CINEMA 4D is a commercial cross platform high-end 3D graphics application produced by MAXON Computer GmbH of Friedrichsdorf, Germany. It is capable of procedural and polygonal/subd modeling, animating, lighting, texturing and rendering, and is noted for being very easy to use and artist friendly among high end 3D applications and having a very flexible interface.
CINEMA 4D is a popular 3D application amongst matte painters
largely due to the BodyPaint 3D functionality and is equally popular amongst motion graphics
artists thanks to an excellent integration with compositing
application pipelines coupled with a very artist-friendly and customizable workflow and interface. It has been utilized for films such as We Are the Strange
, Polar Express
, Open Season
and Monster House
The application relies on widely used computer 3D technology which works by creating groups of "points" (known as vertices) which form surfaces when connected. The illusion of three dimensions is created by modeling objects out of multiple surfaces. Still pictures, movies and game environments (among other things) can be created with this technique.
CINEMA 4D has its own runtime scripting and programming language C.O.F.F.E.E. which is rather similar in form to JScript and an advanced modern C++ API with extensive SDK to develop platform independent plug-ins.
Four different packages have been released by MAXON: the core CINEMA 4D application, the XL-Bundle (including NET Render [3 licenses], PyroCluster, Advanced Render, MOCCA and Thinking Particles), the Studio Bundle, which includes all modules, and the Production Bundle, which comes with a service contract, Linux version, Renderman support and a number of other high-end studio-specific features. This version is only available upon request.
Initially, CINEMA 4D was developed for Amiga computers in the early nineties but has since been released for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows.
MAXON has created a way for all users to be able to 'get into' 3D with their software by pursuing this route. Training DVD in addition to install DVD for R10: More than 6GB of video tutorials in German or English. MAXON bundles HTML manuals and tutorials/videos with its software. New in release 10 are context sensitive help menus.
CINEMA 4D has been embraced by the Adobe After Effects community because of C4D's external compositing tags and object IDs which make exporting 3D data and separate alpha and depth information efficient and simple. Because the export feature also supports Apple's Final Cut Pro and other popular software, it fits well into several post production studio configurations.
As well as the core application (for modeling, texturing, lighting and rendering), CINEMA 4D also has several add-on programs (modules) available that expand its capabilities.
These programs include:
- Advanced Render (global illumination/HDRI, caustics, ambient occlusion and sky simulation)
- BodyPaint 3D (direct painting on UVW meshes)
- With CINEMA 4D R10 the module BodyPaint 3D became integrated in the basic package
- Dynamics (for simulating soft body and rigid body dynamics)
- HAIR (simulates hair, fur, grass, etc.)
- MOCCA (character animation and cloth simulation)
- MoGraph (Motion Graphics procedural modeling and animation toolset)
- NET Render (to render animations over a TCP/IP network in render farms)
- PyroCluster (simulation of smoke and fire effects)
- With CINEMA 4D R10 the module PyroCluster became integrated in the Advanced Render module
- Sketch & Toon (tools for cel shading, cartoons and technical drawings)
- Thinking Particles (enhanced particle system based on nodes)
Additional rendering engines
As-of 2007, these alternate rendering engines / connections are currently available for CINEMA 4D as plug-ins:
- Christian and Philip Losch enter their raytracer into Kickstart magazine's monthly programming contest and win the competition.
- FastRay (CINEMA 4D's first name) is released for the Amiga.
- CINEMA 4D V1 is released for Amiga.
- Release of CINEMA 4D V2 for Amiga.
- Release of CINEMA 4D V3 for Amiga.
- Plans are made for porting CINEMA 4D to the PC platform.
- New programmer team begins development of a completely new operating system independent architecture.
- CINEMA 4D V4 for Windows, Alpha NT and Macintosh is released.
- The first multi-processor version of CINEMA 4D is made available.
- The development of a production-level version begins, integrating the latest technologies.
- The first production-worthy version is released — CINEMA 4D XL V5.
- CINEMA 4D SE V5 is released.
- CINEMA 4D GO V5 and CINEMA 4D NET are introduced.
- CINEMA 4D XL V6 is released.
- BodyPaint 3D is made available as an integrated version for CINEMA 4D and standalone version for other 3D packages.
- CINEMA 4D ART is introduced.
- PyroCluster and Dynamics modules are introduced.
- CINEMA 4D XL R7 is shipped worldwide.
- MAXON integrates the shader set Smells like Almonds from bhodiNUT.
- CINEMA 4D R8 is released with a modular system. The new modules are Advanced Render, PyroCluster, MOCCA and Thinking Particles.
- CINEMA 4D R8.5 is relased.
- BodyPaint 3D R2 is introduced.
- Sketch and Toon module is introduced.
- CINEMA 4D R9 is released.
- Maxon become the first high-end 3D vendor to release a 64-bit version of their software with CINEMA 4D R9 64.
- CINEMA 4D R9.5 is released.
- HAIR module is introduced.
- CINEMA 4D R9.6 is released.
- MoGraph module is introduced.
- CINEMA 4D R10 with integrated BodyPaint 3D is released.
- CINEMA 4D becomes the first 3D/professional graphics application released as a Universal Binary for Apple's new Intel-powered Macs (even before Apple Universal Binary versions of its own software are released).
- Service update R10.1 is released in March as a result of bug feedback that users and testers have provided to Maxon.
- Service update R10.111 released to address several reported problems, such as stability.
- CINEMA 4D R10.5 is released and features updates to MOCCA and MoGraph as well as an optimization of the HAIR module.
- CINEMA 4D now supports 64 bit on Apple G5 and Intel powered Macs.
- A new implementation of Global Illumination (included in the Advanced Render module) offers a higher quality than the old version and a much improved animation support.
- Non Linear Animation has been completely reworked.
- The Renderman support (CINEMAN) is now included in AR.