Review of MAXON's CINEMA 4D R9.5 XL Bundle

Like always, there are exciting new features in this new release of CINEMA 4D R9.5 XL Bundle. While I will concentrate on them, I also will discuss the exciting 3D software package that CINEMA 4D is as a whole. I will also include some of the features new to CINEMA 4D R9 and R9.1 without confusing them with those new to R9.5 so that users with different releases can see what features would be new to them. I last reviewed release 8 and a lot has happened in that interim. I use a PC under Windows XP Professional.

The modules that comprises the XL bundle are:

  • MOCCA 2
  • Advanced Render 2.5
  • Thinking Particles
  • PyroCluster
  • NET Render (3 client license)

CINEMA 4D R9.5 XL Bundle (not the upgrade) comes with a release 9 disk and tutorial disk, an upgrade to release 9.5 disk and tutorial disk as well as a disk of documentation and two of goodies. There also is a Quickstart 9 manual. If one goes to the MAXON web site, one can find a whole section with manuals for every module as well as an addendum for release 9.5. Once on the MAXON site, click on downloads and, then, documentation to reach this information.

As an aside, since so many companies are providing manuals in PDF format online, dual monitors come in very handy. Not only is the second monitor good for holding menus, but it is also good for holding PDF manuals and tutorials.

The Addendum for release 9.5 is one of the best places to find out what is new in CINEMA 4D R9.5. It will note what changes have been made since release 9 and where in that manual that information is described. When there is no cross reference, the material is new such as the new Content Browser and SKY Manager for example.

Also, check the CINEMA 4D R9.5 product feature list or from the MAXON site, click on products and, then, CINEMA 4D R 9.5.

I will be discussing the major new additions to CINEMA 4D R9.5 as well as many of the minor ones that increase the work flow and functionality. It is hard to choose which small fixes, improvements, and additions to describe since there are so many. It all comes down, to some degree, to the perspective of the reviewer. I enjoy creating still frames, be they landscapes, models for landscapes, etc. I am not an animator nor have I yet delved into creating figures for rigging and animating. For that reason, I suggest going to the Addendum 9.5 and, in the Bookmarks section, investigating those areas that are the most meaningful to you if they differ widely from mine.

One of the new additions to R9.5 is the Content Browser. MAXON states "the new browser is an integral part of the future workflow of CINEMA 4D". The following is an example of how it can be used. The Browser is accessed from the Windows>Content Browser on the top tool bar. Presets, for example, can be saved within the Browser and accessed by just clicking on them. All of the folders in the screen capture are default items. In one of the tutorials that MAXON furnishes on a CD, I saved a preset for creating a Neon Light and stored it in the User folder in the Presets folder. Every time I wanted to create another light, I could go to the Content Browser and click on the Neon Light

or I could create a Simplified Browser from the Content Browser and dock just the "Neon Light" part between the Object Manager and the Attributes Manager. Then, if I were creating a lot of Neon lights, it would be there. Notice the thumbnail preview image.

The Content Browser was so useful that I docked it next to the structures tab. (Release 9.52 docks it there as a default.) I found I used it a lot for finding files, sorting them, etc. One can do that with other often used managers since it doesn't actually take up any more room and, then, save them in your startup layout. The interface can be constantly modified and saved as one progresses with the program.

Release 9.5 allows the user to open the screen in full mode for the maximum space, save incrementally with the new Incremental Save command plus save time with others new additions that deal with work flow and file management. Some more obvious changes involve the renaming of objects in the Object Manager. In addition, one can click on material tags in the Object Manager and, then, access them in the Material Manager. Also, in the Object Manager, one can click a texture tag to see the corresponding material's settings. The Material Manager and Material Editor are absolutely incredibly easy to use. They are also flexible and full of options. The channels that one clicks on in the Material Editor menu will also appear in the Attribute Manager. By being so easy to use, it makes creating interesting materials easy and fun.

CINEMA 4D R9.5 supports many file formats for import and/or export.

If you right click on an object in the Object Manager, you will get a choice of of different "things" that relate to the object. Look at the list in the left column. The CINEMA 4D tags are highlighted, and they appear in the right column. Notice the C.O.F.F.E.E tag and the XPresso tag, because they will be referenced later in the review.

