Cinema 4D

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Cinema 4D
Basic data

developer Maxon Computer GmbH
Publishing year 1990
Current  version R21
(September 3, 2019)
operating system macOS , Windows , Linux
category 3D graphics software
License Proprietary
German speaking Yes

Cinema 4D is 3D graphics software from Maxon for creating 3D models , textures , computer graphics and animations . Cinema 4D is not only used for television advertising and in the private sector, but also for films (comparable to Autodesk Maya ). The software is developed by Maxon Computer GmbH , based in Friedrichsdorf .


The origins of Cinema 4D go back to 1989 and the FastRay program , software for the Commodore Amiga . At first there was no graphical user interface . The scenes to be calculated were read in from text files.

FastRay version 1.0 was released two years later. This gave a graphical user interface, called FRED for FastRay Editor , but not yet a 3D editor view. In 1993 this project resulted in Cinema 4D 1.0 for the Amiga.

In 1995, Cinema 4D was ported from the Amiga to Windows and Mac OS Classic , as Commodore went bankrupt in 1994 and the future of the Amiga was uncertain. The original program code was written in Modula-2 . For porting the decision was the absence of other compiler for C ++ .

In 1997 Cinema 4D 4.0 appeared and with it the last Amiga version. After that, it was only developed for Windows and Macintosh. With this version the object manager was introduced as the core of the user interface for manipulating the objects of a scene.

Cinema 4D is also marketed outside of Germany (such as in the United States , Canada , Australia and Japan ).

The product is also used in architectural visualization.

In December 2019, it was announced that cinema producer Maxon and the US company Red Giant would merge, thereby strengthening the market position in the Media & Entertainment segment. The merger was completed in February 2020.

Current version

Calculation of reflection and refraction
Cloth module for the realistic simulation of fabrics

The current version is version 21 .

Some important functions:

Cinema 4D is available for Windows and macOS . Since Cinema 4D R15 only current 64-bit operating systems are supported. A Linux version is only available for command line rendering. Cinema 4D runs fine under Wine , however .

In general, the Cinema 4D source code is over 90% platform-independent. This meant that adaptations to new technologies (64 bit, Intel-based Mac, 64 bit COCOA support) could be carried out very quickly. At the same time, this fact is responsible for the very uniform appearance of Cinema 4D on the various platforms. To simplify platform-independent programming, the integrated modeller works in an OpenGL environment.

A free software development kit (SDK) enables users to develop extensions for Cinema 4D in C ++. As of version R12, the Python script language is included, which enables plug-ins and scripts to be developed in a standardized language and thus simplifies the porting of scripts from other Python-compatible applications. The previous scripting language COFFEE is no longer supported in current versions.


Since version 21 there are no longer any different program versions. Instead of Prime, Studio, Broadcast, Visualize and BodyPaint 3D, only Cinema 4D is now available. At the same time, the demo and student versions were also adapted in such a way that they differ from the commercial version only in terms of licensing. This enables an installed demo to be activated by purchasing a license.

Pyrocluster module (fire, smoke display)

Since R12 there are only the packages Prime , Studio , Broadcast , Visualize and BodyPaint 3D instead of the modules .

The following modules were available up to Cinema 4D R11.5:

Development history


Christian and Philip Losch win the monthly programming competition organized by Kickstart magazine with their self-developed raytracer .


FastRay for the Amiga


Cinema 4D V1 for the Amiga


Cinema 4D V2 for the Amiga


Cinema 4D V3 for the Amiga : A new development team started a new development with the aim of platform independence.


Cinema 4D V4 for Amiga , Windows , Windows NT Alpha and Mac OS Classic - this was the first multiprocessor version.


Cinema 4D XL V5


Cinema 4D SE V5


Cinema 4D GO V5 with Cinema 4D NET


Cinema 4D XL V6: BodyPaint 3D available as an additional module and as a stand-alone program for other 3D solutions


Cinema 4D ART: New modules PyroCluster and Dynamics, Shader collection Smells like Almonds from the manufacturer bhodiNUT


Cinema 4D R8: new modules Advanced Render , PyroCluster , MOCCA and Thinking Particles


Cinema 4D R8.5: New module Sketch and Toon


Cinema 4D R9: New Clothilde module for the physical simulation of fabrics


Cinema 4D R9.5: The Hair module is presented.


Cinema 4D R9.6: New module MoGraph


Cinema 4D R10.5: Character animation and workflow / production pipeline improvements.


Cinema 4D R11: Support of non-linear animation , advanced render with new global illumination and 64-bit support under macOS


Cinema 4D R11.5: The rendering has been switched from lines to buckets, rendering instances have been introduced, and Quicktime is also supported for Cinema 4D 64-bit under Windows.


Cinema 4D R12: The application has been converted to higher computational accuracy ("double precision") and real units have been introduced. Dynamics has been integrated into Studio and is now based on the Bullet Physics Engine. The modular system was replaced by the five packages Prime, Broadcast, Visualize, Studio and BodyPaint 3D.


Cinema 4D R13: A new physical renderer has been added that can correctly reproduce real 3D motion and depth of field as well as lens distortion. The subsurface scattering for generating translucent materials (e.g. milk, skin or wax) has been revised and expanded. Combination of sampling for various effects such as depth and motion blur, area shadows, ambient occlusion and blurred reflections and transparencies for faster calculation. New anti-aliasing filter (Mitchell and Gauss). A new cinema logo has been used since R13.


Cinema 4D R14: Sculpting has been newly introduced, the range of functions corresponds to the known sculpting applications. Auxiliary lines have been added in the modeling area and the snapping has been completely revised. Workplanes were also renewed. The dynamics now also support aerodynamic effects. Open GL 3.2 is now supported under macOS.


Cinema 4D R15: Sculpting, modeling and GI improved, symbols renewed.


Cinema 4D R16: Reflectance Channels, Motion Tracker and Poly Pen.


Cinema 4D R17: Improved Motion Tracker, Improved Modeling and Sculpting, Houdini Engine Integration


Cinema 4D R18: Voronoi Fracturing, New Knife Tools, Object Tracker

2017 Cinema 4D R19: AMD ProRender, spherical camera
2018 Cinema 4D R20: Node-based material system, MoGraph Fields, Multi Instances, OpenVDB (Volume) Modeling, new CAD Importer, ProRender Features (SSS, Multipasses, Motion Blur)
2019 Cinema 4D R21: Merging of all functions in a single version, new license model, modeling improvements, Caps & Bevels, Field Forces, Intel Denoiser, ProRender improvements, High DPI support, UI revision, Asset Inspector, new license server, vector volumes, cache layer, UV editing improvements, Linux commandline renderer


  • Horst Sondermann: Cinema 4D. Tips and tricks for architectural visualization. Springer, Vienna 2010, ISBN 978-3-7091-0187-2 .
  • Maik Eckardt: Cinema 4D R21: practical introduction. mitp 2019, ISBN 978-3747501320 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Cinema 4D for the whole world (Eng.)
  2. it-times: Nemetschek buys motion design software specialist Red Giant from the USA. Retrieved December 19, 2019 .
  3. ^ Maxon and Red Giant Merger Completed. Retrieved February 29, 2020 .