Choose File > Import > File.
The current version of After Effects (22.0) only supports Cinema 4D vR24 (installer included). However, the latest Cinema 4D vR25 is compatible with After Effects versions earlier than 22.0. If your workflow requires features only available in Cinema 4D R25, please use After Effects 2021 (version 18.4 or above). Support for R25-only features in After Effects 2022 will be available in a future update.
Use this document to learn about CINEMA 4D and Cineware
CINEMA 4D is a popular 3D modeling and animation tool from Maxon (www.maxon.net).
Closer integration with CINEMA 4D allows you to use Adobe After Effects and Maxon CINEMA 4D together. You can create a CINEMA 4D file (.c4d) from within After Effects and you can work with complex 3D elements, scenes, and animations.
To enable interoperability, the Maxon CINEMA 4D rendering engine, is installed with Adobe After Effects. It can render CINEMA 4D files, and you can control some aspects of rendering, camera, and scene content on a per-layer basis. This streamlined workflow does not require you to create intermediate pass or image sequence files.
After Effects includes a license to Cinema 4D Lite - part of Maxon’s 3D software package. To use it, you are required to sign up for a free MyMaxon account. Maxon does not share your information with anyone, but you can expect emails about how to get the most out of C4D Lite, and expand your 3D capabilities. If you do not wish to receive these emails, you can opt out at any time. When creating your login, you can choose to use Lite or install a 14-day trial of the full version of Cinema 4D. Once that trial ends, your version of Cinema 4D reverts to Cinema 4D Lite with no time limitations. If you are an After Effects user and wish to upgrade to the paid version of C4D later, you can check out the special packages offered by Maxon.
There are several options available to create, import, and edit CINEMA 4D files from within After Effects.
To import CINEMA 4D files into After Effects, do the following:
Choose File > Import > File.
Select the CINEMA 4D file and click Import. The file is placed in the Project panel as a footage item. You can place the footage item on an existing composition, or create a matching composition.
When you place the footage on a new composition using the new composition icon in the project panel, a composition is created that matches the CINEMA 4D file settings and then a CINEMA 4D layer is created and the 3D scene is placed on it. If you drop the footage in an existing composition, the footage picks up the composition size/aspect instead.
Before importing, enable Save Polygons For Melange and Save Animation For Melange preferences in CINEMA 4D application preferences. These settings are especially useful in cases where CINEMA 4D frames depend on previous frames.
You can edit CINEMA 4D files placed in compositions or CINEMA 4D source items in the Project. The files open in the CINEMA 4D application. If you have a different version of CINEMA 4D installed, that is used to edit the file instead. See Edit footage in its original application.
You can choose the version of CINEMA 4D you want to use with Edit Original. See Working with different instances of CINEMA 4D in Cineware Effect.
You can create a CINEMA 4D file within After Effects. To do so, select File > New > Maxon CINEMA 4D File or Layer > New > Maxon CINEMA 4D File.
Specify a name and location of the file.
The CINEMA 4D application opens.
Create a C4D scene and select File > Save to save the file.
For more information, see this video by Jeff Sengstack on Creating CINEMA 4D files.
You can export your compositions with 3D animated text and shape layers to Maxon CINEMA 4D using the After Effects' Live 3D pipeline for round-tripped 3D workflow.
3D Shape layers are exported as extruded spline objects, and includes animation of shape layer properties.
The Extrude Text as Shapes option exports 3D text layers as extruded spline objects in the .c4d file. This option retains the fidelity of the layer: character and paragraph formatting, and animation of text layer properties. You cannot modify the font and text content in CINEMA 4D.
The Preserve Editable Text option exports 3D text layers as extruded text objects in the .c4d file. In this option, you can modify the font and text in CINEMA 4D. However, this option has limited support for character and paragraph formatting, and animation of text layer properties. Text animation features that are not supported include: text animators, kerning, tracking, vertical text, paragraph text, and text on path.
Strokes are exported for 3D text and shape layers into the .c4d file. While the Ray-traced 3D renderer in After Effects does not render strokes for 3D text layers, strokes are still exported when enabled. To view 3D text layer strokes before exporting, make sure that the composition renderer is set to Classic 3D.
To export to Maxon CINEMA 4D:
Select File > Export > Maxon CINEMA 4D Exporter and save the C4D file.