The Advanced Render 2.5 Module contains many of the features new to CINEMA 4D R.9.5. While a lot can be done with just the core application, having this module expands the program immensely. It is part of both the XL and Studio Bundle. Some of the features are: Ambient Occlusion (AO) which lets the user render realistic shadows without Global Illumination (GI) and, thus, saves render time. AO can be applied globally or to specific objects. One can also exclude objects from Ambient Occlusion. Ambient Occlusion replaces the Dirt Shader, but MAXON states that scenes created prior to R9.5 using the Dirt Shader will still work.

Ambient Occlusion appears in two areas of the application: as a channel shader and as a global effect in render settings.

Another huge feature is the Sky Manager. With the Sky Manager, one can create accurate skies as to date and time. One accesses it through Plugins>Sky>Open Presets. One can create an animation over a 24 hour period, for example.

One can use one of the 50 presets that are already contained in CINEMA 4D R9.5 or save ones own and add them to the preset weather folder (R9 .5) or the separate sky folder (R9.52). MAXON has set up this Sky Manager to replicate Nature so that Z=North, -Z=South, X=East and -X=West. Using these specifications, one can create realistic simulations containing volumetric clouds, stars, rainbows, etc. There is also the ability to key in some cities world wide without having to set longitude and latitude making for exacting positioning. If a city or any location is not listed, just get their longitude and latitude, and there you are.

The features of the Sky Manager are really terrific. I could write a whole review on just them. For example. There is a Turbidity control to simulate added moisture and contaminants to diffused light, thereby adding some of the color that results. There is a Sky Wizard that allows the user to create or paint volumetric clouds. For a more detailed look, check the 9.5 Addendum on the MAXON web site as described in the beginning of the review. There is a detailed section on this great addition to CINEMA 4D.

With the addition of R9.52, sky presets when created and saved will be saved in the Content Browser's Presets/User/Sky directory. Sky and weather will be saved separately. Moon dark and moon bright are also useful additions.

The Baker has been improved in R 9.5. According to MAXON, one can now Bake both Objects and Textures. Baking textures allows the user, for example, to bake a shader and project it on to an object as a normal image file. One can render Ambient Occlusion, lighting, etc.onto a texture which avoids having to light these objects depending on the scene. All the directions for this are in the R 9.5 Addendum p.36. Baking also has the ability to generate normal maps based on displacement without the creation of high definition geometry first.

Looking at Render Settings, one can now deactivate globally for a whole scene Sub-Polygon Displacement and choose levels for various settings such as shadow depth, global brightness, etc. and these are the ones just under "Options."

A new setting having to do with rendering involves the Alpha Channel. Now you can specify whether your Alpha Channel will be pre-multiplied or not. This is found under the Multi-Pass tab of the Render Settings menu. CINEMA 4D R9.5 now supports full 32-bit color multi-pass rendering as well as loading. This allows one to use HDRI textures for reflections. Using CINEMA 4D 9.5 you can output your renders in full spectrum 32-bit color using HDRI or OpenEXR format. Shake can utilize Multi-pass import of CINEMA 4D R9.5 files.

According to MAXON, CINEMA 4D will support almost any broadcast or film application with a maximum image size of 16,000 pixels square. It supports multiple processors (NET Render Server and Client), Hyperthreading™, and DualCore technology. The support over a network can be configured in multiple ways and with multiple controls.

The Render output file formats are:

The NET Render module combines the ability to render over a network as well as with multiprocessors. NET Render makes use of dynamic load balancing even while the render is in progress. The NET Render interface allows the user to check up on their rendering jobs while they are in progress.

Lighting has been strengthened and improved in R 9.5. There are new icons since R 8 for easier recognition. Lights now render faster and lighting options have increased. Area lights have been improved. The shape of the light can be a rectangle, cube, sphere, etc. Area lights alone can be adjusted for: type of shadow - Raytraced, Shadow Maps, and Area; shape; type of falloff; dust; dithering; gradient use; various caustic settings; noise; lens effects; and includes and excludes in a scene. These are just a few of the choices available. Area shadows can render up to four times faster and create very realistic shadows.

I was curious to see how the different Area light shapes affected the light output so I created a sphere and set up an area light with the same defaults along with an Area shadow. I, then, changed the shape of the light. One of the boons of area lighting is that it is very realistic.

Other changes in lights are: Inner and Outer colors have been replaced by gradients. The Tube light has been replaced by the Line (as in the example above.)

