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Plug-Ins ahead!

The lull of summer leaves everyone short on news, but those last two weeks a few bright spots have appeared on the horizon that could be interesting.

The most notable to me is that Renato Tarabella has revived his N.O.T.A. plug-in, but now it comes as a MoGraph effector. The thing is that while for a time MoGraph seemed to redefine some fundamental stuff on Cinema 4D, it is now somewhat frozen in place and hasn’t seen any major expansion in the last few releases. They never managed to replace e.g. Thinking Particles fully with this more modern architecture. Even worse yet, some things like the Sound Effector are actually kinda broken. So there is some room to improve one thing or the other and this seems to fill some gaps nicely, judging from the videos. In fact this makes me almost wish that Remo would revive his DiTools just as well…

Another tool of interest is DEM Earth 2. There’s not much real info, but a couple of videos and photos floating around. The city building stuff is pretty rad, as setting such stuff up manually could take forever. It also once more reminds me that I will need to finish up my city building tools one of those days. *ummph*

Finally, one of those tiny tools that could be infinitely helpful is Blackstar‘s Spline UV Mapper. You can do some of that stuff using a few tricks already, but being able to interactively adjust it is of course preferable to having to bake UV coordinates manually. Still, I suppose even that neat little utility can’t really convince me to use anything but modo for UV work. Cinema is just so severely lacking in that department and even these plug-ins aren’t a saving grace for the bulk of the work.

On a final note, since two of the plug-ins aren’t available yet, you might consider holding off on a purchase until R16 is released unless you really need them immediately. That way you’ll save yourself the trouble of having to request a new serial number only a few weeks after the initial release…

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Cinewhen?

Curious little buggers that you are you keep poking my site for a Cinema 4D R16 release date, but in all honesty I can’t tell you. Still, the annual update spiral of death keeps spinning and in August there’s SIGGRAPH shortly followed by IBC, so you can expect the new release to drop in September most likely. That said, if you still want some news, here’s som food for thought for you.

Nemetschek, Maxon‘s parent company, have just released info on their 2015 version of Allplan and when you read the details you could guess that some of the features may appear in Cinema as well. A decent realtime renderer/ preview has long been overdue and I certainly wouldn’t object to being able to tweak stuff based on interactive viewport feedback.

The other thing of note us that they speak of CineRender, which in conclusion could mean that they broke out the renderer completely from the main program. If this is the case, it could solve a ton of problems. Having the renderer operate separately would allow users to get back what they had with the old NetRender while at the same time potentially still allowing a TeamRender like workflow. Let’s face it – R15 was a complete bust in that regard and armies of users have resorted to sticking with R14 or downsaving their R15 scenes just so they can be used in NetRender R14. It’s also interesting from a technical point of view since decoupling development of the renderer from the main program would allow optimizations to be done more easily in both without being hindered by limitations. Finally, it would also simplify development for third-party renderers like VRay. In the end, if any of this comes true, R16 could be what R15 should have been.

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Sick Heat

Don’t I love it? As bad luck would have it, I picked just the wrong time to check in to the hospital again… It’s going to be really hot the coming weekend, marking the second heat wave after the temperatures had surged on the Pentecost weekend and I’m down with a nasty infection. All of it because in those last few years I already had so many antibiotics that normal pills won’t work that well anymore and they have to give me some extra good stuff as an infusion. It’s a good thing my venes are still in superb working condition and they always find a good spot to poke in their needles. Anyway, while I’ve gotten used to those excursions over the years, they are still somewhat boring. There’s simply nothing to domthan wait for your treatments or the next meal, idle away the time reading or surfing the web, watching TV… In fact this makes me wish the siccer world championships were still on. Plenty of time to watch it! But at least we really did win big this time…! ;-)

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Some Color on the Way

The CG world is still buzzing with the latest news from The Foundry and I suppose most people got their guesses just as wrong as I did. When you hear Colorway and The Foundry in one sentence one inevitably tends to think of some derived/ branched out technology from Nuke packed into a color correction tool. But then again I guess it’s still too easy to forget that the former Luxology is now part of the conglomerate so it was no doubt a surprise to see them hailing from that angle. And it’s a pleasant one at that.

