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Tanner Shelton

Cinema 4D Advantages?

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Hello,

 

I have been working on some rendering in Vectorworks with some volumetric lights with gobos. And the renders seemed to be taking an extra long time. So I downloaded the Cinema 4D trial to see how that would affect it, it went faster to a point, and the volumetrics looked a bit nicer, but not a huge difference. So my question is this, what are all of the benefits to using Cinema 4D to render instead of Renderworks? I know they use the same render engine, but I wanted to see if there were any additional settings that would make a big difference to use Cinema instead?

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I have so many thoughts about this, but I will try to keep it top line:

  • Lighting - the entire lighting system is miles ahead in Cinema.  Just the ability to move and point lights via gimbal alone makes this much faster to light scenes.
  • Object management - the ability to see the hierarchy of your whole scene and manipulate it via a manager as well as per object in the scene makes the workflow much faster.
  • Materials - I think the material system in VW is clunky and hard to use.  Cinemas material system is miles ahead in ease of use and realism.
  • Object handling - I can rotate millions and millions of polys in Cinema without it even blinking, where the same scene in VW is slow to refresh.
  • Add on render engine support.  I haven't used the built in render engines in Cinema in about 5 years.  I use Corona as my main render engine and use Redshift for all of my volumetrics.  Once you go to GPU rendering and get real time feedback on lighting and material creation, you cannot go back.  That said - Corona is CPU based, but still offers a real time preview window to build your scenes with.  Redshift, Octane, Arnold, Unreal - we are rich with render options these days.
  • Render Speed - it just cooks faster all around.
  • Cloner tool - think live, parametric duplicate array
  • Parametric workflow - things like Extrude along path and sweeps are run by splines and generators in Cinema - keeping them as objects you can manipulate and update in real time.
  • Cameras - there is no way to even compare the two.  Cameras in Cinema are so much easier to use and more physically accurate.
  • so many more.......

Yes - it is technically the same render engine, but if you put a Ferrari engine into a Volkswagon, you are still sitting in a VW.  If you just run vanilla Cinema, your workflow has improved, but when you start to add some plug ins and render engines, things go to apples and oranges very quickly.  Look at Poliigon.com for example - with their plugin, you can add any of their materials to a scene with three clicks with all maps in the right place.

 

I use VW as a modeler and to generate sheets and elevations from - but I do all the materials, lighting, camera work and rendering in Cinema.  If you look at my website - everything there is build this way.  Happy to answer more specific questions.

 

e.

Edited by EAlexander

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@EAlexander Those are some very good points! I mostly am doing entertainment design, and my background is Blender and Maya. So I was thinking Cinema might also match the workflow I'm used to a bit better, and integrate that with Vectorworks for creating plans and the 3d then rendering and texturing in Cinema. Your work looks awesome as well, definitely what I would want to shoot for in quality.

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Thanks very much!

 

If you already have experience with Blender and Maya, I think you'll find Cinema very easy to pick up.  The workflow with Vectorworks isn't perfect, but it is pretty great.  Let me know how else I can help.

 

e.

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I think my initial post comes across as a bit harsh on VW - I love VW and I use it every day.  I think VW and Cinema together are a great combination.  VW frustrates me and I stay about a year behind development for stability - but all software frustrates me to some degree.  Renderworks has improved a lot and I do open GL and realistic white interior renders of a lot of our work for clients.  I appreciate the work that goes into it.

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Two different programs with two different objectives IMHO.  I think it's great that VW has a rendering portion to it, so we can do greyscale and openGL renderings, and make our drafting look good.  Some users might be happy with the best Renderworks has to offer as well.  Cinema and its cousins/brothers out there in the rendering world are used to make movies, motion graphics, product shots.  It is a heavy hitter in the rendering world and will get you better renders every time compared to VW.  I would even argue that even if you knew nothing about the myriad of options available to you once you send to c4d, just having team render set up in your office or the ability to outsource a batch of renderings to a 3rd party rendering service so you can keep working will speed up your workflow.  

