Computer-Music.com contains articles and product reviews related to making music using computers and creating 3D computer animation in sync with music. Computer-Music.com is also the home page of  Donald S. Griffin, an experienced professional composer, sound effects designer and audio consultant with an emphasis on computer games,  video games and internet music and sound effects. For pricing and contract availability send email to: DGriffin (@) Computer-Music (.) com

Computer-Music.com  contains articles and product reviews related to making music using computers and creating 3D computer animation in sync with music.
Computer-Music.com is also the home page of  Donald S. Griffin, an experienced professional composer, sound effects designer and audio consultant with an emphasis on computer games,  video games and internet music and sound effects. For pricing and contract availability send email to: DGriffin (@) Computer-Music (.) com

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All reviews on this site are always under construction. Additional information is posted as it becomes available.

Maxon Cinema 4D XL 6

This article is out of date.

I have had to reduce graphics software coverage at this site for the time being. In addition there seemed to be nothing new in audio support being added to subsequent versions of this software which was our reason for covering this product. If this situation changes you may see an update here in the future.

This program renders 3D positional audio including Doppler effects!

     

Note: This review is aimed at musicians in particular, because of its exciting audio features, so it is slanted in that direction. Musicians with no 3D graphics background should not be afraid to read this review. On the other hand 3D artists considering purchasing this program may want to read this review as a sort of second opinion.

Cinema 4D XL Release 6 is a professional 3D modeling and rendering application that includes the ability to render 3D positional audio! That means you can use it to create professional 3D animations and when you attach a sound file to an object in the scene the motion of that sound will match the motion of the object! This includes not only panning but Doppler as well. The perceived position of the sound need not be purely relative to the camera's position either. You place virtual microphones in the scene and their position is used to calculate the 3D positional sound of the objects. Since you can attach these virtual microphones to other objects in the scene you have the option of having C4D calculate the sound from a complex motion path winding among these objects.

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Here are two simple example movies showing 3D audio rendering in C4D XL 6.

The first movie is of a 'train' passing the camera. The second is of a car circling, train passing, and plane in an s-curve (left, right, left, right) as it passes overhead.


'Train'
4 seconds


'Car - Train - Plane'
4 seconds

222 kb
Indeo 5.11, 44KHz 16bit Stereo
(non-compressed audio)
218 kb
Indeo 5.11, 44KHz 16bit Stereo

(non-compressed audio)
48 kb
Microsoft Media ASF 100 kbps data rate
(better audio)
(non-streaming OR streams with ISDN, DSL or Cable modem)
56 kb
Microsoft Media ASF 100 kbps data rate

(better audio)
(non-streaming OR streams with ISDN, DSL or Cable modem)
21 kb
Microsoft Media ASF 37 kbps data rate
(duller audio)
(streams on a 56k modem)
24 kb
Microsoft Media ASF 37 kbps data rate

(duller audio)
(streams on a 56k modem)

The original 3D audio renders were channel-reversed so I had to swap the channels in Cool Edit Pro using the channel mixer feature. Apparently the default microphone orientation was not as I would have expected. Rotating them 180 degrees before attaching them to the camera would remedy this. But it is something to watch out for. The audio can be looped and shifted in time so I will try to come up with an example showing transient sounds tied to an event like a drum hit for example. By moving the key frame where the drum stick hits the drum head in lock step with the key frame for the sound of the drum hit you should have no trouble changing the timing of the animation and moving the sound effects to match.

