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Maxon Announces Cinema 4D R23 | Overview | Discussion


Igor

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Only commenting on the things I used. Scene nodes look promising (haven't tested), but more importantly again show a strong vision for the future. I also comment on the general outlook, MyMa

I had a surface level look at scene nodes but then digged into the past material nodes again and want to share some thoughts,  not so much about the functionality but the implications of the prio

Grateful I jumped off...and stuck w/plan for blender/R20. Will have soon saved nearly $2,000. Never had to fuss with broken plugins, bugs, hassles and modest upgrades. Already had Octane and Rizom UV.

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3 hours ago, MikeA said:

 

Jon,
For those of us, myself included, with nothing like your depth of nodes experience, could you expand on your comment above - ICE v Fabric Engine. I've no experience of either. Is this a positive or a negative? How would you summarise the difference?

ICE from the get-go was deeply integrated with the existing geometry core in Softimage; and that integration was symbiotic with its Operator Stack (similar in concept to the modifier stacks in 3ds Max and Modo). The Operator Stack was introduced to Softimage when it was released with a brand new core as XSI back in the early 00's (XSI was the most modern DCC architecture at the time, that's one of the reasons that ICE was so thread friendly for particle and deformation effects).

 

A screen grab is probably the easiest way for me to describe what makes ICE so different to the tech preview of Scene Nodes (you'll need to view it at full resolution to make sense of the description that follows.

 

The explorer view over on the right side of the interface has a few Objects un-twirled to expose their Operator Stacks. The first thing you'll notice is that there are clear delineations between Modelling, Shape Modelling (generally rig related), Animation, Simulation, Post Simulation and finally Secondary Shape Modelling. ICE trees can exist in any of the Operator Stack regions but in general they are most often utilised in the modelling and simulation regions. In this specific example, the ICE tree's in the Modelling regions are used for set-up of custom attributes and the core of the shot is in the Simulation region of the pointcloud_particles_and_strands object; and this is the ICE tree you'll see in the graph region. The long node on the left hand side of the ICE tree shows one of the key differences between Fabric Engine and ICE. With ICE it's pure simplicity to bring any object into the graph and then hone into the specific attribute of interest so as to introduce the values of said attribute into another calculation context. What this means in artist friendly terms is that it's easy to take a cloth simulation object, explode the polygons to separate polygon islands and use the centres of those polygon islands as seeds for a particle strand simulation that's then converted to polygons (strands are usually rendered as curves in the GL viewport and the offline render usually uses simplistic primitives as an extrusion source).

 

The import take out here isn't the effect itself but the easy with which multiple scene contexts can be queried and co-exist harmoniously in each others contexts.

bCsOlZ

 

The following is a screen grab for Fabric Engine in Maya 2017 (Fabric Engine was EOL'd in 2017 - just as it was beginning to be useful! It's rumoured to now be the IP of one of the major productions shops). On paper Fabric Engine was a wonderful idea. It's elevator pitch was that it would become a DCC neutral platform that was powered by a very ICE like scene graph. The reality didn't quite live up to the ideal as the UX varied greatly depending on the DCC in question (Maya was the only DCC integration that could be considered production capable). There was even an alpha build for C4D knocking around but that never materialised outside of a very small closed alpha testing group. The biggest problem with working with Fabric Engine was that it always felt like a plugin tacked on top of it's DCC host. Artist friendly integration was sadly lacking. It's major area of strength (when compared to ICE) was that it was capable of very sophisticated procedural modelling. ICE throughout it's history never cracked procedural modelling, it was always a clumsy and frustrating workflow. It's these qualities that were at the core of my comparison between C4D Scene Nodes and Fabric Engine. Neither feel particularly integrated but both provide a great set of tools for procedural geometry asset creation.

 

Apologies for this little digression but I wanted to provide @MikeA with enough information to clarify the differences I'd previously mentioned without writing an essay. 🙂

 

AP2sBr

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5 hours ago, Shrike said:

.. plugin community is dying ..

 

Be smart about this, don't miss the window.

 

I am afraid they've already missed it big time. I'm out.

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7 hours ago, Shrike said:

Untitled-1.jpg.1d7281027faed88c1d67c2bf0906a263.jpg

 

Only commenting on the things I used. Scene nodes look promising (haven't tested),

but more importantly again show a strong vision for the future.