We never had much time for look development – when you do machinery visualization, you get told an RAL color and better make sure the coating on that part in your 3D animation matches that no matter what- but of course there’s a market for more experimental coloring in the design business. The more interesting part to me, however, is the technology. Yepp GPU accelerated rendering and deep buffers. You don’t need to be a genius to see a 99% chance that this will make it in some form into the next version of modo and that makes me a happy person. Combined with that they already are working on a Cinema 4D plug-in even more so…  Now if only Adobe stopped mucking around with After Effects and focused on such stuff so we could actually put it to use! I guess I might end up robbing a bank to buy a Nuke license, after all. *sigh*

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What/If?

Somewhere inside me I have this alternate personality that not only loves the flamboyancy and artistic finesse of the Cirque du Soleil, but also enjoys the wonderful world of musicals – kitschy or otherwise. In fact I sometimes tend to think that if I lived in New York and had the money I’d be spending a lot of it on Broadway and then every two months or so make a trip to Las Vegas to see one of the Cirque‘s resident shows.

Now make no mistake – half the musicals aren’t actually that good and many that bite the dust do so not quite unexpectedly – but this year’s Tony awards were rather odd in that regard with several musicals and plays being nominated that already had ended their runs or were terminated shortly afterwards for various reasons (lack of commercial success, mostly). One of those is The Bridges of Madison County, which unlike that Clint Eastwood film actually makes some sort of sense instead of just putting on the schmalz extra thick. The soundtrack is quite good.

Aside from those little oddities of course there’s always what everyone expects to be the next big hit and while there hasn’t been one for a few years with many shows fading after two or 3 years, I have a feeling that If/Then could be it. It’s been running in loops on my iPod for the last two or three weeks. Can’t beat Idina Menzel‘s voice, the compositions are good and what actually makes it stand out: It has a real story. That is a real rarity these days with most musicals consisting of arbitrarily strung together songs. I particularly like the very frank language, which makes this a thing for grown ups and nicely reflects on some of the life experiences of my generation. My favorite song so far is no doubt Always starting over. It so wonderfully sums up a few simple things in a few memorable lines, half directed at “God”, half at her Ex, half  the universally understandable Life sucks! kinda thing…


Thank you for finding me./
And thank you for the care./
And fuck you for making me/
think that this life might be fair.

Indeed! You can watch the Tony performance it on YouTube by the way.

2014.5

Over the previously noted 2014 release debacle for Creative Cloud (What else is new?) a few discussions unspun in a number of places and since I have commented on some of them, let me summarize a few of my thoughts.

Why are the CC 2014 a full separate install and not just updates/ patches?

Well, because it simply doesn’t make sense. Not the smartest programmer on this planet can create an application core that will last for the next 10 years and build everything else around it as plug-ins using the program’s API. As things progress from version to version, your core app begins to get dated and why would you hinder yourself by hanging on to old code?

Programming tools change, new ways of programming evolve, you learn new techniques as you go along and can do things better than when you initially created the app, new algorithms require new ways of doing things, new hardware and operating systems require adaptations in your code, security issues need to be fixed. That’s even more the case with Adobe apps which are already using a lot of legacy code and in addition rely on third-party code such as e.g. the various native decoders/ encoders for video in After Effects and Premiere Pro. So as you see, there is any number of good reasons to at least once in a while completely replace your programs with a clean, separate install. This will be a recurring theme.

Will this mean that Adobe is falling back into a pre-CC release pattern?

