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Cinema 4D Tips Tricks

Updated: Mar 27, 2022

Cinema 4d, crown jewel of mograph artists, indispensable of shoe advertisements, and the father of abstract meaningless works. In this article, we will list some shortcuts, functions and workflow solutions that will make your job easier.

Search - Shift + C

You know the terminology, outline selections, rigid body, soft body, xpresso, melt, stitch you know what you are looking for, but you are not used to C4D's relatively complex shortcut assignments. Was it M-N? U-P?, X-Z?, xXx??. At this point, just make Shift+C and write whatever you have in mind using Search and it will appear in the list.

Scroll to First Active - S

You have a beautifully packed scene and a crazy, chaotic hierarchical structure in Object Manager. You picked your object from the viewport and in order to play with its tags and uvs, whatever you have to find the object in Object Manager which is doing anything and everything to be remain hidden, anonymous. All you have to do is to select the object in the viewport, hover over to Object Manager area and press the S key.

Select Childs - MMB

Inside Null In Null In Mesh In Null In Camera In Null In In Inside. Let's say that every element in the hierarchy has a keyframe and we want to select all keys and slow them down or speed them up. Selecting the top Master Null Group will only give us the parameters of that Master Null. Child objects are not selected. But when we click on the Master Null with MMB (Middle Mouse Button - Middle Click), all the objects in it become selected and we can play with the keys of all of them.

Timeline - Work Area Bar

We are working on a project with 90030 frames. We focused on our specific frame range by pulling the Work Area bar from sides. To see the full Timeline again, just double-click on the Work Area bar instead of pulling it from the right and left. Allows switching between Full Timeline and focused Frame Range.

Select Through Objects

We have dozens of overlapped meshes. Or a lot of objects stuck in a certain area. We have to select one specific object. Depending on the scene it is possible to click hundred times to select right object. If we hold down the Shift key and right-click in the relevant region, it will give us a list of objects in that region. We can easily choose the object we want.

Replace With...

There are a hundred objects in viewport. We want to replace some of them with another new mesh, object. Select the objects you want to replace. Click the Character/Commands/Replace With command and double-click the new object. It's over. To preserve the material, name, etc parameters of the new object, you can open the Replace With settings and activate Tags, Names etc.

Cloth Surface Extrude

There will be situations in which you will not be able to make your mesh editable due to the complex structure of your thin one sided object and especially its parametric nature, special mesh from x-particles or another plugin, so you will not be able to thickness or extrude for sake of keeping parametric structure. In this case, Cloth Surface will be the ideal way to give that thickness. All you have to do is Shift+C - Create Cloth Surface and make your object child to Cloth Surface (drag and drop over) and enter Thickness value in Cloth Surface positive or negative. Zero out subdivion value if its not necessary.

Deformed Editing

We created a long cube like tall building and made it Editable.Then added a bend deformer. We bent the cube nicely and need to make point, polygon, edge level adjustments on the cube. In order to enter one of those modes we need to select Cube and Bend deformer will be disabled as soon as we click on the cube. However, we want to make/see the adjustments over the Bend deformer. The solution is simple. Just activate Shift + V / Display / Deformed Editing.

Matrix Extrude Modifier Keys

When we apply Matrix Extude to one or more polygons, we can make three different modifications without releasing the mouse. When we hold down the Shift key and continue dragging, we can control the Taper Scale, the angle with the holding Ctrl key, and the depth with the Alt key.

Add To HUD

It is especially used in character animations but nonetheless its life saver in any kind of a complex project. It overlays main parameters to viewport which you frequently visit among hundreds of objects in Object Manager. So you dont need to navigate the tabs, hierarchy. Select the relevant parameters of the object, for example Scale XYZ, by holding down Shift and selecting it, then right-clicking it and click Add to HUD. A box will appear in the viewport where you can check the parameters. You can move the box wherever you want with Ctrl+Click drag. By right clicking on the box and selecting Show Always, we can ensure that the box is always visible on the screen whether the object is selected or not.

