If you think about it, the summer months can be a bit like December for a certain sort of person. No, July or August are too hot these days to try to try to cool down with some image of a December chill in mind. Instead, realize that the gathering sweat on your brow signals that it’s time embrace the heat. Yes, for lovers of computer graphics it’s time to trek to the SIGGRAPH show, usually found on the West Coast.
That’s where and when top companies and start-ups alike offer new gotta-have-it software and hardware. This past July’s show in Anaheim showed Maxon debuting an important update.
Maxon Boosts its Popular Cinema 4 D
One of our favorite programs comes from Maxon, the German company which regularly uses the show to unveil a new version of CINEMA 4D, their popular 3D modeling, rendering and animation package. For C4D users, it really does evoke the holidays. After months of anticipation, each new feature is something like a present, one that they can’t wait to open up and play with. This year was no exception as MAXON announced the latest version of CINEMA 4D, R18 at SIGGRAPH 2016.
In addition to rolling out C4D R18, Maxon also streamed a series of live presentations from their booth at SIGGRAPH. These presentations are delivered by accomplished CINEMA 4D artists (which also included demonstrations of some of the new features in the new version).
R18 is a substantial upgrade and contains a lot of enhancements to C4D. Below are my thoughts about the most important new features, but first here’s a movie that Maxon created that summarizes some of them:
One of the most exciting new features in R18 is the addition of Voronoi Fracturing. It’s not a term most of us have heard before, but consider this: 3D programs are great at building things and making them look clean and perfect. Suppose though you want to destroy something? For example, let’s say your script calls an airplane to crash into an old castle in the Scottish Highlands, smashing it to bits.
It wasn’t easy to do this in CINEMA 4D. You had to do it the old fashioned way, spending weeks cutting up your model with the knife tool. Actually, that wouldn’t really work, so don’t even try it.
Fortunately, this bothersome task was solved by a third party plug-in called NitroBlast which, in fact, did a good job of breaking up your model into lots of pieces. The technique (a mathematical equation that can be traced in one form or another all the way back to Descartes in 1644) is called Voronoi fracturing.
In C4D R18, Voronoi fracturing has now been built into the software, no need for any plug-ins. With its implementation comes a whole slew of parameters and options for a ton of creative fracture effects. There are options that allow you to set smaller pieces in one area and larger pieces in another. This is handy, for example, since an object usually breaks up into smaller pieces near the point of a collision with the pieces getting larger further away.
There are lots of other ways to fracture an object. You can use a spline path, a polygonal mesh or even a matrix object to define the way an object will break up. In addition you can scale down the fractures for a cool, broken up effect with a little more space on the edges. You can also define separate materials for the outside and the inside of the pieces for enhanced realism (the outside can be dirty and scuffed up, for example, while the inside can be clean).
One of the greatest things about Voronoi fracturing, however, is that it is part of MoGraph. This means that MoGraph effectors can be used to control the fractured pieces. This results in mind-boggling creative possibilities and creative animation options.
Motion tracking was introduced in R16, and it was a great addition to the program since it allowed you to bring footage shot by a moving camera into C4D, track the camera and add seamless 3D elements to the scene.
The thing that was missing however was the ability to track individual objects in addition to the camera. With Object Tracking you can do things like add 3D elements to moving objects. For example, you might want to add radar equipment to the top of a turning vehicle or a helmet on somebody’s head.
It’s great that object tracking has been implemented inside CINEMA 4D. That, together with the pre-existing camera tracking, makes the application a complete tracking solution and saves users from having to rely on third party tracking software. This saves time and money.
As mentioned before, Voronoi fracturing is an important new feature of MoGraph. Let’s now take a look at some other enhancements to C4D’s popular cloner tool set. One interesting new feature is the Push Apart Effector which can be used to prevent MoGraph clones from overlapping on top of each other, a common issue that can happen when generating clones.
Push Apart can work in several different ways. Besides “pushing” the clones away from each other (on every axis or on just one), it can hide overlapping clones as well as scale them down to eliminate overlaps.
