A Cinema 4D Primer for Maya Artists: Basic Rendering

Photo of Edna Kruger

Instructor Edna Kruger

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  • Duration: 13:37
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Learn the different rendering preview tools, setup basic Render Settings for our scene, and render a test image to file.

This video shows how to preview rendered images by rendering in the viewport with Render View, the Render Region and Interactive Render Region, the Picture Viewer, and using Make Preview to render a preview of animated sequences. It also covers how to set up the many Render Settings for rendering and saving render images to file, including creating a Compositing Project File that is used when sending rendered images to applications such as Adobe After Effects.



In this video, we'll go over the basics of how to set up a render in Cinema 4D, including a look at all the preview rendering tools that you have. One of the most common workloads is to render out a sequence of images to be brought into After Effects which is what we'll set up here. Let's start off by selecting the camera that we want to use for rendering. We've created and animated this camera here. You can click the icon beside the camera named "Activated," or in the perspective view, chose Cameras, Use Camera, and then select your camera. Then choose, View, Use As Render View. So before we set up the render, let's take a quick look at all the render preview tools that you have at your disposal in the render menu, which we'll just tear off here. You can render directly in the Active Viewport by choosing the Render View command or press control plus R, or click this icon. Let's say that we just want to render out our little character by himself. We can just choose Render Active Objects, and this solos out whatever is selected. If you just want to preview part of your scene, you can choose Render Region and then draw directly in the viewport. Wondering why this scary tree doesn't show up in the render? In the previous video, we put it in a layer and turned off its renderability. So if we just turn that back on, the tree shows up, but it's just a bit too scary. So we'll turn that off again and turn off its visibility so that we don't see it in the viewport either. You can also choose Interactive Render Region or press alt plus R. This is like the IPR in the render view window in Maya, except that it's conveniently in the viewport itself. Drag this little arrow up and down to change the resolution and move the region around. You can resize it to whatever you like, and if you move the camera around, it updates accordingly to show that part of the scene in the region. Press alt plus R to close it when you're done. The main tool for previewing is the picture viewer which is like the render view in Maya. You can also open it by clicking this icon or by pressing shift plus R. We'll look at this in more detail after we set up the render. If your scene has animation like our camera here, you can choose Make Preview or press alt plus B to create an animated sequence preview like a Playblast in Maya. Select the renderer, and we'll just choose hardware because it's faster, the frame range, and the movie format that you want, and click "Okay." When it's done calculating, it's displayed in the picture viewer, where you can play and scrub it. Notice that the quality is lower which is okay when you just want to check the animation. So now that you know the preview tools, you're ready to set up for rendering. And this is appropriately done in the render settings which is similar to Maya's. Chose Edit Render settings, or press control plus B, or just click this icon to open the window. Everything you set here is used when rendering to file and is also used by the preview render tools that we just looked at. First, you need to select the renderer. Standard and physical are both CPU-based renderers and are used most frequently. Standard is what we were using for the previews. It's Cinema 4D's classic renderer and is generally faster for motion graphics. Physical uses a physical camera model, so it's used for more photo realistic renders. It gives better results with depth of field and motion blur and is faster than the standard renderer at rendering blurry reflections or multilayer reflectance. The software and hardware open GO renderers both render exactly as what is displayed in the viewport and will look the same. But hardware is faster because it harnesses the power of your graphics card. You can use Arnold and other renderers with C4D, but they're not installed with it. But Cineman provides a powerful and flexible connection between Cinema 4D and several RenderMan compatible renderers including 3Delight. But we'll just use the standard renderer because we want to keep it simple. On the Output tab, you can select a preset for the size if you didn't already set those at the beginning of your project. Or set the width and height values to a custom size in this field. Make sure that the frame rate is correct which you probably set at the beginning of your project, and we'll leave the frame range at current while we're doing test renders. If you want to render in multiple passes, select the Multi-Pass option. Multiple passes are rendered in parallel without adding any significant render time. Then click the Multi-Pass button and chose which channels you want to include. Or if you don't know, just chose Add Image Layers to add everything for previewing, and then later, delete the ones that you don't need. But we'll be doing a single pass which is the default. So just turn off Multi-Pass. Anti-aliasing is similar to Maya, but let's take a quick look at the settings here. Since rendering options have a lot of details, you may wanna check the online help topics for certain attributes. Select the attribute and then right-click and chose Show Help. There's a lot of details here that you can go check later, but we'll just give you a quick summary here. You can first set it to none and do a preview render just to check out where there are problems with jagged lines. Geometry is the default, and it's fine if you're not rendering reflective or transparent materials. The edges of the geometry get a 16 by 16 level of anti-aliasing, and their minimum level is used for anything else in the scene. If that