Maxon Cinema 4D 10 review

£499
Price when reviewed

Cinema 4D 10 is one of the heavyweight professional 3D packages, but it’s also surprisingly simple. This latest release boasts a spruced-up interface, with new icons and workspaces, as well as a new browser-based help system. Expanded OpenGL support also now provides more realistic visual feedback including real-time reflections, bumps and hard shadows, although it still can’t compare with the final rendered results. This is where version 10’s new Interactive Render Region capability comes in, allowing you to mark up your viewport, or a section of it, to be automatically rendered as soon as you pause working.

Maxon Cinema 4D 10 review

The object-based approach means you can do things such as drag a Rectangle object onto a HyperNURBS object to automatically subdivide it, then drag on a Deformer object to taper, bend or otherwise manipulate the results. The huge benefit is it’s a non-destructive process, so can be retrospectively fine-tuned. The potential problem is that it can become difficult to find the object you want to edit in more complex scenes, so a new View menu enables you to filter by object type or name, flatten the hierarchy, set a new root, move up a level and so on.

Even more impressive for scene organisation is Cinema 4D 10’s new layer system. Using the new Layers Browser palette you can quickly add objects, such as all of a scene’s lights or the multiple meshes from an imported CAD file, to their own new layer. You can then quickly toggle the display of all objects on the layer, or all objects not on it. You can also toggle the rendering, locking and animation of all layer objects and toggle their display of generators, deformers and expressions. Most powerful of all is the option to switch a layer or multiple layers to Solo mode, in which case only those objects are displayed, simplifying even the most complex scenes – a huge improvement.

The new global layer system also comes into its own for animation with the Layer Browser, replacing the Timeline palette’s former local system. The Timeline incorporates the F-Curves palette for graphically managing the interpolation of multiple animated tracks, and a new toolbar offers quick access to the most important commands. There’s also a new Ripple Edit mode that determines whether the position of surrounding keys is affected during edits. Impressive as it is, the full Timeline can be intimidating, so there’s also a proviso for the cut-down and always visible Animation Palette to quickly record keyframes. This has been massively enhanced with a new Timeline Ruler that shows frame numbers and the presence of keyframes, and even enables basic edits. There’s also a new PowerSlider with which you can control the length of the overall animation and of the current playback selection.

Cinema 4D aims to offer all that the mainstream professional user needs, but crucially supplements that with a range of superb add-on modules catering for specific tasks, such as its MOCCA module for character management (now updated to version 3 and offering simpler joint-based rigging) and the new MoGraph module for creating striking motion graphics. The most notable of these modules is the longstanding BodyPaint 3D, which lets users directly paint onto their models, and the latest version 3 is now bundled directly into the main Cinema 4D 10 application.

Traditionally, such texturing of models is a difficult chore, involving the creation of UV maps and painstaking work transferring back and forth between bitmap and 3D editor. But Maxon makes this straightforward. To set up your scene, you first switch to BodyPaint mode and then run the Paint Setup Wizard, which lets you select the objects or materials you want to work with and which channels you want to create. You can then simply select 3D Painting mode, a brush and a colour or texture, and begin painting directly onto your scene.

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