What is Cinema 4D?


Put simply, Cinema 4D is 3D animation software which is used to create still images or animations. Read on to find out more...

Let's clear one thing up straight away: we're not talking about the type of 3D where you put special glasses on and the images 'pop out' at you. Rather, 3D software is used to create your models in a 3D environment. It's like having your own film studio but you create the models from scratch or buy them from model banks. 3D software is usually used to create any imagery that is too expensive or difficult to create by other methods. The end results can be viewed just the same as ordinary imagery such as a jpeg or a movie. Indeed, the image above was created in 3D software, but it's just a regular jpeg.

You may be wondering what the '4D' refers to in 'Cinema 4D.' That's an easy one: time is considered by many to be the fourth dimension. You can animate almost any parameter over time in Cinema 4D, so strictly speaking, you can work in four dimensions in Cinema 4D.

In recent years, some cinemas have promoted the term 4D Cinema or 4D Film. Such cinemas play films with additional effects like slight movement, smells and sprays. If that's what you're looking for, you're in the wrong place! Search '4D cinema' on a search engine for more info on that...

What Can You Do With Cinema 4D?

To give you a quick overview of what Cinema 4D does and why it's popular, check out this movie we made:

Not a bad taster, huh? OK, so now that you've seen a bit about what Cinema 4D is, we want you check out one short reel showing you what UK & Eire customers make with it in just one specialty which Cinema 4D shines at: Motion Graphics.

Cinema 4D is also used to create all kinds of work in various areas such as product visualisation, architecture, illustration, games and much more. The reason why it's so widely used is because of several key points that matter for professional 3D design:

Cinema 4D Is Intuitive

The one word we hear time and again from users of the software and those trying out the free trial is 'intuitive.' Cinema 4D was originally released as FastRay in 1991 on the Amiga. It was designed to be easy to use for all artists - you didn't need to be technically-minded or part of a big team of artists, each with their own area of technical expertise.

The early days of Cinema 4D gave a fairly simple 3D application, but one that was much easier to use than most other 3D applications. It was swiftly championed by users for its ease of use, and as it became popular, MAXON enlarged the development team and started adding powerful features whilst always looking to keep ease of use and stability as a priority. Some 25 years later, this philosophy still remains.

Intuitive software also means that you spend less time figuring out how something works and more time producing work. Cinema 4D is much faster to work with than most 3D animation software out there.

Another reason why ease of use matters is that it frees you up to be more creative, to get better results. Because you can change things quickly, it is easier to try and improve things.

As Stable As A Healthy Elephant

Cinema 4D - Stable as a healthy elephant

That's what one UK magazine review once said about Cinema 4D, and it's still the case today. 3D animation software is complicated to program and Cinema 4D has millions of lines of code and thousands of features. Yet it still remains as one of the most stable applications you can buy thanks to robust testing and methodical programming by an experienced team.

Powerful, Massive and Versatile Toolset

Luke Carpenter - BBC 2

Having been constantly updated since its creation 25 years ago, Cinema 4D has matured into seriously powerful and versatile 3D animation software. Whilst you can easily create bread-and-butter work like 3D text and logos, Cinema 4D's powerful toolset means you can model, texture, light and render anything your mind can imagine.

Whilst there are other easy-to-use 3D applications, they tend to be quite limited in what they can do, so if you get more into 3D and want to do more, you can find yourself needing to look at a new application. With Cinema 4D, you have a tool that is both easy to get going with and has the high-end power as well.

Various Configurations For Various Needs And Budgets

PICS - Olay

Quite unusually for 3D software, Cinema 4D still comes in various configurations to suit the needs and budgets of customers. You can also upgrade from one to another if you so wish. But if you don't need every feature, you may find one of the simpler packages suits you better. Cinema 4D comes in four configurations:

Cinema 4D Prime - Designed with the core features that make it an ideal choice for those new to 3D who want to toe-dip or produce less demanding 3D work.

Cinema 4D Broadcast - Designed for those who work in TV Broadcast. This pack contains all the features of Prime as well as some specific tools for more advanced rendering and creation of eye-catching motion graphics.

Cinema 4D Visualize - Designed for those who work in product or building visualisation. This configuration provides Cinema 4D's best render tools for highly realistic or artistic renders (sketch, marker pen, ink, etc.) as well as special content to help populate your scenes with furniture and objects.