doesn't do it for you, and there are still jaggies and textures and shadows, you can switch to best, where you have more control over the settings. Typically, you want to keep the min level at one by one and then gradually increase the max level until it gives the smoothing that you want. You can also increase the threshold value before cranking up the max level for faster renders depending on your scene. But let's go back to using geometry which is fine for our scene. On the options tab, you can select different things to render or not, including transparency, refraction, reflection, etc, or even the hud and doodles that you have drawn in the scene. You can also set the depth and threshold settings for certain things, but we're good to go, so we'll leave that. Click the Effect button to add certain channels or features such as global illumination, or caustics, or ambient occlusion, which we'll include. You can then adjust its options here if you need to. When you have everything set up as you want, go to the Save tab. Regular image is all the passes combined in a single pass. If you were using multi-pass, you could just select it, and the Filename options appear here. But we'll stick with the single pass. Enter a file path and name where you want to save your renders such as your project folder. You can select a folder from the browser, or click this arrow to see a list of tokens that you can use. For example, we want our renders to save to a special renders subfolder within our Projects folder. To do this, we'll enter "./renders/," then use the project name "Token" which adds a dollar sign PRG to the path. This will create a subfolder with the name of our current project file. Finally, add the name that you want for the rendered image or image sequence files. Note that if there's no file name here, or if the Save option is off, no file is saved which is fine when you're just previewing as you work but not when you want to render tests or the final thing to file. Choose from the name format options for who you want these sequential images to be numbered. For the format and depth settings, you need to know what the destination of your render files is going to be because it has an impact on what you chose here. If you're rendering to a still image, there are lots of formats to choose from, and they'll determine the channel depth that you can use. For example, if you wanted to bring this into Photoshop, you could select PNG and then chose from 8 or 16-bits. However, if you need something with full 32-bit information, chose something like Photoshop PSD format with 32 bits. To render out an animation, your first instinct might be to use QuickTime or AVI movie files. This is okay for previewing, but these can only be 8-bit. Also, if your computer crashes in mid-render, all the rendered files will be corrupted. So the best option is to use output image sequences in a format like TIFF or open EXR which uses 32-bits to keep full access to color information. And then you can composite them in an app such as After Effects. It's a good idea to save a preset for all the settings here so that you don't have to do all that hard work again. Click the Render Settings button and chose "Save Preset." Give it a name and then load it, and make sure it's the active setting by clicking here. You can also switch to it from the render menu. Now you can close the render settings and render the image in the picture viewer. We'll just overwrite any previous images that we had with the same file name. This is at full resolution, so let's just zoom to 100% and then pan to check the rest of the image. Down this column, you can see the history of each render variation that we've already done and toggle among them. Or compare two renders in the same window. Right-click and choose "Set as A," and then another one, choose "Set as B." Click the Show Text icon and then drag the line to see the differences between the two images. Obviously, this is most effective when you have two images at the same camera angle, but you get the idea. You can even use the options on the Filter tab to do color correction, including adjusting separate RGB curves. Even if you don't need it, they're kind of fun to play with, but we'll just turn that off before we do more damage. If you had done multi-pass rendering, you could check the individual channels on the Layer tab. Now you can make adjustments in the render settings and keep on doing test renders this way. For example, we'll try the sketch and tune effect to give a classic tune look with flat shading and black outlines. And then click the Picture Viewer icon again to update the render files. When your test render is what you want, go back to the Output tab and set the frame range to all frames or whatever range that you need to render. Click the Save tab and make sure that the file name is what you want, and we'll just change the test suffix to "Tune." We'll also save a compositing project file which properly loads the resulting image sequences and sets up the blending on the various passes in supporting compositor apps. Select the options you want and specify the target application to which you're sending the files such as After Effects in our case. Then click "Save Project File" and choose the location for it. When you're ready to render the whole thing, just close this and render to the Picture Viewer, again, where you can see the images as they're processed and save to file. You can press the Escape key to stop the render at any time if you need to, so, that's the basic tools and process for rendering in Cinema 4D. But there are more advanced options that you can use. While you don't have the render layers as you do in Maya, you can render different takes using the powerful Take system. This system lets you use different settings or objects to create several versions of the same project. You can also do batch rendering with the render Q window which is especially useful if your scene is divided into a number of takes. And Team Render lets you harness the power of multiple computers for rendering across a network. Here's the cheat-sheet for all the features and keyboard shortcuts that we used in this video. In the next video, we'll look at how to customize C4D's interface so that you can work with it exactly as you like.
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