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The possibilities are so intriguing I am hesitant to give a few lame examples but hopefully they will give you a few ideas of your own. Imagine you are given the job of producing sound effects for a scene in which the camera is mounted on a WWII fighter on a ground attack mission against a moving train. You have two issues to consider. How would it really sound and how should it sound for this film? With C4D you could recreate the scene using simple colored or labeled shapes like boxes pyramids or spheres, 3D text or even rough mockups of the actual objects in the scene on the film. They don't have to look pretty, they are only for roughly matching the action in the film and for microphone and sound placement. Then you could, attach sounds of the various objects in the scene to the objects themselves assuring they will change in volume, pan and pitch (Doppler) the way they would in real life. Then you simple render the scene (in a very quick draft mode if you prefer) and render the sound along with it. The wave files can then be altered to taste and mixed with for your film. If anything is wrong you can simply adjust it and run another render. All sound files will be effortlessly updated. If the real sound of the train is too subdued or too loud you can alter that to taste. Doppler can be exaggerated for effect. The sounds of flack exploding around the plane can be multiplied and accurately placed just by making additional flack objects. If you are, later told the scene timing has been changed you only have to adjust the scene in C4D and do another render.

Maybe you have a small rock or rap group that is struggling to produce a video on a tight budget. One of the nice things about Cinema 4D XL 6 is that it is pretty friendly for a professional level graphics program. Record a mix of your tune with as many items separated onto different tracks as possible. Browse the web for one of the several sites on how to cheaply create blue-screen video of the members of your band playing the tune or just goofing around. You can create objects with the band members and place them in the 3D scene. Attach the sound of their singing or playing from the appropriate track on your master recording. Then get creative with scene objects, colors, lighting, camera motion and maybe a few sound effects. Maybe you want to use the original mix as is but occasionally use a 3D positional version of the vocals as the camera zooms by the singer. Maybe you want to use 3D positional audio only for a few sound effects here and there like the sounds of a factory, train station, car zooming by, or whatever you can think of. Then mix those positional sound files in with the original master to taste. Movie quality, realistic 3D animation is not necessary. Get funky and mix it in with live footage of the band. You could even do overlays of 3D elements on top of real scenes. If you look around you probably have a friend who is willing and able to do the whole project in exchange for keeping the software afterwards.

Now that I have your attention let me talk a bit about the program itself. No 3D program is easy in the sense that it is easy to learn to play a bass guitar.  ;-)  Professional 3D programs tend to be even harder. But C4DXL6 has a friendly user interface, a lot of raw power, and the code seems to be absolutely rock solid. I have not experienced a single freeze or crash or even any kind of bug since I received this program and it is a brand new version! Those of you who use a lot of software, especially 3D software, should appreciate just how amazing that is! The interface is laid out very visually and logically. Many complex functions can be handled easily by simply dragging icons from one place to another. This is not to say that anything about 3D computer graphics is easy but this program makes it about as easy as it is ever going to get. In 3D CG (computer graphics) simple shapes are called 'primitives'. These typically include box, sphere, cone, cylinder and a few others. C4D allows you to create many of these kids of shapes, and even some more complex ones, in a parametric manner. Parametric, coming from the word parameter means you can create shapes by describing their dimensions and they will be represented in C4D as pure mathematical shapes. This means a parametric sphere will always be perfectly, smoothly round even in a close up of its silhouette. For any advanced editing these parametric objects must first be converted into polygon objects causing them to lose their mathematical perfection in exchange for the ability to be edited into much more complex objects. But for music videos an awful lot can be done purely with parametric objects so if you are pressed for time you can avoid most of the complexity of the program by sticking with scenes using only parametric objects. There is a bonus in this approach since parametric objects can be freely changed in many complex ways at any time simply by changing one or more of the parameters (values) used to define their shape. This will allow you to easily make severe changes to the look of the video even after you have done a lot of work on it.

There is an awful lot to this program. The manual and tutorial probably well over a thousand pages. Spot reviews are not meant to be long and detailed this is not an appropriate place to tell you everything about this program. My intention is only to give you critical information to help you decide whether you want to look into using this program. As the Spot Review process continues I will try to add any additional information that may be of pivotal importance in helping you to quickly appraise the possible usefulness of this program in your music or graphics studio.

You can link to Maxon's web site at http://www.maxon.net 

(more specific links will be added soon)

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