Maxon ships Cinema 4D S24
Maxon has released Cinema 4D S24, its latest subscriber-only update to the 3D animation software, introducing a new asset browser and physics-enabled placement tools for scene layout and set dressing.
The update also adds a Scene Manager as a frontend for Cinema 4D’s new node-based core architecture, and improves character animation workflow.
The features will be rolled out to perpetual licence holders later in the year.
Latest subscriber-only release: features coming to perpetual licence holders later this year
As its new version numbering implies – the ‘S’ stands ‘subscription release’ – Cinema 4D S24 is the latest update to the software to be available purely to subscribers.
Maxon moved heavily towards subscriptions with the new unified product pricing rolled out with 2019’s Cinema 4D R21, although perpetual licences are still available.
If the firm sticks to the schedule it established last year, the features from Cinema 4D S24 will become available to users with perpetual licences as part of a second update, Cinema 4D R25, early this fall.
New physics-enabled placement tools for scene layout and set dressing
Key changes in Cinema 4D S24 include the new placement tools, intended to speed up the process of scene layout and set dressing for visual effects and animation work.
The Placement Tool itself automatically snaps objects dragged into the viewport to existing surfaces in the scene, with options to align them to a particular axis, or offset them from the surface.
The Dynamic Placement Tool is similar, with the twist that a built-in physics system simulates the effect of gravity and collisions between objects as they are placed, enabling them to stack or clump naturally.
Finally, the new Scatter Pen paints instances of an object across surfaces, with parameters to control spacing and variation, as in many dedicated environment design tools.
New Asset Browser with more advanced tagging, versioning and dependency management
The update also overhauls Cinema 4D’s Asset Browser in ways that should help artists working on complex scenes, or when handing off scenes to other users in a production pipeline.
Users can add their own custom keyword tags to assets for use in searches, with the option to save the results of common searches into dynamically updated folders.
Each asset is displayed with ‘rich metadata’, from basic stats like point and polygon counts to a list of the assets’s dependencies, like texture maps or renderers like Redshift.
The new Asset Browser also comes with built-in versioning capabilities, making it possible to track changes to an asset, or roll it back instantly to a previous version.
Users can also choose to insert assets as objects, instances or references when adding them to a scene.
In addition, Cinema 4D’s asset libraries no longer have to be downloaded in their entirety before use: the files are now hosted in the cloud, with users clicking on thumbnails in the UI to download individual assets.
New Scene Manager provides a user-friendly frontend to Cinema 4D’s new node-based architecture
Cinema 4D’s new node-based core architecture – originally codenamed Project Neutron, and still officially a tech preview – has also continued to evolve.
The initial public release, in Cinema 4D R23, introduced a new Scene Nodes system, intended primarily for procedural modelling and creating motion graphics set-ups.
In Cinema 4D S24, it is joined by a new Scene Manager, described by Maxon as the “spiritual successor to Cinema 4D’s Classic Object Manager”.
It should make the new architecture more user-friendly for non-technically minded artists, even making it possible to avoid wiring nodes together entirely if you want.
Instead, users can group or edit objects via a conventional tree view and modifier stack, with Cinema 4D automatically translating any changes made into a corresponding node graph.
Existing Cinema 4D objects can be converted for use within the new architecture by dragging them from the Object Manager to the Scene Manager.
Maxon has also added 45 more Scene Nodes, ranging from utility features to new nodes for selecting, modifying and distributing geometry.
Further improvements to animation workflow, plus a new readymade car rig
The software’s animation tools have also been updated, following a fairly major overhaul in Cinema 4D R23.
The most visible change is the new Car Rig, shown in the video above, which makes it possible to animate vehicles simply by animating them along a spline.
Cinema 4D then generates secondary motion and the rotation of the wheels automatically.
However, the main structural change is to the way that tangent interpolation is evaluated for keyframes.
According to Maxon group product manager Rick Barrett, it should make the animation curves Cinema 4D generates “much more like the user would expect. You could get into some very weird curves before”.
Other changes include support for FXAA antiasing in the viewport, while the Windows viewport has been ported to DirectX, following the port of the Mac viewport to Metal last year.
Updates to Redshift integration and Magic Bullet Looks
Cinema 4D S24 also updates the software’s integration with two of its sister products.
The process of setting up scenes for rendering in Redshift is now simpler, with a new Basic tab providing access to the most common settings, although the advanced controls are still available.
In addition, the version of Red Giant’s looks and color grading tool Magic Bullet Looks integrated into the software has now been updated from version 3 to version 5, the latest release.
Pricing and availability
Cinema 4D S24 is available for Windows 10 and macOS 10.14.6+, but Maxon recommends macOS 10.15.7+.
The update is only available to users with active subscriptions, which start at $94/month for Cinema 4D alone, or $116/month including the Redshift renderer.
New perpetual licences cost $3,495, with the new features in S24 due to become available to perpetual licence holders via a separate update later this year.