Render Path

While rendering, we choose our format like normal people, click on the three dots, go to the folder where we saved the project, create a folder called render in it, create a folder called Scene1 in that folder, write the file name and start rendering. If we write ./render/scene1/shot1 in the File box instead of trying otherwise, we can reduce process time to two seconds. Do remember the dot at the very beginning, it points to the folder where our project file is saved.

Dynamics Random Seed

We made a hundred boxes with Cloner or broke our object with fracture, we added our dynamics tags, bounce, friction, we are happy with all our values. But when we play simulation, we see that there is a clustering we don't like, or a floating unusual object rejecting your defined friction value or you see a pattern that disrupts the organic structure in randomness. You played again, same thing. Play again, same. There is an easy way to change the randomness without playing with the initial values. We can change the randomness of the simulation by opening Contol + D Project settings, switch to the Expert tab which is under the Dynamics tab and change the Random Seed. Way easier than playing with friction, drag, steps whatever.

Bake Camera

C4D has a strong integration with After Effects for import and export Camera. But it will never be as strong as you are! We can easily import simple camera movements from C4D file into After Effects. But when complex hierarchies like Null+Null+Spline Follow+Camera Morph+Null+Target+Camera are involved, After Effects will say that "wow wow wow, easy, we're not that integrated". At this point we need to reduce all movements in the hierarchy to a single camera. We can do this easily too:

  1. In the Object Manager, create a Null and add an Xpresso tag to it.

  2. Double click on the tag and open the Xpresso interface.

  3. Drag and drop our crazy camera into Xpresso. Let's keep this camera as "driver" in mind.

  4. Create a new camera in scene.

  5. Drag and drop this camera into Xpresso too. Remember this as "driven" camera.

  6. Let the driver be on the left and the driven on the right side.

  7. Activate Global Matrix from the red box of the "driver" and the blue box of the "driven". Connect Global Matrixes from left to right. This process ignores the hierarchy of the freaked camera and globally calculates the PSR values ​​and transfers them to the driven camera.

  8. After doing this, we will see the same movements when we look through the new driven camera.

  9. Close Xpresso. Open Timeline F-Curve. Drag our new camera from Object Manager to Timeline and select it in Timeline.

  10. Open Functions/Bake Objects from the Timeline menus, activate All Parameters and click OK. Afer baking process, a new camera will appear that named "Copy". Thanks to this operation, all the movements in the crazy camera and its hierarchy are transferred to the PSR values ​​of a single camera.

  11. You can delete the old camera and its crazy hierarchy if you wish (If you're not going back!!).

  12. We can now import this new camera into After without any problem.

You can use same process for Morph Camera. Please note that if you played with in-camera settings like FOV, etc., you have to activate and connect those parameters in Xpresso too, just like Global Matrix.

Magic Solo

Let's face it, C4D's solo system sucks. Okay, it hides the unselected objects, thank you, but it neither touches the hierarchy nor the materials. The free plug-in below will solo your chosen objects while hiding all irrelevant hierarchies and materials. Download and copy it to the plugins folder. Search for Magic Solo from the Customize Commands (Shift + F12 ) menu and drag and drop it to an empty palette of your choice. Save the interface with Windows/Customization/Save as Startup Layout.

Magic SlowMotion

Setting slow-mo in keyframe animations is easy. So how will this work in dynamic simulations? If you think that, you can give a keyframe to the Time Scale under Project Settings/Dynamics and try it over and over again, good luck with that . Instead of it, you can add multiple slow motions with very simple parameters by installing the simple but very useful free plug-in from our beloved nitro4d brother. The min value controls how much it slows down. Start controls which frame it starts and Stop controls which frame it ends on. F designates the frame you are on as the starting point. With the spline feature, you can smooth out the inputs and outputs to the slow-mo. Remember, you can add as many slow motion as you want.

Note: Plug-ins are R19 compatible. Check the web site for R20 and above.

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