In the Export to Maxon CINEMA 4D dialog box, select one of the following:
You can import the .c4d file that you have created in to your After Effects composition for editing. Choose Edit > Edit Original to edit the .c4d file in CINEMA 4D.
When you import and add a .c4d file that was created by the Cineware 3.1 version of the Exporter to your composition, you can view the scene through an After Effects camera by first adding a camera and then setting the Camera setting in the Cineware effect to Centered Comp Camera.
Any After Effects 3D layers that you add to the composition line up with the CINEMA 4D scene layer after export. The extracted 3D Scene data from the .c4d file such as nulls, cameras, and lights also line up, provided that any new objects added to the .c4d file are grouped under the same parent null object as created in the exported .c4d file.
To open the exported CINEMA 4D file in After Effects and CINEMA 4D for advanced 3D edits:
Select File > Import and select the .c4d file to import it to your composition.
To customize the 3D elements using CINEMA 4D, select the Cineware layer and select Edit > Edit Original (or press the keyboard shortcut Command + E on Mac OS or Control + E on Windows). The C4D file opens in CINEMA 4D, which is included in After Effects CC.
Make changes and save the file. Your After Effects composition is automatically updated with all the changes.
The integration of CineRender, which is based on the CINEMA 4D render engine, enables rendering of layers based on CINEMA 4D files directly in After Effects. The Cineware effect lets you control the render settings, and provides some control over the render quality-speed tradeoff. You can also specify cameras, passes, or C4D layers used for a render. The Cineware effect is automatically applied when you create a layer based on C4D footage on the composition. Each CINEMA 4D layer has its own render and display settings.
When adding multiple instances of a CINEMA 4D scene layer in a composition, including adding Multi-Pass layers, you can select the CINEMA 4D layers that are to be synchronized with the rest of the layers in the composition.
When you check the Synchronize AE Layer option at the top of the Effect Controls panel, the Render Settings and Camera options on all instances of the layer automatically synchronize, but CINEMA 4D layers can be set independently. If the check box is disabled for a specific CINEMA 4D scene layer, none of that layer’s settings synchronize with the rest of the layers in the composition.
Live Link synchronizes the timelines of CINEMA 4D and After Effects.
To work with Live Link, click the Enable button for Live Link. The specified CINEMA 4D version opens the current file. To enable Live Link in CINEMA 4D, choose Edit > Preferences > Communication > Live Link, and then select Live Link Enabled At Startup. The timelines are synchronized when switching between After Effects and CINEMA 4D. When you select a different C4D layer in After Effects, press Enable to synchronize that layer.
The Cineware render settings determine how to render the scene inside After Effects. These settings can help you speed up the rendering process while you're working.
Determines which renderer to use. The following options are available:
When you save your .c4d file in a full retail version of CINEMA 4D with Render Settings set to the Physical or Hardware renderer, your file is rendered with those settings when the CINEWARE renderer is set to Current or Current (Draft).
This option is only enabled when you choose the Viewport (Draft) renderer. The available options are Current Shading, Wireframe, and Box. The wireframe and box modes provide a simplified representation of the scene.
Check this option to speed up your render by not rendering textures and shaders.
Check this option to speed up your render by disabling pre-calculations for computing motion dynamics or particle simulations. Do not check this option for final rendering.
Keep Textures in RAM
Check this option to cache textures in the RAM so that they are not reloaded from disk and can be accessed more quickly. On the other hand, if you cache large textures, it may lead to reduction in available RAM.
Purge Memory: Clears the memory of the render server. Over a period, the response of the render server might degrade as it continues to store the scenes being processed. Clearing the up memory that the render server uses for internal caches can help After Effects extend the length of previews of complex scenes.
The following project settings are available in the Cineware effect:
Choose the camera to use for rendering.
CINEMA 4D Camera: Uses the camera that is defined as the render view camera in CINEMA 4D, or the default camera if none is defined.
Select CINEMA 4D camera: Use this option to choose a camera. When this option is enabled, click Set Camera.
Centered Comp Camera: Use this option to use the After Effects camera, and recalculate the CINEMA 4D co-ordinates to adapt to the After Effect co-ordinates. When you import an existing C4D file (typically modeled around 0,0,0) to be rendered with a new After Effects camera (which is centered on the composition), use this option to render the C4D model in the After Effects center. Otherwise the model may be unexpectedly shifted due to origin difference.