 

Evan's list is a good starting point for how to look for improvements in your renderings once you go to VW-C4D workflow.  

That said, I would not/could not draft a show and present draftings to a shop for building by just using C4D.  So the reverse is also true.  Technically you could draft plates in C4D, there are plug ins for dimensioning and what not, but it is not meant to do that.  

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@EAlexander and @grant_PD I'm looking into requesting Cinema 4D after all of your great suggestions. Would rendering time decrease with the default Physical Render engine in C4D? Or are there options I can lower specific things to decrease the rendering time? (I feel like when using renderworks, I can lower settings but it greatly compromises quality, there is no in between)

 

And since I do mainly event design, will spotlight instruments work well with other render engines like VRay or Octane? 

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Hi,

 

Render time should decrease with Physical a bit, but mostly your time in setting up lighting and doing test renders will decrease dramatically, so this is where you will mostly see the benefits.

 

Moving to a third party render engine will save you tons of render time right out of the gate.  All the third party render engines for cinema use their own materials, cameras and lighting systems.  A lot of them CAN render native materials and lights, but not as well or efficiently as using that engines native systems. I know Corona and Redshift have automated conversions for materials - these still need some tweaking, but it gets you close to where you want to be automagically.

 

Since I switched to Cinema for my workflow - I don't do any cameras, materials or lighting within VW - but that is just me.  Others might have other workflows.  See what Grant says and also talk to @Wesley Burrows who does a VW to Cinema with Corona workflow similar to mine.  I know Grant is trying out Corona as well.

 

GPU rendering on your 2080ti will blow your current rendertimes out of the water.  Also - most of these engines have free trials - so download some and try them out.

 

e.

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I wouldn't mind switching over to a different render engine. I am used to a PBR workflow, and I think that does a really good job of selling realism. Would spotlight instruments work in these other render engines do you know? I'll have to try some out probably.

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You'll have to try them out.  Some will work if you just add a Tag from that engine, others would require you to replace the whole light.  Focus on the engine that speaks to you most in overall workflow once you try a few out.  Corona was not what I was looking for, but it spoke to me right out of the gate with ease of use, integration with Cinema and the way that it handles light (the best, in my eyes).  Redshift and Octane have given me great stuff as well.

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@EAlexander I have a few more questions for you that I have been thinking of. I decided to push Vectorworks as much as I could to get the most out of it and understand the limits. The extremely frustrating things are handling any type of mesh imported in, it goes so slow. And then the cameras are one of the most frustrating things I have ever worked with. And the lighting of the Physical render used in Vectorworks really doesn't look realistic. And the lack of PBR materials is really hard to get something believable as well. So I am looking into switching again to C4D and either Corona or Redshift.

 

So my questions for you:

1. How do you handle creating the hardware for the lights in your sets? I notice that you have the 3d geo there for them, do you create them in C4D or Vectorworks and then do you just add in a custom corona light and glow texture for the lens and rotate the light hardware to make it look like it is producing the light?

2. How would Redshift compare in reliability and look compared to Corona? I work on large venues, usually recreating an entire ballroom with trim and details, and then all of the chairs and lighting. Is this something that would be too much for Redshift to handle and be better suited for Corona?

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24 minutes ago, Tanner Shelton said:

1. How do you handle creating the hardware for the lights in your sets? I notice that you have the 3d geo there for them, do you create them in C4D or Vectorworks and then do you just add in a custom corona light and glow texture for the lens and rotate the light hardware to make it look like it is producing the light?

2. How would Redshift compare in reliability and look compared to Corona? I work on large venues, usually recreating an entire ballroom with trim and details, and then all of the chairs and lighting. Is this something that would be too much for Redshift to handle and be better suited for Corona?

