Posted In:Tech | Greyscalegorilla
Cinema 4D parent company, Nemetschek Group, merges Maxon and post-production plugin developer Red Giant.
Hot on the trails of the acquisition of Redshift Rendering Technologies earlier this year, Nemetschek Group doubles down on their red offerings with a merger with Red Giant.
Red Giant, makers of Trapcode, Magic Bullet, Universe, and my personal favorite PluralEyes, had just released their own subscription all-you-can-eat offer with Red Giant Complete. After a successful launch, it looks like the company made enough noise for others to notice.
In the announcement, it was revealed the Maxon and Red Giant would from a new Media and Entertainment Division under Nemetschek. This will allow them to bring all their production and post-production tools together.
Maxon’s Cinema 4D, Redshift, and Red Giant are now all subscription services that are used by countless production facilities all around the world.
“This merger is a major milestone, not only for Maxon and Red Giant but also for the design industry as a whole,” said David McGavran, CEO of Maxon. “Our combined technology and know how have the potential to progressively reshape the content creation landscape for years to come.”
“The combination of our companies is an exceptional fit of people, culture and technology.” said Chad Bechert, CEO of Red Giant. “We look forward to working together under a shared vision of how to design powerful and approachable software to serve creative artists around the world.”
Greyscalegorilla founder Nick Campbell shared his excitement, “Huge news! I can personally say that I’ve never met two companies so full of talented, creative, and genuinely nice people. Can’t wait to see what they do together.”
The merger is still pending, and is expected to close in January 2020, subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions.
We will be sure to keep you up to date with the latest.
*Update – A previous version of this story incorrectly reported this as an acquisition, but it is in fact a merger.
Looking for Cinema 4D or Red Giant Trapcode tutorials? Check out the free tutorials page.
Back in April, Maxon aquired Redshift. Stay tuned for an upcoming podcast with the latest on the Red Giant merger.
With the latest release, Autodesk’s Arnold renderer becomes the most versatile C4D render engine that works on both CPU and GPU.
One of the most asked questions Greyscalegorilla receives is which render engine to use. It’s still not a simple answer, but for the first time, we can definitely recommend one based on versatility + features.
Autodesk Arnold is one of the leading Cinema 4D render engines that can be used by both Mac and PC artists, and now that the NVIDIA GPU version is fully released it’s incredibly powerful.
Arnold 6 is not the most feature-rich new release, but it doesn’t really have to be.
The removal of the word BETA from it’s GPU offering could be called premature (and I wouldn’t necessarily argue with them), but there is no denying the power of being able to flip from CPU to GPU. The new licensing methods are also a welcome change to the old, overly complicated system that required a degree in IT to get up and running (though still has tons of room for improvement).
Let’s dive into the latest release, and really take a look at things.
Overall Benefits to Arnold 6:
- Easy to Use
- Most versatile renderer for both Mac and PC (CPU + GPU), though GPU is not supported on Mac
- Works across all major DCC’s including Cinema, Houdini, Maya, and Max
- Most feature-rich renderer (including a full Toon System)
- Supports more native C4D features than most current renderers (Noises, Background Object, Floor Object, etc)
- Extremely stable
- Memory Efficient
- Affordable Single Seat Licenses
- Monthly subscriptions available
- No watermark restrictions – You can work on the watermarked version with no feature limitations
- Extremely responsive IPR in both CPU/GPU
- Supports industry standards like OCIO+ACES, OSL
5 Must-Know Things About Arnold 6
- Arnold GPU:
- Out of Beta
- More Stable
- Supporting nearly every feature of CPU (including light filters, LPE’s, and nearly all AOVs)
- No Mac Support
- Lower Pricing Structure
- New Arnold license process – Somewhat easier to get up and running, and cheaper options.
- A ton of bug fixes. Stability matters in production.
