Join Rob Garrott for an in-depth discussion in this video The CINEMA 4D workflow, part of Cinema 4D R14 Essential Training: 1 Interface Objects and Hierarchies.
The process of creating 3D animation can really be quite complex, but if you break it down into manageable chunks, you can get some really great results. First up in the process is the modeling phase. That's the creation of 3D objects in your scene. You'll create things called points, edges, and polygons and manipulate those to create the 3D shapes. Lighting is the process of illuminating objects in your scene. You'll use special objects called lights and you'll use those light objects to illuminate your scene.
Texturing is a process of adding color and surface to the objects in your scene. When you first create them, they'll be a gray, dull color, and the texturing and surfacing is where you determine what your objects look like to the viewer. Animation is the process of giving movement to your objects using a technique called keyframing. Keyframing is an idea that really spans across all animation packages, whether they're 2D or 3D, and CINEMA 4D has some very robust keyframing tools. Rendering is where you create pixels from the objects and textures and lights in your scene.
Those pixels can then be saved out in a variety of formats that can be used in other programs as part of a compositing workflow. The compositing phase is where you manipulate your renderings that you produce from CINEMA 4D in another package like Photoshop or After Effects, or even Nuke. And this is where your images will really come to life. As awesome as CINEMA 4D is, it's really just the step in the process, and the renderings that you get will almost always be manipulated further in a compositing package. So these are the very basics steps in the 3D animation process.
Sometimes you'll take them out of order, sometimes you'll add steps in between, but the key is breaking it down into manageable chunks, and this will always help get you to your goal.