|Why do we buy books on computer software? Most programs come with manuals that tell us how to use our software of choice. But usually that is not enough. We need to know techniques, workflow improvements, and tips to make our software soar.
Adam Watkins book The Cinema 4D XL Handbook does just that. While I must admit I am a newbie to Cinema, I found that the book explained things to me that I just could not get from a manual. Expert users were brought in to write several of the chapters in the book. In these chapters these experts share their knowledge and insight on the various topics discussed. There are plenty of modeling, texturing, and animation tips and tutorials. These were definitely a boon for a newbie like myself, but I am sure even a more advanced user would find some useful info.
The book starts out with an introduction to the interface and even shows you how to customize the interface to suit your needs. Then it moves on to discuss Cinemas primitives. The book does not bore you with discussing the many types of primitives in Cinema, but takes one primitive and discusses the many parameters, and options in detail. One nice touch is that if you need more info, the books CD has supplements on many topics, including the different primitives.
NURBS are the next topic. The book does a good job describing the different NURB generators in Cinema. In this chapter you will use the NURBS tools to continue constructing a dining room that you started in the previous chapter. In fact when you have finished this chapter you will have constructed a dining room that would befit the grandest of mansions.
One of my favorite chapters is the one that features modeling a car using Cinemas HyperNurbs. This is one of the chapters that Adam Watkins brings in an expert to discuss modeling with Cinemas HyperNurbs. I learned more on HyperNurbs in this chapter than I had in the previous months of using Cinema. It would have been helpful though to have the photo references and sample files on the CD. I was able to get the references used from the illustrations on the CD, but this meant I had to take them into Photoshop and modify them to work with the tutorial. I believe that these files have now been made available on the web. Despite these small setbacks, by the time I had finished this chapter, I had my first model in Cinema that I was proud of.
The other chapters cover character modeling, texturing and animation. There is a very good chapter on lighting that takes the dining room you modeled earlier and lights it in various ways. First you light it simulating nighttime light, then for daylight, and finally romantic lighting with candles.
There is a chapter that overviews the use of 3D real-time content. This chapter describes how to use Cinema for game content. One chapter introduces Cinemas scripting language, COFFEE. This chapter is written by Donovan Keith of Golem fame. Donovan is known for his Cinema programming knowledge. The last chapter is very interesting in that it interviews a few of Cinemas more renowned artists. Here we learn how Cinema is used by the pros, and what projects they have used Cinema on. We even get a peek on some of their workflow, hardware and backgrounds.
The book provides a lot of useful information for the Cinema user, but it does have its problems. As already mentioned, some of the tutorials did not have the files on the CD that matched the descriptions in the book.
The illustrations in the book are small, blurred and hard to see the detail necessary. While they do exist on the CD (in color), it is not as nice as having easy to see illustrations in the book itself. There were a few typos, but it was mostly well written and edited. The CD contains demos of Cinema 4D XL 7 and Bodypaint. (Saves are disabled) This way even if you do not own Cinema you can work through the tutorials.
Would I recommend this book? Definitely! It brought my skill level up several notches. Could the book be better? Yes. Color illustrations and better CD content would go a long way. Charles River Media needs to take heart and realize that graphic books need better illustrations. Still the book is a good resource for the Cinema 4D user. So go out and buy the book and bring your Cinema 4D skills to a new level.
|Paperback: 546 pages
Dimensions (in inches): 1.34 x 9.18 x 7.46
Publisher: Charles River Media
Bk&Cd-Rom edition (August 15, 2001)
Randy's rating: 4 COWs
I give the book 4 COWs.