CINEMA 4D is a 3D modeling, animation and rendering application developed by MAXON Computer GmbH of Friedrichsdorf, Germany. It is capable of procedural and polygonal/subd modeling, animating, lighting, texturing, rendering, and common features found in 3d modelling applications.
Four variants are currently available from MAXON: a core CINEMA 4D 'Prime' application, a 'Broadcast' version with additional motion-graphics features, 'Visualize' which adds functions for architectural design and 'Studio', which includes all modules. CINEMA 4D runs on Windows and Macintosh PC's.
Initially, CINEMA 4D was developed for Amiga computers in the early 1990s, and the first three versions of the program were available exclusively for that platform. With v4, however, MAXON began to develop the program for Windows and Macintosh computers as well, citing the wish to reach a wider audience and the growing instability of the Amiga market following Commodore's bankruptcy.
Up until Release 11.5, Cinema 4D had a modular approach to the application, with the ability to expand upon the core application with various modules. This ended with Release 12, though the functionality of these modules remains in the various flavors of Cinema 4D (Prime, Broadcast, Visualize, Studio) The old modules were:
- Advanced Render (global illumination/HDRI, caustics, ambient occlusion and sky simulation)
- BodyPaint 3D (direct painting on UVW meshes; now included in the core. In essence Cinema 4D Core/Prime and the BodyPaint 3D products are identical. The only difference between the two is the splash screen that is shown at startup and the default user interface.)
- 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 modelling 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)
- Xpresso (is not and never has been a module, it is a core functionality)
As of Release 13, Cinema 4D comes in 4 components:
- Prime (the core application)
- Broadcast (adds MoGraph2)
- Visualize (adds Virtual Walkthrough, Advanced Render, Sky, Sketch and Toon, data exchange, camera matching)
- Studio (the complete package)
For a full comparison of the various components of Cinema 4D, go to the Maxon Product Comparison page
Additional rendering engines
As of 2007
, these alternative rendering engines and connections are currently available as plug-ins for CINEMA 4D:
- Christian and Philip Losch enter their ray-tracer 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 V1.5 and V2 for Amiga.
- Release of CINEMA 4D V2.1 and V3.0 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, Macintosh and Amiga 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 last version of Cinema 4D for Amiga, V4.2, is released.
- 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 as a standalone version for other 3-D 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 released.
- BodyPaint 3D R2 is introduced.
- Sketch and Toon module is introduced.
- CINEMA 4D R9 is released.
- 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 professional 3-D 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, in response to bug feedback provided to Maxon by users and testers.
- 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 R11 released.
- CINEMA 4D supports 64-bit architecture on Apple G5 and Intel-powered Macs.
- A new implementation of Global Illumination (included in the Advanced Render module) offers a higher quality than that of the old version, and much improved animation support.
- Non-Linear Animation has been completely reworked.
- The Renderman support (CINEMAN) is now included in AR.
- CINEMA 4D R11.5 released.
- Introduces MoGraph 2 (which includes MoDynamics [Uses the Bullet Engine], PolyFX, and MoSplines)
- Bucket rendering reduces render times and manages clone instancing and memory management much more efficiently. Anti-Aliasing methods to choose from are Scanline, Ray-Tracing, and Hybrid (which uses both to best optimize quality vs. speed). Also greatly improved Subpolygon Displacement and Area Shadows efficiency and speed using Multi-Threading.
- An enhanced Picture Viewer that will allow a history of renders, RAM previews, and A/B swiping. Also, manages post filtering and Multi-Pass Layers.
- Full 3D support for Apple Motion, and improved support with Adobe After Effects. Also, exports clones and XRefs to Motion and After Effects, as well as the ability to bring in solids for mapping video onto 3D surfaces. It can also export multiple cameras at once.
- Fully compatible with Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) and Windows 7.
- QuickTime for Windows (64 bit) now supported.
- File exchange for FBX 2010.0
- Other new features include a new Camera Shader which will map any camera view onto any surface, improved MoGraph Effectors, and other general improvements and refinements.
- CINEMA 4D R12 released.
- Dynamics has been improved (complex physicengine)
- Renderer works better / faster.
- Menu has been cleaned up.
- Many minor improvements like the Shaders and Materials.
- Linear workflow introduced with correct display in OGL.
- Double precision calculation introduced and true units.
- Support for IES lights and physically correct lighting.
- Integration of Python
- Support of OpenGL 3
- Support for PPC CPUs (G5) dropped.
- CINEMA 4D R13 released.
- New Physical Render engine (More photorealistic: Physical Camera with ISO, f-stop and shutter speed or angle, true depth of field, true motion blurring, lens distortion, vignetting, and chromatic aberration.)
- Stereoscopy. New Stereoscopic Camera and Rendering with real-time display. Supports Anaglyph, Side-by-Side, Interlaced, or Active Shutter mode for 3D Monitors, projectors and glasses.
- New Character tools, allowing the user to set up complex rigs quickly and easily. CMotion Walk Cycle editor; Character Components for TDs to define rig hierarchies, and new Muscle Object & MSkin Deformer.
- Animation refinements. Rotation Order and Gimbaling Rotation Axis to detect and correct gimbal lock. Better timeline markers. Finely tuned F-Curves. Colored animation paths.
- Optimized Modeling workflow. (Enhanced cloning and extrusions; Advanced selection tools; new optimized HyperNURBS weighting algorithm for cleaner topology and sharper but smooth creases; Axis toggle; Auto Tweaking; Easy, intuitive Snapping; Variable Speed Scaling; Better ClothNURBS Extrusion)
- New, accurate Sub-Surface Scattering shader (SSS). Terrain Mask shader. Brick Shader enhancements. Enhanced MoGraph Muti-Shader.
- Improved Interface and Workflow. Enhanced Picture Viewer. All-new External Referencing System for XRefs.
- New Import/Export features (After Effects Integration; FBX Import/Export supports 2010, 2011, and 2012; Multi-Channel OpenEXR; Enhanced Sound Format support including AIF, MP3, and AAC; Collada 1.5; BodyPaint 3D support for Maya UVs)
- Cinema 4D R14 released (September 4, 2012)
- Sculpting Tools.
- Enhanced Dynamics (Aerodynamics)
- Plastic Deformations & Breakable Springs.
- Enhanced Xpresso UI.
- Camera Calibrator. Integrate 3D element into photographs.
- Morph camera and motion camera. Blend between different cameras. Create natural dynamic camera motion.
- New Shaders: Wood shader, weathering shader, normalizer
- Subsurface Scattering enhancements.
- GI Multiple Importance Sampling
- Radiosity Maps
- NUKE export with position pass render
- Xref enhanced
- Completely overhauled snapping and new guides/workplanes
Use in industry
A number of films and related works have been modeled and rendered in CINEMA 4D, including: