How Cinema 4D Became a Primary Tool of Medical Illustrators

Sep 22, 2017 at 09:02 am by nickcharles

There are infinite uses for medical animation, and this has only increased over the years. As my primary work is in the healthcare field, I have seen a lot of medical illustration and animation in effective use. So, a little while ago I began an article series interviewing these creatives who meld science and art as a career. In that process, I discovered a lot of them were using Cinema 4D as their primary tool.

If at first you don't realize the significance of the job, it is the medical illustrator and animator that has the formidable task of clarifying the unseen world within us, whether for the purpose of teaching others in healthcare, or for explaining procedures and disease processes for patients, among a multitude of other applications. And when detail in this work is of the utmost importance, Cinema 4D has shown to be very capable.

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Creative teams, such as the one at Nucleus Medical Media have come to rely heavily on Cinema 4D in their daily work. When I interviewed Nucleus' Senior Animator, Nobles Green II, he said they "mainly use Maxon Cinema 4D for animation. Plugins, like X-particles, help us create fascinating fluid and gaseous effects. The ease and intuitiveness of Cinema 4D has been great for me..."

Nucleus has also built an extensive library of medical animation with the help of Cinema 4D that, according to Nobles, "currently has over 250 animations that cover a multitude of medical conditions and procedures." And, for a great look at how Cinema 4D is used in medical animation, Heidi Sinsel and Elizabeth McDonald from Nucleus Medical Media have a wonderful presentation up on Maxon's Cineversity site, titled Medical Storytelling: The Art of Cellular 3D Animation.

Cineversity is Maxon's wonderful Cinema 4D resource and tutorial hub, with tons, and I mean tons, of content. This includes other great medical animation demonstrations, such as Medical MoGraph, a presentation from Vessel Studios' Creative Director, Thomas Brown.

MadMicrobe Studios is another creative team in the business of medical visualization. I spoke with Joel Dubin from MadMicrobe (full interview coming soon), who created their showreel, Wonders Within. This is an exceptional example of what can be created with Cinema 4D in the medical arena (and I must add it's uniquely crafted like a movie title sequence).

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Wonders Within Title Sequence: A Reel from MadMicrobe from Joel Dubin on Vimeo.

Joel says he's "found Cinema 4D to be the perfect tool for medical animation, primarily for its ease of use and how intuitive the process of working with it is. In my many years in the business, Cinema 4D was the one 3D software package that I clicked with. It is geared to the way an artist's brain works but still allows you to dig deeper into the technical aspects of the software."

And for the medical animator, Joel is quick to laud Cinema 4D's powerful MoGraph toolset as it "allows one to quickly populate a scene or rig with dozens or even hundreds of objects with lots of control. For instance, a complex and dynamic blood flow shot can be set up in minutes by duplicating many blood cell models along a path using the MoGraph cloner object, and effectors can be added to achieve procedural animation without needing to create a single keyframe. The arsenal of deformers available allow me to generate organic amorphous forms, which are so common in medical animation, whether they be various cells, tumors, or blobby molecules."

At the MadMicrobe website, Joel introduced Microfloaties, which is an interesting rig made from MoGraph tools and Xpresso, allowing you to add floating particles to a scene, with full control. Do check it out, but please hit the 'donate' button if you find it useful.

If you work in medical visualization or have an interest in it, you might find Cinema 4D to have everything you need. There are certainly a lot of great examples of it in use. Be sure to have a look at a demo and see for yourself.

With every new release of Cinema 4D, there have been some major updates and incredible new features. The recently released R19 is no exception. The areas of modeling, MoGraph, animation and rendering saw huge improvements and excellent new features which I will address in an upcoming article.


There are several options available for Cinema 4D and are fairly straightforward - Prime for modelers, Broadcast for motion graphics, Visualize for architects, Bodypaint for texture artists, and Studio for the whole shebang. Plus, each of these come with tons of content specific to those areas, including scene set-ups, models, animated content, materials and textures. With Studio, of course, you get the whole lot. The price may be a bit steep if you're a hobbyist, but if your work led you to look for a complete 3D package, Cinema 4D is perfect. And there is financing available.

Of course, you'll want to test it out for yourself first. Just go here to the demo download page, fill out the form and select whether you want to try Cinema 4D or Bodypaint 3D.

There is a complete product comparison for each version of Cinema 4D R19 available at the Maxon website.

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