The contender has got on its boxing gloves with features for animators, FX, and finishing.
Maxon has been making the most of its pandemic. The company’s engineers have been hunkered down and developing. The company’s development teams for Redshift and Red Giant are putting out new releases and according to Maxon’s Head of Community and Customer Experience, Paul Babb, they are working together as a Maxon family. The end result is the Cinema 4D R24 release, which brings new features and expands C4D’s use across a wider user base. Contributions from Red Giant and Red Shift have given the company a leg up on that front.
In general news, Maxon is putting together a package of its products called Maxon One which includes Cinema 4D R23, Redshift, and Red Giant for $1,200 USD per year. The company says that’s a $400 savings over buying each one separately. The company also has an update deal for subscribers, which they can find out about in their My Maxon accounts.
During the company’s 3D Motion Show introduction for IBC, CEO David McGavran said of the new updates and the combined packaging: This is the beginning of our journey to bring our products closer and closer together and the technology will make it much easier for our customers to use all our tools. Login with Maxon ID to get available to it all.
Maxon also announced that they’re receiving a $200,000 grant to help them in their work creating an integrated workflow between the Unreal Engine and C4D.
As the virtual IBC takes place during the second week of September 2020, Maxon is unveiling its new R23, along with fun, instructional videos from its large stable of trainers and professional users. The new release shows signs of considerable work and rethinking. As you’ll remember, Maxon has gone to a schedule of releases that supports both subscribers and perpetual license holders. Its last release was around the NAB time frame with Cinema 4DS S22. We wrote about it here. The S means the release is a subscriber release so subscribers get a shot at new features sooner. This latest release is labeled R and means it’s for all customers and it has some extra goodies, and some features debuted in S22 have been enhanced.
Significantly Cinema 4D R23 is continuing to meet ongoing customer requests—not the least of which is to bring its animation tools up to be more competitive with those from Autodesk and Adobe. Maxon’s animation system has gotten significant improvements, many of which make the processes easier including rigging, posing, retargeting, skinning, and working with timelines. But, Maxon has also added on to its character animation tools including the powerful Toon Rig.
One of the consistent themes of the Maxon’s animation improvements is let no work go to waste. New features enable the reuse of poses and animations.
Pose Library: Maxon has introduced a new post library that lets users store, recall, and blend character poses as scene independent assets. You can save animations and apply them to other characters and objects.
By the way, the ability to save poses has applications beyond characters. For instance, it can also be used in modeling to save different states in a process and call them back up when they’re useful.
Delta Mush: Here’s one of those features that addresses an ongoing problem. Delta Mush smooths deformations while preserving details. In other words, it addresses the problem of tearing that happens when animators innocently animate a character’s joints. Delta Mush may eliminate extra weighting steps animators now do to prevent tearing or they can get away with less. Smoothing can be adjusted per object.
Rigs for characters and faces: Character definitions can be created and saved for rigs and used to retarget animation. New presets for Character Object let users define character rigs and animate joint-based face animations. The improvements for face rigging can reduce the task to a couple of clicks, we are told by Maxon.
Keyframing has been improved with more efficient auto-keyframing and more control over the selection, copy and paste tangents, and copy animation. Also, Maxon has improved the ability to add ease curves in different keyframe segments and tracks.
Maxon gave subscribers quite a few updates for making UVs easier to work within the S22 release. A quick overview is available here. The company says they have added on with R23. The highlights are easier tools for laying out UVs with snapping, align, and straightening tools, and multi-object UV viewing and packing to improve Texture Atlasing (packing several smaller textures together into a single texture to improve performance).
There’s a little disappointment that the improvements in UVs did not include UDIM, the ability to work with high res and low res textures in the same material but Maxon is promising that UDIM is coming soon.
Maxon has integrated Magic Bullet Looks, Red Giant’s color correction, and finishing tools into C4D filling out the C4D’s arsenal. C4D users now have access to the complete Magic Bullet toolkit which provides 200 preset film looks and also lets users import LUTs and fine-tune color correction, film grain, chromatic aberration, and more. Users can save and create their own presets to use with other compositing and editing tools that support Magic Bullet. These include Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro X, Apple Motion, Magix Vegas Pro, Avid Media Composer, DaVinci Resolve, and Hitfilm Pro.
The Magic Bullet tools can be accessed from the Render settings or the viewport menu and be worked with in realtime.
The future is getting closer
Maxon has been building a node system to complement its traditional workflow. Code named Neutron, the new nodes system will eventually enable customers to work within C4D using nodes for procedural modeling, motion graphics, effects, rendering through visual programming. At a pre-IBC press conference, Maxon’s Paul Babb said the advantage of nodes is that they provide a clear view of dependencies as one builds in C4D. In addition, the node system takes advantage of C4D’s new core, so it’s fast, and, well it’s the future. Maxon is showing the new node tools as a working preview. The node system in R23 has got new features but Maxon’s engineers have also tweaked it in response to user input. For instance, the UI has been improved so users can see more of the node map. They’ve added color coding, improved filtering, and toggle states.
The node system in R23 has been expanded with a scene system enabling artists to build complex scenes using models and animation with parametric node operations. The R23 node system comes with a selection of low-level nodes and sample assets for users to play with, modify, and combine to get an idea of how nodes work and what can be done. Components can be imported from the traditional C4D into the node system to get an idea of how to use it or take advantage of the procedural capabilities that make many tasks much easier than they would be in using C4D’s object manager system.
Also, the node system is powerful for creating and manipulating scenes with millions of objects. It’s not an accident that people talk about the node system as the Houdinization of C4D, but it’s not accurate because Maxon intends to stay in both worlds.
That’s one of Maxon’s important messages for the node system. It represents the new C4D but it’s not mandatory. Right now, users flip from the node system to the object manager system. Ongoing development will integrate the two systems so that users can work between them or if they like to stay within one or the other. McGavran describes the node system as blazingly fast, Babb talks about the traditional workflow as C4D’s playful, creative workflow.
USD here and tomorrow
In the R23 release, Maxon has joined its DCC peers in adding support for USD. For now, it’s USD import and export and in the press meeting, Paul Babb said this is just the start. The development team wanted to be sure that people have USD as an exchange format as its use is growing, but they are still working on enabling a more complete workflow. As we have heard from many companies, USD, while open, is a work in progress by its owner Pixar, so companies are taking it step by step.
As part of its work to build compatibility with artists’ creative pipelines, Maxon is also improving its support for OBJ, FBX, and it has upgraded its Python support of Python 3.
Taken all together, R23 does give C4D a foothold on the future, but it does even more to jet propel C4D into a better face-to-face competition with its DCC competitors.
In other news … Universe 3.3
Just last month, Red Giant released Universe 3.3, an update with two new tools, Quantum and Modes, and updated versions of its motion graphics tools Glow, Glimmer, Chromatic Aberration, and Hacker Text. Updates for Universe is a collection of Red Giant’s GPU accelerated plugins for editing and motion graphics.
Quantum creates animated light trails in front of or behind a layer, while Modes enables layers to be blended for different effects. The new blend modes from Red Giant are an especially nice gift for users of Avid Composer, which doesn’t have its own blend modes. The latest update to Universe includes over 100 new presets.