Cinema 4D Studio - Contains all the features of the other editions as well as hair, a physics engine, network rendering and advanced character and particle tools.

All of the above are available as perpetual licences, which means you can buy them outright and use them for as long as you need. Cinema 4D Studio is also available as a short term licence where you can buy three or six months of run-time.

What Cinema 4D Users In The UK Say

Vincen London - BBC 2

"Cinema 4D is by far the best 3D software for motion graphics and general creative flexibility. You can do pretty much everything within a single application. It's intuitive and great for creative users. The After Effects/Cinema 4D integration is especially great for quick changes and amendments when nearing the delivery deadline."
John Hill, Creative Director
Vincent London

"The initial burst of ease of use is great, and then as you explore there are the more in-depth functions too – it can do the design work, but can also scale to the heavier VFX content."
Matthias Winckelmann, Head of 3D

"Cinema 4D is the most robust software I've ever used."
Pete Black, Head of Post Production
Affixxius Films

"As always, Cinema 4D was a reliable tool that gave us all the options we needed to create the huge number of screens for Ridley Scott's 'The Martian.'"
Peter Eszenyi, Head of 3D
Territory Studio

"We're not a VFX company; we're not really a CG company. We tend to work with talented designers and animators; we don't tend to work with CG specialists. We don't bring in a lighting designer. We don't bring in texture artists. Basically, what usually happens in here is somebody is given a shot, saying, 'That's your shot, and you need to generate pretty much everything in that shot – the UI elements and the CG elements.' For the most part, at SPOV, people have a shot or a sequence – and it's theirs. You complete it from start to finish. Cinema 4D allows people who are not specialist CG artists to generate quality 3D content."
Allen Leitch, Founder and Creative Director

"Having been in the industry for many years, starting on the Quantel Classic Paintbox in 1989, I never imagined that a 3D program would end up being my primary tool. As a designer first and foremost, I find that Cinema 4D allows me to design things fast without technical issues interrupting the flow."
Piers Helm, Creative Director and Co-Owner
Creative Nuts

"I find Cinema 4D to have pretty much everything you need for narrative animation and rarely find myself leaving the application until the compositing stage. There is a tool for every job and usually more than one solution to a problem."
Pryce Duncalf, Creative Director and Production Lead
Munk Studio

"Cinema 4D was great in the fact that it allowed me to quickly realise complex ideas. You can just throw stuff together and play with complex systems. Just the ability to go from sketch to idea very quickly."
Simon Russell, Animation Director
Vicarage Studio

"Other 3D programs I've used are a tad unstable and prone to crashing. When deadlines are approaching it's good to be working with a rock-solid tool like Cinema 4D that can take everything you can throw at it."
Kevin Hopgood, Freelance Illustrator

"The learning curve for Cinema 4D is very good compared to other software and the interface is just so intuitive."
Emlyn Davies, Founder & Creative Director
Bomper Studio

"At Streetmonkey we have used Cinema 4D in our creative pipeline for over 10 years because of its ease of use, stability, and speed in turning around a project within the timeframe."
Ian Lawrence, Animator / Motion Graphic Designer

"I'd used other 3D packages before but I knew Cinema 4D could produce beautiful results quickly. And with Cineware it had an easy-to-use workflow with After Effects. Without this workflow this job wouldn't have been possible in the time."
Rob Shergold, Founder

"Speed is key to our projects. Cinema 4D allows fast rendering and pulling things back into After Effects while MoGraph offers an artist-friendly, procedural way of animating. We can create complex structures and make last minute changes very quickly."
David Sheldon-Hicks, Creative Director
Territory Studio

Free Tutorials

There are loads of great Cinema 4D tutorials to get you up and running. Also, our office in the US runs the fantastic Cineversity website, which is packed with free and paid-for tutorials. You can even get full access for free when you maintain your Cinema 4D licence with a MAXON Service Agreement. Here are some of our favourite free playlists on Cineversity:

Here When You Need Us

Cinema 4D has been sold in the UK since the late 90s. In October 2001, MAXON opened its UK office, which sells and supports Cinema 4D. If you ever need help, you are welcome to call our friendly staff on 0333 772 0444, email us at info_uk@maxon.net or arrange a visit to our office in Ampthill, Bedfordshire. 

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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.