 

@Tanner Shelton - here's some thoughts on this:

 

1. I put the lights into the vectorworks as much as possible - especially on sets or concerts where the lights are exposed and essentially part of the scenery.  I want them in my sections and ground plans.  Most of the major lighting companies have 3d models of there products online in CAD form - though they tend to be pretty simplified.  For electrics that are overhead or far away, these will work just fine 90% of the time.  I have a collection of hi poly 3D lights for Cinema that are a combination of purchased lights and ones I've built (mostly in Cinema).  So if I need something close to camera or to be the hero of a shot - I'll use those.  Since the units coming in from Vectorworks are Symbols - I can just replace the master symbol and the whole plot will update for me.  My lights are built as nested children - something like this: Base>Yoke>Head>Lens.  So If I rotate the yoke, for example - the head and lens move as expected.  I'll put a luminous material on the lens so I get a glow from the head and with Bloom and Glare in Corona (or Redshift) - I can get a nice flare out of it if I want.  See below for info on getting volumetric beams.

 

You should take a look at the STAGE plug in for Cinema as it's built for controlling and manipulating movers.  I don't use this, but it's a great product: https://hantmade.com/stage/

 

2.  Redshift and Corona are great engines and you can't really go wrong with either one.  I prefer Corona for it's ease of use - Redshift has lots and lots of controls and lets you dial in the samples and clarity of each and every component - and while that's great - I want it to be simple.  Corona has the least amount of sliders and functions of any engine I've used and thats it's superpower - you get great results simple and easy.  Corona, however, doesn't handle Volumetrics well - so that is why I added Redshift.  I have a complicated workflow where I'll render in Corona and then copy the whole file and switch to Redshift to render volumetrics.  I put a black texture on everything and add Redshift lights to the lens of the lighting and dial in the beams and render - then I comp it all together in Photoshop.  If you did it all in Redshift - you could simplify the process.

 

Redshift seems to do okay with larger scenes.  Corona is pretty bulletproof.  I just prefer Corona - it's so easy and well integrated and it handles light really well.  I feel like I know what to expect from the engine, so my work is not experimenting with the render engine - its just experimenting with lighting looks.

 

Keep in mind - Corona is a CPU render engine and Redshift is a GPU render engine (specifically - only on Nvidia CUDA based cards) - so what hardware you have matters here.  When I started with Corona, I was on Mac and had no choice.  Now I am on Windows and have a machine with 2 graphics cards, so I can use either engine.  Outside of hardware - it really just comes down to personal preference.  But I would say the learning curve on Corona is about 1/3 of that of Redshift to get good looking stuff.

 

Sorry to ramble on and on - I love talking about this stuff.  Hope that helps some - happy to talk more about it.

 

e.

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Also - both engine have free trials - so the only way to really know if to take them for a spin yourself.

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@EAlexander Thanks for that feedback! So will you add in the Corona lights to the light symbol in C4D? And then when you rotate the hardware of the light, the connected light rotates as well? Or do you just position the corona light where you want then move the hardware to match?

 

Redshift sounds awesome for what I am looking for, and Corona looks really good as well. I will have to try a free trial of both at the same time and see which one I can get better results out of.

 

I love to talk about this aspect of the pipeline, and the artist in me has a hard time with what the Physical Renderer is giving me. Your renders are awesome as well. Do you add a grain filter or something at the end or is that a by product of Corona? I noticed that same look on some other Corona renders but haven't really seen it anywhere else.

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@Tanner Shelton yes, I make the Corona light a child of the lens and use an area light as a disc and control the spread/directionality.  When I jump to Redshift, I swap out the Corona light for. Redshift light (using PSR reset).

 

Thanks for the kind words! Corona has an amazing denoiser which really let's you cut down on render time. I render 16:9 at 2500 pixels wide and I don't think I've waited more then 8 or 10 minutes for any of my client renders unless the set is complicated or all glass :). I think I abuse the denoiser and under render, giving a film grain look that I like. I do a fair amount of color grading and exposure adjustment in post. Corona also let's you adjust exposure and bloom and glare before, during or even after the render. Look at light mix in Corona also - you can have full control of all light levels and colors after you render... It's amazing.

 

e.

