A Cinema 4D Primer for Maya Artists: Setting up a Project in C4D

Photo of Edna Kruger

Instructor Edna Kruger

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  • Duration: 09:39
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  • Made with Release: 18
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Setup a project by importing files, adjusting preferences, and then saving.

This video shows how to create a project folder, load in .c4d files, import and export FBX files, explore the Content Browser, set the frame rate and FPS (and other basic project settings), set up your preferences, and save your C4D project file in different ways.

Tip: For information on how to create a .c4d file to load the correct default settings for new projects, see this video: Default to 25fps with a new .c4d file

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Transcript

In this video, we'll get started with a project by bringing in files, defining project settings, setting up preferences, and saving out files. So what's the first thing that you need to do when you start a new project? Set up your folders, of course. When you create a project file in Maya, a whole bunch of specific folders get created within a project folder. Cinema 4D isn't as picky about your folder structure, so you can just create a main folder on your own before you start creating stuff. For example, here we have created a main folder and inside there are folders for our C4D files, FBX files, OBJ files, and all our image source files. Most data in C4D is stored in file, so you don't need too many special folders. A text folder for textures that are used in your project can be automatically created here, which we'll show you later. Now, you need to create or load some files into C4D. The easiest way to open up a project file is to drag it in from a browser. We'll bring in our little guy who's made entirely with primitive objects. What's called a . C4D project file is more like what a scene file is in Maya, and chances are that you have scene files from Maya that you want to use in C4D. The way to bring in a scene file is in the FBX format. You could also drag it in from a browser, but we'll choose File Open. Just select the FBX file you want and load it. In the FBX Import box that shows up, check all the options you want to import. You can usually just click OK to accept the defaults. Here, you can see that the geometry, animation, material, textures, and cameras all get imported. Now, if you want to get started with some preset C4D project files, open the content browser by clicking this tab on the side. There are a lot of different example scenes and assets to help you get going. So you should take some time in exploring all these folders. When you find a preset you want, just double-click on its icon to load it. You can also use the Search field to search for files by name string if you know it, or by the file type. There are lots of fun things in C4D, including Conveyor Belt Sashimi. What could be better? One thing that C4D has that's more like PhotoShop and other design programs, is that you can have several files open at once in a session, as you can see at the bottom of the Window menu. This is pretty handy for things like copying objects or materials between files, which we'll do now. Let's switch to the Mist file here, and copy the physical sky and landscape objects from it. You can also press the V key and Select Project, and then select a file from there to switch to it and we'll return to our little character. Now, we can paste the object in, and voila. We have just created a world for our little guy. We'll just move the sky's access icon out of the way for now. So let's keep adding elements to our scene. This time we'll use File Merge, which is like the Import command in Maya. We'll select the OBJ file containing a tree to plant it into our recently appropriated landscape. Okay. This scene is starting to look a bit too sad and desolate for our little guy. But don't worry. We'll be making it better for him real soon. Now that we have some objects in our scene, it's a good idea to define some basic project settings before we get too far. One of the first things to set is in the render settings. You can click this icon on the top palette, or choose Render Settings from the Render menu, or press Ctrl+B. Here, you set the frame rate for the project's output to whatever value you need. We'll just leave it at 30. Choosing the image is size is also a good idea to do early on, and C4D gives you lots of presets to choose from, as you can see here. You can also enter your own values in these fields, though, if you want. With these two things set, you can move on to other project settings in another place. Choose Edit Project Settings or press Ctrl+D to open it in the Attribute Manager. There are a bunch of settings here you can start with, such as the FPS, or frames per second value that you want to use while working in the scene. This value can be different from the output frame rate we set, like doubling it. But it's usually best to keep it the same. The minimum and maximum time value set the timeline start and end frames. The preview min/max time sets the timeline range values. If you like, you can add information to your project on the Info tab. This is useful when you're collaborating with others in a team, or even just for you to remember for later on. The unit settings for the project are set with the project scale. You can even click Scale Project here and set a target for scaling, and then objects are converted for you. Notice that you can save and load presets for the project settings too, which is handy for keeping your settings. We'll just return to what we had before. Of course, these settings are for your current project. But if you want to set up more persistent changes, you set them in the preferences just like you do in Maya. You can open it here in the Edit menu, or press Ctrl+E. Now, before we go ahead and start making any changes, let's take a little visit to the Preferences folder by clicking this icon. When you make changes to the preferences, the contents of these files are automatically updated. This is usually what you want, but sometimes you want to get back to the factory defaults. So to do this, just delete the Prefs folder, and restart C4D and a shiny, new Prefs folder is automatically created for you. If you want to keep the preference changes you have made, just rename the folder for now, and then replace the default folder with this one when you want to use it. So let's check out some of the preferences you can set, such as the unit display value that you want to be the default. On the Files tab, you can set the number of backup copies you want, which are always a good idea to have. Select Auto-Save and set the frequency options and a location for the files to make sure you don't lose any data while you're working, just in case there's an alien invasion or zombie attack, or whatever kinds of things happen in your neighborhood. On the Memory tab, you can set the number of undo operations you want. It's not a bad idea to set this one pretty high when you're learning a new program. You can also change the interface options for working, such as the scheme color. Maybe go retro with the Light scheme just for a change. Make sure that Show Shortcuts in Menu is on, which will help you learn the keyboard shortcuts in C4D. With the project settings and preferences as we like them, it's a good time to save the project to the folder you've created. You can choose File Save or Save As to save out as a . C4D file. We're just going to rename this file and add it to our C4D Project Files folder. Just a note that if you're working with an FBX file, this will save it as a . C4D file. So if you want to keep your FBX as FBX, choose Export FBX to save the file, and then select the export options that you want. Let's just go back to our little character. As you're working, you can also save out the different stages or versions of the project by choosing Save Incremental, which is the same as in Maya. You may want to save the first version of your file with a name, as we did earlier, so that C4D will keep the same number of leading zeros and let you add an underscore before the incremental numbers. If for some reason, you didn't create a project folder before you started, you can choose Save Project with Assets. Enter a name that will be used for both the project file and a folder that is created for it, and click Save. As you see in the folder, any images that you used as textures are copied into a text subfolder that is automatically created in this project folder. Renders can also auto-save to a subfolder in this projects folder, so that all of your image sequences get collected in the same spot. So now that you've got some files loaded and your project is set up and saved, you're ready to start checking out C4D. Here's a cheat sheet of all the keyboard shortcuts that we used in this video. You can jump into any of the videos in this series to learn about whatever feature you want. But the next one in line is all about navigating and creating cameras. See you there.
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