I also comment on the general outlook, MyMaxon and the pricing on the bottom.

 

Feedback on new UV workflow:

It is definitely a huge step forwards but it seems like in beta still. There are many bugs and broken tools right now.

This includes S22 but in general there is still a clunkyness that could be easily solved, mostly by fixing the broken not working selections.

The new S22 auto unwrapper is mind blowing in some areas as it does advanced things I would have only done by hand on many occasions and no software can repeat, not even rizom but sadly inconsistent, still very useful. Very impressed by that one, but other areas can still be questionable. I actually have forgot to test multi UV but I assume it just works as expected. 

 

Broken / Not working Tools:

Some tools straight up do not work in the UV space and make it feel like a beta still or plain buggy.

Just nothing happens or they glitch out. The colleagues were also surprised.

 

- Fill selection does not work

(no way to select an entire UV island? That is very basic and required - it creates a buggy hover selection and makes the UV view appear frozen)

Edit: Double click does fill the UV island - this is convenient but not consistent and I didn't get it even after trying all my possible tools. Fill should definitely work.

 

UVfill.thumb.gif.2b6b87896243bffaf505d9a1379c6647.gif
 

 

- Outline Selection does not work (not much to see in the gif it just dosnt do anything)

 

Outline.thumb.gif.03c91ebc9ca6301df91d1b3f91f2a6cd.gif

 

 

- Live selection scaling the selection size Freezes the UV view for the time you try to drag the size with the typical command 

- UV Magnet (very cool tool btw) does the same freezing - probably more tools do it

 

UV.thumb.gif.005afc459f6fee8995d2bd38a01abcdb.gif

 

(Am I being stupid or is there no way to select an UV island?) Edit: Double click does it - this is not consistent but is convenient.

Why not for normal non UV selections as well?

 

- Path selection does now work (Broken with S22, now fixed!) (the only good way to unwrap messy geometries, Rocks or similar well)

That was very needed, makes certain things crazy faster.

 

We desperately need a function to get an edge selection back from the UV cuts we made. There is no proper way to get this selection and if you want to split your 

Phong properly based on UV split as it is required for widespread highpoly-lowpoly baking workflows, you have to make all your cuts in one go, keep shift pressed all the time and save the selections which is extremely clunky and inconvenient. Please add a function to select by UV islands borders.

 

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Also from the perspective of years back, it took me literal years to understand that UV mapping in cinema is supposed to work by making cut selections across the mesh and then pressing the Unwrap button. It is easy but nothing hints you on it. Its not an button, its not an action, its a workflow that is never implied or mentioned.

It is so simple but I just understood that like 6 months ago after 10 years of Cinema usage. Maybe that me but maybe that is also part of why it has a bad reputation.

 

The UV layout feels very cramped at first glance. The new center bar is good but the rest is overflowing.

Having UV settings hidden in view settings is also something I would have never found if not seeing the video. Just add a button to the new UV palette for convenience leading to this.

 

The packers could work better, this will still be worth to export and repack in some other tool I would say.

 

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Plugins

Many Plugins no longer working is a bummer but thats out of hands I understand

This can however be a very harsh blow to an already dwindling plugin community (more towards that below)

 

Remesher

We tried the new Remesher today and I have to say that this is absolutely excellent.

I tried a popular plugin mentioned in the thread before but the C4D remesher is definitely better and just works as you expect. Very clean and professional.

 

Delta Mush

Delta mush working on varied Deformers just like that was a positive surprise. Ill probably use it to add some quality to damaged objects that need deformation.

 

Deformer Polish

The new handles are great to see, please also add it to the Array modifier, it can be extremely disorienting.

Dragging Handles for Spline objects would also be very needed. I need unending spline rectangles for rounded rectangle models with is just a basic primitive shape that should exist imo.

Also please for a nice parametric workflow you aim for, allow us to Disable and enable Top and Bottom caps of cylinders individually, there are unending screws which  have unnecessary hidden caps that need to be manually converted and optimized just to get rid of one bottom cap, otherwise it could just stay primitive

 

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Subscription / MyMaxon

As a company owner I am very pleased with the new MAXON service. At first I hated the idea of online login and the google login bugged out.

