Use this document to learn about CINEMA 4D Composition Renderer

The CINEMA 4D Composition renderer is the new 3D renderer in After Effects. It is a tool for extrusion of text and shapes and the preferred renderer for extruded 3D work. You can use this renderer to create faster 3D animations from scratch. The CINEMA 4D Composition renderer does the following:

  • Generates interactive 3D text, logos, and curved 2D planes within After Effects without using any specific hardware.
  • Allows you to control the quality and render settings with a single slider while the camera, lighting, and text animation remains the same.
  • Renders faster than the Ray-traced 3D renderer on the CPU.

Basics of Composition Settings

  1. You can access the 3D Renderer tab by any of the following options given below:

    In the Composition Settings dialog, click 3D Renderer tab.

    Composition Settings
    3D Renderer tab in Composition Settings dialog

  2. Click Renderer and choose CINEMA 4D from the drop-down list.

You can also access the 3D Renderer tab by clicking Renderer in the Comp panel.

Supported features in CINEMA 4D Composition Renderer

The CINEMA 4D Composition Renderer supports the following features to help you create high-quality 3D text and logos:

  • Extrude and bevel text and shape layers: Extrude text and shape layers creates 3D objects that have depth and do not look flat when a camera or light moves around them. Bevel controls the look of the edges of the extruded object. For more information, see Creating beveled and extruded text and shape layers.
  • Reflections: Manipulates the reflection and reflectiveness of 3D objects in your composition. For more information, see Reflection.
  • Curved footage layers: Adjusts the curve intensity of 3D footage layers and nested composition layers around a vertical axis using the Geometry Options- Curvature and Segments. For more information, see Bending a footage layer.
  • Material overrides on text/shape bevel and sides: Uses existing text animator and shape operator support to override the Material properties. The Fill Color, Stroke Color, and Stroke Width options are replaced with the Front, Bevel, Side, and Back options in the pop-up menu. For more information, see Override material properties.
  • Environment layer (in reflection only): Dictates the usage of the Environment map in the scene. For more information, see Environment layer.


Though the above linked article talks about Ray-traced 3D renderer, some of the information holds true for CINEMA 4D Composition Renderer too.

Using the Quality Slider

Quality Slider
Quality Slider Settings

Use the Quality slider to adjust the rendering quality of the composition. Higher-quality outputs require longer rendering time. The quality settings determine how the CINEMA 4D renderer draws the 3D layers.

To access the slider:

  1. Click Options in the Composition Settings window. You can also click the Wrench icon (Options) in the Comp panel.

  2. In the CINEMA 4D Renderer Options dialog, the Quality Slider ranges from Draft, Typical, and Extreme.

    • Draft: Settings in the Draft range are used for preview quality renders. It takes the least time to draw the 3D layers.
    • Typical: Settings in the Typical range are used for most final renders
    • Extreme: Settings in the Extreme range are used for scenes containing complex opacity or highly reflective elements.
  3. The variation in the range of the Quality slider affects the Ray Threshold, Ray Depth, Reflection Depth, Shadow Depth, Anti-Aliasing, and Reflectance settings of the composition. For more information, see CINEMA 4D Renderer Options

Choosing a CINEMA 4D Installation

CINEMA 4D Installation dialog
Choose CINEMA 4D Installation

Renderer Settings

You can change the renderer from the default Renderer to the full retail version of CINEMA 4D if you have it installed. To reset the default renderer, click Defaults.

Choosing a CINEMA 4D installation:

  1. In the Composition Settings window, click Render Options.

  2. CINEMA 4D Renderer Options dialog opens up. Click Choose Installation.

  3. In the Choose CINEMA 4D Installation dialog, browse and select the path to the installation.

Editor Settings

The Editing setting applies to the Cineware workflow and determines what version of C4D opens. The default editor is the latest installed version of CINEMA 4D or CINEMA 4D Lite.

Use any of the following options to open the selected Editor:

  1. Select File > New > MAXON CINEMA 4D File.

    Path to open selected Editor
    Path to open selected Editor

  2. Or, select a CINEMA 4D source or layer and choose Edit > Edit Original.

    Path to open selected Editor
    Path to open selected Editor

Shared CINEMA 4D Installation

Cineware Settings
Cineware Settings

The Choose CINEMA 4D Installation dialog is shared with the Cineware effect. You can also access it by clicking Options in the Effect Controls panel via the Cineware effect. 

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