While various powerful options are available, Cinema 4D has become a go-to tool for three-dimensional motion graphics, including those looking for a factory to produce slick visuals for live performance. Now, that power is free for students. (free as in beer – something I hear students also use for its powerful features)
The good news: if you’re a student, you get a shot at grabbing the full software completely free. It’s a full-featured version, containing everything but network rendering.
The bad news: that’s “students,” not teachers. (Continuing Ed, anyone?) “Selected countries” get the offer; working out whether you qualify based on your student status and your country may require some digging. The major catch is, the license lasts 18 months. (My advice: never, ever finish school — actually, wait, that’s definitely not my advice. Forget I said that.)
For everyone else, the academic version is still pretty affordable. Normal pricing for the full academic version is US$295, and covers teachers as well as students. It also offers some extras for more serious users: network rendering is supported, you get phone support from Maxon, and – if you do someday finish school – you can update to the full version.
Also, crucially, you will need the full version to support some plug-ins that require the serial for the main version.
But for those wanting to experiment with Cinema 4D, the deal is pretty extraordinary. A quick search on YouTube or Vimeo yields loads of tutorials; you can also find hundreds of step-by-step walkthroughs (some free, some subscription-based) at:
You can produce eye candy like the video above. To see just how often this tool is getting used – and the amazing things people are doing with it – you can take even a casual look at our archives:
Speaking of free, what about “free as in freedom” options? Well, Blender certainly springs to mind, and even if it’s turned you off in the past, a major UI overhaul could widen its appeal. I wouldn’t make direct comparisons either way: these are radically different tools with different feature sets and philosophies. But with so much superb Cinema 4D documentation out there, it seems about time to locate more friendly tutorials for Blender. Its open source roots open it to collaborative development and cooperation in ways proprietary software isn’t. And I’d say the artistic community is fortunate to have both of these unique tools.