But now I really love the way the Seats are handled, this is the absolute best I've seen. For Photoshop I had to create a dozen Adobe accounts. Autodesk Urgh.

 

Forgot to log out? No problem. Its just a click. I can just go home, kick my work PC out, and keep working.

You see all your licenses and who uses them on startup. Give the environment artist from the other team a license to just get some 30m volume builder action,

kick the other guy out who is on a break and free him up a seat. Just want to show some other guy some very basics so he may learn C4D down the road, just get a free seat for 10minutes. Just log in with one single account and it all works.

That's just the greatest service and the best handling of seats and licenses I've seen and that must really be highlighted.

 

Price, Plugins & Community

The 60 Euro per month are not cheap but as company thats not a big deal.

In the end the efficient usage of seats is also a value proposition going into the price of the subscription. Id say with 5 seats I would gain more the value of 6.5-7 as a company.

 

However, outside of company usage, I really have to say that 60 a month would not feel great if they came out of my pockets.

But much more importantly, I strongly feel that the high barrier of entry (its not 100 for 1 month, its the commitment towards continuous payment of these 60 you have to set yourself to) is really limiting the reach of the software. C4D right now is in a bubble and mostly used in one specific field. Things which are the bread and butter of other 3D softwares, baking highpolies down for high quality 3D assets, texturing with proper unique UVs and painting based on baked maps in Substance painter or such, that is all basically nonexistant in Cinema circles which is just mind boggling as this is the core to industry standard 3d assets of any kind.

 

MAXON really needs to be careful with gating the community, give means for hobbyists and solo developers to be happy with the purchase and enter the ecosystem, and start reaching new grounds especially with Realtime and Games. There needs to be an affordable indie license with acceptable limits that make you really want to get the full version but not require it entirely. Remember where your users come from in the end, Teenagers like me who started using it with a crack or at school and then work on minimum cash then own a company later or do freelance. If you don't offer Teenagers, Students, 2 man indie developers, movie makers, hobbyists, freelancers on low money, or living in east europe / asia -  a way into the ecosystem the future users will logically die out.

 

Plugin development is what is driving many of these other softwares as well. Blender lives based on plugins and game engines make most of their money from plugin stores. The plugin community is dying and S23 could be the killing blow with C++ recompile and Python 3 breaking many things. Plugin devs also always need the latest versions to fix their plugins.

 

Be the first and implement a plugin & script store on your own website. Give creators the reach, more power to make money, and get a modest share (+- 1/7th) knowing this is overwhelmingly to your benefit either way and give out a piece of the revshare back as discount on C4D versions so plugin makers can cheaply get the new versions to update their plugins and also buy more new versions. Cryengine made the big mistake of not keeping up with asset stores when they could and have been entirely crippled and left behind. Gamedev lives by plugin stores just like Blender. Unity makes way more money with the Asset store than with their actual engine licenses for sure. Many plugins for varied softwares are or were system sellers at varied points. This is low hanging fruit. Start with a contest, give the best creators a bonus, incentives, promotion. Be smart about this, don't miss the window.

 

 

 

Outlook

A couple years back I would have said I bet on the wrong horse but imo MAXON does make slower advancements in the weak areas but if they do things they are usually very methodical / specific in one area and well executed and on a deeper technical level that you would unlikely see implemented by other 3D apps (which do seem to often scramble together random but cool features). In gamedev I see that a strong foundation is extremely valuable and C4D is the only software I used from the big ones (aside of Houdini, maybe modo?) that feels like its not hacked together and it will get harder and harder for these others to not stagnate. While I don't know, I have a strong feeling C4D was set up in a much more modern component way back in the beginning days compared to the competition, (the UI components hint towards it) to mostly strong contrast, and seeing things such fields implemented throughout the project is something that would just never happen without huge work effort in other patchwork environments.

 

Fields, Volume Builder, the Modeling Core Rework, Neutron are very big elements that do show a strong vision and hint towards a extendable and healthy codebase and I am more and more happy to use C4D each iteration and it feels like the critical weaknesses are clearly diminishing, while a lot of strong advantages have opened in the last years that clearly overshadow certain issues (even if large roadblocks), at least for my usage cases. It has shifted from the constant feeling of "Ah damn, in 3DS you could have done this" towards more "Hey look what convenient or crazy stuff I can setup here" so I am very positive of the future of the tool, but I can't say the same for the community and userbase which in the end does drive everything, that depends on management not engineering.

