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Review by Brady Betzel
Each year I get to test out some of the latest and greatest software and hardware releases our industry has to offer. One of my favorites — and most challenging — is Maxon’s Cinema 4D. I say challenging because while I love Cinema 4D, I don’t use it every day. So, in order to test it thoroughly, I watched tutorials on Cineversity to brush up on what I forgot and what’s new. Even though I don’t use it every day, I do love it.
I’ve reviewed Cinema 4D Release 15 through R18. I started using the product when I was studying at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California, which coincidentally is about 10 minutes from Maxon’s Newbury Park office.
Each version update has been packed full of remarkable additions and updates. From the grass generator in R15, addition of the Reflectance channel in R16, lens distortion tools in R17 to the multitude of updates in R18 — Cinema 4D keeps on cranking out the hits. I say multitude because there are a ton of updates packed into the latest Cinema 4D Release 18 update. You can check out a complete list of them as well as comparisons between Cinema 4D Studio, Visualize, Broadcast, Prime, BodyPaint 3D and Lite Release 18 versions on the Maxon site.
For this review, I’m going to touch on three of what I think are the most compelling updates in Release 18: the new Voronoi Fracture, Thin Film Shader and the Push Apart Effector. Yes, I know there are a bazillion other great updates to Cinema 4D R18 — such as Weight Painting, new Knife Tools, Inverse Ambient Occlusion, the ability to save cache files externally and many more — but I’m going to stick to the features that I think stand out.
Keep in mind that I am using Cinema 4D Studio R18 for this review, so if you don’t have Studio, some of the features might not be available in your version. For instance, I am going to touch on some of the MoGraph toolset updates, and those are only inside the Studio and Broadcast versions. Finally, while you should use a super powerful workstation to get the smoothest and most robust experience when using Cinema 4D R18, I am using a tablet that uses a quad core Intel i7 3.1GHz processor, 8GB of RAM and an Intel Iris graphics 6100 GPU. Definitely on the lower end of processing power for this app, but it works and I have to credit Maxon for making it work so well.
If, like me, you’ve never heard of the term Voronoi, check out the first paragraph of this Wiki page. A very simple way to imagine a Voronoi diagram is a bunch of cell-like polygons that are all connected (there’s a much more intricate and deeply mathematical definition, but I can barely understand it, and it’s really beyond the scope of this review). In Cinema 4D Studio R18, the Voronoi Fracture object allows us to easily, and I mean really easily, procedurally break apart objects like MoGraph text, or any other object, without the need for external third-party plug-ins such as Nitro4D’s Thrausi.
To apply Voronoi Fracture in as few steps as possible, you apply the Voronoi Fracture located in the MoGraph menu to your object, adjust parameters under the Sources menu (like distribution type or point amount) add effectors to cause dispersion, keyframe values and render. With a little practice you can explode your raytraced MoGraph text in no time. The best part is your object will not look fractured until animated, which in the past took some work so this is a great update.
Thin Film Shader
Things that are hard to recreate in a photorealistic way are transparent objects, such as glass bottles, windows and bubbles. In Cinema 4D R18, Maxon has added the new Thin Film Shader, which can add the film-like quality that you see on bubbles or soap. It’s an incredible addition to Cinema 4D, furthering the idea that Maxon is concentrating on adding features that improve efficiency for people like me who want to use Cinema 4D, but sometimes don’t because making a material like Thin Film will take a long time.
To apply the Thin Film to your object, find the Reflectance channel of your material that you want to add the Thin Film property to add a new Beckmann or GGX layer, lower the Specular Strength of this layer to zero, under Layer Color choose Texture > Effects > Thin Film. From there, if you want to see the Thin Film as a true layer of film you need to change your composite setting to Add on your layer; you should then see it properly. You can get some advanced tips from the great tutorials over at Cineversity and from Andy Needham (Twitter: @imcalledandy) on lynda.com. One tip I learned from Andy is to change the Index of Refraction to get some different looks, which can be found under the Shader properties.
