School of Motion

An Overview of Redshift in Cinema 4D

  • By Liam Clisham
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Thinking about using Redshift on your 3D Projects? Here's an overview of Redshift for Cinema 4D.

Welcome to part-three of our four-part render engines series, covering Cinema 4D's four top talked about render engines: Arnold, Octane, Redshift and Cycles . You can catch up on part-one here and part-two here.

In this article we'll introduce the Redshift render engine. If you've never heard of Redshift or curious about using it in Cinema 4D, this is the article for you.

Some terms used in this series may be a bit geeky. We created a 3D Glossary if you find yourself stumped by anything written below.

Let's get started!

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Let's get this party started!

Shifting into the Red

The back story of Redshift is fairly new. While the founders of Redshift have been in the industry for quite a while, the company is only a few years old and you can read up on their bio here. Here's a quick TLDR:

  • Founded in 2012 in (beautiful) Newport Beach, California.
  • Redshift was co-founded video game and software veterans Nicolas Burtnyk (Co-Founder and CEO), Panagiotis (Panos) Zompolas (Co-Founder and CTO), and Rob Slater (Co-Founder and VP of Engineering)

What exactly is Redshift?

Parsed from Redshift's website, "Redshift is the world’s first fully GPU-accelerated, biased renderer... built to meet the specific demands of contemporary high-end production rendering...to support creative individuals and studios of every size..."

Broken down, Redshift is a biased GPU render engine that allows for different ways of calculating final rendered images. This allows artists to speed up their workflow through means of "cheating" for non-photorealistic work, or inversely, artists can choose to not "cheat" for more photorealistic results. Think of it as being able to use standard or physical renderers, on a GPU, to get the results suited best for your needs and time.

Blizzard Entertainment's short "Dragons" rendered with Redshift

What is great about Redshift in Cinema4D?

So why should you use Redshift in Cinema 4D? Well...

1. Redlining speeds.

As we mentioned in our previous Octane article, GPU rendering technology is lightyears faster than CPU rendering. If you're used to standard, physical or any CPU render engine, single frame can take minutes to render. GPU render engines destroy that by rendering frames in seconds.

2. Redshift takes that speed even further.

Remember just above about biased rendering and "cheating?" Let's talk about that for a second. Lots of other render engines pride themselves on only focusing on getting unbiased results, or in another words, the most accurate and photorealistic render possible. Redshift is a bit more flexible because it is a biased engine. Unbiased engines for things like Global Illumination, which while more accurate, take up more render time. You've probably seen this while messing around with GI in standard and physical.

Biased engines like Redshift let you choose to leave off things, like GI, so you can get your job done faster. Every second counts when you're trying to meet a tight deadline.

3. An interactive experience

Not to beat a dead horse, but the Interactive Preview Regions (IPR) available in 3rd party render solutions are fantastic. That theme stays true with Redshift. Redshift calls their IPR window, "RenderView". Users can see a rendered scene in almost real time since Redshift takes advantage of GPUs for rendering. The IPR reflects changes to a scene in close real-time. Whether it is an object, texture or a light that has changed. It is mind blowing.

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Mind. Freaking. Blown.

4. Use Redshift everywhere.

Redshift is available in way more than just Cinema4D. Currently, Redshift is available for Cinema4D, Maya, 3DSMax, Houdini, Katana, and more in the works. Just like Solid Angle, Redshift doesn’t charge you to use additional plugins either. Hop between any of your 3D applications without spending more on additional licenses. This is a really big deal (lookin' at you Octane...)

5. There is render farm support.

One of the problems over the past couple of years for artists using GPU render engines is the lack of render farm support. Either they weren't there or render farms had to break EULAs to get them up and running. Redshift is changing that.Redshift is a huge supporter of production pipelines and workflows and from the beginning has allowed for render farm support. Despite all the great speed advances, GPUs can get bogged down by really big scenes and Redshift allows you to a render farm like PixelPlow and get it back the same day. No more running out to a Best Buy (do they still exist) and buying a ton of new hardware to get a job done.

6. Welcome to the future.

CPU render engines still have a place in this field, as we wrote about in our Arnold article. The speed increases that you get from using a GPU cannot be ignored, however. A GPU is one of, if not the easiest part in a computer to upgrade.

Instead of having to build a new PC every couple of years, GPUs allow you to keep that machine going for longer just by swapping old cards for a newer models. Plus, if you need more power locally, pop open the side of your machine and stick in another GPU or two...or three.

Yeah...this is a 3D render out of Redshift.

Problems with Redshift

The same goes here as in our previous articles: using any third party engine is something else to learn and purchase. If you haven't been using Cinema4D for at least a year, you may want to consider sticking with standard and physical for a bit longer.

1. So Many Nodes...

Nodes. This can be a scary word for a lot of people. A lot of artists want to just create and have a straightforward approach to their workflow and nodes can be daunting. That said, lots of software is moving towards a node based workflow because of how procedural and freeing it can be. We understand if the nodes gives you some goosebumps, though.

If you can get passed that, that's about it for downsides in Redshift.

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That's a relief!

How can I learn more about Redshift?

Recently Rich Nosworthy released a new course on Helloluxx, Redshift for Cinema 4D : V01. I have also been a huge advocate, producing tutorials and a Live Q&A stream every Thursday on my Youtube Channel. Of course, the Redshift Forums are ripe with information.

Show and tell us what you’re using!

What render engines are you using or interested in? Got something cool that you’ve rendered? Let us know on Twitter @schoolofmotion!

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See you next time!