Cinema ZD

Ah yes, if you didn’t notice, SIGGRAPH is still looming and reliably and predictably more news keep coming in – same procedure as every year, Miss Sophie! Today’s candidate is Cinema 4D, which adds yet another dimension – the Z-dimension as in ZBrush. Now granted, sculpting is all the rage everywhere, but in my world it’s the lowest of priorities. I’ve been known to occasionally fix some crooked converted meshes and smoothing out bumps and dents using sculpting tools in modo just as I doodle away on abstract displacment stuff like landscapes, but never anything that qwould require a full toolset. If I ever was serious about the matter, I would get ZBrush and that is that. Of course one can see the strategy behind this – with the tools in palce, future releases will be able to use them to paint in deformations on animated stuff like characters with bones or softbody simulation, so on some level it makes a lot of sense, but it’s just not something that I think will have much bearing on my work one way or another.

With obviously a good part of the development resources having gone into this, the other features and enhancements are all over the place, sometimes small, sometimes a bit bigger. The new snapping stuff looks interesting and is reminiscent of Illustrator‘s and InDesign‘s, but I’m still not sure if I ever will do detailed poly modeling this way. modo may have the worst snapping on the planet, but despite this deficiency, all the other stuff like action centers and a workplane that deserves this name (sorry, Maxon, try again!) will make up for it. It just feels – erm – snappier (no pun intended!).

The interchange stuff has yet once more been changed around and rather than using the AEC format now scenes are parsed directly to convert them to After Effects and even Photoshop‘s crooked 3D, Nuke support has been enhanced and what have you. Most relevant on my end is probably the introduction of a native world position pass which will go nicely together with the Pixel Cloud plug-in (if I ever decide to buy it, that is) plus of course the support for Alembic. That should help getting data from Cinema 4D to modo and render it there with deformations and other stuff intact plus of course it would be pretty useful for AtomKraft.

I can’t really make up my mind about the camera tracker, as it doesn’t seem to do moving stuff and looks awfully clunky to set up. Not sure if that is really that useful beyond some static arch viz. Even the one in Blender seems more sophisticated. Rendering has only received minor enhancements and it was quite predictable that they would port more stuff to the physical render core, but I guess it’s okay. If radiosity really has gained as much speed as they claim, it might actually start to become usable. We still need a better material system, though. The rest are some UI enhancements here and there, some refinements in the animation and dynamics tools, some workflow stuff, better OpenGL. All in all an okay version, though funnily this feels a lot like what Autodesk do with their upgrades and Cinema 4D users have been bashing that quite a bit (but then again, so does everybody). How things change….

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