 

 

Wow, what a wall of text! I pretty much agree on everything, especially the nice explanation you made about the userbase dying out.

I am sure MAXON knows this as well, so I am wondering what their plan is. As everybody else has indie licenses now (even dang Autodesk) I still don't understand why they don't offer that. All that people are going to do is crack it. If they can't afford it, they will crack it. So why not get some of these people on board with an indie license AND you bind them to your software this way.

Right now Blender is pretty much just picking up everybody that doesn't want to use cracked software or has access through school.

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8 hours ago, Shrike said:

Broken / Not working Tools:

 

They are not broken, but instead not implemented due to time constraint. You as a game dev, I am sure you can understand what that means.

At some point we had to stop fixing stuff for release but ongoing SP1 fixes will cover a lot of issues. 

U Render Quality Assurance Specialist

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A good picture from Jonmoore. I would call the current implementation V0.5, it really is just a "hey look how fast and powerful stuff is about to get" release. The object manager for 95% of users with a happy friendly rainbow interface is being worked on and I suspect it will be with us for the next release but perhaps still not 100% ready for prime time usage as a LOT of other parts of C4D need to be tied in and updated to make it a full replacement. The openGL display of nodes is currently barebones, just the absolute basics so you can see what you're doing; the proper feedback and interaction widgets will come soon enough.

 

Node colours are currently hardcoded, they'll need to go through the full prefs integration and localisation process if they are to be exposed.

 

Editing values directly in the node has already been requested a few times, not sure if they will be taking that route though, we'll see.

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2 hours ago, Hrvoje said:

Thanks @jonmoore and @Shrike for extensive effort in posting valuable feedback.

 

@jonmoore

 

We are much more inclined into friendly workflow than cryptic nature of something like Fabric. There is nothing in your post that we don't agree on or haven't explored already. Now it is just time factor involved 🙂

 

I had no doubt.

 

A discussion point came up in the Rocket Lasso live stream with Rick Barrett the other day that I agreed with 100%. The crux of that discussion point was that C4D's success as an artist friendly toolset could be defined by playfulness. The beauty of C4D is that in rewards play and experimentation, as it's very hard to box yourself into a corner (unlike something like Houdini, where you need to have clearly defined goals from the outset of any project). It's that sense of playfulness that needs to come to Scene Nodes, and I think it should be a priority. At the moment Scene Nodes are very much a TD's tool, but if it's too catch fire within the mass of the C4D artist community, it needs that sense of playfulness. And as a quick win please, please link the documentation to the nodes (CTRL, F1). It becomes something of a drag to constantly have search the documentation manually as you explore the nodes toolset.

 

To relate it back to Softimage ICE one more time (apologies for that), PSYOP's Jonah Friedman said during ICE's first year that what makes ICE great is that it makes hero's of generalist artists. What he meant by that was that ICE introduced technical artistry to artists that never defined themselves by their technical prowess. And that feels very much like a MAXON goal. Fields (much like Mograph before it) facilitates technical artistry without expecting a technical background. And for me, Scene Nodes need to be the next iteration of facilitating technical artistry through intuitive play.

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2 hours ago, Hrvoje said:

Thanks @jonmoore and @Shrike for extensive effort in posting valuable feedback.

 

There is nothing in your post that we don't agree on or haven't explored already. Now it is just time factor involved 🙂

I know your comment about what is being explored applies to C4D's capabilities and  that you probably have no insight to where the internal discussions are going on indie licenses.  Honestly, I do hope that indie licenses are being as carefully considered as the ongoing development of Neutron.  

 

The comments made by Shrike and Dasfrodo that missing indie/young/hobby users at a lower price point will starve MAXON of future revenue cannot be ignored.  While I state that Blender gives us options, I guess it is also true that hacked software gives them options too (which is really sad).   

 

Unfortunately, impassioned posts on the Cafe are not going to move the needle on indie pricing.  Slow sales on R23 will move the needle.  Remember that this is probably the first full release where people are no longer covered by the MSA program of the past.  Revenue, be it subscription or perpetual, from this release is what sets the tone for MAXON's future.

 

Dave

 

 

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