- Quality of life updates (node alignment tools, material exports, etc)
Thoughts on Arnold GPU
Arnold GPU was no small feat. Taking a production-proven CPU renderer and pushing it to deliver 1:1 results on the GPU is very difficult. Renderman is currently working on XPU which promises to harness the power of your CPU and GPU simultaneously, but it’s proved challenging to bring to market. We believe the future is about leveraging ALL your hardware. Power and flexibility will always win out. Arnold being able to give 1:1 results on both CPU and GPU is incredibly compelling.
If I were starting a small studio right now, I would be using Arnold GPU on my artists’ workstations to do look dev/lighting and then switching to CPU mode to throw to an inexpensive cloud render farm solution such as Pixel Plow. I’d outfit every 3D workstation with dual 2080ti’s and a Threadripper to give every artist the flexibility to use whichever mode better suits their work. What a time to be alive!
Now I’ve been on the beta for Arnold GPU since it opened over a year ago. I’ve watched it slowly go from a buggy, noisy mess into something I actually use on a daily basis.
The first question anyone ever asks me is whether or not it’s faster than it’s competitor Redshift. My answer is always the same, mostly no. In my testing, Arnold GPU is 10-20% slower than Redshift on most tasks. However, in some cases, it can close that gap very nicely (usually on scenes with tons of GI bounces).
Even with Redshift besting it in terms of sheer speed (as one would expect from a biased GPU renderer), it cannot touch Arnold in terms of features and user experience. Arnold outshines its competitors with production proven features and a Cinema 4D plugin that is easily best in class.
I’m also a bit spoiled as I use Arnold with a 64-core AMD Threadripper. So Arnold CPU for me is certainly no slouch. In fact, only now with Arnold 6 can I say that their GPU offering is giving my beast of a CPU a run for it’s money.
Should I switch to Arnold GPU?
Well, there are a few things to consider
- Arnold GPU is Windows only, sorry no Mac support at this time
- Arnold GPU is Nvidia ONLY and more cards the better. I HIGHLY recommend RTX cards as Arnold GPU is optimized for that platform. I’ve got two 2080ti’s and I wish I had more!
- Arnold GPU takes advantage of NVLink (an $80 device that links multiple RTX cards together) and in my opinion, is a MUST HAVE if you want to maximize speed in Arnold GPU.
- You also have to be “OK” with Arnold GPU taking a bit longer to render than it’s competition, but in exchange you get superior features and first-in-class plugin experience. Plus, you can always design in GPU and send to a CPU farm. Versatility!
What are the Key New Features of Arnold 6?
- Faster creased subdivs: Hard creases are now fully supported in adaptive and multithreaded mode. This means creased surfaces will use all procs during subdivision.
- Dielectric microfacet multiple scattering: Rough dielectrics are now energy-preserving by accounting for multiple scattering between microfacets for both reflection and refraction, avoiding the energy loss of the previous implementation. Disabling the global option enable_microfacet_multiscatter will restore the previous look.
- Physical Sky shader improvements: The physical sky shader will now extend the color at the horizon all the way down to the bottom pole.
- Improved roughness mapping of the Oren-Nayar diffuse BRDF: The Oren-Nayar roughness parameter has been remapped so that values close to 1 no longer result in excessive darkening. This change also improves the Standard Surface and Car Paint shaders.
- Improved rough thin-wall transmission in Standard Surface shader: Refractions in thin-walled mode now appear blurry with non-zero roughness.
- OCIO roles: Roles can now be listed with the color manager API by querying color spaces available in the Role (OCIO) family. This makes it possible to build UIs that list all known roles.
- Skip RGBA denoising: Noise now accepts -ignore_rgba or -irgba to skip denoising of RGBA even if it’s present.
- OpenImageIO 2.1.4: OIIO support is now upgraded to 2.1.4.
- More accurate albedo AOVs: Albedo AOVs now correspond more closely to the true albedos of the material’s BSDFs.
- New AOV Write Vector shader: This enables the writing of vector values into a typed AOV, for example for recording positional values. These would previously have been clamped when using typed AOVs
C4DtoA Plugin Enhancements
- Material export/import: Materials can be exported to ASS files and MaterialX files (.mtlx) via the C4DtoA > Utilities > Material > Export to ASS… menu item or via the Alt~W+X shortcut in the Material Manager. Materials can be imported via the C4DtoA > Utilities > Material > Import from ASS… menu item or Alt~W+I shortcut. Selected shaders from a material can also be exported from the network editor.
