SAN FRANCISCO (07/05/2000) - With the release of Maxon Computer Inc.'s Cinema 4D XL 6.0, 3-D professionals have reason to be excited. This powerful modeling, rendering, and animation package has undergone a thorough upgrade; it's now packed with hundreds of new features and has a substantially redesigned interface. It's not perfect, but Cinema 4D is an excellent tonic for Mac 3-D pros envying their Windows-using counterparts, who have several tools at their disposal.
Cinema 4D's interface redesign is extensive. Gone are the old tool palettes, replaced by fully customizable tool bars running across the top of the screen and down the left side. You can create your own tool bars, stack them, and cycle through them with simple mouse moves or keyboard commands. You can even assign every item on the menu or tool bar a keyboard equivalent through a simple palette.
Although the new customization features are welcome, we found the sprawling tool bars a poor substitute for a well-designed floating palette. And despite the interface improvements, Cinema 4D doesn't feel entirely Mac-like. For example, its menu bar, which appears directly below the standard Mac menu bar, is disorienting, ugly, and a waste of screen space. The nonstandard interface, combined with Cinema 4D's poorly written manuals, means that new users will have a tough time learning the program.
But what Cinema 4D lacks in interface savvy it more than makes up for with a mind-boggling set of tools. Foremost among the modeling tools are more than 50 parametric primitives ranging from simple cubes, cones, and cylinders to capsules, toroids, fractal landscapes, and platonic solids. The primitives are a great starting point for modeling, and the modifiable parameters such as height and radius for the cone primitive let you adjust their shape.
Changing Face Cinema 4D XL 6.0 sports an entirely new, customizable, and somewhat cumbersome interface.
Cinema 4D also offers improved spline tools; a full assortment of B-spline curves; and excellent NURBS controls, particle effects, and deformation tools.
Other upgraded features include outstanding volumetric lighting, full F-curve support for animation scripting, and powerful sound-mixing tools. Like previous versions, Cinema 4D XL 6.0 has incredible rendering speed, even for full ray tracing.
Macworld's Buying Advice
Interface problems notwithstanding, Cinema 4D XL 6.0 is a good choice for animators working in broadcast or Web media. Current users should definitely upgrade, and high-end 3-D pros who haven't tried it should give this program a very close look.
RATING: 4.0 mice
PROS: Huge assortment of new modeling, texturing, lighting, and animation tools; speedy performance.
CONS: Cumbersome, nonstandard interface; weak manuals.
COMPANY: Maxon Computer (877/226-4628; http://www.maxoncomputer.com).
LIST PRICE: US$2,195.