SIGGRAPH 2018: Procedural Landscaping with Cinema 4D

Published:06/18/2018   Last Updated:06/18/2018

Intel® Software Innovator Marc Potocnik Will Demo His Approaches to Procedural Landscaping with Mountainvista 

An expert at lighting and rendering animations, 3D artist Marc Potocnik is one of the Intel® Software Innovators that will be demoing their work at SIGGRAPH 2018 in Vancouver this August.  

SIGGRAPH is a five-day event showcasing the latest tech in computer graphics (CG), animation, virtual reality, games, digital art, mixed reality and emerging technologies.  Marc will showcase his approaches on procedural landscaping by exploiting the capabilities within MAXON Cinema 4D*.

Project:  Mountainvista

Marc Potocnik was tasked with creating a rich Cinema 4D scene that showcases the power of the Intel® Core™ i9 Extreme Edition processor in combination with Intel® Optane™ SSD and a fast graphics card.  Marc will do this by demonstrating his approaches to procedural landscaping with Cinema 4D in his project Mountainvista

Back in 2012, Marc created a complex 3D scene to measure graphics card performance in OpenGL* for MAXON’s Cinebench.  The test scene depicted a car chase through a city that looks similar to Düsseldorf, Germany.  With his benchmarking and 3D animation experience, Marc was keen to work on this new benchmarking project with Intel.


SIGGRAPH is an event about research and advancements in techniques and technology in CG.  This is the perfect event to demo Mountainvista as Marc’s approaches to procedural landscaping push the boundaries of the native Cinema 4D shader toolset.  He hopes this project motivates other 3D artists to test the limits of the technology they have at hand.  Incidentally, noise shaders, the main ingredients of Marc’s modeling and shading approaches, were actually introduced at SIGGRAPH back in 1985 by Ken Perlin, making Marc’s project an example of the continuing evolvement of technology in the CG industry.
 side-by-side shot zooming into detail of mountainside image

Project Challenges

Impressed by the work of third-party shading engines such as Quixel, Allegorithmic* Substance Designer, etc.  Marc wondered if these results could be recreated to a certain degree with only the onboard shading tools of Cinema 4D.  It turns out they could. 

The challenge was how to make countless shaders and parameters look and feel like rock, pebbles, cliffs and landscapes.  He started by trying to get a full understanding of the procedural shaders of Cinema 4D, beginning with the noise shaders.  He worked to learn their characteristics, how they relate to each other and how they can be combined and interact to recreate natural terrains.  The next step was to complement the high-poly models with shaders for diffuse/specular reflection, and normal/bump shading to mimic natural surfaces as paragons.
In the end he was able to have a complex shader setup, giving him control over every inch of the scene without having to hassle with bitmaps and UV wrapping.  This is the type of work where you never stop learning, the more projects you do the better you get; the more experienced the graphic artist, the better the result.
 side-by-side shot showing detail of mountainside and rocks

Technical Details

To realize this project, Intel provided Marc with a workstation containing an Intel® Core™ i9 Extreme Edition processor, Intel® Optane™ SSD, and an Nvidia* GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card.  The software solutions Marc worked with are Maxon Cinema 4D R19 and Adobe* After Effects CC 2017. 

Cinema 4D’s internal render engine, Physical Render, delivers highly realistic camera simulation and high-quality anti-aliasing.  When it comes to sample-based processes such as area shadows, ambient occlusion and blurry reflections, the unified sampler of Physical Render is even faster than the Standard Renderer. 

All of this heavily relies on the acceleration of Embree implemented in Physical Render.  Embree is a collection of high-performance ray tracing kernels, developed at Intel labs, and optimized for photo-realistic rendering on the latest Intel® architecture.  As with everything CG related, the accelerated renderings come at a cost of RAM-usage – a deal Marc is more than happy to accept. 

Marc has also been surprised by the speed and stability of the single socket system workstation he was provided, even in direct comparison to his other dual socket Intel® Xeon® processors.  

Additional Animation Projects

In addition to Mountainvista Marc has shared other projects on Intel® Developer Mesh demonstrating how he’s maxed out Cinema 4D native capabilities in terms of using shading and lighting without the use of third-party products.  Do Panjereh is a seven-minute music video that features a full CG-environment which is completely procedural, from pebbles, stones and rocks, to cliffs, landscapes, planets and stars.  Making Clouds in Cinema 4D is demonstrates how to think outside the box to create volumetric effects such as clouds, plasma, stellar nebulae, and more using 3D noise shaders.  Marc's studio, renderbaron, also released a three-minute showreel of recent work which focuses on visualizations and visual effects for TV documentaries. 

Intel® Software Innovator Marc Potocnik

Marc Potocnik’s background in creating imagery goes back to his early childhood days.  He began drawing at the age of three, using felt pens to sketch simple images of things he’d experienced.  Throughout his youth it became habit for him to finish a sketch nearly every day.  His mother wrote articles for regional and international art magazines and his contact to artists were a big influence and inspiration to him. 

His first contact with computers and digital content creation came later – when he was twenty and preparing to study Graphics and Design at the University of Applied Science in Düsseldorf.  Early versions of Photoshop*, Cinema 4D and After Effects replaced his felt pens and pencils bit by bit.  As a student, Marc started working for an ad agency in his hometown and soon knew that 3D animation was his passion.  In 2001 he founded his animation studio, renderbaron, and made his passion his profession. 

For more detail on his process, Marc wrote an article (in German) covering the technical background of procedural landscaping.  Learn more about Marc’s work at and follow renderbaron on Facebook to stay updated on his projects. 

Want to learn more about the Intel® Software Innovator Program?

You can read about our innovator updates, get the full program overview and learn more about innovator benefits.  We also encourage you to check out Developer Mesh to learn more about the various projects that our community of innovators are working on.

Interested in more information? Contact  Wendy Boswell

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