Maxon has released Cinema 4D R8.1, an update of its modeling, rendering and animation software, which is free to download for all owners of Cinema 4D R8. New features include HDRI and new particle effects. Full support for HDRI (High Dynamic Range Imagery) is an eagerly awaited improvement to the Advanced Render module, according to Paul Babb, Maxon CEO. This new feature enables users to take full advantage of special 96-bit HDRI photographs, which represent the complete brightness range of the environment they were taken in. This produces lighting as natural as the original environment itself, leading to dramatic gains in realism, he said. The new particle effects bolsters the Thinning Particles module to enable users to fragment an object and then rebuild it into a new shape, as well as MatterWaves, which allows users to control particle emission using lights or textures. Other improvements include faster OpenGL, a new shading algorithm to better render problem areas, new nodes to automate animation and faster, improved output to Flash and ShockWave 3D. "With CINEMA 4D R8.1, we've strengthened not just the core application but most of the optional modules too," said Babb. "Our policy is to enable all 3D artists to custom-tailor their ideal solution at an unbeatable price. The update confirms this." Cinema 4D R8.1 is available at www.maxon.net.