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- How the CINEMA 4D render engine works
- Adjusting the render settings
- Rendering still images and animation
- Setting up multipass rendering
- Understanding the linear workflow
- Rendering and importing elements from After Effects
Skill Level Beginner
CINEMA 4D has tremendous After Effects integration and that extends both from CINEMA 4D into After Affects, and now from After Effects into CINEMA 4D. I learned how to do 3D animation at the same time I was learning how to do After Effects, but there are lot of people out there that have been working in After Effects for years and are not necessarily comfortable with the camera options inside of CINEMA 4D. They'd much rather start their work in After Effects. Also, with the new tracking options in After Effects you may be generating camera information and then needing to get that camera information into CINEMA 4D.
Well there's a fantastic export option that allows you to do just that. I've got a very simple camera move here in After Effects and it's just the word camera zooming back into position. And before we can this camera move into CINEMA 4D, we have to make sure that we have the export plugin installed correctly in the After Effects plugin folder. Where you get that plugin is from one of two places; you can either get it from the MAXON website from their downloads page, or you can get it from the Exchange Plugins folder where your CINEMA 4D is installed.
What I mean by that is here on the Macintosh I'm going to go to the Applications folder and then type in M-A-X to bring up the MAXON folder. And in the 14th folder you can see I've got a lot of different versions of CINEMA 4D installed here. Now you may only have just one, but in each of those folders there's something called Exchange Plugins and in the Exchange Plugins folder is an After Effects subfolder and there is a C4Dformat folder. This is the one for After Effects to export CINEMA 4D formatted files. And so in that OSX folder, in the CS5- CS6 folder, is this guy right here.
If I double-click that zip file I get the C4Dformat plugin. I want to put this plugin into the After Effects Plugins folder. If you're working on a PC, you're going to put it in the After Effects Plugins folder on your PC. Those are going to be in the program files folder in the same location where all your other After Effects plugins are installed. Once you've got that plug-in installed, you need to re-launch After Effects and then you'll be able to do this export correctly. So back in After Effects, I've got my plugin installed correctly.
Now I can go to the File menu and do Export > C4D Exporter. If you don't see this list, that means you don't have the correct plugin installed, and you need to install the C4Dformat file into your After Effects plugins folder. I'm going to do that. There's no options that come up, it simply asks me where would I like to send that file. And I'm going to send that to my workflow folder in my Exercise Files folder, and we'll call this one EXPORT in all caps.
And I'll hit Save and away it goes. So let's jump over to CINEMA 4D. Now we don't really need to do an import. It's actually saved out in actual CINEMA 4D files, so all we really need to do is to do a Command+O or Ctrl+O and open the files. We go to workflow and we navigate and find our Export file that we just exported, and hit Open, and now we get the scene file. If you twirl open this null object here, you see we've got a bunch of objects. There's our Cam Parent and our camera just as it was in After Effects.
And if we back out in our animation, you can see that there's our animation. These planes that you see are placeholders for the existing compositions that we had. If I navigate back to After Effects, you'll see that I have these pre-comps here that are holding my type, so the Exporter interpreted those as just plain files and they are great placeholders. So now what we can do is we can use this camera information. Let's uncheck the Active Camera icon and see what the camera is actually doing. We back out a little bit here.
You'll see that our camera is starting off zoomed in and it zooms out, orbits smoothly around on central axis and it comes to a halt at the very last frame. So what we want to do is to get a logo into this position. I happen to have a file already to go. Let's hit Command+O or Ctrl+O on the keyboard and in the Exercise Files folder is this file AE-cam-export-COPY-PASTE. And this is just a logo that's pre-lit. I've got the Environment object in there, that's got a Compositing tag on it, so it doesn't show up in the render.
It's all set to go. It looks like this. There's a very important thing though. In this file I've got Linear Workflow turned off and so we need to make sure that's off in the other file, otherwise it won't look correct. So let's grab all the objects, copy them to the clipboard, Command+C or Ctrl+C, and then go to the Window menu and go back to our Export file and then paste them down, Command+V or Ctrl+V. Then let's go to the project settings, hit Command+D or Ctrl+D on the keyboard and make sure that Linear Workflow is turned off.
So let's turn off Linear Workflow by clicking that check box. Now our logo will look the same. If we twirl open the Null, we want to kill those planes by deactivating their check marks and then we can look back through the camera and we can see that our scene now will render this logo file. So let's get the render settings set up, Command+B or Ctrl+B on the keyboard and you can see that it's got the exact same composition settings from the previous file, and we're going to go to the Save option and we're going to tell it to save.
Let's navigate out to the exercise files in our C4D-renders folder. We're going to save it loose and just call this one logo, and then we're going to make sure and save it to a QuickTime Movie, and with an Alpha Channel and a Straight Alpha. That's going to give us a little bit of bleed, so that we can see our image on the background. Now we can go back to the Output options and verify that we are rendering frames 0 to 149. So we've told it how big, how many frames, we told it where to go and what format, now we can save this.
And let's do a File > Save As and call this one EXPORT-working and now we can render. I'll hit Shift+R on the keyboard to render to the Picture Viewer. That rendering took a little bit of time, so we've cross dissolved to the end here, and we've got this logo. Let's go back into After Effects and import it, and match it up with our camera move. So here I am back in the Export file, let's go and double-click to Import in the Project window and let's navigate to our workflow to C4D -renders and there's our logo and hit Open.
Let's tell it it's a Straight Alpha Channel, because we know that it is, we rendered it out with the Straight Alpha Channel and hit OK. And now we can take this and drag it right into the Composition and there it is, it lines up perfectly with that type that we had done already. You can see everything matches exactly. So this workflow going from After Effects into CINEMA 4D is fantastic for visual effects pipelines or when you need to track motion graphics into a live action scene. It is incredibly powerful, but the key is to have that correct export file installed in your After Effects Plugins folder.
Once you've got that, everything else is a snap.