- Align nodes in the network editor: New Edit > Align nodes menu item and Alt~W+L shortcut is added to the network editor to align graph nodes in the layout.
- Notification when no license found or license will expire: Now a message is displayed in the render settings when no Arnold license found or two weeks before the license expires.
- New Licensing menu: Licensing menu moved to C4DtoA > Licensing with menu items to open the new Arnold License Manager, help and purchase pages. Note that single-user licensing is not available for testing.
- Add Details and Project tabs to Arnold Sky: ****Light filters, user options and light linking settings are moved to these new tabs to be consistent with other lights.
- Flush Caches menu moved under Utilities
Want to learn more?
The new Mac Pro has finally been revealed. Is it powerful enough to get us to switch back to Mac?
It’s been 6 years since the last Mac Pro redesign, and the “trash can” mac left much to be desired. You couldn’t upgrade the machine, it was under-powered, and it was overpriced.
We just learned about all the new laptops NVIDIA has planned for the year, but the big question remaining was if Apple would finally announce a new Mac Pro in 2019.
So where do we stand now? Well, the new Mac Pro returns to classic from and has overly embraced the cheese grater design of old. You are once again able to expand and upgrade the machine, but there is a big downside. Still no NVIDIA support. Let’s dive into the details. Read More
Better and faster, a look at the latest computer news to excite motion designers and 3D artists.
As the 2019 Computex conference gets underway, there’s some exciting news out of the technology show already. Read up on the latest laptops for NVIDIA claimed to rival the MacBook Pro, as well as big news from AMD and more.
First up, NVIDIA has announced a new line of laptops that will run their RTX cards. In total, there will be 17 new NVIDIA laptops from the likes of Acer, ASUS, Dell, Gigabyte, HP, MSI, and Razer.
In a write up over on TechCrunch,
The 17 laptops will be equipped with Quadro RTX 5000, 4000 or 3000 GPUs or GeForce RTX 2080, 2070 and 2060 GPUs. Nvidia claims they can perform up to seven times faster than the MacBook Pro. Studio laptops with Quadro RTX 5000 GPUs will have 16GB of graphics memory, and some of the devices will also have 4K displays and Nvidia’s Max-Q tech for building thin and lightweight laptops, enabling incredible performance and longer battery life.
A back-and-forth journey to find the perfect new displays for 3D artists and motion designers.
If you think shopping for new PC is difficult, try shopping for a new computer display.
I’ve been rocking two displays for quite some time now, one NEC PA271w-bk as my main and a ViewSonic VP2780-4K for 4K reference. I knew my displays were starting to show their age and it was time to upgrade, but deep down inside I was dreading the process.
My first inclination was to check out the NEC website, only to find out that the newest version of my current monitor didn’t have many new features other than LED backlighting. After quickly being overwhelmed by the amount of options, I decided to see what I could find locally.
I drove to a MicroCenter and discovered the Dell U3818DW, which was a 38″ widescreen monitor with a resolution of 3840×1600 and a PPI of 110 for $899. It seemed like it could be the perfect monitor to replace my two. I quickly looked it over and decided the price was right, so I bought one.
I lugged this beast home and quickly set it up. The screen was even in terms of color and lighting and after staring at it closely for a few minutes I determined there were no dead pixels. With much excitement I went right into Cinema 4D and completely redesigned my layout so that I could take full advantage of such awesome screen real estate. Everything was working great. Read More
Early 2018 has brought about tons of new products, major rendering announcements, and much more to discuss. Let’s dive in.
Most developers and companies announce their new products and updates in Q1. This year, it was a big year for 3D designers and video game developers. We saw some big updates on rendering. Let’s take a look at all the big announcements so far this year. Also, be sure to download the free tools from Greyscalegorilla, and well as some beta downloads from third-party renderers down below.
