CINEMA 4D and After Effects Integration

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer
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CINEMA 4D and After Effects Integration
Video duration: 0s 1h 27m Intermediate


CINEMA 4D and After Effects Integration was created and produced by Trish and Chris Meyer. We are honored to host their material in the Online Training Library®.

Chris Meyer—a long-time user of both programs—explains how to move 3D worlds from Maxon's CINEMA 4D into Adobe's After Effects and add additional 3D elements that blend perfectly. Chris shows how to transfer 3D cameras, lights, and position data from CINEMA 4D to After Effects; create track mattes to composite new elements into the middle of a scene; and take advantage of multi-pass rendering to quickly remix and even recolor lights, shadows, reflections, and more. Paced comfortably for beginners, this course also reveals numerous advanced tricks and techniques, such as the use of blending modes and how to cast shadows from new 3D layers in After Effects onto rendered 3D elements from CINEMA 4D. Exercise files accompany this course.

Topics include:
  • Locating objects for export from CINEMA 4D
  • Adding layers to a composition after importing into After Effects
  • Separating lights in CINEMA 4D and remixing in After Effects
  • Understanding the problems with shadows during integration
  • Refining 3D shadows in After Effects
3D + Animation Video


- Hi, I'm Chris Meyer of Crish Design and in this set of tutorials, I want to go over the core concepts of how to integrate a 3D world from Maxon Cinema 4D into Adobe After Effects. Now, regardless of what 3D program you're using, there's a few things you need to get across. You need to know your camera movement in your 3D program, so you can match it with an identical camera in After Effects. If you can also bring across lights, that's a bonus. You need to know the position of any object in your 3D world that you intend to add a layer in After Effects right on top of.

For example, the face of a video wall. And if anything every moves in front of that object, or otherwise, it has an irregular shape, or it has cropped off edges, you need to create a matte in your 3D program that will then matte that added layer in After Effects, to best integrate it into the world. Cinema 4D makes all of those easy and builds an After Effects project for you to boot. It really helps push the process along. Now, beyond those core ideas, we're gonna move into a few other advanced concepts. One is Multi-Pass Rendering, the ability to breakout individual properties like shadows, specular highlights, reflections and blend them in post in After Effects, rather than having to tweak your 3D render over and over again.

Maxon Cinema 4D goes one step further and actually allows you to break out the contribution of each individual light in the 3D world and change their colors, or each individual shadow individually. It's really powerful. Now, speaking of shadows, the hardest thing in this integration is getting shadows from your new objects in After Effects to fall on objects already rendered in your 3D world. I'll show you the trick to that as well. Let's go ahead and take a quick look at the world you'll be going around in. And we'll move on from there.

Here I am inside Cinema 4D and this is the scene you're gonna be using most of the time. This is a very simple video wall scene where we have a set of boxes, intending to match the idea of nine TV screens tied together. We have some text floating in front of it, indicating the night of the show. And you'll notice that it is indeed in front of the video, so we're gonna need to cut out any video applied to this wall to make it look like it was actually behind this word. Additionally, we have camera movements in the scene.

Additionally, we have three lights in the scene: a top light, a key shadow light, and a side fill, that's also going through a go-go sort of screen. Another texture from iStock that's giving us this interesting pattern on the back wall. And we're gonna be able to bring those lights from Cinema into After Effects as well. So any new layers we add in After Effects get the same lighting effect as we set up inside Cinema 4D. Now, for these particular lessons, I'm gonna be using Cinema 4D version 11.5 and Adobe After Effects version CS4.

That's the file format I use when I save the project files that come along with this training. However, these core concepts have been valid for the last several versions of Cinema 4D and for After Effects. So, even if you can't open the files, you'll be able to apply these concepts to older versions and future versions of the software. So with that, let's dive in, let's get set up, let's have some fun.

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