Wish List for Cinema 4D R15

A growing list of needed features/improvements for Cinema 4D.

Render Layers

I started a thread on CGTalk that got quite a bit of discussion about this going.

The lack of some sort of render layer management system makes my experience with Cinema a nightmare time after time. A lot of people I talk to about this don’t initially know what I’m talking about or suggest I look into render passes which are something different. So here’s a detailed example in case you don’t know about render layers:

I want to composite an apple slowly fading up to full visibility on a table in After Effects. To do this correctly you need to render the scene at least twice to get a render of just the apple and then just the table separately. An object buffer on the apple wont work in this case because when you apply the buffer and reduce the apple’s transparency, there wont be anything behind it except a black area in the shape of the apple.

So to do this in Cinema, you must save 2 different versions of the scene to render. One where only the apple is visible and the other where only the table is visible. Simple enough. But, now the client comes back and wants to make changes to the scene. You now must either go in to each file and make the same changes twice, or, make the changes in the original scene and then save the two .c4d files again to render. Hardly convient or maintainable, especially when things get more complicated than this simple example.

In Maya, you would have the apple on one render layer, the table on another. And from just one Maya scene you can render both layers to different image files, no need to create multiple .ma’s. And when the client comes back and wants to make changes, it’s easy because the two layers are children of a master layer. In the master layer you can make changes globally and have them trickle down to the children layers. Hit render, done.

There is a plugin that has attempted to provide this functionality called Render Elements which was developed by Adam Swaab. He did an amazing job at providing a solution to a big problem that hasn’t yet been adressed by Maxon. That said, saving out separate .c4d files for each individual pass you want separate is an archaic way of doing this. And it doesn’t work with user data or Xpresso.

Render Output Configurability

Somewhat related to render layers, but not dependent, is a better way to specify where your rendered files go. What is the point of separating the main image from multipasses in the render settings? It’s annoying that I basically have to set the same thing twice. I think Maxon should take inspiration from how Maya does it.

For example, in Maya, this tokenized control string:
/<Camera>/<Layer>/<Pass>/<Pass>_####.<Extension>

would generate files at these locations:

“/camera_one/apple_layer/diffuse/diffuse_0001.png”
“/camera_one/apple_layer/specular/specular_0001.png”
“/camera_one/table_layer/diffuse/diffuse_0001.png”
“/camera_one/table_layer/specular/specular_0001.png
“/camera_two/apple_layer/diffuse/diffuse_0001.png”

Material Instance Control

The ability to control materials on a per-instance basis in Xpresso would be of tremendous help. Have you ever made duplicates of a material to just change a single property while keeping the rest the same? A texture or vertex map is not always a good answer to this problem either.

Bodypaint

Bodypaint is really, really outdated. It lacks now basic functionality like stitching and joining UVs. The interface has always struck me as completely non-intuitive. And nearly every time I want to do something simple, I usually have to go find a tutorial online somewhere reminding me on how to use it. Easily the most needed feature in Cinema needing an overhaul.

Native Shadow Catcher Shader

It’s unacceptable that this request has been repeatedly ignored by Maxon for years. Theres a plugin thats been floating around for years that only works with soft shadows and even then doesn’t always do what you want.

Full Scripting Access to Mograph clones

I know it’s a performance related problem and a long shot of a request. But it would be great if you could access more than just the Position/Scale/Rotation of the clones. For example, the ability to control user data on a clone instance from an effector.

Xpresso Refresh

The R14 improvement was merely a facelift. I wish it would have actually improved/added functionality? Some inspiration from Houdini, Nuke, or now even Modo would be great.

Thinking Particles

The makers of Thinking Particles, Cebas, were hired to write the TP module for Cinema 4D R8 that came out in 2002. Back then TP was in its first iteration. Its progressed quite a bit since then and now stands at version 5. Cinema’s Thinking Particles haven’t moved along with the times at all.

One specific feature in need of addition is true sub-frame sampling for particle simulations. This solution does not solve problems across the board. In cases of high velocity emitters and other situations particles still group into un-natural patterns.

Anti-Aliased Multi-Passes

The Material UVW and Material Normal passes provided by Cinema are rendered almost completely useless because they aren’t aliased. You currently need to render the image at about 4x resolution to get usable results.

  • Kent

    I’m a bit frustrated with modo 601 and it’s animation so I’ve been spending a great deal of time to learn C4D. But then I got to the point where I needed shadows for a hdri montage. Considering how brilliant the program are I just assumed I could turn it on with a “floor”-setting. But no, no shadows to be found, just a lousy plug-in and a shader that needs aonther program to funktion. Shame on you maxon!

    Guess I won’t be selling my modo license after all.