Tuesday, April 21st, 2020 Posted by Jim Thacker

Maxon ships Cinema 4D S22

Maxon has released Cinema 4D S22, its first subscriber-only update to the 3D animation software, overhauling its UV toolset, rolling out its new viewport architecture, and reinstating the GoZ bridge to ZBrush.

The features, which were announced during the keynote for Maxon’s virtual NAB 2020 event, will be rolled out to perpetual licence holders later in the year.

First subscriber-only release of Cinema 4D launches a new update cycle
As its new version numbering implies – the ‘S’ stands ‘subscription release’ – Cinema 4D S22 is the first update to the software available purely to subscribers.

The firm moved heavily towards subscriptions with the new unified product pricing rolled out with last year’s Cinema 4D R21, although perpetual licences are still available.

Maxon describes the release as providing “early access” to new features, with perpetual licence holders getting access to them via a larger update later this year: presumably Cinema 4D R22.

Updated 9 September 2020: It’s actually Cinema 4D R23. More details here.

That suggests a new twice-yearly update schedule, with subscriber-only spring updates joining Maxon’s regular major annual updates, which usually ship early in the fall.

UVs: new automated UV unwrapping and packing system
Given that it’s only half a year since R21 shipped, the online changelog for Cinema 4D S22 is shorter than for previous major updates, although it includes some significant features.

Foremost among those is an overhaul of the software’s ageing UV unwrapping tools: something that users have been calling for for several releases now.

The headline change is a new automated UV unwrapping and UV packing system based on Quel Solaar’s games-focused Ministry of Flat technology, which is also available as a standalone tool.

Quel Solaar describes its algorithms as ‘thinking’ like an artist, with the system detecting “over 20 different types of topologies” and approaching each one differently.

In its Cinema 4D implementation, it looks to generate topologically sensible UV seam placements and efficient UV packing, at least in the relatively simple hard-surface model shown in the video above.

UVs: improved display of UV seams and islands, new iterative UV unwrapping workflow
There are also a number of general improvements to the way that Cinema 4D handles UVs, including more consistent workflow between the UV Editor and 3D viewport.

A new “unified 3D and UV polygon mode” makes it possible to modify both geometry and UV elements, with edits displaying in both of the views.

Users can set custom colours for UV seams or islands – seams also now display in the 3D viewport – and there are colour-coded overlays displaying overlap between islands and UV distortion.

For manual unwrapping, the update introduces a new iterative workflow.

Users can run successive UV unwrap, weld and relax operations to control the form of the UV islands generated, with the option to use UV Pins to fix UV points between operations.

Islands can be repacked at any point using the new UV packing algorithm to minimise wasted UV space.

3D viewport: full support for Metal on macOS, improved handling of instances
Other key changes in Cinema 4D S22 include the debut of Maxon’s new viewport core architecture.

Although it still uses OpenGL on Windows, it also supports Apple’s Metal GPU compute framework, made necessary by Apple’s decision to deprecate support for OpenGL in macOS in 2018.

According to Maxon, the key benefit is performance, particularly in scenes with multi-instances.

However, there is a longish list of other impovements, including better handling of hair, transparency, colour gradients, noise, HDRIs and Cinema 4D’s Physical Sky.

Pipeline integration: glTF export, GoZ bridge reinstated, export of baked nodal materials
Pipeline changes include support for the glTF format for exchanging data with real-time 3D applications, increasingly being supported in other DCC and AR authoring tools.

The GoZ bridge to ZBrush, broken by the Cinema 4D R20 update, has also been reinstated.

Cinema 4D can also now generate baked representations of the new nodal materials introduced in Cinema 4D R20 when exporting assets in FBX format for rendering in third-party render engines.

The baked materials are also supported in Maxon’s Cineware integrations for After Effects and Illustrator.

In addition, Cinema 4D’s Substance engine, used for importing and editing procedural materials in Adobe’s Substance format, now supports texture resolutions up to 8,192 x 8,192px at 16- or 32-bit depth.

Other changes: new modelling and licence management features
There are also a number of smaller, but workflow-improving, changes to the modelling tools, particularly when extruding or bridging geometry, and to loop and ring selection.

Outside the software itself, studios with volume licences can now assign licences to individual users or to groups within their MyMaxon accounts, making it easier to manage floating licences.

Pricing and availability
Cinema 4D S22 is available for Windows 10 and macOS 10.13.6+, although Maxon recommends macOS 10.15.

The update is only available to users with active subscriptions, which start at $94.99/month for Cinema 4D alone, or $116.99/month including the Redshift renderer.

New perpetual licences cost $3,495, with the new features in S22 due to become available to perpetual licence holders via a separate update later this year.

Read an overview of the new features in Cinema 4D S22 on the product website

Read a full list of new features in Cinema 4D S22 in the online changelog