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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.
Creating motion graphics is a very file-intensive process, and even though it goes contrary to most artistic brains, the sooner you embrace organization of file management, the better your art will be. In this movie, we're going to be importing all of the files that we had rendered out at the end of the first chapter into After Effects and organizing them in to folders, so their parts will be easy to find. Now I'm out here in the Finder. If you look, there is our C4D renders folder. And if you remember from the first chapter, we rendered all of our files to image sequences. So within each one of these subfolders is an image sequence, and there are actually multiple image sequences because of the multi-pass rendering process.
And so, for example, if I click inside the Phone here, you can see that there is a Phone_ambient pass. And if I keep scrubbing down, you'll see that that's the ao pass, or ambient inclusion pass. And then it keeps on going all the way down to the very bottom, and at the bottom is a little file called Phone.aec. And this file is very, very important. This is a file that CINEMA 4D writes out that allows you to import all of these sequences into After Effects automatically, and give you the position information for the camera, position information for the lights, and position information for any null objects that you had identified with external compositing tags.
You bring all that into After Effects with this AEC file. Now, you'll need the special import plug-in in order to import this. And you can actually find out more information about this by watching the Essential Training for CINEMA 4D, or watching the After Effects Integration series by Chris Meyer. We'll be using these renders in After Effects for the rest of the course, so it's very important to keep them in the C4D renders folder. Let's move over to After Effects now, and I've got After Effects open in the background, so I'll just click into it. And we're going to start the import process. But before we do, we want to open up a special template file. So I want to go to File > Open, and in the ch02 Exercise Files, there's a ch02-01-start.
And when I hit Open, it's going to give me a message here. This file was actually created in an earlier version of After Effects, and so it's telling me that, and gives me that warning right now. I actually created this file in CS3 a long time ago. This is a file format that I used to organize my files, and it's nothing special. It's just an After Effects project file. No special filters or anything like that inside of it. It's just an organization of folders. So when I hit OK, it's going to open that up. I will now have a file folder structure here that makes things a lot easier to find in the project window.
So you can see there is a folder for production elements, like Illustrator files and Photoshop layers, and for video as well: video that comes from CINEMA 4D renders, FPO video, High Res video, Pre Renders. If I render something out of After Effects that I want to bring back in, I can put it in this folder. So, basically there is a folder for every type of file that you might be working with inside of CINEMA 4D. So what we're going to do is we're going to import our CINEMA 4D renders and then organize them into these folders where they are easy to find later on when we need them. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to go to the File menu and do an import.
And so if go up to File > Import and do File, and I'll navigate to the Exercise Files, the C4D renders, and I'm going to start off with the Beams. And if I click on Beams, down here at the very bottom of the file structure is something called Beams.aec. And this AEC file is the file that CINEMA 4D writes out that allows you to import special information into After Effects that really enables the integration between CINEMA 4D and After Effects. And so what we want to do is import this file. Now if yours is grayed out, that means that you don't have the file plug-in information correctly installed in After Effects.
And I'm going to show you where on the lynda.com Training Library to find a movie that shows you just what you need to do. So I'm going to tab over here to Safari, and in Safari, I'm looking at the CINEMA 4D R12 Essential Training. So if you scroll down to "3D Animation Workflow: Compositing in After Effects," which is Chapter 11, and the "Importing elements in the After Effects" movie that will show you exactly the information that you need to know to be able to import this AEC file correctly into After Effects. Now, if you already have the plug-in installed correctly and you're ready to go, let's get back to After Effects and open up that Beams.aec file.
Now, when I click on Beams.aec and hit Open, it's going to think about it for just a moment, and I'm going to now have in my project file, some solids. So it already made a solid for me in the Solids folder, and I have the Beams Start Pass. And depending on what my Render Settings were, I may have also a folder called special passes, and we'll see that in the next import. What I want to do is take this folder and put it into the Video subfolder, in Cinema Imports. And so I am going to scrub that down right there and take this and drag it right into there. And so now I know that that's a CINEMA 4D render and the contents of that came from CINEMA 4D.
So it's very easy to find that information when I need to, because we're going to end up with a quite a few files inside of our After Effects project window, and keeping them organized like this is really important. So let's import the next element now. So I am going to go to File > Import > File, and I'll navigate to the Phone folder, scrub all the way down, grab Phone.aec, and hit Open. This is going to take just a little bit longer, because there is more passes, and once it's done importing, you'll see that I do in fact have a Special Passes folder, and then there is the Phone pass.c4d. What I want to do is take the Special Passes and drag them in before I do anything else; that way I know this Special Passes folder actually goes with the Phone pass.
And if you twirl it open, you will see that there is the ambient inclusion pass, there is the object buffer, and also the Phone-rgba, which we'll be using in our compositing process. So it's really important to keep the Special Passes with the Phone. Then I'll take the entire Phone folder and put it into the Cinema Imports, and let's repeat that process for the next pass. I'll go to Stadium, and this is going to take a little bit of time because there is quite a few more passes. I'll hit Open. How long this import takes depends entirely on the speed of your machine, but also on how many elements you have inside of your actual AEC file. So there it is.
It's imported. Let me twirl this closed, and get down here and find the actual folders. And so there is the Special Passes folder. So the very first thing I do is move that Special Passes right up into the Stadium Pass folder. And then you can see, there is all my elements, take that and move it up into the Cinema Imports folder. And let's do the last pass, which is the Type, and import that. There we go. Let's twirl that closed and go down to the Special Passes, move them in there, then I take the whole Type folder and move it right up into the Cinema Imports.
So just to give an idea of what's inside of these folders, if I open up this composition, this composition is now called ch01-Start Stadium Pass. It's based on the file name that was used when we actually rendered out the file. And so if I double-click on that, I now can see a composition. I'll make this window a little bit larger for the timeline, so I can see the layers down here. And you can see there is this Stadium_ reflection, ambient, specular, and diffuse passes and all these passes add up to the final rendered image that I can see here inside the After Effects Composition window.
So those are all the major parts we're going to need for now. The most important thing to remember is that it is crucial that you organize your files as you go. Don't put it off. Keeping your files organized will make your workflow much, much smoother.
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