Thursday, September 1st, 2016 Posted by Jim Thacker

Maxon ships Cinema 4D R18

Originally posted on 25 July 2016. Scroll down for news of the commercial release.

Maxon has announced Cinema 4D R18, the next major update to its 3D modelling and animation software. The update, which is due to ship in September, will be on show at at Siggraph 2016.

Cinema 4D R18 divides new functionality fairly evenly between Cinema 4D’s key user groups – motion graphics, visual effects and generalist 3D – and adds a couple of features targeted at games work.

Highlights include some powerful new motion graphics tools like Voronoi shattering; new real-time knife tools; improved motion tracking for VFX work; and support for procedural textures in the Substance format.

Flexible Voronoi shattering inside MoGraph
The most eye-catching changes in Cinema 4D R18 are those to the MoGraph motion graphics toolset, with the biggest single new feature being the new Voronoi Fracture Object.

This enables users to pre-fracture meshes before running a destruction sim, and includes standard features like the option to offset fragments, and to assign separate materials to their interior and exterior faces.

However, it also provides a lot of ways to control the fragmentation pattern, including procedural functions, via a texture map, or by intersecting another object, spline – or even a matrix pattern – with the fracture geometry.

You can mix and match any of the methods to achieve very complex fracturing patterns; and it works with any of MoGraph’s Effectors.

New Push Apart effector and ReEffector
That list of Effectors now includes two new options: the Push Apart Effector, which moves, scales or hides clones automatically to prevent visible overlap in MoGraph animations; and the ReEffector.

Maxon describes the latter as being “like a layering system for Effector setups. [You can] use it as an eraser to restore the original state of MoGraph objects or group Effectors and control them with a single falloff”.

New grid options for the Cloner object, plus new MoGraph workflows
The Cloner object, which creates arrays of instanced geometry, also gets a couple of new options, including the option to set array spacing per step, meaning clones stay a fixed distance apart, no matter how many are added.

A new object Form option generates arrays in more complex custom forms: the video above shows a torus.

There is also a self-descriptive new honeycomb option, which looks useful for generating brickwork, and which includes the option to generate an array inside a spline outline.

There are also a number of workflow changes to the MoGraph toolset, including the option to control Effectors by painting weight maps; and to cache MoGraph set-ups in an external .mog file outside the main scene file.

Object motion tracking and shadow catchers
For visual effects artists, the motion tracking toolset introduced in Cinema 4D R16 has also been extended to reconstruct the motion of objects within video footage as well as that of the camera itself.

According to Maxon: “[Users can] add 2D User Tracks for key features of the object and assign them to the Object Tracker – then reconstruct the object based on just the tracks or with the help of reference geometry.”

To make it easier to composite 3D objects into video footage, there is also a new Shadow Catcher material, which renders the contact shadows cast by an object in an alpha channel.

New real-time knife tools
In the modelling toolset, the key changes in C4D R18 are the powerful-looking new knife tools, which enable users to cut chains of edges, edge loops or planes, or make spline cuts, generating complex forms quickly.

A range of Remove Part settings remove the geometry that has been cut away; and a profile spline can be assigned to cuts to control the form of their edges.

Other new modelling features include an optimised raycast algorithm for baking sculpts as displacement and normal maps, and the option to generate UV coordinates for multiple objects or hierarchies simultaneously.

Lots of interesting new shading options
Cinema 4D’s texturing and shading toolset gets a lot of interesting additions, including a new thin film shader, inverse ambient occlusion, parallax mapping, and an update to the Variation shader.

The thin film shader, the output of which can be seen in the video above, generates good-looking iridescent surfaces like bubbles and oil films.

‘Inverse AO’ – the first time we’ve heard the term – works like conventional AO, but shows the exposed edges within a scene rather than the crevices: useful for creating edge wear effects or subsurface scattering.

In addition, parallax mapping can be used to augment the effect of bump or normal maps; and the Variation shader, used to randomise objects within a scene, now supports “a nearly unlimited number of base textures”.

There is also a new workflow for editing the reflectance properties of multiple materials simultaneously, which you can see in action in this video.

Integration with Substance Engine
However, for anyone working in games – or in a mixed software pipeline – the key change in Cinema 4D R18’s texturing toolset will be integration with Allegorithmic’s Substance Engine.

Cinema 4D users can now import procedural textures in Allegorithmic’s games-industry-standard Substance format, and edit their exposed parameters directly inside C4D.

The update makes Cinema 4D the latest application to support Substances, alongside 3ds Max, Maya, Modo and Houdini, and the Unity, Unreal Engine and Lumberyard game engines.

Improved animation workflow
There are also a few updates to animation workflow, including an “improved” parent constraint. There aren’t many details on Maxon’s website, but you can see the results in the video above.

There is also a new Quaternion workflow designed to avoid gimbal lock; and a new Shift Priority tag, which enables users to adjust the editable priorities of groups of objects in one operation.

The latter can be used with referenced XRef objects without affecting the priorities of the original file.

In addition, Cinema 4D R18 joins 3ds Max, Maya, Houdini and Blender in supporting Pixar’s open-source OpenSubdiv subdivision surface libraries, enabing smoother playback of complex character animations.

Improved OpenGL display and workflow changes
In addition, there are a number of general architecture and workflow changes, including improved Alembic and FBX support, and support for the DDS texture file format used in a number of games.

The OpenGL viewport also gets support for reflections, screen-space ambient occlusion and displacement, providing a more sophisticated preview of complex scenes, along the lines of Maya’s Viewport 2.0.

Updated 1 September 2016: Cinema 4D R18 is now shipping for 64-bit Windows 7+ and Mac OS X 10.9.5+. Pricing ranges from $995 for the base Prime edition to $3,695 for the Studio edition.

Read a full list of new features in Cinema 4D R18 on Maxon’s website