Cinema 4D R20 Builds on Node-Based Materials and Volume Modelling

Cinema4D Studio R20

MAXON's Cinema 4D Release 20 (R20) now includes node-based materials, volume modelling and CAD import for VFX and motion graphics design and creation and has a new version of the MoGraph set of tools. MAXON will demonstrate Cinema 4D R20 live at the SIGGRAPH 2018 convention coming up in Vancouver and online at, on 14-16 August.

As well as the new functionality described here, Cinema 4D is making a transition to a more modern core. Therefore, R20 comes with substantial API enhancements, the new node framework, further development on the new modelling framework, and a new UI framework.

Node-based Materials in Cinema 4D Release 20 introduce a different type of materials creation compared to earlier approaches. Among the options are simple materials that link a texture in multiple channels, making adjustments easier, as well as complex shaders that can be used in the Advanced and Physical Render engines in Cinema 4D. If preferred, users may revert to Cinema 4D's standard Material Editor, which will automatically create the corresponding node material in the background.

Cinema4d node based

Node-based Materials

Maxon has developed more than 150 nodes for use in building textures. Each node performs specific functions, such as colour correction and camera distance, or can generate noises, gradients, patterns, flakes or scratches. Yhey are searchable by name and keyword, and can be easily added via a commander interface.

Their advantage is most apparent when users combine them, revealing a huge number of variations. To make the combinations easier, artists can drag wires to connect inputs and outputs, add converters to existing connections and preview at any stage. They can then selectively mute connections to understand how each node contributes to the material.

Teams may also combine nodes into groups and groups into assets to use individually or to share as .zip files, storing them in the scene or in preferences. Assets include complete versioning to help manage updates.

Cinema4d ProRender Garage YanGe

Cinema 4D and Prorender [Artist Yan Ge]

Nodes can be quite efficient. By referencing a colour, texture or other element in several channels within a material, for example, any updates only need to be made once. When nodes are combined to create custom shaders, you only need to expose the parameters that will need modification, and the Node Window gives an overview of every element to prevent having to search through numerous channels and shaders to view all contributors to a material.

Maxon has also created a generic 'ultimate asset' called the Uber Material, which can be added and edited in the Material Editor or Attribute Manager. Any connection you make to it will also be visible in the Node Editor, where you can open and display the composition of the complete material.

One of the best-known parts of Cinema 4D is the MoGraph procedural animation toolset. Mograph uses falloffs as a way to adjust an effect based on simple shapes, and uses fields to layer these shapes, link them to effects and so on. Fields define the strength of an effect - whether it is a MoGraph Effector, Deformer, Vertex Map or Selection tag – using shapes, shaders, sounds, objects and formulas. Mixing, mapping and grouping fields in different ways will create many new kinds of effects.

Cinema4d MultiInstances RMarijnRaeven

Cinema 4D Release 20, Multiple Instances [Artist R Marijn Raeven]

Now that falloffs can be stacked, blended and linked to multiple Effectors in Release 20, users can control MoGraph clones in new ways. Fields also can define colour and direction via Effectors, and adjust  deformation strength when using Deformers for modelling or animation. With simple field shapes, 3D noise and shaders, fields can define volumes or selectively smooth and reshape volumes. Users can modify selection sets, vertex maps and vertex colours by adjusting their relative parameters, using fields.

Field objects, layers and modifiers bring other options. Field Objects have their own object because their position is important, including Radial Fields and Sound Fields. Random Fields use Cinema 4D’s procedural noises to layer random strengths, or define a 3D Volume. Field Layers generally link to objects or tags that already exist in your scene - whether splines, particles or volumes. Variable Tags use a Vertex Map to control the strength of effects.

Field Modifiers are the adjustment layers of Fields, placed in the layer stack to adjust the values from everything underneath. They can be used for interesting decaying and stepped effects, or to store the current values and blur or grow effects.

