Render plugin for Cinema 4D shows promise

Promising a range of productivity improvements and a closer tie to other versions of V-Ray, Mike Griggs tests the latest version of VRayforC4D.

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VRayforC4D has been one of the key plug-ins which have helped Maxon stay at the big table of 3D applications. The tight integration with Cinema 4D had meant that VRayforC4D was reasonably straightforward to get up and running with the wide range of render presets that it came with.

There was a catch, however, which was that the implementation of V-Ray was not the same as those used for Max and Maya, so materials and other settings were not compatible. This didn't matter so much as VRayforC4D was stable, enthusiastically supported by its small team of developers, and a small cottage industry of additional plug-ins became available to support it.

The reason for the support is that the quality and reliability of the render and animation that VRayforC4D can produce is stunning, especially when compared to Cinema 4D's in-built standard renderer. While the Global Illumination system has been greatly improved in Cinema 4D R15, V-Ray produces images more akin to the in-built Physical Renderer, but completes the process in a lot less time.

Improved capability

With VRayforC4D 1.8 the developers have effectively rebuilt the plug-in from scratch; it now uses the .vrscene format as the base, which, with the included V-Ray Standalone application, means for the first time that VRayforC4D is using the same tools as other implementations of V-Ray and shares the same shader system.

When we say share, we mean that the same underlying technology is in place (even though the numbering is different VRayforC4D 1.8 is built on the V-Ray 2.1.0 core), and this will bring huge dividends to VRayforC4D in terms of shader compatibility and asset sharing with other V-Ray-enabled applications.

The benefits of the new core are seen in other ways, the multipass outputs have been enhanced and have their own menu in the plug-in menu, but the main feature in this version is distributed rendering.

The new multipass tools in VRayforC4D 1.8 make working in post so much easier. Starting the new V-Ray standalone through a terminal, while a straightforward process, could be intimidating to many new users, which is not helped by a lack of documentation

Distributed rendering

This allows you to use your other computers that are not doing anything to help your main computer with renders, including preview renders, and it is a lovely thing to see many more render buckets than you are used to squirrelling their way across the screen.

In many ways, once running it is similar to the new Team Render feature that comes with Cinema 4D R15, however, to get it running is much more complicated than the incredibly straightforward way that Maxon has developed. Which is a great shame.

Getting distributed rendering to work requires running terminal/command line processes on Windows or Mac and reinforces the notion that VRayforC4D has always been a renderer that demanded you learn it properly to truly get the best out of it.

Unfortunately VRayforC4D 1.8, at the time of writing, is lacking in proper documentation and has a long list of bugs that the developer is fixing with help from the eager CG community, which makes you feel like you are part of a beta, rather than a paying customer exploring a new piece of software.

Considering the not inconsiderable price of the plug-in (which does include 10 render nodes), with no demo for you to check compatibility it is hard to recommend VRayforC4D 1.8 to new users until the documentation is in the wild. For existing users, start learning the new features, but keep a copy of your old VRayforC4D handy.

This article originally appeared in 3D World issue 177 - on sale now!

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