Real-Time Rendering is Changing the Design Landscape + Free Unreal Studio Beta
In this great piece on CG Society, you can take a look at the work of Unreal Studio in terms of these real-time renders.
“73 percent of respondents stated that real-time rendering is important to their workflows, suggesting a major shift towards modern rendering engines is already well underway. Unreal Engine was cited as the most popular real-time engine among respondents who aren’t already using it in their design pipeline.”
NVIDIA, Unreal Engine, and the Future of Ray Tracing
Earlier this month, Epic Games, NVIDIA, and ILMxLAB released a Star Wars short showing off real-time ray tracing in Unreal Engine. Lighting is moved around the scene interactively, and the shadows and reflections render in real time.
You can dive much deeper into ray tracing over on the NVIDIA blog, where they show off their API and pipeline.
Engadget dives a little deeper into ray-tracing with this breakdown video, which is definitely worth a watch. Chris Schodt also touches on tesselation, shaders, occlusion, and mapping to achieve nearly photo-realistic renders.
You can read more about this video on Engadget.
For an even more in-depth dive into ray tracing, you must listen to the GPU Technology Conference panel with founders, lead engineers, and supervisors at Pixar, Blur Studio, Autodesk, Otoy, Redshift, Epic Games, Chaos Group, Isotropix, and NVIDIA.
Free Tools, Models, and Scene Files from Greyscalegorilla
At NAB, we compiled many of our free downloads from over the years, as well as some of the files we presented at the Maxon booth this year.
Autodesk announces Arnold 5.1 and Arnold GPU Updates
The Arnold 5.1 update brings users adaptive sampling, a new toon shader, denoising solutions, and more. The company also updates us on bringing Arnold to the GPU.
First, let’s check out this Arnold 5.1 video from Autodesk.
The Arnold video features Chad Ashley’s work with the new toon shader. You can see some of his final renders on his Instagram account.
Here’s a glance at his proton pack from the Happy Toolbox model pack.
And another with some shading tests from the new toon shader.
You can read more about the 5.1 update on the Autodesk site.
As for the GPU, there was much to be said in the update and demo you can watch here from the GPU Technology Conference.
Otoy Octane 4
In more rendering news, Otoy recently announced OctaneRender 4. Octane 4 introduces AI light, AI scene, AI denoiser, and out of core geometry.
You can read more about Octane 4 here, and if you have a V3 license you can download this build, which Otoy has also released a list of current issues.
The newest tool from Greyscalegorilla, GorrillaCam allows you to add natural handshake and organic movement to your Cinema 4D camera.
Think of GorillaCam as a filter that you attach to your original camera. You feed GorillaCam a pre-animated (or still) camera and that becomes the “reference” camera. That way you are free to add as much overshoot, smooth, and shake as you like without destroying your original camera.
GorillaCam was recently used by designer Ash Thorp in his latest piece for Nike. We had a chance to talk to him about the project, and you can read the full Ash Thorp interview here. You can read more or buy GorillaCam in the GSG store.
Renderman XPU Update
Pixar announced that RenderMan XPU is currently in active development, with a release planned after the delivery of RenderMan 22.
“The RenderMan XPU project is addressing the challenge of rendering Pixar-scale production assets on systems with a mix of CPU and GPU capabilities. From a single set of assets, RenderMan XPU produces film-quality renderings by seamlessly using all available compute cores concurrently. RenderMan XPU is a single renderer that can operate on a variety of systems, from render farm machines with mid-range CPUs only all the way up to workstations or servers having many-core CPUs and multiple extreme GPUs.”
Happy Toolbox on Adobe Stock
The whimsical 3D models created by The Happy Toolbox are now available on Adobe Stock. You can individually license a single model for you project needs, or you can bundle up and get the entire pack right here on Greyscalegorilla. Read more about the 3D models on Adobe Stock here.
More articles worth a read:
In addition to all this news, we have a few more pieces and projects you may enjoy.
