C4D OK for learning modeling, rigging and animation?


I know it’s amazing for motion graphics, and I’m close to choosing it over Maya for its user-friendliness (my 3D experience so far is limited to a couple of months with Blender, whose interface I love to hate).

The only thing that concerns me is that I’ve heard Maya has better animation tools (and modeling and rigging as well, perhaps?)

As a beginner, do you think I am likely to find learning modeling, rigging and animation frustrating with C4D?


As a beginner, do you think I am likely to find learning modeling, rigging and animation frustrating with C4D?

Short answer - No, if anything Maya is the one that beginners will find frustrating.

  Slightly longer answer - Cinema has a gentler learning curve, built in modular rigging tools that are very user friendly and a solid animation feature set. Maya has deeper implementation of animation tools, faster timeline and a completely nodal architecture which gives deeper power for TDs. For high end character work it is more powerful but until you are working on larger projects you won't really notice that much difference.
  As for modeling, with regular poly modeling really there's practically nothing in it, both apps have strengths and weaknesses in different tools (neither are great poly modelers to be honest but they both get the job done). Maya has nurbs modeling and better import from CAD apps in some ways, C4D has basic sculpting built in, sort of like a light version of Mudbox.
  Grab the demo and watch some tutorials, try stuff out. These ones for example by yours truly cover a lot of the newer rigging/animation stuff in R13 and newer. [http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC57D98597A0B7DD0&feature=view_all](http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC57D98597A0B7DD0&feature=view_all) The last one in the list covers Cinemas auto rigger.


That’s extremely helpful information, Horganovski, thank you!!! Exactly what I needed to know, short of trying things out for myself, which I’ll do.

I’ll be sure to watch your tutorials, also!


The tools between the apps are more or less the same. CINEMA will be easier to pick up. I would recommend learning CINEMA then Maya vs the other way around. I think Some of what Maya tries to teach you will hinder your ability to understand or grasp concepts with other apps(ie over-complicate things). I think CINEMA will get you going faster. But the tools are more or less the same in both apps.

Check out the free tutorials on Cineversity and elsewhere. Get familiar with the tools, and then you can look at any tutorial and copy their concepts regardless of the program you are using.


Great advice–thank you!!!


Wait until you have a ton of time and then set up a free trial account with Lynda.com. Rob Garrott will teach you all the basics in about 10 hours.

I would also agree with C4D being the way to go. Maya always felt like work to me, yes their character tools are better but C4D is rapidly growing so who knows where we’ll be in September.


Thanks for the advice, and the tip about Lynda.com. I’ll check it out, and will likely immerse myself in tutorials when I get the software!


One other point that seems to often get glossed over on CG forums :

If you want to be an animator then you need to spend the majority of your time studying [i]animation,[/i] not software. If you look at an animation forum like the 11 Second Club and watch the monthly entries you can see that well over half of them are from kids who have gotten a cracked copy of Maya, loaded up a free character rig from the net and then figured out the basic technical stuff of posing, setting keyframes, loading in audio to sync to and rendering out previews. Anyone who can operate an Xbox or a smartphone can get that far. What they lack though is any concept of how to make good animation, ie they have no understanding of the classic animation principles like timing, spacing, arcs, staging, appeal, overlap, weight, etc etc! So the results are all kinds of ugly. 

It’s similar with motion graphics, most people can learn how to use the mograph module with a little training, but the ones who create compelling results with it are those who understand art principles like design, typography, colour theory etc.

Brad Bird compared CG animation to Sampling in music, in that it's easier for anyone to load up a rig and pose it and get some kind of result that looks like 'animation'. But being able to use those tools effectively still takes artistic knowledge, not computer/software skills.

Another reason why this is so important is that if you do have a career as an animator you will likely move from studio to studio and will encounter different software packages as you do so (the likes of Dreamworks and Pixar for example use their own custom software instead of any of the other major packages). So again, knowing [i]how to animate[/i] will get you much further than being able to use any particular piece of software.




I like rants that are full of good advice. :arteest:


Hear hear. I agree with everything here. Fundamentally to be a good animator you need to be good at seeing things in great detail, and to be an actor of sorts. That’s why you see so many good animators looking at themselves in the mirror or videoing themselves. It’s all about reference. No software can teach you that.


This is superb advice, thank you! It’s something I have definitely considered as I get started, and I’ve seen The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams recommended as a good primer/overview of the topic.

Thanks to everyone for their input! I literally discovered 3D by downloading Blender and giving it a try–I fell in love with the general concept there and then. There is a tendency to focus too much on the medium and tools, though, so I’ll keep an eye on that.


This was something I struggled with for some time. I even sold my cinema 4d license at one point and switched to Maya, but I kept coming back. C4d just “clicks” with my brain, and I find that the more I learn in C4d, the more I can understand other programs.


From what I’ve read so far, C4D will “click” with me too! Fingers crossed.


please explain exactly why maya character tools are better than c4d. I use both apps and I like to know what others think and say about this. I like c4d better and always quit on maya after awhile and say I hate using maya. LOL I get stuff done quickly in c4d, i have fun doing it and i really like making the UI the way I like it, including font sizes which helps my old eyes read it better. I strain to read things in the maya UI.