Cinema4d MultiInstances Grass MarijnRaeven

Cinema 4D Release 20, Multiple Instances [Artist R Marijn Raeven]

Because there are many, many different fields, artists need to experiment to find the most useful ones for their work and style. Here are some examples in action.  Many familiar MoGraph Effectors – such as Formula, Shader, Step, Sound and Volume - define a strength and so have been transitioned to fields, which means you can now layer them. To help users adjust to the changes, any falloffs in old scene files will continue to work as before in an emulation mode but can be converted to fields with a single click.

The Volume Builder and Mesher, based on OpenVDB, makes it possible to create complex models with Volume Modelling by adding or subtracting basic shapes in Boolean-type operations, or to create animated growing effects by turning noises and the new MoGraph Fields into geometry.

Thus, Volume Modelling becomes a procedural way to create objects and build organic or hard-surface volumes. For complex shapes, you can add or subtract splines, cloners and fields, and smooth or reshape the result with voxel modifiers. VDB remeshing re-topologises the meshes, and details may be applied with Cinema 4D's sculpting tools.

Cinema4d OpenVDB AixSponza

Cinema4D Release 20, OpenVDB  [Studio: AixSponza]

OpenVDB is a way to store 3D pixels. Cinema 4D can load multiple grids from any .vdb file, and load animation via sequenced .vdb files. Release 20 does not include native volume rendering yet, but VDBs created in Cinema 4D can be exported in a sequenced .vdb format to use in software or render engines that support OpenVDB.

Volumes and Fields are also a useful combination, for example, to create volumes based on procedural textures or 3D noise using Random or Shader Fields. Fields can adjust the strength of smooth and reshape filters, inflating or eroding objects based on field shapes and patterns. Volumes may also be Fields, using their strength or direction to affect clones.
ProRender extends its GPU-rendering tools and makes it possible to access and use the GPU on most machines to create physically accurate renders. Release 20 integrates production rendering functionality like Subsurface Scattering, which creates the light that scatters beneath the surface of many materials. The result is more realistic renders of objects made of skin, wax, marble and similar materials.

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Cinema 4D Release 20, Procedural Volume Modelling [Artist Mario Tran Phuc]

To produce a more life-like feeling of motion, ProRender in Release 20 supports both linear motion blur for simple PSR (position, scale, rotation) animation, and Sub-Frame Motion Blur for deformations. For speed when using Sub-Frame Motion Blur, the results from each sub-frame are averaged, producing a good looking render sooner with fewer iterations per frame.

ProRender has a new multi-pass workflow. As well as regular illumination and emission passes, users can output world coordinates, UVW, normal and depth passes. Mattes can be isolated with a Material ID pass or Object ID pass, or by assigning specific matte colours to object groups within the Compositing tag. Users also choose which data passes should be anti-aliased, or not, depending on how it will be used in the composite.

ProRender now supports MoGraph Color, Physical Sky and native rendering of Voronoi-based noises, and compositors can isolate shadows in order to place 3D objects over footage or imagery more effectively. Performance updates include the ability to optimize render speed and quality with individual control over the diffuse, glossy, refraction and shadow depths. To overcome memory limits on the GPU, users can stream high-resolution textures to their graphics cards on demand.

Cinema4d ProRender Dessert RYanGe

Cinema 4D and Prorender [Artist Yan Ge]

Because clients often want to work with their own CAD models, Release 20 makes them easier to use in Cinema 4D, directly importing Solidworks, STEP, Catia, JT and IGES files for use in visualisations. By dragging any CAD file into Cinema 4D, users can almost always derive a usable result with the default settings. For more precision, many different options can be tuned to control the Normals, hierarchy tessellation and so on, and the Y and Z axes may be swapped.

When importing CAD formats into Cinema 4D, the NURBS data is converted to polygons through tessellation. A new scale-based tessellation interface allows you to adjust the detail level based on the object’s size to avoid wasting polygons. You can also import original display colours and materials from the CAD file as a starting point for visualisation renders, or assign random materials to distinguish separate parts.

Cinema 4D Release 20 is scheduled for availability in September 2018 for both macOS and Windows.

Cinema4d ProRender TRex GuenterNikodim

Cinema4D and ProRender [Artist Guenter Nikodim]