Friday, September 1st, 2017 Posted by Jim Thacker

Maxon ships Cinema 4D R19

Originally posted on 31 July 2017. Scroll down for news of the commercial release.

Maxon has unveiled Cinema 4D R19, the new version of its modelling, animation and rendering software, improving viewport display quality, adding new level of detail tools, and extending the MoGraph toolset.

The release, which is being demoed at Siggraph 2017, also features two long-term development projects: the ongoing modernisation of the core architecture, and the start of integration of AMD’s Radeon ProRender.

Viewport: support for screen-space reflections and real-time depth of field
One focus of the update is the viewport, which gets support for screen-space reflections and depth of field, on top of the screen-space ambient occlusion and displacement added in Cinema 4D R18.

The results look pretty good – check out the real-time Bokeh effects shown in the video above – with Maxon describing the results as “so close to the final render” that they can be outputted as client previews.

Game art tools: polygon reduction, new Level of Detail object
The release also builds on the integration of Substance Engine in Cinema 4D R18, adding more tools targeted towards games artists: in this case, a polygon reduction system and a new Level of Detail object.

The former works in a similar way to poly reduction tools in other DCC applications, with the option to adjust the density of the resulting geometry via a percentage Reduction Strength setting or absolute vertex count.

As you would expect, the process also preserves vertex maps, UV coordinates and Selection tags.

The Level of Detail object (above) is interesting, since it seems as much geared towards optimising scenes in Cinema 4D itself as creating LoD assets for use in games – although you can indeed export in FBX format.

Users can set different geometry reduction levels and shading types for each level of detail, as well as whether assets display deformations or animations when viewed at that level.

Assets then switch automatically between levels of detail according to their distance to the camera.

A new Manual Groups mode can also be used to hide detail models entirely above a certain distance, so that they ‘pop in’ when navigating the scene, in the same way that they would in a game.

Motion graphics: more controllable Voronoi shattering, new Sound Effector
Cinema 4D’s MoGraph motion graphics toolset also gets an update building on the Voronoi shattering system introduced in R18, with new options to refine the resulting fracture pattern.

These include new prefracture transformations replicating “wood splinters and crystal structures”, and the option to glue fracture pieces together so that they remain connected during dynamics simulations.

Pieces also now support displacement on interior faces, making the broken edges appear more realistic.

The update also introduces a new Sound Effector, designed to enable users to create motion graphics driven by audio tracks, including the option to drive effects based in specific frequencies or volumes.

There doesn’t appear to be a video of the toolset itself in action, but you can see the type of results that can be achieved in the demo above.

Other toolsets: improved character rigging and camera tracking, new VR camera
Other new features in Cinema 4D R19 include support for pose space deformation, enabling users to create corrective morphs driven by joint animation to fix character rigging artifacts.

The system for painting skin weights has also been improved, with a new algorithm for mirroring weights from one side of a model to another, and better normalisation and smoothing in the Weighting Tool.

For visual effects work, the camera tracking toolset gets new options to specify whether tracks use an individual RGB channel of the source footage or the full luminance value.

There is also a new Scene Reconstruction system, which generates a point cloud or full geometry based on tracked features, generating a 3D representation of the real-world environment semi-automatically.

For virtual reality work, a new spherical camera enables users to render 360-degree footage in equirectangular, cubic string, cubic cross or 3×2 cubic format.

The camera also supports stereo rendering with pole smoothing to minimize distortion.

There are also a number of smaller new features and workflow improvements, particularly to the way that Cinema 4D handles complex object hierarchies. You can find a full list via the link at the foot of the story.

Under the hood: revamped media and modelling core architectures
The ongoing process of updating Cinema 4D’s core architecture also continues in Cinema 4D R19, in the shape of the revamped media core and new modelling core.

The former improves speed and memory efficiency when loading or playing back audio or video; and adds native support for MP4, meaning Windows users no longer have to reply on the now-deprecated QuickTime.

The latter is less fully exposed in R19, and really just means reworked algorithms for the Align Normals and Reverse Normals commands, described as “better [able to] handle N-gons and surface attributes”

In addition, the aging BodyPaint 3D toolset gets a new OpenGL-based 3D painting engine – we wrote about it in detail when Maxon previewed it last year – and there are a few workflow improvements to UV editing.

Initial integration of AMD’s GPU-based Radeon ProRender render engine
The release also marks the initial integration of Radeon ProRender, AMD’s OpenCL-based GPU render engine, into Cinema 4D.

While there are already Radeon ProRender plugins for 3ds Max and Maya – and, more recently, Blender – Maxon is the first major DCC tools developer to integrate Radeon ProRender natively.

Work is set to continue over several release cycles, but ProRender currently supports Cinema 4D’s “standard materials, lights and cameras”, and both interactive preview rendering (above) and final-quality output.

There’s also at least one feature that seems to be unique to the Cinema 4D version: a firefly filter designed to eliminate to the bright pixels commonly generated as artefacts by path tracing renderers of this type.

Pricing and availability
Updated 1 September 2017: Cinema 4D R19 is now shipping for 64-bit Windows 7+ and macOS 10.11.6+. Prices ranges from $995 for the Prime edition to $3,695 for the Studio edition. See a comparison table.

Note that several of the new features in R19, including the Level of Detail object, spherical camera, improved motion tracking, new MoGraph features, and ProRender, are only available in the higher-end editions.

Read a full list of new features in Cinema 4D R19 in Maxon’s online changelog

Visit the Cinema 4D R19 product website