Well I use both apps here and I feel I could give a laundry list of features in Maya that are deeper and more flexible for character animation. (Note I'm specifically talking about [i]animation[/i], not necessarily rigging which people often lump into the same category). What would be the point though? If you have fun using C4D and find it works for your needs then why worry about Maya? In my opinion there's only a good justification to look at other apps if the one you are using is not letting you complete the job you need it to do. If it is, and you enjoy using it, then it's the right application for you.

The only reason I started working with Maya was that a couple of years ago I had a job where we were producing animation content for online delivery and we found bugs in Cinemas FBX exporter (since fixed or gotten around via CD FBX) that we couldn’t get around. So we switched the entire pipeline (mid project - ouch!) to Maya, I spent a couple of weeks learning the ropes and found that I actually enjoyed working in it. For some reason it just clicked with me (especially MEL which is now almost my second language after English LOL).

Since then I’ve made the license cost pay for itself by using it on client jobs, and I regularly go back and forth between Maya and Cinema depending on the client or even the needs of a particular shot sometimes (Alembic now makes this pretty painless, I regularly mix elements from the two apps into the final result). So for me it’s not a case of either/or, I really enjoy having access to both and the bigger tool set that that provides me.

I have done the same kind of jobs (I specialize in character work) in both apps and I'd like to think I can achieve the same result in either. I may have personal preferences as to which workflow I prefer but that ultimately does not affect the final result. I hope my clients would agree with me that I can provide quality character work no matter what application I'm using. :)



Brian, I asked cus of the general statement made by PhoenixCG saying there are better character tools in maya. what does that person base that statement on? I could post all day long making statements of this is better and so on but someone will hopefully come along and say why do you specifically think something is better. yes, maybe a laundry list would be good. can’t be that long or c4d would not keep up. that’s all. after hearing another persons view, i may reconsider things and take a different approach to things. Even though I say I am happy with c4d and like it a lot, I am the kind of person who always looks at all the apps, not only for my own work, but to also be on top of things for consulting. I am sure other out there are like me in this regard. I remember reading on the forums when you said went to Maya two years ago for a job.

I probably should have kept my opinion off and just asked the question. :slight_smile:


Well if you ask for specifics, the main things that I like about animating in Maya that I miss in Cinema :

          -Non weighted tangents in the curve editor. Much easier to work with IMO compared to weighted tangents (Maya has the option of either, C4D only has weighted).
          -The auto tangents work better in Maya, they prevent overshoot of curves while keeping the curves pretty clean, C4Ds auto tangents don't. (Clamping the curves is not the same thing.)
    -Being able to use the scale tool on keys in the curve editor.
          -Euler filter command in the curve editor which often fixes gimbal issues, C4D doesn't have this.
          -Faster timeline in general, load several rigs in and it does not slow down to the extent Cinema does. Same thing with heavy keyframe data, Maya handles mocap animation a lot better and remains responsive in situations where Cinema will grind to a halt.
          -Being able to double or quadruple the height of the timeslider, very handy for seeing the sound wave better while animating lipsync. I know C4D can show the soundwave in the F-Curve editor but I don't use that when blocking, I prefer to work with the timeslider.
          - The referencing system for characters is very robust (I believe Cinema gets better in this area each release as the bugs with it get ironed out, but Maya has already gone through that stage several versions ago).
          -Viewport 2.0. It's just so nice to look at while working and the realtime Ambient Occlusion makes it easier to assess the contact between the character and the set/props etc. Image attached to illustrate. I can tell at a glance whether his fingers are in contact with the desk or not for example, same thing with foot/floor contact and that kind of thing.
          I guess I could even include my [bhGhost](https://vimeo.com/49638174) tool, although this is not part of 'default' Maya, it's a pretty nice add on if I say so myself and has become a big part of my workflow. I believe the basics of this could be recreated in Cinema (I know someone who tried and someone else is currently working on a Blender version) but Maya made it relatively easy to create this with the way it's PFX node works and how integrated MEL is and I'm not sure the other versions will have the same functionality.
          There are various other small things I guess but those would be the main ones for me and I should note that they are all very specific to character work.
        As for 'Cinema not keeping up' I don't think that's the case at all, it's simply a matter that Maya is very focused on character stuff (with studios like Bluesky, Disney, ILM etc using it to make their movies and I'm sure driving the development to a large extent). Cinema on the other hand is more focused in the motion graphics arena and other areas like medical animation, arch vis etc etc. For mograph artists using Maya would be silly IMO unless they want to spend all day writing scripts.
       For my own work I do 90% of my rendering in Cinema, even if the animation was done in Maya as I simply don't like the pain involved in working with Mental Ray for Maya. I believe many high end productions that use Maya are relying on external renderers like Renderman, Arnold, VRay etc. Cinema is almost unique in how well integrated it's renderer is.

So while the list above might look long, it's just the list of one user working in one very specific area and in no ways is meant to suggest that Maya is 'better' than Cinema, I really don't believe that is the case. There are plenty of things in Maya that are maddening but for CA work I find it very nice to work with.


Brian, thank you very much for taking the time to post these valuable points between Maya and C4D. Your willingness to share your experience and knowledge is appreciated.



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