- Review of LogicKeyboard’s ASTRA C4D scissor-switch keyboard
- Greyscalegorilla 5-Second Projects are Back
- Nick Campbell named StudioDaily 50 Top Creative + Technologist
We test out the backlit Cinema 4D ASTRA keyboard from LogicKeyboard. Do you need one on your desk?
So why am I reviewing a keyboard when there are so many other juicy things to talk about in hardware? I guess because this particular item scratched an itch that’s been bothering me for two years.
When I first started learning Cinema 4D, I was coming from Maya and 3ds Max. To get a leg up on the learning curve, I decided to port most of my shortcuts over to C4D so I could get up and running as fast as possible. It was all going swimmingly until I started realizing that in most of my tutorials I would be hitting hotkeys that made complete sense to me in my Maya/Max mindset, but would be utterly confusing to the C4D artists following along.
I recently came across LogicKeyboard’s Cinema 4D ASTRA, a keyboard with specific hotkeys printed on each key. Was this keyboard finally my excuse to ditch my patchwork hotkeys and go legit? I reached out to LogicKeyboard, and they were kind enough to send me a unit to review.
Before we get into it, I think you should know that I’m not a mechanical keyboard enthusiast (though this was not for lack of trying). I purchased a Cherry MX3850 and gave mechanical keyboards a shot. After about a week of the clickety-clack lifestyle, I ended up back at my trusty Apple wired keyboard. Yes, I’m on a PC and I use an Apple keyboard. I’m a sucker for both the form factor and the feel of the Mac keys. I don’t like a lot of travel, and I love how quiet it is. With that in mind, here’s what I thought about this scissor-switch Cinema 4D keyboard.
ASTRA Cinema 4D Keyboard Specs:
- Backlit keys
- Dimmable light with five levels
- Built-in dual USB-ports 2.0
- Scissor-switch keys
- Color-coded labelled shortcut keys with graphical commands
- Compatible with PC and Mac
- Dimensions – 17 5/8” x 6” x 11/4” (446mm x 150mm x 30mm)
- Net weight – 2.1 lbs (950 grams)
- Number of keys – 104 (ANSI version) 105 (ISO version)
- Manufactured for 10.000.000 keystrokes per key
- 1.8 meter cable with separate keyboard and hub connections (avoid interference with USB extenders)
I have to say, I was rather impressed by Logickeyboard’s packaging and overall presentation. A clean well-designed box is always a treat to open. Especially those with magnetic clasps that snap shut. Always satisfying. In addition to the keyboard, it shipped with a disposable cleaning wipe and a transparent silicone keyboard cover.
The keyboard itself was larger than I had expected. A few inches longer and deeper than my Apple keyboard. A bit taller as well. The ASTRA has a dual USB plug, one to plug directly into your machine’s keyboard port, and another USB 3 plug that will turn the keyboard into a USB 3.0 hub.
What immediately drew my attention was all of the useful standard Cinema 4D shortcuts printed on all of the keys. It was like looking into a shortcut menu sitting right under your fingers. The printing on the keys is of high quality and well designed overall. When backlit, the ASTRA has several levels of brightness, but no RGB support. I must note that keys do seem uneven in their translucency.
Once I plugged the ASTRA in, I fired up C4D and I was off and running. I simply had to delete my old shortcuts and switch to the C4D default layout.
Overall, typing on the ASTRA is a reasonably pleasant experience. Key travel and feel was on par with other scissor-switch keyboards I’ve owned. I must say though that the hardware is not what impresses with the ASTRA. The keyboard’s ability to teach me the proper shortcuts in C4D keeps me coming back. It turns out having hotkeys in front of my face and under my fingers is precisely the sort of motivation I needed to legitimize my shortcuts.
I began to transition to the new keys reasonably quickly, and whenever I got stuck a quick glance down would set me straight. I also enjoyed the multiple levels of backlighting. It was helpful to transition to a brighter back when needed. I found myself discovering shortcuts printed on the keys that I had never even known about.
