CINEMA 4D Studio R14 review

Last year’s R13 release was an all-round good thing but it didn’t address modelling weaknesses. Jump forwards to 2012 and the competition for packages that aren’t Autodesk suddenly gets a lot more fierce with modo 601 expanding out in all directions and Luxology getting into bed with The Foundry, producers of Nuke as well as general VFX work. Well, if you’re new to CINEMA 4D you’ll be interested to know that was always one of most user-friendly 3D packages has got even more so, and for veterans there’s improvements across the board. These include the interface, camera enhancements, dynamics, rendering, Nuke and Photoshop integration and the ace in the hole, a new sculpting toolset.

To start then, selecting part of a model no longer produces the familiar bounding box, but outlines it. Also, when moving the cursor over an area, that becomes highlighted so that you can see what will be selected if you click on it. The advantage is that it makes it easier to see individual parts, the disadvantage is that it looks a bit clunky. However, if you don’t like how it looks, you can change the thickness and spread of the outlining. Allied to this is task management for specific elements of the model. Instead of having to type a command in each time, the Command box remembers your last command and has a instantly updated search/suggest feature so as you type each letter the list of possible commands is displayed and narrows down.

Selecting an element now produces a configurable outline rather than a bounding box, making it more easy to see the rest of the model

The sculpting toolset is the big new feature and this is available in both Studio r14 and Bodypaint 14. There are some base meshes included or you can import a sculpt or start from scratch. As for loading and exporting, there’s plenty of support for general formats, but only 3ds of the big name packages. You can subdivide a mesh to create more detail and then work on specific levels as well as using masks. The tools themselves are fairly standard with pull, wax, smoothing, inflating and more. Each one can be set to work symmetrically or radially, though it’s not initially selected. The size and pressure of the tool can be changed but even so, there are times when it still feels a little clumsy. The scene movement controls, keyboard and mouse/pen control could be better integrated to make it a more fluid experience. Still, it’s a great addition to have. Other modelling related improvements include the interactive Workplane modes, dynamic guides and picking up components by painting over the mesh with the right mouse button. No significant improvements on the existing tools though.

There are over 200 improvements or new features in total, so there’s quite a lot going on with this release. Some are more dramatic than others. There’s some nice compositional overlay aids for the camera, with each camera having it’s own overlays which are configurable. A neat trick is the animated morph from one camera position to the other. This is set up as a camera morph and can include any of the cameras in the scene as well as setting how fast and smooth the morph is. Also on the animation side, there’s improvements to the dynamics so that aerodynamic forces can help scatter objects around. This includes wind, turbulence or gravity and the drag and lift can both be configured. Most of these features are in the Studio and Broadcast versions only.

Sculpting has arrived in CINEMA with a full range of tools to pinch, inflate, crease and scrape. Also use masks to add fine details

OUR VERDICT

Lots going on with this release, which is just as well with the competition heating up. The sculpting is the star new feature and really adds something extra to CINEMA 4D, though it could be more refined. Lots of small improvements including to cameras, rendering, lighting, the interface, AE and Nuke integration but no real developments on the basic modelling toolset. For dedicated CINEMA users, an excellent upgrade and for newcomers it remains one of the easiest 3D packages to get into.

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