Push Apart Effector
The new Push Apart Effector is a simple but super-powerful addition to Cinema 4D. The easiest way to describe the Push Apart Effector is to imagine a bunch of objects in an array or using a Cloner where all of your objects are touching — the Push Apart Effector helps to push them away from each other. To decrease the intersection of your clones, you can dial-in the specific radius of your objects (like a sphere) and then tell Cinema 4D R18 how many times you want it to look through the scene by specifying iterations. The more iterations the less chance your objects will intersect, but the more time it will take to compute.
Thin Film Render
If you are an Adobe After Effects user, don’t forget that you automatically get a free version of Cinema 4D bundled with After Effects — Cinema 4D Lite. Even though you have to have After Effects open to use the Cinema 4D Lite, it is still a great way to dip your toes into the 3D world, and maybe even bring your projects back into After Effects to do some compositing.
Cinema 4D Studio R18’s pricing breaks down like this: Commercial Pricing/Annual License Pricing/Upgrade R17 to R18 pricing — Cinema 4D Studio Release 18: $3,695/$650 /$995; Cinema 4D Visualize Release 18: $2,295/$500/$795; Cinema 4D Broadcast Release 18: $1,695/$400 /$795; Cinema 4D Prime Release 18: $995/$250/$395.
Another interesting option is Maxon’s short-term licensing in three- or six-month chunks for the Studio version ($600/$1,100) and 75 percent of the fees you pay for a short-term license can be applied to your purchase of a full license later. Keep in mind, when using such a powerful and robust software like Cinema 4D you are making an investment that will payoff with concentrated effort in learning the software. With a few hours of training from some of the top trainers — like Tim Clapham on www.hellolux.com, Greyscalegorilla.com and Motionworks.com — you will be off and running in 3D land.
For everyday Cinema 4D creations and inspiration, check out @beeple_crap on Instagram. He produces amazing work all the time.
In this review, I tested some of the new updates to Cinema 4D Studio R18 with sample projects from Andy Needham’s Lynda.com class Cinema 4D R18: New Features and Joren Kandel’s awesome website, which offers tons of free content to play with while learning the new tools.
I love Maxon’s continual development of Cinema 4D in Release 18. I specifically love that while they are adding new features, like Weight Painting and Update Knife Tools, they are also helping to improve efficiency for people like me who love to work in Cinema 4D but sometimes skip it because of the steep learning curve and technical know-how you need in order to operate it. You should not fear though, I cannot emphasize how much you can learn at Cineversity, Lynda.com, and on YouTube from an expert like Sean Frangella. Whether you are new to the world of Cinema 4D, mildly experienced like me, or an expert you can always learn something new.
Something I love about Maxon’s licensing for education is that if you go to a qualified school, you can get a free Cinema 4D license. Instructors can get access to Cineversity to use the tutorials in their curriculum as well as project files to use. It’s an amazing resource.
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We’ve just posted a new preset by Rod Ross. The CV-Spring Tool makes it easy to add animated springs to any of your Cinema 4D projects. Choose from three different spring setups including the standard, dynamic and spline.
Check it out: CV-Spring Tool
The Cineversity Team
Also, if you're a Cinema 4D user with an active MAXON Service Agreement (MSA) and you're not yet a Cineversity Premium member -- what are you waiting for? No matter where you live, contact your local MAXON distributor for your complimentary premium access coupon.
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In his 2-day webinar ‘Realistic Rendering’, 3D generalist Dominik Dammelhart will introduce participants to various render engines and demonstrate techniques with which advanced users can achieve photo-realistic results.
If you want to discover how to create realistic-looking shaders, simulate various lighting scenarios and define the right settings for final renderings, this is the right webinar for you!