The Not So Good
The biggest problem I had with the ASTRA was the build quality. Several times my right index finger would catch the underside of the “h” key and nearly pop it off. A few other keys also randomly popped off with barely a press. Luckily they could snap right back into place but it was annoying nonetheless.
I personally was not a big fan of the key press feel, which was a bit mushy. My fingers would become fatigued when typing for long periods of time. Its size was not as big of an issue as I had anticipated, but I do wish it were a bit slimmer.
It’s worth mentioning that this keyboard is not easily affordable, with a retail price of $139. At that price, I would have liked to see some dedicated audio controls, or perhaps a slimmer build.
I’m rather split overall. I would highly recommend the LogicKeyboard ASTRA for anyone wanting to double down on learning the C4D shortcuts. This is a fantastic learning tool, much more useful than a laminated shortcut cheat sheet (which I’ve had my fair share of over the years).
Though it has a well designed look and appeal, the keyboard itself doesn’t really stand out from other traditional keyboards. If you are a big fan of mechanical or scissor-switch keyboards, you likely won’t be stunned by this device.
So if you are ready to commit to being a hotkey master, this might be worth the price tag. The real question is whether or not it stays on your desk when you’re ready to take the training wheels off. I guess I’ll find out soon enough.
You can check out or order the LogicKeyboard Cinema 4D ASTRA keyboard here.
Many of you have been asking about my new 12 core mac and if it’s worth it to get that much machine. Well, I screen captured some Cinebench renders to compare the speed of all three of my machines including my new 12 core Mac Pro, my old 8 core Power Mac and my 2 core macbook. This way, you can judge for yourself.
Sure, it’s expensive. But remember, it’s one of the only things I need to do my job other than software, coffee and American Apparel t-shirs. Plus, I only get a new machine every 3 years or so and want to just stay ahead of the curve for a while so I don’t have to worry about it every year. Did I mention that it’s tax deductible? What machine are you running?
Best Of SlideShow
I recently sat down with Peder Norrby, the maker of Trapcode, at his apartment in Stockholm Sweden to talk about how Trapcode got started. He also talks about how Shine was developed by accident and what he thinks of Trapcode’s overwhelming popularity. I REALLY wish we had the cameras on for the beers afterwords as well. We got into a great discussion about how working hard becomes so much more fun when you love what you do. Really great talk with a really great guy! Thanks, Peder!
High Rez: Going for a walk
Low Rez: Making Lunch
I’ve just finished trying out the new Ustream Broadcaster App for the iPhone that allows you to stream LIVE from your iphone though WiFi and 3G and I am impressed! We are officially living in the future. It worked almost flawlessly, letting me sign up quickly with my Ustream account. It allowed me to twitter out a link to let people know I was on and bam… people started showing up. The chat box even shows up in the app so you can read peoples questions. There is also a “Polling” option that allows you to do a quick poll though the app. it even works with 3Gs and 3G phones.
Watch above to see some of the videos that were made with the app. The quality isn’t bad on wifi, but it suffers a bit when using 3G. I tried out the low-rez setting to check out the quality. It’s not that much worse than the hi-rez setting. The bad news though is that it does a center crop to make the video size smaller. This turns the really nice wide angle lens on the 3Gs into a telephoto. Not good for filming yourself at arms length. Lastly, watch your battery! I went out for a walk and it died in about 5 minutes. I only had about 20% battery to begin with, but I can tell that this thing is a battery hog. I should have remembered to bring my new Mophie Juice Pack along with me.
Bravo to Ustream for making a robust, live streaming app that fits in my pocket. I will definitely be using Ustream more often while I’m out and about and traveling this holiday. I just have to make sure I have a full charge.
Get the UStream Broadcaster here.
I came across this wonderful short over at Prolost that was shot with the new Canon 7D. It got me wondering, Where is Nikon’s version of a camera that shoots 1080P? Full frame and a mic input would be nice too.
They are starting to try out video with the new D5000 and the D90, but those don’t shoot 1080P and have very limited video and audio capabilities (11 kHz, Mono? come on!). Seems like Canon realized that video on a DSLR isn’t just a gimmick. When will Nikon do the same?