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SIGGRAPH: Cinema 4D Release 9

Maxon's latest and greatest: PART 1 By Ko Maruyama
Maxon Computer has frequently used the SIGGRAPH convention to announce its newest offerings, and this year was no exception, with the announcement of RELEASE 9, code-named "Hydrogen." This integer release has some long-awaited features for character animators, as well as some tools to help the rest of us work more efficiently.

Workflow

Cinema 4D has been a favorite tool of motion graphic designers for several years. Working on both Mac and PC, it is one of the few professional-level 3D applications that designers can jump into and achieve desired results quickly.  It has been the obvious choice for After Effects designers, as it allows for the direct export to an After Effects project file, making an intelligent crossover between the applications.

In C4D Release 9, export is no longer confined to Adobe After Effects.  The new version of Cinema 4D will also export to Discreet Combustion.  With Combustion also available on both Mac and PC, you won't have to give up your favorite platform or 2D compositor to use Cinema 4D.



Cinema 4D now also contains export options for Apple's Final Cut Pro. That means editors who work with Cinema 4D editorial materials can immediately import compositions from Multi-pass renders. This will streamline the workflow from Cinema's 3D production to non-linear editing.



In the latest version of Cinema 4D, users will be able to implement NxN Alienbrain management utilities to make collaborative work efficient and manageable. Although Alienbrain Studio's Server requires a Windows server to host it, the Java Client will run under Mac OSX or Linux.  Now a team of Cinema4D r.9 artists can work on a project, tracking files, notes, versions, source materials and more -- sharing progress with compositors and producers within one organized environment.

 

Now that Cinema can deliver to other applications more easily, Maxon has introduced new tools to help you work faster within the application.  Although the previous version boasted lockable and unlockable detachable menu windows, Release 9 will help to minimize the clutter of tool menus and attribute windows by allowing access to a heads-up display for project information (both scene and object).  Additionally, a global popup puts frequently used commands at your mouse tip.

Shortcut Keys
I love working with shortcut keys. Unfortunately, there are a limited number of CMD-key, CMD-SHIFT-key, and CMD-OPTION-CTRL-SHIFT-keys that you can work with. In Release 9, a two-key shortcut system opens up a massive library of options, within reach of one hand.

HUD
The Heads Up Display, or HUD, allows you to put contextual menus within your compositing/modeling viewport that not only describe specific aspects of your scene, but also allow you to reach into certain aspects of those parameters displayed in the HUD.



HUD allow for sliding values to be active within certain parameters.  (Below the Current Frame  HUD allows for the timeline to be scrubbed, or on double-click, a "go to frame" value to be entered) But it's not limited to that alone.





HUD also allows for the addition of different parameters from almost every attribute not only to be displayed and edited on screen, but also for values to be changed and keyframes set quickly with sliders and keyframe icons (plus you can delete keyframes or entire tracks) directly from within the workspace.  Now you can eliminate your windowed menu system in order to use the entire screen as your composition window.




New MOCCA
Character animators will find new tools at their disposal in R9.  Several versions ago, Cinema4D allowed for IK, boning, and character plugins.  It later added MOCCA to its lineup, supporting character animators with tools to allow for easy rigging, soft IK, PoseMixer and more. In R9, MOCCA adds another IK feature: Hard IK.

With tools to evade gimbal lock, even within complex character rigs including multiple IK targets, C4D R9 will allow you to setup your characters quickly and easily.

Hard IK isn't the only addition to MOCCA, and it's not nearly the coolest. Motion Blending in Cinema4D Release 9 will allow even the most novice animators to dive into intricate animations quickly.


Motion keyframes are now easier to set up with Motion Blending.  Within MOCCA, you can create smooth transitions between different motion setups.  You can also retarget animations between different rigs, allowing complex setups to be shared by different subjects within your scene.

Cloth Simulation: Clothilde
Clothing may make the man, but cloth can make the character. Clothilde is Cinema 4D's newest cloth simulator.  Much easier and quite different from the soft bodies of dynamics, Clothilde is simple to set up and employs a "Dress-O-Matic" function, allowing the cloth simulation to interact with both itself and the character's animation. 



Falling cloth


Although the Clothilde work primarily through a system of tags to help define cloth and collision, with clothNURBS allowing greater subdivision at the time of render, vertex mapping allows for an even more specific and complex control over the cloth simulations.

Ngons
No longer restricted to triangular and rectangular poly creation, modelers will chop, slice and dice like never before. The new tool allows for a live interactive view before you commit to any editorial decision, giving modelers choices over points, polys, edge loops and belt selections for greater, more precise control.

From the largest workflow improvements to the smallest details, Maxon shows here that it listens to users, implementing tools that will help you bring your project to life from concept to completion. Current users would be remiss to wait for an upgrade.   New users will find that Cinema 4D fits into their current workflow seamlessly, allowing them to assimilate 3D software into their production schedule.

In my next installment, I'll post more tidbits from this new release.  There are so many different tools introduced in this release, it is like a completely new application. Due in a just a few weeks, Cinema 4D Release 9 is being eagerly anticipated by new and seasoned users alike.

For a free demo of Cinema 4D Release 9, visit the Maxon Website.  Also included at the website are various file resources, news items, stories by users and several helpful tutorials for previous versions of Cinema4D.

If you order the full version of Cinema 4D 8.5 before it comes out (or as of August 1, 2004), you will receive a free upgrade to Cinema9 when it releases in September.  If you're in North America, contact Raffi in the Newbury Park offices by calling 1-877-ANIMATE.

Thanks to Josh Miller and Kai Pedersen for all of their help and excellent demos at the show. Josh is  a key software specialist at Maxon Computer in California.  Kai is a beta tester and power user of Cinema4D. You can find Kai's books available at Charles River Media.  His next book, featuring Cinema4D, Release 9 is due out soon. Kai's book on Character Design and Animation is currently available through the Charles River website.



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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
Related Keywords:cinema4D, Maxon, Release 9, 3D Software, Siggraph, Hydrogen

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