R16 in da House

After sorting out the mess with the missing parcel and helping out a friend to work out some technical issues on an animation he is working on the last few days, I finally had a chance to play around with Cinema 4D R16 a bit. Naturally, I didn’t have much time to go to deep and and merely toyed with the more obvious features. As I wrote when they announced the new version I was skeptical and that opinion still stands.

I will not argue some of the merits of many of the small enhancements to some tools and features – having falloffs on most deformers doesn’t hurt and makes things more consistent, having extraneous points auto-killed in the Symmetry object may avoid messy weld seams and being able to combine Hair and Sketch & Toon directly may open up some possibilities to design new graphical, abstract looks, but somehow it still feels like stuff that they should have done five years ago at least. They will be useful in everyday production, but the changes seem too insignificant for a major version and one can’t shake the feeling that some of this could have been part of one of their bugfix releases.

The Reflectance material stuff is interesting, but feels a bit overdone, which ultimately will make this a bitch to master, especially since the differences really often only show up in a test render. On a whole, though, it’s nice to see that Maxon actually did their homework and we are moving to physically-based/ -plausible shading. Let’s hope they’ll keep following that path and work on better sub-surface scattering and transparencies as well. In the modelling department of course the pen tool is noteworthy. It’s actually better than I thought, though I have yet to put it to test on mending botched high poly count stuff like CAD imports. On a similar note, while last year’s renewed Bevel tool didn’t get me excited because the spoiled little brat that I am I had enjoyed all this stuff for quite a while in modo already for like 7 years, having it as a deformer is quite handy. I like to keep my stuff procedural and this might be useful for creating some parametric gears or pimping my Les Blocs.

Speaking of gears, the new cogwheel spline gets a big fail mark. Seriously, I haven’t come across any such ridiculous gears actually being used in any of the machines I worked on the last 15 years. Maybe this can be used to create fancy motion graphics porn, but for “serious” engineering stuff it’s not of much use. I feel similarly about some of the stuff shown in the promo trailer like the parametric window generator. Once you actually get to see it you realize that it’s merely some XPresso and MoGraph and not even particularly elaborate or sophisticated. It just doesn’t look real and I’d never actually use it and I’m sure when you get into ISO and DIN or whatever building codes, you realize even more how limited it is. The same is true for other stuff like the animatable diagrams and so on…

Did I actually mention that the promo trailer, while making these things look exciting by only giving brief glimpses, caused much laughing? Some called it the worst piece of motion graphics they had seen in a while and I’m inclined to agree. Seems like the company that claims leadership in that market couldn’t actually find a reasonably talented intern to do it. ’nuff said! ;-)

Of course all of this is preliminary and totally biased and only longer-term testing can reveal the truth. I’ll have to try to pimp one of my CAD scenes with the Reflectance stuff and most definitely I will need to give the motion tracker a whirl. It will also be interesting to see whether or not people will actually get into using Team Render after running for the hills and reverting back to R14 and Net Render when R15 proved less than reliable…

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