Maxon has unveiled Cinema 4D R23, a major update to its 3D animation and rendering software that includes character animation features like a new character solver and eye-catching toon and face rigs.
The update also expands the software's UV editing tools, integrates the Magic Bullet Looks color correction toolset, and provides an early preview of Project: Neutron, Maxon's new node-based core architecture.
The update, due to be released today, also makes the features of Cinema 4D S22, the April subscription-only version, available to perpetual licensees.
Maxon announced the update during the keynote for its virtual IBC 2020 event along with Maxon One, a new all-in-one subscription to Cinema 4D, Redshift and Red Giant Complete.
First chance for permanent licensees to use the new functions of Cinema 4D S22
Cinema 4D R23 offers perpetual license holders the first opportunity to take advantage of the features added in Cinema 4D S22, Maxon's previous subscription-only update.
Although perpetual licenses are still available, Maxon switched to the unified product pricing subscription introduced with Cinema 4D R21 last year, with the S22 providing "early access" to a range of features.
These include a new automated UV unpacking and packaging system, the restoration of the GoZ bridge to ZBrush, and a new core architecture for viewports with support for Metal on macOS systems.
We covered the changes when Cinema 4D S22 was released. For more information, see our original story.
UVs: support for multiple objects as well as better snapping and alignment
Cinema 4D R23 further modernizes the software's UV workflows – something users have asked for for several years – and includes support for multiple objects.
Users can now view the UVs of multiple objects within a scene in the UV editor and automatically pack them into a single UV tile.
There are also new tools for cleaning up UV tiles with new options for aligning UV islands based on selected edges, straightening selected edges, and squaring UV islands.
The UV tools also support the same snap options as the rest of Cinema 4D, including point, grid, and pixel snapping.
Animation: New joint-based facial rig and squash-and-stretchable cartoon rig
Another longstanding user requirement addressed in Cinema 4D R23 is for advanced character animation tools.
The almost ten-year-old Advanced Biped character template from Cinema 4D has now also been supplemented by a special facial rig from the original developer, Walt Disney Animation Studios character TD Bret Bays.
It is based on joints and makes it possible to create realistic deformations of the face geometry without having to create mixed shapes. It was "designed according to the current trends in the industry".
The update also introduces a new toon rig developed by Sebastian Pfeifer and shown in the video above. It supports squash-and-stretch deformation and scaling of body parts, and has its own facial rig.
Animation: New character solver and pose library, support for Delta Mush deformation
The update introduces a new character solver that can be used to organize rig hierarchies by body part and create and reuse character definitions for rigs.
It is also possible to realign existing animations – both with keyframe and with motion detection – from one character to another with different proportions, provided they have common body parts.
In addition, Cinema 4D R23 adds a Delta Mush deformation system: a workflow originally developed at Rhythm & Hues and supported for some time in Maya, Houdini and Blender.
It works per object to smooth out deformations while preserving surface details. This allows artifacts to be repaired without having to form corrective morphs.
Delta Mush Deformers are widely used to repair artifacts that have caused the limbs to flex. However, according to Maxon, the functionality can also be used with Cinema 4D's new joint-based facial rig.
Riggers and animators are also getting a new Pose Manager, in which character poses are saved as scene-independent elements so that they can be reused in new projects or shared pose libraries can be created.
It works both with characters – for example, to set up a visem library for lip-synchronous animations – and with parametric objects. and can also be used to mix between saved poses.
Quality of life improvements to the animation workflow include the option to copy and paste animation tangents, more granular control over automatic coding, and better filtering in the attribute manager and timeline.
Post-production: Magic Bullet Looks is now integrated in Cinema 4D
The release also integrates Magic Bullet Looks into Cinema 4D.
Red Giant's $ 399 suite of plugins, which Maxon merged earlier this year, includes tools for color correcting footage or mimicking real-life footage.
It's available for both final quality output and in the viewport, so looks can be applied to interactive previews. Presets created in C4D can be exported to other host apps such as After Effects.
Other functions: Improvements to the view window, integrated auto-retopology system
Cinema 4D R23 also continues Maxon's continuous improvements to the software's viewport core, this time improving the quality of the reflections in the screen area, as shown in the image above.
The appearance of Deformer objects in the viewport has also been updated to show direction and function. This makes it easier to correctly align and scale deformers.
Other new functions are Remesh Generator, a new automated retopology system based on the open source Instant Meshes library and also implemented in Modo.
It converts high-resolution meshes such as character sculptures or raw scans into low-poly all-quad geometry.
Experimental Technologies: Project: Neutron and USD support
Cinema 4D R23 is also the first public appearance for Project: Neutron, Maxon's new node-based core architecture that we reported on earlier this summer.
The new Scene Nodes system is primarily aimed at creating “cloner-like setups” for working with motion graphics and for procedural modeling, although the underlying technology is more extensive.
According to Maxon, however, the system is not yet ready for production and is currently primarily looking for feedback on the future implementation of Project: Neutron.
The release also marks the "first step" in supporting the USD (Universal Scene Description) format, which is becoming common in VFX and feature animation pipelines.
It allows Cinema 4D users to import or export models, cameras and lights in .usd, .usda or .usdc formats, as well as export .usdz files, but does not yet support advanced native USD features.
In addition, R23 is updating Cinema 4D's implementation of the OBJ and FBX file formats, including support for sequences of OBJ files, and moving the software from Python 2.7 to Python 3.7.
The latter means third-party plugins and scripts will need to be updated, although Maxon's blog post for developers describes the changes required as "minor".
Prices and availability
Cinema 4D R23 ships today for 64-bit Windows 10 and MacOS 10.14+, although Maxon recommends MacOS 10.15. Network render nodes also run on CentOS 7+ or Ubuntu 18.04 LTS Linux.
Perpetual licenses currently cost $ 3,495. Subscriptions start at $ 94 / month for Cinema 4D alone, or $ 116 / month including the Redshift renderer.
Additionally, Maxon has announced Maxon One, a new all-in-one subscription to Cinema 4D, Redshift and Red Giant Complete, although the price has not been confirmed at the time of writing.
Visit the product website for an overview of the new features in Cinema 4D R23
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