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CINEMA 4D has for a long time been considered a dark horse in the 3D animation race. But really, this ‘small’ program has been keeping up during this long haul. It’s now up to version 11.5, which is just as many versions, if not more, than the older Maya, Max, and Houdini (I’d mention Softimage, but that went through some weird period akin to the Dark Ages after the destruction of the Library in Alexandria, so its timeline isn’t accurate). Furthermore, the evidence that some key developers have been creating plugins is indication enough that its still a condender’I mean, Thinking Particles? A key plug in for the destruction and dynamics in the film 2012? That’s not even available for Maya.

The 11.5 features are nothing new to the animation and visual effects field, but these additions and re-tooling results do keep this guy in the race. First, its renderer has been revamped to speed up render times, use multiple cores and utilize bucket-rendering for getting fast results on test frames or high-resolution frames for print. Sub-polygon displacement has also been accelerated.

MAXON enhanced its picture viewer, a.k.a. frame buffer, with some pretty cool features. A render history has been added for comparing renders (which Maya has, and Max has not). And, the RAM player supports sound.

CINEMA 4D is big in the design and motion graphics fields. Almost ubiquitous. I think part of that stems from its compatibility with compositing applications’more specifically Adobe After Effects, through MoGraph, which has had a version upgrade. The functionality now includes a physics-based dynamic system (MoDynamics), a polygon, sprite based particle system (PolyFX) and a system for cloning splines and supplementing the animation with forces and effectors.

On top of its power, however, CINEMA 4D is easy to pick up and start using. My 11-year old, who has been watching me model a dragon for the past three weeks, suddenly started watching tutorials for CINEMA 4D online. I installed it on his MacBook, and he’s already modeled an iPod after a day. Thank goodness I can fall back on my writing as my vfx job will soon be supplanted by sixth graders.


Price: $995, XL Bundle $2,495, Studio Bundle $3,695

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