What is Cinema 4D?
CINEMA 4D (C4D) is an advanced 3D modelling and rendering application by MAXON, which can be used to create virtual 3D models, animations, motion graphics and still imagery. Its modelling, sculpting, animation, lighting, texturing, and rendering features can be used in combination to produce awesomely life-like still images or broadcast quality animations.
Very often client projects require an image or animation, which simply can’t be produced in the real world. In such instances, C4D is the perfect solution for creating new product visualisations, conceptual imagery and animations.
What is C4D capable of?
C4D is being used increasingly by industry to generate visual content for architecture, gaming, TV graphics, movie VFX, animated films and visualisation.
You’ve probably seen a great deal of imagery that was created using 3D apps like C4D without even realising it! The movie industry is realising the power and flexibility offered by C4D and films such as James Bond’s Spectre, The Martian, Iron-Man, Avengers and The Hunger Games have all employed its amazing capabilities to conceive stunning visual experiences for us to enjoy at the flicks. The BBC is also a great exponent of this software, using it for many of its idents. The car industry, too, is following the trend of using 3D in place of traditional photography: Kia now uses C4D to create super slick exterior and interior images of its latest models. For some great examples, watch MAXON’s overview showreel:
Factor 3’s C4D work
I’ve used C4D on a number of our projects. It’s very useful if you can’t find a photo of what you want, at the angle you want, in the environment you want (which, as a designer, is something I experience every day!). So, now I stop wasting time with online image searches and just model up what I need.
Factor 3 has used C4D in the following projects:
L3 TRL: A 3-minute ‘new strategy’ launch movie was created in a holographic HUD style to reflect the company’s leading-edge position within the cyber security and electronic warfare industry.
Wavin AquaCell: A 5-minute video showcasing Wavin’s infiltration and attenuation product range: AquaCell. 3D models of each crate were constructed and then animated to demonstrate their unique benefits – in a style which complemented our existing print campaign. Watch it here…
Lakes Bathrooms: I created several images of new enclosures for use in literature and PR for Lakes and its resellers. Set building and traditional photography for just one or two new product lines was not financially viable, so modelling bathroom sets in C4D was a better way to achieve a comparable result.
AF: We decided to be proactive and set about redesigning their packaging to achieve a more streamlined and consistent brand image. The client was so happy with the results, compared to their traditional product photography, that our 3D images appeared in press advertising and their subsequent exhibition stand at Paperworld 2017.
Electrolube: We used C4D to visualise several pack types to convince our client that a packaging overhaul was long overdue. Now our design templates have been implemented across the entire range.
Wavin: We used C4D to create a range of product models and 3D illustrations to demonstrate the benefits of using Wavin’s above and below ground water management systems and fabrication services. These were used in literature, exhibitions, online and internal comms.
Wavin: asked us to create a series of striking literature covers, which involved modelling specific elements and compositing them into background plates using Adobe Photoshop.
Jablite, Ecclesiastical, Avire and Hepworth Clay: C4D is a great way to quickly show clients how their exhibition stand will look in the real-world, giving a sense of the overall available space and scale of each stand feature.
Cheltenham College: I created a 3D map of Cheltenham College and its grounds for use in their prospectus pack.
How I learnt to use it
On the job, mostly. C4D is such a deeply layered app that I’m sure I’ll be learning new things about it forever. There’s a huge array of mind-blowingly complex features including such things as physical dynamics, simulations, thinking particles, character-rigging, MoGraph, Xpresso and Sculpt, of which I have only just scratched the surface.
Thankfully, there are some excellent online tutorials out there and I must take a moment to ‘big up’ Nick Campbell and his amazing team at the awesome Greyscalegorilla.com. Their ‘work’ experimenting and trying out all the new features within each release of C4D has been my biggest and best source of inspiration and learning.
How does this improve Factor 3’s offering and creative output?
Using C4D allows us to create images not physically or financially possible in a real-world scenario.
When I started at Factor 3 (almost 10 years ago now!), we were predominantly a traditional advertising agency. Now, every day I come into the office and there is something new and different to get stuck into creatively; from exhibition stand designs to product visualisation, packaging design and animations. C4D has definitely played a large role in helping us to expand our creative capabilities without having to resort to costly outsourcing.
How do you think Cinema 4D might affect future design and advertising?
For financial reasons alone, I still see a role for traditional forms of advertising, but increasingly I think advertising will take on a more immersive and experience-based form – shifting from obsessing over what advertising looks like to what advertising feels like. It’s estimated the VR market could be worth $5.2bn by 2018 and technologies such as 360 VR, augmented and virtual reality will all play a part in how brands communicate and emote to us about their brands, products and services.
How could the software be developed for future needs i.e. 3D models for virtual reality?
Although my training doesn’t yet extend into the field of virtual reality experiences, I do know that C4D is already capable of outputting 360º VR scenes for use with headsets such as the Oculus Rift (although further processing using additional software may be required).
Virtual and augmented reality are the buzz words of today’s advertising and marketing industry, and Cinema 4D is just part of a suite of apps that can be used to create content for such experiences. I’m sure the developers at MAXON are already working on the next generation of features and functionality, but, unless you have a degree in physics, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll have a clue how it all works. In any case, the current incarnation of Cinema 4D is pretty awesome!