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CINEMA 4D: Rendering Motion Graphics for After Effects demonstrates how to take a simple logo animation in CINEMA 4D and transform it into a compelling motion graphic with After Effects, incorporating two distinct visual styles. Starting with a prebuilt animation rendered from CINEMA 4D, author Rob Garrott employs industry-standard techniques, utilizing materials, lights, and the library of effects in After Effects, to enhance the project's look and feel. Exercise files accompany the course.
Rendering from any 3D package can be intimidating, but if you start with the basics and work your way up from there in a methodical fashion, you can avoid a lot of problems. What we want to do in this movie is to create a baseline set of render settings that will become the foundation for all of our subsequent movies in this chapter. Now the very first thing I want to do is turn off something called Linear Workflow. Linear Workflow is brand-new for CINEMA 4D version 12, and what it does is affect how CINEMA 4D generates multi-pass renders, and it affects how After Effects composites those renders together. And it forces you to use something called a linear workflow when you're working in After Effects.
Now I don't use that workflow, and so I want to turn it off here, because it will affect how my renders look down the line. So in order to turn that off, we're going to the main Edit menu and go to the Project Settings, and in the Project Settings I'm just going to raise up this Attribute manager here. And in the Project settings, I'm going to turn off Linear Workflow. And when I do that, you'll notice that the perspective you changed slightly and also, it redrew all the materials. That's because it affects how CINEMA 4D redraws all that information onscreen. So now we're out of Linear Workflow, and that's a very, very important step.
Now with Linear Workflow out of the way, we can move on to the actual Render Settings, and I'm going to click on this icon right here, which are the Render Settings. And within the Render Settings now, on the left-hand side we got the categories of render settings, and on the right-hand side we've got those render settings themselves. So General settings are set to be Full Render. That's very important. Under the Output options, the Output options allow us to tell CINEMA 4D how big our frame to render, what shape should the frame be, and how many frames should we render. Now we're going to be using 960 x 540 as our resolution for this project, but keep in mind if you're doing something for actual production, you are going to want to render one of the known HD resolutions, like 1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080.
So let's set the width to 960, and I'm going to tab twice to get to the Height field. And then you'll notice that when I do that, it changes the aspect ratio. And you can see there is dark gray and a light gray area here that when I change back to 540, that's going to change how my camera is shaped here in CINEMA 4D, and that's a very important step. We always want to work with the correct aspect ratio when we are generating the renders. Resolution is always going to be 72 dpi when you are working with video. The film aspect ratio was automatically generated when we put in the width and height here, and we don't ever want to change that, so we're going to leave that alone.
The pixel aspect ratio should never be changed. It should always stay at one. That's a throwback from the days of old-school standard-def television, and now that we're working in the modern era of HD, the pixel aspect ratio will almost always be one. Next step is the frame rate. We're going to be working at 30 frames per second, because this is going out for video production, and we don't have to worry about the 29.97 issue that you normally have with video. So I'm going to leave this at 30 frames per second. The frame range is how many frames CINEMA 4D is going to actually render for the animation. Now this is a five-second animation running at 30 frames per second.
That means I need to have 150 frames. So if I change this from and to range from 0 to 149, that's going to give me 150 frames, or five seconds of animation. Now, the next thing I want to do is take a look at the Save settings. I am going to move the Render Settings window up here and click on Save. I want to activate the Alpha Channel and activate Straight Alpha Channel. That's going to give me an alpha channel anyplace that my objects don't completely cover the background, and it's going to give me a straight alpha channel, which makes compositing in After Effect a lot cleaner. Now, the next thing I want to do is to turn on the compositing project file by activating all of these options here, and what this does is tell CINEMA 4D that I want to have data from CINEMA 4D to import into After Effects.
That's a very important step, which we will cover in more detail later. Next step up is the Multi-Pass options and if I click on Multi-Pass options, you can see there is nothing here. It's all grayed out, yet when I activate the Multi-Pass options, these become active. And we're not going to touch any of these, but what did happen is under the Save dialog, when I click on that, I now have a new option here, Multi-Pass image. And you can see that when I turn this off and on, that Multi-Pass image save field goes away, and comes back again when I activate it. So this is where we're going to tell CINEMA 4D what type of file we want to save out and where to put that file.
So for now, a very important button. If it's turned on, on your file, make sure it's not. The Multi-Layer File needs to be turned off, and you can see that it is grayed out right now, and that's exactly the way I want it. I'm also going to change the bit depth from 16 bits per channel to eight bit per channel. That's going to save a lot on render time and file size for us, and we're going to just work in an 8-bit workflow in After Effects. The format is going to be Photoshop PSD sequences, and so we're going to leave that pulldown alone, but you can see that CINEMA 4D can render to a wide range of file formats. Next up is the Anti-Aliasing settings, and if I click on Anti-Aliasing, the defaults for Anti-Aliasing are Geometry and Still Image.
Now what Anti-Aliasing does is create a much smoother image. In order to save time in the render process, the render engine will create jagged edges on our image, and the Anti-Aliasing process will smooth those jagged edges out. And it's very important step for making a very finished look. And so we want to increase these values to get a more polished look from our image. So we're going to change that from Geometry right to Best, and then we'll change the filter from Still Image to Animation. That's going to soften the image up just a bit, so we don't run into any problems with buzzing of our fine lines in our image.
Now the rest of the Anti-Aliasing settings we can leave it to their default values. The last thing I want to activate is something called Ambient Occlusion. Ambient Occlusion is an effect that occurs naturally in the real world where two objects come together. The photons that are bouncing around from a light source travel into the space where the two objects meet, and not all photons get back out again, and that creates a dark zone where the two objects come together. And it is a really important step to making very realistic-looking images. Now in our particular lighting scenario that we have in our stadium, it's not going to be readily apparent when I activate this option, but it is going to be very important for the compositing process, and I want to make sure and turn it on here.
So what I'll do is go to the Effects button and I click on that and I'll activate Ambient Occlusion. And we're to leave all the values at their default levels. The basic render settings affect things like how big will my rendered frame be, how many frames will I render, and what kind of quality will I render? Once these simple steps are in place, you can move on to more intricate Multi-Pass options that will give you complete control over image in any compositing application.
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