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Redshift and C4D - In over my head?

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So, last year I spent all summer learning the basics of cinema 4D, lighting, rigging, texturing, best practices, rendering and 3rd party render engines. 


I hit a brick wall in terms of what the usefulness of 3D is for me and in turn lost a lot of the initial ambition I had with the software. 3D is very intriguing to me, there is so much potential to make a finished product in a relatively short amount of time. Something that used to take teams of people can be accomplished by one person. It's an exciting time to be learning these techniques that can apply to everything from video production to full on art composition. 


I started learning with the Physical renderer it's steadfast approach and easy to manipulate switches and levers made the way a 3D image is composed really easy to grasp and affect. For a long time I made really poorly optimized renders and then learned about samples and light bounce and how to more efficiently render my images...I never quite finished learning all of the modeling basics, I mostly played with scenes that were half finished and followed step-by-step tutorials. Coming away from these long tutorials I felt like everyone was covering the same basic tools and ways to do things. 


At this point I felt like I needed to switch render engines for speed and realtime viewing of materials and to better understand what affected what. I tried Corona, Arnold and Redshift. Having a GTX 1070 I stuck with Redshift but quickly felt lost, I'm feeling like I'm in over my head...something that was super simple in Physical is now 10x as difficult to accomplish for me in Redshift. I love how fast things instantly update and I love how lowering all of the samples can make things perfect for previewing...but what do you do when you feel like you've vested so much time, money and energy into a skill and you find that you're not really sure what you should do to move forward? 


Surely I can't be alone in thinking Redshift is a complete overhaul of what I had already learned in Physical, I know 3D is ever-changing but node mapping textures just seems like literal rocket science to me, nothing is exactly clear as to what it is and there is so much room for error. There seems to be only poorly produced overview videos where the instructors say things like "you can do such and such but that's a topic for another video" or "that's too complex for the time we have on this video" ---My point being is there seems to be no definitive guide to using this render engine. I feel the same way about Cinema 4D, I have a subscription to both Lynda.com and Pluralsight.com both online training facilities gave a good primer to understanding how to use this software but after that it goes no where, or it goes into super specific topics like integrating Houdini or NUKE. 


I guess I'm just looking for someone who can tell me what they did to get over a hump like this, playing with shapes in C4D is fun but after a while I just feel like I'm wasting a lot of time...this is exemplified when instructors like Greyscale Gorilla praise a new render engine every year and make you feel as though it is the only answer for an efficient workflow. 


I have such admiration for the artists like make beautiful works in these programs, it takes such dedication and I guess I'm just feeling a little stuck and not sure what I should do next with the knowledge I've gained. 


The two attached images are things I worked on last summer not amazing but I had fun, the little monster was a step-by-step tutorial I modeled the whole guy...at the end of the lesson I felt so silly because it ended up feeling like paint by numbers...I gained no skill and it took several days for me to complete. 


Can anyone tell me what they think about Redshift? Why they stuck through designing and modeling in C4D? What motivated you to follow through despite sometimes being discouraged by the pace of learning these technical skills? 



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personally i found redshift pretty easy to learn, but i think the main difference between me and you is that i already had over 10 years of experience with 3D software when i dipped my toes into it. once you know how everything works it's basically all the same, through out any package or render engine. probably a bit easier to wrap your head around physical first, and then switch to another render engine. i mean you can learn all the stuff directly in redshift as well, just a little bit more confusing if you're not familiar with the principles of how it all works.


 as for keeping your enthusiasm i recommend to set yourself achievable goals, a lot of people get frustrated because they set the bar too high and thus fail. watching and following tutorials always helps, and you should continue with that, but nothing is more rewarding and effective as figuring stuff out by yourself. CG is a tough cookie, especially for people who rather rely on instructions opposed to autodidactic learning. i think nowadays it's comparably easy to learn just about any software, there's so much information out there. for instance there's more than plenty redshift beginner tutorials out there, you just have to spend some time looking for the right ones. 

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practise practise practise is some advice I can give you.


I started using redshift after extensively using physical and Vray for a few years. There was a steep learning curve at first but now I feel one can achieve excellent renders with beautiful, realistic materials easier in Redshift than in Physical.


