Maxon updates features and licensing for Cinema 4D

New features for motion graphics, titles, interoperability, and rendering.

Maxon is modernizing on all fronts. At Siggraph 2019, the company outlined new features and tools for Cinema 4D R 21, Maxon’s flagship 3D modeling, animation, and rendering software. Maxon is consolidating all of the options available for Cinema 4D into one central version, and the company has announced a new subscription plan to replace Maxon’s comparatively high upfront purchase price and regular maintenance fee. The new pricing for an annual subscription is $719.88 or $59.99/€61.49. In addition to providing a low cost of entry for customers, the new price equalizes the cost of the software around the world with consistent pricing. The company is also making licenses easy to manage through a MyMaxon page. Cinema 4D users who want the company’s Redshift renderer can have it for an additional $20 a month. Cinema 4D will also be available with a perpetual license for $3,495. Standalone Redshift is $116.99 for an annual subscription. Pricing information is available here.

One Cinema 4D

Maxon’s creativity tools have been available in several different packages: Studio Broadcast, Visualize, Prime, Body Paint, and Cineversity as a training add-on. The packages offered different prices and features, and prices varied from region to region. With the release of V. 21, there will be just one version of Cinema 4D, which will include all features including Body Paint and Cineversity. Customers will be able to buy from a central site and they’ll be able to manage their accounts via MyMaxon.

New features

Maxon has highlighted the following new features for Cinema 4D:

Caps and bevel—adds new features for text effects and 3D logs. Caps and bevels are integrated on all spline-based objects—lathe, loft, sweep, etc. The improved tools for 3D text and logs include improved constraints, internal bevels, Delaunay cap skinning and a new library of bevel presets.

Field forces—is a new addition to the MoGraph toolset with tools to control dynamic forces in modeling and animation effects.

Mixamo control rig—Mixamo mocap animations can be easily applied to Cinema 4D models.

Rendering improvements—At NAB, Maxon pledged continuing development of updated Cinema 4D’s renderer. Improvements in R21 include support for Intel Open Image Denoise, which is Intel’s open-source contribution to speed up rendering times for CPU rendering using AI. In addition to being included in C4D’s internal renderer, it also works with ProRender. An update to the Material Nodes opens up the capability to third-party renderers. Introduced in R20, the Material Nodes feature enables node-based material definition with hundreds of options and presets. For R21, Material Nodes has Node Space, which defines which material nodes are available for a particular renderer and an API is now available for third-party developers to integrate rendering engines with the material node system. Cinema 4D’s implementation of ProRender supports Material Node editing and has gotten new features in R21.

Workflow and core improvements—includes performance improvement for modeling, updates to take advantage of processor improvements from AMD and Intel, direct import for Unreal and Unity. And, Maxon is continuing to add UI improvements to Cinema 4D.

From the press release and this article, the update in R21 looks a little thing, but the complete list of new features is available here and the updates for R21 combined with R20 add up to a more powerful Cinema 4D, with strength in MoGraph and also new animation capabilities.

Cinema 4D R21 will be available on September 3, 2019 for Mac and Windows.

What do we think?

Maxon has been transitioning to a new executive team and structure within its parent company Nemetschek. It’s a pretty good time to shake up sales and distribution and many would say it’s about time. Just the improved access to the software via downloads and consistent pricing will attract new users and it fits Cinema 4D comfortably into the competitive landscape. As for subscription pricing, it is becoming the norm for professional users and makes sense for freelancers who may be called upon to switch tools with their jobs.

Maxon finds a sweet spot for Cinema 4D, competitive with Modo and much less expensive than Autodesk’s competitors. SideFX’ Indie version of Houdini is the least expensive, but it’s also not intended for professionals, and its use is limited to companies making less than $100K. There’s another competitor gaining ground, and that’s Blender, which is free.

Surprisingly, to me anyway, there has been the usual sturm und drang in response to the subscription offer and dark muttering about Adobe’s influence because CEO David McGavran has come from Adobe. I had thought subscription was no longer an issue. By any measure, the new pricing model for Cinema 4D makes it less expensive than before (or the perpetual version). In the days of a perpetual license, people tended to upgrade every three or four years. Given that equation, the new pricing is still a bargain. Four years of subscription adds up to $2880, still less than a perpetual license.

The muttering, I suppose, is to be expected but to say it’s narrow-minded is being polite. Maxon has benefitted greatly from its relationship with Adobe, not the least of which has been the use of Cinema 4D for motion graphics in After Effects. In addition, Cinema 4D has been optimized for use with CAD tools including parent company Nemetschek’s CAD/BIM tools. On that side of the fence, there is rejoicing over the addition of Redshift to Maxon’s toolbox.

There’s no clear sailing for any 3D modeling and animation tool maker, but the competitive landscape is a lot more interesting for the players and the customers. At Siggraph, we saw considerable strength in the market with everyone bringing new tools and capabilities.