the door to utilizing this system for more than just character rigs, but also for presets. Controllers are now able to have their position and scale frozen, making it easier to zero out your rig and return to the bind pose. There’s also the ability to create multiple bone inserts now that can be used to insert into multiple chains at once, or as separate options. There was also a rebuilt UI for Insertion rules that makes managing multiple rules easier, as well as the ability to specify which layers get brought in when the rig is built.
As far as rendering and shading goes, Release 14 has three new shaders. They replaced the old, frankly poor wood shader with one that gives great realistic results. A new weathering shader allows you to quickly and easily dirty up your materials, and make it look like they've maybe spent too much time outside or in the rain. The third shader is a really handy one called Normalizer. What it allows you to do is convert any image into a normal map. This means if you want a normal map from an existing image, it can be done in no time. Simply load the Normalizer into the Normal channel and then choose an image. Then you simply need to adjust your strength and choose your Filter type. It has three different filter types: Condensed, Sobel 2x, and Sobel 4x. Condensed mode is a smoother faster filter, while the Sobel types allow you to see the fine gritty details better. One last little enhancement concerning materials and shaders, is that no longer is there a Specular and a Specular Color channel. The two have been combined into one, which will make it much easier and clearer since all your settings relating to Specularity are in one place.
In terms of rendering, Global Illumination has a new Sampling tab. In addition to some of the newer settings, it also contains the sampling settings that had previously been located in a materials Illumination channel. Now all the sampling options are grouped together, to make it easy to adjust them at once. In addition to this, new options have been created that help give the end user much more fine control over the sampling used. These new sampling methods work both with QMC as well as Irradiance Cache GI methods. For when you are using IR method or combination IR+QMC methods, there is an option for Discrete Area and Sky samplings called Force Per-Pixel. This option is useful for getting rid of the splotches you can find when you have extremely bright, but very small area light sources. The other major update is the inclusion of Radiosity maps. These maps are most useful for QMC renders. They offer the advantage of speeding up the GI calculations, as well as being able to save and reuse the maps. They require more memory, however, and it is recommended that you do not do single sided walls, as using Radiosity maps on them can let light slip through, so add some thickness to those walls.
Release 14 includes a variety of features that make the program play well with others. The first is the addition of both Alembic IO import and export. In order to be able to use both you need to make sure you update your R14 to 14.025. Alembic is a format that resembles that of a point cache. This makes it easy to transfer animations or scenes from one program to another. This means sending a scene from Maya to CINEMA 4D for Lighting, or a character animation from CINEMA 4D to Houdini to run fluid simulations is now very easy.
Another great addition is a new Nuke export. Much like how MAXON has built an incredible connection to Adobe After Effects, they now have an exchange plugin to send to Nuke for those who prefer using Nuke to After Effects. When using the export to Nuke, you get an option to save an FBX file. This is so 3D elements such as lights and cameras can be exported. You’ll notice when you switch to Nuke, the 3D Data checkbox is grayed out, so you must save a FBX file if you want your lights and cameras in your Nuke file. Another big enhancement for compositing is the new Position Pass. Position passes have a color corresponding to each object in the scene based on its place in the 3D scene. This can be utilized for relighting scenes without the need to re-render.
The last big enhancement is a crazy new Photoshop exchange. Once you install the Photoshop exchange plugin, you will have the ability to import .c4d files directly into a 3D layer. The Plugin works for Photoshop CS5 and CS6 extended. Once imported, you can move, scale, and rotate the objects directly in Photoshop. In addition to this, you can also paint directly onto your objects. This allows for a lot of flexibility inside of Photoshop, and all of this is without the hassle of going into other file formats.
CINEMA 4D R14 is a very robust update, enhancing a lot of key areas like rendering, modeling, and working with other programs, but then they brought in a lot of new features like sculpting, and all of the camera enhancements. If you are looking to do any sort of modeling or animation, Release 14 is an excellent upgrade for you.
Bret Bays is an Animator and Character TD who has done extensive animation and character rigging with CINEMA 4D over the past 8 years.