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13 Jun 2019

Decoding Digital Art:Cinema 4D

As art and technology are becoming increasingly intertwined, it’s easy to look at a digital artwork and just enjoy the design. But when analyzing a classical work of art, the techniques and supplies that the artist used are just as important to keep in mind as the composition itself. What kind of paint did they work with? What specific brushstrokes? We can apply these same kinds of questions to digital art, but instead of looking at physical supplies, we’re looking a software.

Video by motion designer Michael Erla

One application that many emerging media artists are drawn to today is Cinema 4D. An application that is used in animation, rendering, and 3D modeling. First released in the early 90s, Cinema 4D was developed by MAXON, a software company based in Germany. Today, it is used by digital artists and filmmakers around the world to create hypnotizing loops, surreal settings, and highly detailed special effects.

“Cinema 4D allows us to make simulations with light, materials and physics in an easy way and we can get a final result very quickly […] I like that it is possible to configure the render settings and make it easier to work with simple notebooks. There are many ways to get a good result with different render settings.”-Vitória Cribb, Multi-Disciplinary artist

In its initial stages, Cinema 4D was produced solely for Amiga computers. By 1996, the program developed Cinema 4D V4, making the software accessible to Macintosh and Windows users as well. As the program continued to advance throughout the 2000s, different functions were added to improve texture, lighting, and coloring. The program also began to incorporate coding softwares such as Python.

Artists and engineers that we spoke to praised the software for its efficiency and rendering abilities. Motion designer Michael Erla described Cinema 4D as “the ultimate DCC (digital compact cassette)” and “the perfect solution for a one person team”.

Work by Gavin Shapiro, created with Cinema 4D

Cinema 4D has one of the most expansive toolsets of any 3D program out today. Motion designer Gavin Shapiro, who works almost exclusively with the program, noted that tools such as the MoGraph clones and effectors are useful for “controlling large numbers of items” and the rendering tools offer “such good-looking results so quickly”.

Cinema 4D also includes a camera tool. Cribb notes “The different possibilities of Camera are a good point of the software too. You can adjust illumination, focus, depth of field… and select the scale and lens that you want to use. I think that this  big range of possibilities in the camera improve the process of rendering and the process of creation.”

While the program has been described as incredibly easy to follow, it is also considered by many to be an industry standard for motion graphics. One motion graphic designer noted that Cinema 4D is “slowly becoming more essential to learn if you want to get anywhere in MoGraph.” 3D designer and #DecodeExperiential artist Totis Raphael used the program to create his work displayed on the One Times Square building in NYC.

Work by Totis Raphael, displayed on One Times Square for #DecodeExperiential

“Cinema 4D feels so intuitive! 3D is not that easy, especially for starters […] By having software like Cinema 4D with such a friendly and easy to navigate UI yet still covering from basic all the way up to advanced tools, it really makes the whole process easier and much more enjoyable […] it allows me to work faster and way more efficiently compared to any other 3D software”-Totis Raphael, 3D artist

As new digital artworks emerge, we think it’s important to #decode how they’re being made and get insight from the digital art community. Cinema 4D has continued to improve its software, making motion graphic design easier and more accessible than ever before. We’re excited to see how the program develops and what incredible work these digital artists come up with next!

Sources: Maxon.net, Featured image “São os Seus Olhos” by: Vitória Cribb, @louquai

#DecodeExperiential: A Lightbox x As We Are project