Creative director and industry veteran Rob Redman takes a closer look at Solid Angle's Arnold for CINEMA 4D...
Product: Arnold render for Cinema 4D
The popular render engine has finally reached the growing CINEMA 4D user base and does so with style, stability and a blisteringly fast interactive preview.
Company: Solid Angle
Any company developing a plug-in have to strike the balance between providing the tools they are creating in a way that works best, while being intuitive to the host software's users. Solid Angle
has done a brilliant job with Arnold
and it really is integrated very well, both under the hood and in the user facing elements.
Arnold uses a node-based approach for building materials, which makes for a particularly versatile and easy to use system, with much more in the way of visual feedback than a layered system, where you need to drill down to get where you need. Channels are all nodes, including textures, which can be loaded direct form an explorer/finder window into the node manager, which is actually a Xpresso window. Connecting nodes is simple and anybody who has used Xpresso will be happier immediately. Everyone else will need just a few minutes to learn how it all works.
Lighting is perhaps the most important part of working with any renderer and Arnold has built the lighting setup just right. You can add an Arnold light from the plug-in's menu, choose it's type from the usual, point, spot, and so on, then move on to the rest of the attributes for color and intensity and so on.
Arnold has a sky/physical sky system that is simple and works. You can add an HDRI to it or stick with a basic dome. Either way results are great.
The node-based material editor is simple, powerful and versatile
Part of the implementation in CINEMA 4D is how things feel normal to a CINEMA 4D user, so to give standard objects attributes for Arnold is a simple case of applying the Arnold tag to it. Second nature to most, and the tag adapts depending on what it is applied to, for instance if it's a camera you get attributes for depth of field, exposure and shutter angle (including rolling shutter for matching pates). It's this attention to detail that will make Arnold a long term favorite, but for sheer fun and wow factor you have to use the IPR.
Many renderers suggest they have a real-time feedback preview renderer, but none are as effective as this. Results, even on heavy scenes, are instant, progressively cleaning up, so you get to work as fast as you can think. Feedback is fast enough to move cameras, play animations and run simulations, so really a fantastic tool.
The IPR is fast, easy and looks fantastic
Render quality is excellent but to get the best out of it, time is needed to really appreciate how the materials work; but if you are considering a renderer like Arnold that probably isn't an issue for you. Final renders are up there with the best and while not as fast as some of the competition it's not a slouch either.
There isn't space to cover everything offered by Arnold for CINEMA 4D here so check out some of the other features, such as volume rendering, support for X-Particles, Mesh lights and much more, as there is a fairly comprehensive feature set.
A big thumbs up to Solid Angle for a deeply integrated renderer for CINEMA 4D, which offers great quality and ease of use. Take the time to learn how the materials work and you will not regret investing the time and money.
Even the quickest test renders look good and the Arnold SSS is lovely
Score (out of 5): 4.5
Price: from £520
- Global Illumination renderer
- Physically based
- Excellent integration for C4D users
- Fast IPR for instant feedback
- Support for Team Render
- Compatible with Cinema 4D R15 and R16 (all products except Lite)
- Windows 7 and later
- Mac OS X 10.8 and later
- No GPU or graphics card requirements
Take a closer look at Arnold from Solid Angle
See how Arnold was used for the movie, Gravity
Take a look at our CINEMA 4D eBooks