Comp Camera: Use this option to use the active After Effects camera. For this option to work, you must have added an After Effects camera. For example, use this option for a camera that has been added by extracting it from a Cinema 4D project (since those cameras reference CINEMA 4D's coordinate system with 0,0,0 at the center of the CINEMA 4D viewport). This option is suited for cameras that are added to After Effects by using the Layer > New > Camera command.
Set Camera: If a CINEMA 4D scene contains cameras other than the default camera, click this button and select the camera.
Set Take: This option is enabled if your c4d file contains takes. You can create multiple takes of your scene and modify any parameter in a take. If the current renderer does not support take selections, the main take is used.
CINEMA 4D Layers
Enable and select the CINEMA 4D layers to render.
Click to choose layers. Click the Set Layers button to choose one or more layers. In CINEMA 4D, layers let you organize multiple elements. You can use CINEMA 4D layers to composite between elements in the After Effects comp.
Multi-Pass (Linear Workflow)
Use the Cinema 4D Multi-Pass option to specify which pass to render. The multi-pass features are only available when using the Standard renderer.
Multi-passes give you the ability to quickly make fine adjustments to a C4D scene by compositing different kinds of passes together in After Effects, such as adjusting just the shadows or reflections in the scene. For the results to match CINEMA 4D's default Linear Workflow project setting, you must work in a project in which colors are blended in linear light (either in a color-managed linear working space or with Blend Colors Using 1.0 Gamma set in the Project Settings dialog box).
Click to select which pass to render on this layer. This option is only available if CINEMA 4D Multi-Pass option is enabled.
When enabled, adds the passes explicitly added in the .c4d file. This can include passes other than Image Layers.
Add Image Layers
Use this option to create multiple pass layers with proper blending modes depending on the setting of Defined Multi-Passes. When the Defined Multi-Passes option is enabled, Add Image Layers restricts you to just adding the passes defined in the CINEMA 4D render settings rather than adding all supported types.
When adding image layers, the layer that was originally selected are placed at the bottom of the Timeline stack, and renamed with RGBA Image appended to the layer name to reflect its multi-pass type.
Use the following commands.
Comp Camera into CINEMA 4D
Click Merge to add the current After Effects camera as a C4D camera in the C4D file. This modifies the C4D file. Use File > Revert to Saved in C4D to see the newly added After Effects camera. This command is especially useful to transfer camera data created by the 3D Camera Tracker effect. AE is prefixed to the camera name.
Note: If you merge again, the previous camera is not updated. A new copy is created instead.
CINEMA 4D Scene Data
Click Extract to create 3D data such as cameras, lights, solids, or nulls for objects that have an External Compositing tag applied in the CINEMA 4D project.
Always enable Save Polygons for Melange option and Save Animation for Melange option in the CINEMA 4D preferences to avoid problems extracting scene data in After Effects.
You can specify the instance of CINEMA 4D that you want to use in the Cineware effect.
Select Cineware Effect > Options and select the following settings:
Follow the steps below to switch render paths (such as changing CINEMA 4D rendering application):
Options > Browse To Set Render Path
Select the new application.
Exit After Effects.
Launch After Effects.
Select Edit > Purge > All Memory & Disk Cache for the new settings to take effect.
If you experience a connection failure after switching the renderer, exit After Effects, wait for 20-30 seconds, and then relaunch the application again.
When you choose CINEMA 4D versions R24 and above as the renderer, you can use various rendering capabilities within the After Effects Cineware plug-in other than the default renderer, such as Physical renderer and Sketch and Toon.
To use the Physical renderer, do the following:
Choose the Physical renderer in the CINEMA 4D Render Settings dialog.
Save the .c4d file with the renderer settings.
The renderer specified in CINEMA 4D is the one that is used by the Cineware effect when the Renderer Settings option in the effect is set to Current or Current (Draft).
You can control Sketch and Toon for individual objects in the Object manager by adding Tags > Sketch Tags > Sketch Style (see the Maxon CINEMA 4D Help documentation for more information about Sketch and Toon).
To render Sketch and Toon, do the following:
From the Create menu in the CINEMA 4D application, select Create > Material > Sketch Material.
Save the .c4d file with Sketch and Toon enabled.
Sketch and Toon is rendered by the Cineware effect when the renderer settings in the effect is set to Current.
See CINEMA 4D Composition Renderer to learn about the new 3D Renderer used for extruding texts and shapes.
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