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Streamline Your 3D Workflow with Cinema 4D R21

By EJ Hassenfratz and Ryan Plummer
Cinema 4D

New Capabilities Abound in Maxon's Cinema 4D Release 21

Maxon recently released the next generation of its professional 3D modeling, animation and rendering software, Cinema 4D R21 — and we've enlisted our 3D Creative Director EJ Hassenfratz to break down all the powerful new features.
“With R21, we have overhauled virtually every aspect of how our customers choose, download, purchase, license and manage Cinema 4D,” said David McGavran, Maxon's CEO.
Indeed, Release 21 includes a completely new Caps and Bevel system, new Field Force dynamics, interface speed enhancements, broader integration with popular hardware and software technologies, enhanced volume modeling, and new subscription pricing.

Cinema 4D R21 Review

This is not your ordinary software or hardware critique.
In this official SOM product review, EJ uses real-life examples to demonstrate how the latest version of Cinema 4D (2019) will improve your workflow.

Boosted Caps and Bevels

In Cinema 4D R21, the new Caps and Bevels feature "is more than just fancy fonts and text." With improved constraints and internal bevels, Delaunay cap skinning, a new bevel preset library and the ability to create your own bevel profiles, this release is all about flexibility and efficiency.
Expect to speed up your workflow!
Plus, caps and bevels are integrated on all the spline-based objects, like lathe, loft, and sweep — "for unlimited possibilities."
Cinema 4D R21 - Caps and Bevels Example-Optimized.gif

The Power of Field Forces

As Maxon explains, "animation is fundamental to Cinema 4D."
In Release 21, the powerful software comes with character animation enhancements, as well as Fields workflow improvements.
The all-new Field Force dynamics object allows you to control dynamic forces in your animations.
With the Channel Mix Field, you can convert between values, colors and directions in Fields to vary the strength of effects.
Particles, in particular, appear to receive a significant workflow uplift with the new Field Force feature, including lots of new ways to control and change how your particles interact with objects and each other.
Set your field to repel or attract, act as a wind direction force, etc., or let loose with random particle growth paths.
As you create your particle system, use the vector lines to visualize the dynamic force direction, and view changes in real time as you experiment.
Cinema 4D R21 - Force Fields Vectors-Optimized.gif
Also part of the Field Forces suite are the Mixamo Control Rig and weighting improvements.
With the Control Rig, you can easily add, edit and combine character animations by applying and adjusting mocap data from Adobe Mixamo.
The improved weighting in Release 21 comes from an enhanced Weight Manager, which uses new bone glow options, volumetric and heatmap modes and built-in algorithms to help you animate more lifelike characters.

Pump Up the Volume

Last year, Maxon introduced Cinema 4D's OpenVDB-based Volume Builder and, based on user feedback, has streamlined the workflow for R21.
First and foremost, there's no more hunting and digging — the new Volumes Builder button appears in your tool palette right at the top of the UI.
With Vector Volumes, direction values can be used in the Field Force or Target Effector to guide particles, dynamic effects and MoGraph objects, so you can create forms based on shape outlines.
Vertex Maps for Curvature, meanwhile, allow you to clone onto the curvature of volumes, as well as use volumes' curves to apply rust or damage effects via materials and deformers.
Most significant, perhaps, is the Cache Layer, which enables the storing of results from multiple VDB layers for a more efficient workflow when building models and adding effects. These caches can be used for later adjustments or cleared at any time.
Cinema 4D R21 - Volumes Modeling.png

Updated UI for Improved UX

The addition of Volumes Builder to the tools menu is not the only R21 enhancement to Cinema 4D's user interface. There's a whole new look and feel, designed for an improved user experience.
In Cinema 4D R21, expect:
  • Sharper display
  • New user data-based defaults
  • The Commander, which remembers your most recent action
  • Asset Inspector, which helps you identify the assets in a scene, fix links and collect files
  • Multiple UV enhancements, including a faster, anti-aliased Texture/UV view, new UV Transform Tool for easily modifying UV points and polygons, and UV ruler display, as well as quantized UV transformations, and snapping support for UV points and edges
  • Organized layer tagging, divided by functional category and accessible via right click
  • Custom icons
  • Texture linking
  • Improved connectivity with other applications
  • Dark Screen Support, making it easier to focus on your work
Cinema 4D R21 - Updated UI.png

Controls at Your Fingertips

When it comes to menus, everything has changed in Cinema 4D R21.
Cinema 4D R21 - New Menu Bar.png
It may be frustrating at first to work with your menu options swapped around, but a closer look suggests much thought was put into the new layout.
Not ready for this change? No problem. Fortunately, you can easily revert back to the R20 legacy menus with a quick click at the top right corner of the application.

Cinema 4D for All

One of Maxon's most monumental changes to Cinema 4D with Release 21 doesn't influence the product at all; rather, it levels the 3D playing field:
"R21 introduces Maxon’s '3D for the Whole World' initiative which aims to put professional 3D software within easy reach of every aspiring artist. This includes availability of a singular version of Cinema 4D, more efficient installation and licensing, and new low-entry subscription pricing."
With the release of Cinema 4D R1, Maxon now offers five different pricing models:
USA-Cinema 4D R21 Pricing Model.png

A Souped-Up Cinema 4D Synopsis

Become a Cinema 4D Expert

Adding 3D to your toolkit is one of the best ways to up your value and expand your capabilities as a motion designer.
With the new pricing options and enhanced features of Cinema 4D, there's never been a better time to master the world's leading 3D animation software — and there's no better way to learn than with School of Motion (97% of our alumni recommend us!).
Taught by our very own EJ Hassenfratz, who helped us review the application's Release 21, Cinema 4D Basecamp is designed for artists with little to no experience in the software; in mere weeks, you'll know your way around.
Plus, when you sign up for a session of Cinema 4D Basecamp, Maxon will provide you with a short-term license of Cinema 4D for use in this course!
SOM founder and CEO Joey Korenman created a tutorial that'll teach you how to make a shader that looks like clay, and animate something that looks like stop motion — all in Cinema 4D.