Is it Time to Update Your Animation Software?

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We all know that software updates are important, but sometimes they just seem like one more thing to add to the ‘to do’ list. However, when you’re working with animation software – particularly when it is supporting your professional reputation – there are some very good reasons to make sure that you don’t lag behind.

Your software won’t be at its best without updates

If you want to make sure that the software you’re using is at its most secure and efficient, then updating regularly is essential. Updates typically:

  • fix bugs,
  • address security issues,
  • provide speed-ups,
  • add new features.

So whilst they do require a bit of time to install, the above benefits make them very worthwhile. 

Updates can save you a lot of time

The longer it's been since your last update, the greater the risk that you'll encounter a crash from a bug that has already been addressed and fixed in an update. Crashes can lose you hours of lost work. No doubt you've experienced this yourself, so spending a few minutes to regularly update helps you minimize the risk of lost time due to crashes.

Updates can also provide a considerable increase to your work output. Render speed-ups, workflow tweaks and more typically appear in updates. Make sure you're taking advantage of them.

Update vs upgrade

Most software companies provide free updates to a release, which largely focus on bug fixes and optimisations. Upgrades normally provide new functionality as well as optimisations for the latest hardware and software. In the case of our own Cinema 4D 3D software, we typically provide around 2 to 4 updates per year for the most recent release and one major upgrade to the next release.

It's important to note that when a new release comes out, maintenance and updates on the old release tends to stop. So if you choose not to upgrade, there is potential for your software to not work properly with the latest operating systems and supporting software. So, remember that an upgrade not only provides new features, but OS and software updates too.

When should you upgrade or switch animation software?

You may well reach a point where, even with all the updates installed, your software isn’t really doing your work justice. So, how do you know when a software upgrade or switch is due? That could be to a later release of the software you own or entirely different software. Here are some good reasons on when to consider an upgrade or a switch:

You can take advantage of the latest features

In animation, it's important to stand out from the crowd to ensure customers want to work with you rather than one with one of your rivals. One way of keeping different is to use new techniques and tools to keep your work looking ahead of the game. So using the latest and greatest releases helps give you that competitive edge.

Your abilities are limited

For example, you might find that your modelling toolkit is much more limited than your ideas and imagination. Or your rendering might currently be far too slow, especially with smaller animations. Or perhaps you’re unable to enhance speed to make animation scenes fast. You don’t need to live with these issues if you upgrade to new software that doesn’t suffer with them.

Workflow is problematic

It’s not just about what you produce but how you get there too – if your workflow is clunky and clumsy, it could be time to move on. Time is money, so if you can do the same kind of work faster in another piece of software, that's something to seriously consider.

You’re feeling held back

If others are working with powerful modelling, rendering and simulation in the latest software, and you’re not, then your work is going to suffer as a result. It's always wise to take a good look at your competition and check how well your work looks against theirs. Can you do everything they can do and more? If so, great! If not, then get looking how to.

Your software is out-dated

The animation world moves at pace and if you want to keep up with the latest innovation, then you need the latest software with which to do it. If you’re finding that your current software doesn’t allow you to perform tasks, add details or benefit from efficiencies that other programmes do, it might be time to invest in something new.

Everything takes too long

If you feel your animation is taking you far too long to complete then you may not be taking the most efficient route to the end product. An upgrade in software or hardware could help you to get there faster. Take some time to consider whether the issues are to do with the software being used or the hardware it's being run on. You may need to upgrade one or both.

What's the cheapest way to keep your animation software up to date?

This varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but generally it's most cost effective to update annually. Manufacturers really appreciate regular upgraders, so they tend to get the best deals. 

In the case of Cinema 4D, the MAXON Service Agreement (MSA) is a 12 or 24 month agreement which provides upgrades to the most recent release during the service period as well as access to Cineversity for online training. It's also very good value when compared to lots of other software companies. For example, a Cinema 4D Studio 12-month MSA costs £470 ex VAT, which is under 17% of the perpetual £2,800 ex VAT licence cost. So, although perpetual licences have a considerable initial outlay, the annual cost to keep them up to date is very fair.

Just remember that the MSA can only be purchased if you're on the most recent release of the software. If a new release comes out (such as R19 due in September, 2017), then you then need to look at a manual upgrade. On a Studio, that's £700 vs the £470 MSA cost. So, MSA is much cheaper than a manual upgrade.

If you're on an older release of Cinema 4D, then a particularly good time to look at upgrades is the month before release of the new version. That month, MAXON typically offers the current release upgrade but with an MSA included. That MSA will get you the imminent release appearing the following month as well as 12 months of Cineversity access. It also works out a lot cheaper than waiting for the new release as after that is out the manual release prices kick in and they are much more expensive. For example, a Cinema 4D R17 Studio owner can currently upgrade to R18 inc MSA to get R19 and Cineversity for £700 ex VAT. But if they wait until R19 releases, the cost will be £1,120 ex VAT. £420 cheaper to buy this month and they get Cineversity!

Are all upgrades worth getting?

Just because a manufacturer releases an upgrade, it doesn't necessarily mean it's worth it to you. Can you justify the cost for the features on offer? 

MAXON tries hard to ensure that its software upgrades are always full of features that make a big difference to upgraders. For example, the upcoming R19 provides huge features including loads of viewport improvements, GPU rendering, innovative new MoGraph tools, Level of Detail modes, a new media core, new polygon reduction, spherical VR camera, Open GL painting, UV editing improvements, render speed-ups, file format updates and much more. You can learn a bit more here in Matt's Cinema 4D R19 Favourite New Features blog post. I think it's a great upgrade, but if you're a Cinema 4D user, you need to naturally decide that for yourself. 

Some customers skip upgrades, choosing to upgrade every 2 or 3 releases. Most manufacturers charge more to upgrade from an older release, so whilst skipping may help your cash flow, it won't really save you any money overall. Also, it means you'll be working with a more limited version of the software than rival artists who have upgraded.

Upgrade or get your MSA this month for the best deal

So, upgrades are good to have for the reasons mentioned above. With Cinema 4D R19 shipping at some point in September 2017, August is the best month to secure the new version.

If you're a Cinema 4D customer in the UK:

If you own Cinema 4D R19 - Buy MSA here

If you own Cinema 4D R18 - Buy an upgrade here

If you own Cinema 4D R17 - Buy an upgrade here

If you own Cinema 4D R16 - Buy an upgrade here

If you've not got Cinema 4D, but fancy a copy then the benefit this month is the MSA is included which gives you 12 months Cinevesity access and you'll get R19 when it ships. Buy Cinema 4D here.

Try Cinema 4D 3D Software for Yourself


Easy to use, powerful, stable and fast. We think Cinema 4D is the best 3D software for 3D motion graphics work. If you'd like to try out Cinema 4D and have a go with all the powerful features on offer, then be sure to grab yourself a free trial. The trial gives you access to virtually all of Cinema 4D's features and you can also opt to activate it for 42 days of save functionality. Simply fill out the form on the link below to get started!

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About the MAXON Blog

Welcome to the official MAXON UK Blog. This blog provides the most up-to-date official information about MAXON, its products – in particular its flagship product Cinema 4D – and the Cinema 4D community. You can expect to see posts from a wide variety of MAXON UK employees.