On January 25, 2017 from 15:00 – 16:15, Dominik will focus on Octane; from 16:15 – 17:15, his webinar will turn its attention to Corona. At these times on January 26, 2017, Dominik will cover VrayforC4D followed by the Maxwell Renderer. Dominik will use real-world examples from the automobile world to demonstrate each renderer’s features.
Register for free for one or both webinars!
Register here for Jan. 25, 2017 (Octane, Corona).
Register here for Jan. 26, 2017 (VrayforC4D, Maxwell Render).
MAXON hopes you enjoy these informative and exciting webinars!
About the trainer
Dominik Dammelhart, a.k.a. CurseStudio, has worked as a 3D generalist in the field of CG for more than 6 years. Since 2010 he has produced numerous free tutorials for the Cinema 4D community and has worked on several projects for companies such as Lenovo and Siemens. His work and his tutorials are featured on many renowned websites such as 3dtotal, Evermotion and Motionserved.
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WHAT'S NEW IN MAXWELL 4?
Maxwell 4’s major new feature - a GPU render engine! The new engine runs on nVidia graphic cards and uses all the power that GPUs provide to accelerate the render process. All the technology under the hood is identical to the classic CPU engine - which means your images are exactly the same, unbeatable Maxwell quality.
MAXWELL MULTILIGHT™ STANDALONE
No more re-rendering.
Save infinite lighting variations and images all from ONE single render. No going back to your scene, re-rendering or waiting. Welcome to Multilight™!
- Limitless lighting setups in real time.
- Work smarter and faster by editing lights before and after the render finishes.
- Create a lighting catalog for your client.
- Automatically update your catalog with different lighting positions or geometry.
NEW MATERIALS GALLERY
The newly renovated gallery features a hand-picked selection of high-quality, optimized Maxwell materials ready to use in your scenes. You can search using the usual tags, such as wood, plastic or metal, but also by performance level - so that you can filter materials depending on your exact needs.
RHINO FOR MAC SUPPORT
Maxwell 4 brings a brand new Rhino for Mac plugin workflow, providing you with a great workflow via live-linking between Rhino and Maxwell Studio - our sophisticated standalone scene editor. The plugin + Studio workflow is bundled together in one easy installation package, and includes the entire suite of Maxwell tools (FIRE, Multilight™, materials editor, network tools, advanced render extensions, etc).
Maxwell 4 includes a complete overhaul of the Revit integration, with significant improvements including the addition of FIRE - our interactive preview engine, as well as a re-designed and reorganized toolbar.
LINK to SITE
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Review of Maxwell Video Tutorial by Mihai Iliuta
BASIC & BEYOND
As this is mine first tutorial of this kind, or any kind, its really hard to decide from where to start. In a video tutorial which is a must have for all Maxwell users its hard to decide what to put in it and what not.
Mihai starts really strong by explaining lots of technicalities which are essential to know if artist wants to really take grasp of this wonderful NextLimit render engine. So much to learn and yet so fun to know. Beautiful thing about Maxwell is that its an unbiased real world render engine and if you are familiar with photography, that's even better and makes learning even more easier. Mihai even explains why would you choose Maxwell in front of any other renderer out there like Arnold, Octane etc., for me, that information was really mind blowing, as it has lots of sense when looked from Mihai perspective, which puts Maxwell in some cases better choice for artist's who prefers less buttons to play and more time for render testing. Having less buttons to play with, doesn't mean its less powerful. You can obviously see that from Mihai's personal gallery.
