As it had been some time since I had tried Cinema 4D, I was curious to see how much had changed, especially since the last version I used was release 11.5. Cinema 4D's ease of use is renowned, and even with extensive annual updates, it is apparent that you can dive right back in and create great looking content while learning the new features. Granted, there is a lot to learn, but Cinema 4D just always seemed a lot less intimidating to pick up on than any other 3D program I've tried.
There have certainly been a lot of major features added into Cinema 4D since I used version 11.5, like the sculpting toolset, which I found works incredibly well. But, looking at Cinema 4D R19, as compared to the features introduced in just the previous version, R19 is nothing less than astounding. Not only the new features, but foundational changes like a new modeling core, shows that Maxon is committed to making Cinema 4D the best it can be well into the future.
My Favorite Features in Cinema 4D R19
Voronoi Fracture is an exciting addition to the MoGraph toolset that was first unveiled in R18, where you can quickly and easily fracture any object or text. With the updates in Cinema 4D R19 you have much more control of how the fracture looks and functions. With Geometry Glue, you can essentially glue some fracture pieces together so that the fracture doesn't look uniform, and add in new options in the detailing tab for the individual fractured pieces, which gives you a much more realistic looking fracture. Voronoi fracture is so much fun to work with, and with an incredible amount of options, the results are really fantastic.
There is also a great new Sound Effector in the MoGraph toolset of Cinema 4D R19 that is very welcome. The Sound Effector allows you to essentially use the frequencies in an audio file to drive animation. Again, you get plenty of control with this update, so you can precisely fine-tune your animation in regards to the strength of the effect and can do amazing things with even object coloring. Being able to actually visualize the frequencies in the sound file and adding selections, or 'probes', to precisely select the areas of the audio file to drive specific parts of an animation is incredible. Using several Sound Effectors linked to the same audio file really opens up your options. I love this feature.
If you're into creating VR content, the new Spherical Camera makes possible dome renders and 360° VR stereoscopic imagery. I've only recently become interested in VR, but the tools for this available now in Cinema 4D R19 have me excited to delve more into it.
The viewport has been greatly improved, to the point it is almost as good as the final render. It's important to be able to get an accurate look at your scene prior to render, and to now see things like reflectance and depth of field right within the viewport is fantastic, not to mention a huge time-saver.
Speaking of time-saving, there is a new Level of Detail object in R19 that will help in viewport render speed. Basically, when using the LOD object, whatever is further from the camera is automatically of a lower polygon count until the camera gets closer in. Also, the new Polygon Reduction generator works really fast at reducing vertex count while preserving proper texture mapping.
There's been extensive work done under the hood of Cinema 4D R19, as there is a new Modeling Core with better support for N-gons. Also, a new Media Core now natively supports more file formats, most notably MP4, so you no longer need Quicktime (YAY!).
A small, but really cool thing that I think all software should have, is that all of the new features are now highlghted, so you can explore the new stuff right away. And once you've explored, you can easily turn this feature off in preferences.
Aside from the new features I was stoked about, there's so much more. You can check out the full list of features here.
What's Not To Love?
I've found I'm still in love with Cinema 4D's user interface. Everything is logically arranged and represented. From the visual object and tool flyouts to the ease of switching up the layout, it's all still very easy to grasp, with just a little work. And, the integrated help system is the best I've seen, as a right-click on a tool will take you right to the info you need. Plus, there are plenty of tutorials and project files within the help system to speed learning.
What you don't find in the help system, the huge user community for Cinema 4D eagerly provides. From Maxon's own Cineversity website, to folks like Greyscale Gorilla, who really do a stellar job of sharing tips and tutorials on Cinema 4D, the help is out there...everywhere. Incidentally, I must mention that Greyscale Gorilla published an excellent, comprehensive getting started course, which is absolutely free. It comprises a set learning course plus a bonus set of videos for a highly detailed specific project.
While you can accomplish anything with the many tools in Cinema 4D, my favorite is still the MoGraph toolset. There simply isn't anything like it in any other 3D suite on the market, and it certainly has gotten a whole lot better. For many, MoGraph is a dream, and offers super fast and complex animation possibilities, with the slightest of effort.
One thing that's so important for anyone working in 3D is stability. A crash while you're working can be devastating. In my evaluation of Cinema 4D I've not experienced any freezes or crashes. None way back when, and none now. And this has been the consensus of artists that I've spoken with who use it daily - Cinema 4D is, indeed, rock solid. With the user in mind, Maxon vigorously beta tests their software before delivery, so you know you are getting a solid product. Seriously... it seems even the heaviest of updates don't shake it.
Cinema 4D's logical and intuitive interface, massive toolset, and comfort in use, in my opinion, all play a major part in making it a great choice for anyone looking to get started in 3D work. Maxon continues to deliver great new features in a solid build, all while keeping the user in mind. If you haven't yet checked out Cinema 4D R19, I highly recommend it. And, as a side note, if you have an interest in medical illustration, you might enjoy my earlier article, How Cinema 4D Became a Primary Tool of Medical Illustrators.
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.