Monday, 5 January 2015

Why You Need Cinema 4D

Recently I have been using Cinema 4D for a number of my animation projects at SWAGGER Media. Cinema 4D is a fairly new software package to me but, unlike other 3D software packages, I was able to hit the ground running from day one. C4D has a sleek interface with easy-to-access tools and thorough documentation that make it one of the best programs out there for animation.  There are a few things that have really made my C4D experience enjoyable and I want to point those out to you so you can see how awesome this program is!

To better demonstrate the features I’m talking about, I will be using a sample from one of my past projects. Here you can see the objects for a scene I did on our Lobby Loop product. In this scene I have a transparent animated hand with bones and cartilage for the thumb showing underneath.

The first feature I want to talk about is the “Objects Manager”, where you can organize all the objects in your scene. Many other 3D programs have this as well, but I have found that C4D has the most intuitive and accessible layout versus its competitors, which will save you a lot of frustration in the long run.
In the “Objects Manager”, I have put the bone and cartilage elements together into a group and they are laid out from the bones at the base of the thumb out to the tip of the thumb in a hierarchal order. Organizing your scene is very important in 3D animation, as without it you will most certainly delete something by accident or inadvertently screw up your animation by moving something out of order. I have found that other software packages make this important process difficult to execute. With C4D, organizing my scene is quick and painless.

The second great feature of C4D is the ability to apply “Tags” within the object manager.  

Tags allow you to quickly access certain aspects of an object. Here I have identified a few tags for two objects. Tags give you important information about an object at a glance. This allows you to quickly identify issues in your scene or add detail to objects with ease.

  1.  The first tag is a Phong Tag. Phong is a interpolation technique which basically takes an object with many flat surfaces and smooths them with a surface shader. 
  2. The second tag is a UVW Tag. This tag holds data that determines how a texture wraps around an object.
  3. The third tag is the Texture Tag, which holds the texture information. This includes color, how reflective a texture is, whether it is bumpy or not or if it is transparent, among other things. 
  4. The fourth tag is the Sculpt Tag, which is one of my favorite tags. Sculpting allows you to take a primitive object, like a sphere, and sculpt it within software tools, like you would to make a character out of clay in real life. It makes modeling objects, like characters, pretty easy and quite a bit of fun.  If you have ever used a program like zBrush, it is quite similar if not a little more simplified. It adds incredible power to C4D, allowing you to access fantastic sculpting tools without the need for a 3rd party program. 

To wrap things up I’d like to leave you with a fantastic video from last years Siggraph showing Chris Korn working some sculpting magic. It is really as easy as it looks in the video!

Do you have any questions about C4D? I'd be happy to walk you through it! What 3D programs do you use? 

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