He really nails it with this tutorial, so many great tips, not only for Maxwell, but for Photoshop too, which will have a great roll in making bump, normal maps etc..but its not essential to have PS for this tutorial. Mihai also covers how you would do some things in Photoshop after render is done and how versatile Maxwell can get if needed. Maxwell and Photoshop makes great duo for final renders, so after watching this tutorials, even your knowledge in PS will be better not to mention your Maxwell renders. After he get pass from all the technicalities, making materials are next thing to get excited for. There are few long lessons that covers everything you need to know about materials and how to produce them by yourself. Again, very easy to follow, which gives me opportunity to mention that Mihai English is superb and its enjoyable to listen. His voice is soft and makes this whole tutorial much more enjoyable to watch. For me, not in one moment this tutorial gets boring or something like that. NextLimit should really take good look at this tutorial and promote it as much as possible. Its a simple software seller, or should I say Maxwell seller. Mihai deserves all the attention and I really hope he will get it. This tutorials shows how much Mihai knows about Maxwell and how really powerful Maxwell can get in right hands.
Only thing I could think of that is "bad or not good" is price, for some it could be little pricey, but taking into consideration amount of hours put into this tutorial, I would say its really a fair price and if you choose to buy it, you will not regret it as this would be great investment in your future. Good thing is that with price you will get 1 year of private coaching included, which are rare when you buying tutorials.
ABOUT INSTRUCTOR: MIHAI ILIUTA
My name is Mihai Iliuta, and I'm a renderoholic. I caught the render bug around 2002, first using Mental Ray and trying other renderers, until one morning in 2004 when I stumbled upon Maxwell Render's brand new website and saw the very first renders of the early beta. Renders that astounded me and everyone else in the 3D rendering world. 10 minutes later I bought the very first beta and have been using Maxwell Render exclusively for about 10 years on various product design, archviz and personal projects.
From 2009-2015 I worked for Next Limit Technologies where I was responsible among other things for quality control and testing of Maxwell Render and collaborating closely with the development team on the implementation of new features and workflows. I'm a "Certified Xpert Trainer" for Maxwell Render. I am now running this site, which I hope in time will become a hub of useful information and content dedicated to Maxwell Render.
TUTORIAL DURATION: 25+ hours
MAXWELL VERSION: 3.X
Videos are in 1280×760 resolution and may be either played in your browser or downloaded if you wish to view them offline.
Video tutorials + 1 year access to a private forum where you can ask questions about topics covered in the videos or get help and tips with your own Maxwell Render projects from the instructor.
You can check Mihai's STORE and FORUMS if you need any assistance or help from him. He will be more than happy to assist you if you decide to SUBSCRIBE and C4D Cafe members will get 20% discount until August 1st.
I will go through the fundamental lighting principles which are crucial to understand and be aware of if you want to create interesting imagery, regardless if you use Maxwell, another renderer or a DSLR, or wish to create product shots, jewelry or archviz renders.
Having a good understanding of Maxwells material editor is key to creating realistic renders. I take a logical approach to explaining the parameters, not in the order they are listed but in the order that makes sense for you to understand the relationship between the different parameters. Along the way I explain how to create a few typical materials, Layer blending, mixing materials with emitters and lots more.
CHANNELS, POST PRODUCTION, NETWORK RENDERING
I will go through a few of the channels Maxwell offers, and showing you how to render and composite a typical example of a render with reflections and shadows on an arbitrary background. The post-production chapters will show you a quick way to tweak the render using Adobe’s Camera Raw, then a more comprehensive example using custom alphas, Smart Objects in Photoshop, an extensive look on gamma…and a few important tips regarding Network Rendering.
All the Maxwell materials created during the training are available in the private forum.
“This is the by far the best course I’ve seen on Maxwell on the web. I loved your top down approach of your teaching and demystifying the theory behind many important concepts.” Numan S.
“There where so many „AHH- ALL RIGHT” and „OH – THAT’S HOW IT’S DONE“ moments in your course that I am really glad to have purchased it. A big thank you for that from my part. Even though I have been using Maxwell Render since the very first BETA version and kept working with the program on a daily basis since then, your well explained course helped me understand much better how things are supposed to work.” Carsten Q.
“This is the best tutorial I’ve seen for Maxwell so far, and it should be automatically packed with every license for new users of Maxwell.”Tomas K.
reviewed by Igor Severic