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CONTACT 01525 718181 www.maxon.net Cinema 4D R9 is unique in that it enables you to custom-build its feature-set with the help of modules. Unlike plug-ins, these programs give access to totally integrated feature sets in areas such as character animation, 3D painting and UV editing, rendering and dynamics.
The core application, Cinema 4D R9, costs a modest £499 and includes a full set of modelling and keyframing tools, as well as good basic rendering. The Studio Bundle on test here features all eight extra modules (Advanced Render R2, MOCCA R2, Thinking Particles, NET Render, Dynamics, BodyPaint 3D R2, PyroCluster R2, Sketch and Toon). The best thing about this modular system is that you can expand the program as and when budget allows, which is much more cost-effective.
In use, Cinema 4D feels halfway between a full-on, uncompromising 3D app such as Maya, and a more user-friendly low-end package. But this isn’t a criticism; it has the added benefit of combining a comfort zone for new users with the depth or access required by pros, without compromising either.
There are weaknesses, though, such as rendering, which we think lacks a certain something, as well as the flexibility of advanced raytracers such as Mental Ray. However, the default 16x geometry anti-aliasing delivers perfect edge results every time. There’s a lack of refinement and access to advanced rendering features, but the program has a very good multi-pass rendering solution that outputs layered Photoshop files, a highly straightforward rendering option.
The MOCCA character module broadens Cinema 4D’s scope. You could argue that Maya and XSI are better in absolute terms, but Cinema 4D does a better job of simplifying the process. Indeed, the usual horrors associated with bones and IK have largely been eradicated.
R9 introduces a new cloth engine, ClothHilde, which makes this task relatively easy and solves most problems, including collision and penetration. Results look good, too.
The built-in Xpresso system combines the power of expressions with the ease of use of a GUI, which gives access to this most useful of 3D tools to even the most non-program-savvy artist. It’s this feature that keeps Cinema 4D 9 one step ahead of the game.
Maxon has spent a lot of time making advanced 3D tools easy to use, and creating a consistent user-interface and workflow for both casual and advanced 3D artists. Features are one thing, but implementation is everything, and, as such, Cinema 4D R9 is the most accessible and usable of all the 3D packages on test here. VERDICT: 4.5/5 An excellent all-purpose 3D system that can tackle most 3D scenarios without making you jump through hoops. The program is well designed, stable and has growing support from third-party developers. Consistently strong across the board, too. CONCLUSION Cinema 4D R9 wins this Group Test because it has the most to offer for the widest range of 3D work. It’s as capable an architectural visualiser (offering some useful camera perspective tools) as a character animation tool, and the interface is easy on the eye, fast and eminently customisable. The default layouts are excellent, too.
Modelling and its associated workflow is particularly well configured. In addition to an excellent polygon modelling toolset, Cinema 4D also offers spline drawing tools, from which you can derive surfaces in the usual fashion (extrude, lathe, etc). These polygonal surfaces are generated “live”, affording a much greater degree of modelling history. With the Object Manager, you can also group so-called generators that produce geometry with deformers, such as Bend, FFD or Bones.
While not offering as deep a history scheme as Maya or Softimage XSI, the tight integration of all features means that you rarely run into conflicts when animating such hierarchical set-ups. In fact just about all parameters can be keyed, including those used to generate geometry in the first place. This offers a great deal of consistency throughout the program, regardless of the task you’re performing, providing a level playing field for newbies learning the app and pros finding a solution to a production problem.
With Cinema 4D R9, you can have multiple scenes open at once – a feature currently unavailable in any of the other apps on test. It’s a simple feature, but one that gives you lots of extra virtual working space. You can Cut and Paste between open files to modify an object in an empty scene file instead of in its main scene, which is extremely helpful if you’re working on complex jobs.
Overall, Cinema 4D R9 combines ease of use with powerful features and an elegant interface. </H1>