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Ah that makes sense. The grain actually adds a rough edge to it that I think really matches the style of the events. 8-10 minutes is amazing, considering I just waited 45 minutes in Vectorworks for a render to finish with no volumetrics, sub par lighting, and unrealistic textures. (Being able to undersample and denoise really makes a huge difference). Light mix is absolutely amazing and mind blowing! That is one of the major reasons I am very interested in this renderer in particular. I will get the trial for C4D and Corona on Monday and test it out for a bit and see how it goes.

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@EAlexander I've been heavily looking into Corona vs Redshift, and I think I would choose Corona over Redshift, but for those times that I would need the volumetrics, it would be nice to not have to purchase two programs. How inferior would you say Corona Volumetrics are? Could I do make gobos work? Or does Redshift has support for Gobos? I think Corona may render faster with my 32 core cpu with denoising, vs one 2080ti in Redshift.

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I guess my question back is - how often are you doing volumetrics at at what amount (i.e. a beam here or there or a whole wall of moving lights)?

 

My experience with Volumetrics in Corona was a no go for theatrical use.  It worked pretty well for exterior sunlight situations or single god ray through the window.  I found it all slow to clear up and was an all or nothing situation.

 

 

Redshift for me was really easy once I watched a few videos and did a few experiments with putting the right sample counts in the right places.  You can control it per light with Redshift which to me is huge as I want beams from some lights, but not all lights.  

 

 

Understanding that this is an additional cost - my recommendation would be to get started with Corona and just use the volumetrics from native Cinema for now.  You can always add in Redshift later.  If you felt strong about going with a GPU renderer, I'd tell you to go all in on Redshift, but since you lean towards Corona (and certainly have a machine that will rip through renders) - I'd start with Corona.  Again - it's really a personal decision.

 

Also - keep in mind - I spent YEARS doing volumtrics only in Photoshop as part of post production.  It's more work, but you can still get good results.  I bought the OPTICAL FLARES plug in for After effects and made a library of single beams of all shapes and sizes to pull from.

 

e.

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It wouldn't be every render, but it definitely would be fairly often for events needing those specific light shapes. After looking into it quite a bit today, I think I will go with Corona and just render a Volumetrics pass in Cinema 4D for now, with the option to include Redshift later. I'm hoping I'll be able to still use spotlight instruments in Vectorworks with the gobos they want included, then just import to C4D and attach a Corona light to the hardware, then be able to clean everything up for Corona but still be able to use the Cinema lights for a Volumetric pass with Physical Renderer. I'll be testing it all today and this week and see how it works out. (But in my testing this week, I think I will get a demo for redshift and corona and see the pros and cons)

Edited by Tanner Shelton

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Great - there is no substitute for just playing with the software yourself.  Feel free to ask Corona questions - there are a few of us on here that use it.

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Hi, sorry to hijack a thread, I've just signed up for a year subscription to C4D and rather than start a new thread thought I'd jump on the end of this one.

 

@EAlexander  I'm really interested in the Hantmade Stage plugin and I know you don't use it but do you know of anyone with first hand experience? Information seems a bit sparse and I have used the contact form on the website but haven't heard back.  

 

I'm not really looking to spend out on the pro version as I don't need things like the fx engine and timeline, but see that the 'normal' version doesn't do Vectorworks exchange which could be a sticking point. I wonder if there is a way to just manually replace the imported Vectrorworks fixtures with Stage ones which isn't too much of a faff?

 

Thanks, Rob.

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On 7/22/2020 at 1:48 PM, Rob Lloyd said:

Hi, sorry to hijack a thread, I've just signed up for a year subscription to C4D and rather than start a new thread thought I'd jump on the end of this one.

 

@EAlexander  I'm really interested in the Hantmade Stage plugin and I know you don't use it but do you know of anyone with first hand experience? Information seems a bit sparse and I have used the contact form on the website but haven't heard back.  

 

I'm not really looking to spend out on the pro version as I don't need things like the fx engine and timeline, but see that the 'normal' version doesn't do Vectorworks exchange which could be a sticking point. I wonder if there is a way to just manually replace the imported Vectrorworks fixtures with Stage ones which isn't too much of a faff?

 

Thanks, Rob.

@Charlie Winter any insight on the Stage plug in? 

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