Everything is just new to you which is why you think it's hard. set yourself daily mini projects (think Instagram dailies) where the objective is to texture a model/scene in redshift. It may take you a few months but you'll get up to speed with the render. This is what I did and now I hate going back to Standard/Physical renderer. It's slow cumbersome and actually harder when it comes to creating complex materials.


Just give it some time and practise, the expert has failed more times than the beginner has even tried ;)

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At the end of the day 3D is fairly hard and fairly complicated and to be good at all areas of it takes from several years to a lifetime ! Software like Cinema makes it about as easy as it can be without sacrificing much in the way of power or flexibility. Its own renderers follow that principle - they are simple to configure and unusually easy to use. 3rd party renderers, Redshift included, often don't make simplicity their first priority, and kinda have to offer a bit more control than that because it is their only function, so their rendering controls tend to be far more comprehensive and therefore complex. But that is not to say they are insurmountable. It's just what you're used to, and after 6 months of rendering in RedShift you should be as entirely comfortable with it as you would be in Physical.


A nodal material system is arguably preferable to any other way of doing it, and most of us eagerly await the arrival of such a system in cinema. Although I like the way Cinema deals with materials now, it is much easier and better to work with nodes because you can use the same node in more than one place, which makes material setup quicker once you are used to the way it works. Again, once you've learned it, it's never a problem again.




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If you struggle with c4d  material mapping be sure to understand that first because that is fundamental to all rendering in c4d.



The thing is Redshift is waaay easier to render animations with in comparison to the PR once you get there. You can be lucky to come to 3D in these days because until 3-4 years ago or so we had to create very nifty setups to render full GI Animations with Vray or PR for example. We had to prebake Light passes and all that annoying stuff to make flickering go away. The nowadays renderers (pathtracers) like Redshift, Octane, Arnold and the current version of Vray (and the new Prorender for C4D) make this so much easier because you basically control all quality with one setting: the samples. Increase them and the flickering goes. That is a simplified description but is the core of rendering today. Samples! Once you understand that you jump from render engine to render engine quite easiliy for 90 % of jobs.

The problem is the materials are different for every engine. But you find so many presets and tutorials online today from where you can break down the mats that it is doable to learn it pretty fast. I just searched "redshift c4d" on youtube and like 10 tutorials pop up. Work yourself through them. We all spend our countless nights in the beginning doing it.

Another tipp is: Read how photographers and camera men set light on real world sets and product stages. Because even your best materials will look lame when not lit interestingly. Shading and lIght cannot be seperated.


Good luck!

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R18, Octane, Vray, Cycles, Zbrush, AE, Marvelous Designer, Substance Designer, Affinity

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  • Thank you guys so much for giving me some insight into your own personal experiences with these two solutions. 


    It really helped to decide whether to quit or recommit to mastering this skill...I think the daily render idea is a good one, I have to remind myself not to get discouraged so easily seeing what others have achieved as it really does take years to become proficient at this stuff. I've already spent enough time learning a lot of Cinema's tools and about 3D in general that it would be such a waste to just walk away, part of me feels so guilty to even think of doing that so I know it's something I have to learn or I will always regret not pushing through to accomplish. 


    Redshift is new, but in the little time I've spent with this particular engine I have seen what you guys mean about the ridiculously awesome speed and looks of the results you can achieve. Physical is really where I started to get burned out, waiting so long to see if a certain material looked right only to find I wasted hours rendering something that should have taken no more than 20-30 minutes if it was optimized correctly - It became so hard to look away while other 3D artists were mostly working with these awesome GPU render systems like Octane and saving time while seeing real-time results. I see the same mishaps from misconfiguring can occur in Redshift as in Physical, but the renders seem so much more forgiving in this regard, you can experiment on-the-fly which is the fun aspect I was missing. 


    I guess I just wanted confirmation that Redshift is really worth the effort and time it takes to learn and you all have highlighted that it is indeed worth it. 


    Thanks to the last person that posted and mentioned all of the additional steps that were involved not but 4-6 years ago, although 3D creation and ideation is still difficult with all of the control you're given I know it was an insane amount of work prior to these new tools we're given. That statement alone is humbling because it makes me feel like I should stop whining and just work with the amazing tools we have today, in a way I'm lucky to have jumped in at this point GPU rendering is a game changer and I really want to add this skill to my repertoire.  


    I've renewed my interest and hearing from you guys helped, thanks again. 

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