Yes and no. In a somewhat unfortunate post on his blog, Mr. Kopriva furthered this impression with a few ominous comments regarding plug-ins, their compatibility and API lifecycle considerations. Still, they are as relevant as my hubub above, so yes, there will be a new major version every year. At the same time of course there will still be the inbetween releases. From the install and other issues burning like wildfire it is already clear that a bugfix update to address these issues should not be too far away and then of course, with NAB in spring, SIGGRAPH in late summer and IBC in September being fixed dates on the annual calendar, we can look forward to at least one more release this year.

What will the autumn update bring?

Ah, speculation time, is it? While I don’t know all the details, of course there is a pattern, so let’s connect the dots and place our bets.

  • There have been no enhancements to the 3D stuff, meaning a new Cineware is ripe for this release. No doubt it will finally feature OpenGL interaction and since it will most definitely be based on Cinema 4D R16, more goodies shall be in store (see below).
  • There have been equally no enhancements to 3D in Photoshop and since Maxon already have a 3D plug-in for this the pertinent assumption is that we will see Cineware there as well.
  • With those pieces in place, we may see the resurrection of integration workflows similar to the former Live Photoshop 3D. Most likely you will be able to edit a C4D file directly in both programs and use this as the go-between.

Sounds interesting? Definitely. Not only would it put a nail in the coffin on Adobe‘s really, really bad attempts at getting their own 3D stuff going, but it also solves many feature request such as being able to adjust texture coordinates in Photoshop or change the pivot point. Could actually add a whole new dimension (no pun intended) to these workflows.

What’s up with Cinema 4D R16 then?

As far as feature predictions go, this goes hand in hand with the previous stuff.

  • Bodypaint will probably be put to rest or reworked and instead a dynamic bridge put in place to connect to Photoshop.
  • Inevitably for proper texturing work a fundamental overhaul of UV texturing tools is necessary. Let’s not kid ourselves – the program is far from competitive in this area and even most Cinema 4D users use other tools for texturing.
  • Further cross-application features could include some use of the sculpting stuff.
  • For all this to make sense, the renderer will have to receive a performance boost and get some form of GPU-acceleration by ways of OpenCL. This would also at long last bring decent interactive render previews for tweaking materials and lights.

Could there be more? Could this all be nonsense? I guess we’ll have to see, so take this for what it is – some possible scenario based on keen observations…

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2014 is just like last Year…

…at least with regards to Adobe‘s release of new product versions. Yepp, they never learn and once again instead of waiting until the programs are actually ready, someone set a fixed release date and unleashed a package that is far from being fit for release. Barely 24 hours later every second post on any forum that even remotely deals with Adobe software is some complaint or technical issue with the new versions.

That part people just don’t grasp, anyway – there’s a lot of  them that expected just another patch to be installed and replacing the previous CC versions. Unimaginatively borrowing a line from Autodesk, merely appending the release year to distinguish versions doesn’t help to alleviate confusion, either. I’m only waiting for the half-year update in September/ October to be called Adobe Creative Cloud 2014 Complimentary Feature Enhancement Upgrade 1, Service Pack 1 or similar. *yikes*

The new features in most programs are mostly nothing to write home about. The already mentioned  integration of After Effects text with Premiere Pro and the handful of keying enhancements will not necessarily be relevant for many. The motion blur filters and depth-based selection stuff in Photoshop probably are okay and from a technical point of view fascinating, but ironically that is something that I’d much rather see as an effect in After Effects. Users of InDesign and Illustrator are probably the most annoyed. Not only seem the install issues particularly severe in ID, but aside from the table drag & drop features there is really not much there that would go beyond “expected bug fixes”. The same is true for Illustrator – it took them 25+ years to get rounded rectangles?

Apparently there is a lot of stuff in the web design department and inevitably the change in Adobe‘s business model is reflected by a swath of tablet/ mobile phone apps, but from a traditional graphics and motion design viewpoint it seems we are entering an era where keeping expectations low and looking for alternatives is more advisable than ever…

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