C.O.F.F.E.E. is an object-oriented programming language closely related to C++ and Java. New to CINEMA 4D R9.5 are scripts made up of little bits of C.O.F.F.E.E. code. These scripts do not require a plugin ID and can be integrated into the interface as a "normal" CINEMA 4D command in the form of a button.

XPresso is CINEMA 4D's visual node based expressions editor. An expression is a relationship between objects in a 3D scene that often includes some mathematical manipulation. For example, the movement of one object will create the movement of another object. With XPresso, one can create relationships using drag and drop.

Thinking Particles is controlled by means of the XPresso interface. Extensive relationships can be built, but like anything else, one has to learn the basics of XPresso through tutorials and practice. These two screens show the beginning of a procedure involving the placement of three cylinders.

One cannot just "drop in" and drag and drop. New to R9.5 is a new Bitmap Node that can read out, for example, the color value of specific coordinates. Even though it is claimed that Xpresso is visual and one does not have to know programming, one has to have an idea of what one is doing!

The Thinking Particles module is used to create highly advanced particle effects through the use of XPresso, as stated earlier. Instead of a stream of particles creating smoke or smog, when you use Thinking Particles, you can create interaction between objects and particles, for example, by the particles being able to inherit the motion of an object in the scene and being able to individually spin, repel each other and much more. Different types of particle emissions can also be created; volume emission will emit particles within an object's volume. .

Pyrocluster is a volumetric shading system that utilizes particles to simulate smoke, fire, dust, etc. Below is a simple steam emission.

Pyrocluster can also be combined with Thinking Particles for very dramatic and spectacular effects.

For those new to CINEMA 4D R9.5, the MOCCA 2 module is the one used for rigging characters using the bone manipulation tools. MOCCA stands for MOtion Capturing and Character Animation. The title of this module should give one an idea of what it is capable of doing. Like everything else, R 9.5 has seen improvements and new features. The bone tool in the MOCCA 2 module has been reworked. If the bones are fixed, the bone tool will edit the fixed state of the bones. If the bones are not fixed, the unfixed state of the bones will be edited, and these latter bones will not longer jump back into the position they were in prior to the bone tool being selected. Shift + ctrl lets one move bones. individually. As of update 9.52. MOCCA is now on the main overhead toolbar.

Clothilde was one of those great additions to R9. Even though it was new in release 9, it has also undergone renovation. CINEMA 4D R9.5 particle system’s gravity, drag and wind can now be used in the include list, enumerated further below. There is a new belt tag and a new algorithm There is a cache tool that lets one fine tune the cached solution. Also having to do with cache is a cache load/save, and cache is now local so cached objects can be moved, rotated, and saved after baking.

Clothilde really does amazing work. Imagine taking a paper pattern looking T-shirt and in just a few minutes and a few easy maneuvers creating a cloth garment with movement and folds. This tutorial took about 10 minutes.

Below are two of the menus used to create the T-shirt.

Clothilde can now work with the Force objects used in CINEMA 4D's particle systems. The following objects can now be placed in the Include list.

  • Attractor
  • Gravity
  • Rotation
  • Turbulence
  • Wind

Animation, of course, is an integral and very important part of CINEMA 4D. Below is a screen capture of the animation timeline. One can also use the f-curve view to adjust motion for greater control. According to the R9.5 Addendum, there is no major additions to Animation. However, many improvements have been added in corollary categories.

  • you can render frames in the middle of an animation using specific presets
  • you can render parts of an animation independent of the render settings
  • also, a number of settings have been added to deal with Daylight Savings Time in animations.

Directly from Addendum 9.5, p. 159, " 'Load...' and 'Save...' options in the 'Cache' tab give you [the user] the opportunity to load or save your calculated simulations as you work."

We have touched on many of the areas that help one work toward creating outstanding animations such as the new baking additions, multi-pass rendering, the sky module which will have a great influence, Thinking Particles, Pyrocluster and all the special effects that involve movement like those new to Clothilde as described above.

