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Blog: An editors thoughts on being a Maxon Cinema 4D newbie

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Tom Daigon
Blog: An editors thoughts on being a Maxon Cinema 4D newbie
on May 23, 2013 at 2:21:39 pm

Its a good thing I like learning new technology. Because over my career as an editor Ive had to learn lots of hardware and software. Thank goodness my brain knows how to forget the older stuff to make room for the newer stuff. Learning the edit system was initially my primary concern (CMX/Avid/FCP/Premiere). Over the years I was expected to augment that with other stuff like switchers, DVE boxes and character generators. Then all of a sudden everything I needed to know became software. Avid lead the charge there. Client expectations soon included motion graphics. So, After Effects and a never ending parade of plugins needed to be learned. And recently After Effects took a quantum leap by including Maxon Cinema 4D Lite for free. When I heard this I knew it was time to start learning this 3D software.

Now while I may be a newbie to C4D, I have dabbled with 3D in various shapes and forms over the years. Starting with Videoscape & Modeller on my Amiga 2000. Given the CPU power back then rendering was at least an over night or week long experience. I also worked with Lightwave creating logos for a short time and that was my first real taste of professional software on a very limited basis.Recently I even stuck my toe in the water with Blender. An amazing program, but one that lacks Mograph tools which I feel is C4D's real strength when used with After Effects. After Effects really made 3D type a more viable possibility with software from Zaxwerks and Video Copilot. But there are limits to the types of images that are created. No real shadows, reflections or transparency due to the nature of the 3D engines being used. And they don't have the model building, animating and advanced capabilities (i.e., dynamics, sculpting, character animation, etc) that C4D does have.

I should clarify at this point that as primarily an editor with motion graphic tendencies, my motivation for learning C4D is focused. And motion graphic enhancement is at the center of this focus. Im not really interested in doing character animation, architectural design or even extensive model building. I just want the tools like Mograph Effectors and Dynamics that can add to my After Effects projects.Thats the reason I chose the Studio version, since it includes both these elements. It has a lot of other stuff as well. Your needs might be met by the C4D Lite version included in After Effects, but mine were not.

I should also say at the point when Im writing this blog. Adobe Creative Cloud has not been released yet. So I have no experience or knowledge regarding the interactive use of C4D and AE that is made possible by Cineware. It sounds wonderful but I can't really comment on it since its not here yet.

So let the learning process begin!. As I said earlier, I enjoy it a lot. And I really appreciate the fact that the internet is chock full of wonderful sources of tutorials. I started taking courses at fxphd, and Digital Tutors, since I wanted to accelerate my education. I found the tuts at these sites well worth the cost. C4D does have a learning curve and if you are serious about using it, you owe it to yourself to understand how it works. I try to get a balance of tutorials, some of which describe how all the tools work and others show you how to use these tools in a project situation. For me, daily repeated exposure to the software really helps me get comfortable with things like the GUI and the workflow. And after several weeks things really begin to make sense.

Im at a point now where the GUI feels familiar and comfortable. The icons help me identify certain functions on sight. I have a better grasp of the concept of hierarchy which is a foundation that C4D is built upon. My HP Z820 does a fine job of running the software. One thing I would love to see in the future is GPU based rendering. With the available CUDA cards on the market, this kind of rendering in my experience is much faster then CPU based rendering which is currently the way it is done.

Well at this point I feel that even with all the classes and tuts I've taken, I have experienced just a tiny tip of the iceberg in terms of what C4D has to offer. It will be cool to see its integration into After Effects with Cineware. I know folks who are experts with it tell me they are very excited about the possibilities.

As a 3D newbie I am enthusiastic about how Maxon's Cinema 4D will add goodness to my Adobe After Effects projects.

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