It has been used for films such as We Are the Strange, Polar Express, Open Season and Monster House.
The application relies on widely used computer 3-D technology, which works by creating groups of "points" (known as vertices) which form surfaces when connected. The illusion of three dimensions is created by modeling objects out of multiple surfaces. Still pictures, movies and game environments (among other things) can be created with this technique.
CINEMA 4D has its own runtime scripting and programming language C.O.F.F.E.E. which is rather similar in form to JScript and an advanced modern C++ API, with an extensive SDK for developing platform-independent plug-ins.
Beginning with Release 11, Cinema4D for Mac has been written in Cocoa, which ensures maximum performance by using the 64-bit architecture of modern Intel-powered Macs. For non-Intel-based Macs, a 32-bit mode is available.
Four different packages have been released by MAXON: the core CINEMA 4D application, the XL-Bundle (including NET Render [3 licenses], PyroCluster, Advanced Render, MOCCA and Thinking Particles), the Studio Bundle, which includes all modules, and the Production Bundle, available only upon request, which comes with a service contract, Linux version, Renderman support and a number of other high-end studio-specific features.
Initially, CINEMA 4D was developed for Amiga computers in the early nineties, but has since been released for Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows.
MAXON has created a way for all users to be able to 'get into' 3D with their software by pursuing this route. For R10 there is, in addition to the installation DVD, a training DVD containing more than 6GB of video tutorials in either German or English. MAXON bundles HTML manuals and tutorials/videos with its software. New in release 10 are context-sensitive help menus.
CINEMA 4D has been embraced by the Adobe After Effects community because of C4D's external compositing tags and object IDs, which make exporting 3-D data efficient and simple. Separate alpha and depth information may also be exported. Because the export feature also supports Apple's Final Cut Pro and other popular software, it fits well into several post-production studio configurations.