I find that the quality of the tutorials that are part of a program are important. There is a CD that is part of the CINEMA 4D R9.5 XL Bundle that is comprised of very good videos that deal with some of the new features of R9.5 such as the Content Browser, Lighting, Ambient Occlusion, Texture and Object Baking, Creating Displacement and Normal Maps, etc. In addition to introducing these new features, these tutorials simplify some of the concepts so that new users, even ones relatively new to 3D programs, should understand the basics and be able to build on these. In the tutorial called the Gnome, for example, they demonstrate how easy it is to Bake both objects and textures and apply Ambient Occlusion to an object. They, then, have the user see how render times differed before and after these techniques were applied.

The tutorial CD for R9.5 showcased the main new features. The first instruction in the Introductory clip is how to place the material from this CD into the new Content Browser. I found that when I followed the instructions, the folder turned out to be empty. I was not the only one with this problem. Luckily, one of our Renderosity members, Becco_UK posted the following: "Solution: Having navigated to the said cat file in your contents browser, select file>new browser and navigate to the video tutorials CD. You can then drag and drop the required project files and the video tutorials into the 9.5 video tutorials cat 4d file in your original contents browser; where they will appear, complete with thumbnails for the C4D files." He stated it was from an addendum slip that came with his 9.5 upgrade.

It was hard to decide the best place to put this information. While writing the review, MAXON came up with an update which added NEW material to an already full release 9.5. This is a free update for CINEMA 4D R9.5 owners and can be downloaded from MAXON's site: One needs to navigate to Quick Links>Downloads>Updates>CINEMA 4D R9.5. You can also get the Addendum there which I recommend especially since it has installation and other important material in it. I will mention some of the new material.

  • In "load presets" menus, directories and their respective subdirectories are shown.
  • In the Advanced Render Module there is a Cylindrical Lens in Effects.
  • ChanLum Shader is now a part of Effects in the Material Manager - note the instructions in the Addendum.
  • Scripts, audio files, and layouts are now automatically recognized and can be opened by the Content Browser.
  • NET Render Jobs page has been augmented so that anyone with administrative privileges can restart the Clients or Server from that page.

My only criticism of CINEMA 4D R9.5 is the documentation even though MAXON describes it as plentiful and complete in its section on Highlights on its web site. While it is plentiful and complete, it is in many separate pieces which hinders its functionality.What MAXON has done is keep the original configuration of theC4D R9.0 manual and add 2 addendums. - one for the 9.1 release and one for the 9.5 release. Thus one has to work with three documents. The help command opens up the C4D R9.0 manual. However changes have been made and new features have been added. If you are a newcomer to CINEMA 4D, this would present a possible problem because the documentation might not be correct in the online manual. One would, then, have to check both addendums. Also, the Quickstart manual refers to R9.0. Since all of the online material is in PDF format, I do not see why the online material, at least, was not combined so that users would have one complete reference document. The R9.52 addendum makes sense to me as a separate unit since it was released after R9.5 was released.

For those people who are thinking about upgrading from any any version of R8, these are some of the features new to R9 and or 9.1.

  • N-Gons - These help to keep meshes clean by being able to create polygons with more than 4 corner points.
  • Tweak mode - enables a user to use the same tool for editing points, edges, and polygons depending on where it hovers.
  • HUD - This tool allows users to display and adjust parameters from the view port.
  • Brush tool - for sculpting objects interactively by painting detail and smoothness onto a model.
  • Melt tool - for simplifying needlessly complicated parts of a model and turning multiply polygons into an n-gon.
  • Soft Selection - This moves selected polygons with smooth interpolation between those not selected

There are some programs that as you use them seem to make sense once you learn the vocabulary and what different command mean. One step follows another in an order that seems logical. CINEMA 4D R9.5 (now R9.52) is such a program. The Object Manager, Material Manager, Attribute Manager, customizable interface, and HUD among others simplifies and speeds up the workflow tremendously. There is always a learning curve. While in some programs it is steep because of the program itself, in CINEMA 4D, in my opinion, the learning curve is based on the individual's knowledge of 3D as a whole since using CINEMA 4D is the easier part.

The system requirements are:

Minimum hardware requirements
Mac OS X 10.3 or Windows 2000 / XP
512 MB RAM, CPU 1GHz

Suggested hardware requirements
Mac OS X 10.3 or Windows 2000 / XP
1024 MB RAM, CPU 2 GHz
current OpenGL-capable graphics card

The CINEMA 4D Bundle R9.5 costs US $1995 for the full version and various prices for the upgrade depending on which release of CINEMA 4D you owned.