Another nice new feature in MoGraph is the ability to generate clones in a Honeycomb pattern. Before, clones could only be generated in linear, radial or grid array arrangements. The addition of the honeycomb array is very useful, especially since the offset of the pattern can be adjusted. This is not only useful for making honeycombs and beehives, but thinks like cobblestones, movie theaters, and many other things.
The ReEffector is another interesting new MoGraph feature. It can be used to modify a group of multiple effectors that have been applied to a cloner object. With it you can do things like reset all effectors at once as well as limit all effects to one axis.
MoGraph now includes the ability to store MoGraph Caches externally with the new MoGraph Cache tag. Suppose you have a complicated simulation involving lots of clones and decide to cache it in order to speed things up in your scene and enable scrubbing back and forth in the timeline. Since caches can add lots of data to your file (maybe hundreds of megabytes), next time you save your file, the cache gets saved along with it making your file that much larger. This complicates things, especially when you want to do something like email your file to someone.
Now you can use the MoGraph Cache tag to store your caches externally and keep the cache data separate from the main C4D file. In addition, multiple MoGraph Caches can now be used and blended between each other with the use of a few judiciously placed keyframes. I like that a lot.
Among some of the other enhancements to MoGraph is the new Weightmap tag which allows you to use a new weight paintbrush tool to directly paint the influence of effectors on MoGraph Clones.
When it comes to polygonal modeling, there’s almost no tool as useful as the knife tool (okay, maybe the extrude tool). In CINEMA 4D R18, the knife tool has been updated with several important new enhancements.
The knife tool is now divided into three sections. First is the Line Cut tool which now allows you to interactively draw a shape to define the cuts on your object and edit it to your heart’s content with onscreen handles and gizmos, until you are certain that the cuts will be exactly where you want them. That’s a handy thing. There are also new slice modes. In addition to Cut, there is Split which splits out the new polygons as well as Remove Part A and Remove Part B which allows you to strip away or preserve sections of your geometry easily.
Next is the Plane Cut tool which allows for planar cuts of your model and allows you to define the number and spacing of parallel cuts. The third mode of the knife tool is the Loop/Path Cut tool which cuts new loops or paths onto objects. Loops and Paths can now be applied bidirectionally and there is now a handy on-screen GUI to help with the knife tool.
Enhancements to Know About
One new feature that is pretty cool in the C4D R18 is the Thin Film Shader which allows you to simulate in your renders those colorful rainbow-like effects that are sometimes visible on the surface of transparent bubbles, soap films or oil slicks.
R18 also includes many other important new features such as parallax bump mapping for better results with bump maps, and inverse ambient occlusion which can, among other things, help you achieve a fake sub-surface scattering effect as well as do things like simulate wear and tear on the edges of a model.
There’s also a new Shadow Catcher shader that allows you to easily extract object shadows for later compositing. In addition, interactive real-time rendering has been further enhanced. For example, C4D’s viewport now supports screenspace ambient occlusion, approximate reflections, and displacement. Pixar Open Subdivs are now also supported when creating subdivision surfaces for alternative subdivision surfaces options as well as increased compatibility with other applications (subdivision surface weights can also now be exported).
There are a lot of other very substantial new features to C4D such as a new Quarternions workflow, enhanced Alembic and FBX exchange options, support for Allegorithmic Substance materials, better Houdini exchange, updates to Team Render and, importantly, improvements to baked displacement maps from sculpts. For a complete list of all of the new features in CINEMA 4D R18, see this list here.
Coinciding with the release of R18, MAXON commissioned ManvsMachine, an English studio, to create a short promotional film called VERSUS:
Maxon has put together a very compelling release in CINEMA 4D R18. I think that every serious C4D user will want to add this version to their arsenal. Having personally used C4D for many years, I feel that this release contains many enhancements that will prove indispensable. As you might be able to tell from the article, I think Voronoi shading and object tracking are outstanding new capabilities.
CINEMA R18 is a must-have upgrade.
For more information, visit Maxon’s website.