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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
In the previous movies we've set up our scene file for rendering for After Effects and we're just about ready to actually render. Before we do anything else though, we have to do a very important thing and that's to look through the correct camera. Right now we've been looking through the editor camera in order to see some of the effects that our tags were having. So let's click on the Active Camera icon right here and look through our Rendering Camera. Now we're going to be rendering through the correct camera. The very last thing we need to do before we render is in the Render Settings Hit Command+B or Ctrl+B on the keyboard, is that we need to activate our compositing project file settings.
Now I'm in the Save options for the render settings, at the very bottom is this little guy right here, Compositing Project File. I'm going to turn on all of these check boxes. And now that I've got those on, I'm ready to render. So in order to render our scene, I'm going to do a File > Save As, and then save this and call it AE-import-WORKING. It's always a good idea to actually save your file before you start rendering. So I'm going to save it out. And now in case anything bad happens, I can always get back to where I was.
So now we're ready to actually render. So I'm going to hit the Render to Picture Viewer button, which is right here. I could also hit Shift+R on the keyboard. I'm just going to click that button right now. When we do that the Picture Viewer comes up and it starts rendering our scene. Now we can actually see the frames as they're being rendered. You can see those little squares are called Render Buckets and it's moving through the scene pretty quickly. You can actually check your multipass rendering by clicking on the Layer option on the side panel. If your side panel is not visible, then you can click this button right here to make it visible.
Now within that Layer option is the Single Pass. If you click in Single Pass, you can now look at the individual passes. Mine is looking at the Depth Pass right now and you can see the Depth Pass is a pretty cool render. This allows us to use Depth of Field filters inside of After Effects, but you can also click on any of the other passes to check to see if they're rendering correctly. I'm going to click on Object Buffer 1. You can see that that's the Hero Cube. Object Buffer 2 is all the other cubes and Object Buffer 3 is the type itself.
So you can see I've got all my object buffers set and my image is rendered correctly. I already have this rendering set inside of After Effects. I don't need to render it here, so if you're following along at home, let this render finish and then continue with the next movie. But I'm going to stop this render, because I have it already pre-prepared, kind of cooking show style, so that we can actually move on to the After Effects import. So I'll go to the File menu and select Stop Rendering and tell it Yes. So once your rendering is done, you can confirm the files that were rendered.
Let's go to the exercise files and go to the workflow folder and in the C4-render subfolder. The Workflow working folder is the folder I created, while I was showing you how to set up the render settings. I'm going to go to the workflow folder. This has a completed render pass. Now when CINEMA 4D finishes rendering, and you've checked all of the compositing project file options, the last thing CINEMA 4D writes is this workflow-aec. This file is what we're going to be importing in to After Effects. After Effects needs a special plug-in in order to be able to correctly import this file.
There are two places you can get that file. Place number one is in the applications folder, where your CINEMA 4D is installed. Now I'm going to go to Applications and then type in MAX to bring up the MAXON Folder. Now I have a bunch of older versions of CINEMA 4D installed here. I'm going to go to my 14 folder, and then in the Exchange Plugins, under After Effects, I've got both an importer for OSX and Windows and a C4Dformat. I'm going to take the contents of each of these folders, the CS5, CS6 zip file and then the importer folder for OSX, CS5 and CS6, and I'm going to put the contents of that zip file into my After Effects Plugins folder.
So I'll unzip that file. In the Mac, I can double-click. It's going to do the same thing on most versions of PC, and I'll take this file along with the file from the other folder and put them into my After Effects Plugins folder, then I'll re-launch After Effects. Once I've re-launched After Effects I'll be able to correctly import that file. So now let's move over to After Effects and import the file that CINEMA 4D rendered out. So I'll go to File > Import File, and you can see I'm already in the exercise file in the workflow folder.
So let's go to C4D-renders and then go to workflow and then scroll down at the very bottom and there's that AEC file. Now if your AEC file is grayed out, you need to install that plugin and then restart After Effects in order to be able to import it. Let's import that AEC file. I'll hit Open, and when I do that I get some folders, and the folders that I get correspond to the settings that had in the renders. The Solids folder contains any type of Null Object References or Solid References that I had in my External Compositing tag.
The Special Passes folder contains the Depth Pass and the Object Buffers. I'm going to take that Special Passes and move it over to the workflow folder. Then, the workflow folder itself now contains the Special Passes folder, plus a composition called workflow, that has the same name as the render. It also has all of the different multipasses that were setup in the render setting. If I open the workflow composition, this workflow composition now contains the full rendered image, and you can see that I've got my rendering set up.
And because I was rendering without Linear Workflow turned on, this rendering looks like it did in CINEMA 4D. Each of these layers adds up, and if I toggle my switches and modes you can see that there are different blending modes here. For example, I can look at the reflection passes using the Add Lighting mode. If I decide I want fewer reflections, I can hit T on the keyboard and just dial down the reflections here. You can see that my reflections get dimmer. Now I'm going to leave those at 100% for now. The next thing I want to do is I want to duplicate this workflow comp.
There may be a time when I want to get back to the original layout, and so I want to always have a copy of the original workflow comp. So let's hit Command+D or Ctrl+D on the keyboard and call this composition workflow-orig, as in original. Then I'll take this main workflow comp and drag it out of the scene. And it's a little bit tricky to do, I need to make my Window a little bit bigger here, and I can drag this workflow out here. And then I can twirl these other guys closed. That's it for the basic import of the scene file.
The most important thing to remember is that you have to click the Compositing Project File options in the C4D-renderer, and you have to have the correct version of the C4D importer installed in your After Effects Plugin folder in order to make it all work. Once you got those settings, importing stuff from CINEMA 4D is a breeze.