Getting Started with Cinema 4D, Part 19: Introduction to Render Settings

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In this video, you will get a brief overview of how to render your images out of Cinema 4D.

In this video, you will get a brief overview of how to render your images out of Cinema 4D, including how to set up the final output paths and adjusting the quality of render using Anti-Aliasing. You’ll also be introduced to the Physical Renderer and Ambient Occlusion and learn how both features add realism to your renders.

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When rendering in After Effects, there's not a whole lot of render settings to keep track of, other than resolution and say, video codec. But in Cinema 4D, there are quite a few more settings to pay attention to and check before you render. So in this video, I'm going to cover some of the most common render settings in Cinema 4D, to help ensure your renders look great. To navigate to our render settings, we're going to go to this little icon with the clapper and the little gear, and this will bring up our render settings. Now, first up is the output. And this is very similar to your output settings in After Effects where you set your width and height, you can adjust the resolution here, and this is basically only if you're really doing print work. And we also have your Frame Rate and your Frame Range. So typically you'll want to just render all of your frames if you have an animation or if you want to just render a still frame of your current frame, it will take the current frame that your playhead is that and render that single frame. So nothing too crazy there. Next up is save. And this is where you just set a safe path and the format. So the image format, so typically when rendering out of Cinema 4D, you want to render out as a sequence. An image sequence allows for more flexibility when rendering versus any kind of movie format. So if you, say, you see a render error, you can then just re-render those selected frames versus rendering out chunks of movies. So just keep that in mind. Typically a PNG or OpenEXR are the common formats you will find. And here you can set the depth. Now, this is just your color information. So the higher the bits, the more amount of color information will be saved. Typically, for PNGs, or any other kind of format, you want to render out at the 16 bit to prevent color banding. Now, next up is multi pass and I'm going to skip over multi pass as we'll cover it more in depth in the next video. So we'll move on down to anti-aliasing. Now, this is a setting that's very similar to the quality render settings in After Effects that are set by default to best versus draft. But in Cinema 4D, by default, it's set to geometry. Now, this is a lower quality setting that renders faster but this doesn't look all that great. So typically, you're going to render at best settings. Actually, 100% of the time for a final render, you're going to render at this best setting. And here are the minimum and maximum anti-aliasing levels. Typically, you won't have to change any of these settings, okay? The most important thing here, other than the anti-alias quality setting is this filter. Now, this controls how crisp your edges are in your render. Now, if I click and hold you can see that the default is cubic. Now, this is a very crisp style of filter and it's best for still images as you can see. Now, if you have an animation, you'll want to always use Gauss because typically with animated moving objects having crisp edges like using the cubic filter, they tend to flicker. So crisp edges tend to flicker, so that's why using a softer edge type of filter, like animation, or Gauss is best used for animation. So rule of thumb, if you have a still image, use cubic, or if you have a 2D style cell shaded image, use cubic. Or if you have just your typical run of the mill 3D animation render, use Gauss. Let's move on to options. And typically you won't have to change anything in here. Now let's move on to Renderer. Now, unlike After Effects, there's only one renderer to use. But in Cinema 4D, there's multiple render engines involved. Now, standard is your standard type of renderer. It has its own unique settings and it's really not physically based, which means that it doesn't render things like lights, shadows, things like that, very physically, accurately. But standard is great for getting stylized looks. Now, if you want more physically accurate renders, you'll want to use the physical renderer, all right? And when you choose physical renderer, you're going to have this new physical render setting option. And this is where you can set things like depth of field, and motion blur and actually bake those properties or those blurs into your render, which I don't recommend. I always recommend rendering out your motion blur as a separate pass. And again, we're going to cover that in the next video. But rule of thumb and how I like to use physical render, is I go to my Sampling Quality and choose Automatic. And then what automatic does is allow you to set a threshold for the quality of the overall rendering. So all you need to know about this is the lower the number, the higher the quality but the longer the render, and the higher this number, the lower the quality, but the faster the render time. So here's where we have individual quality settings for individual items like blurriness, shadow, and ambient occlusion. So what you need to know about physical render, is it renders reflections, lights, shadows in this ambient occlusion, which I'll cover very shortly, much faster than say, standard render. So let's just do a comparison here real quick. So let's render just a still frame. So let's just make sure we have the frame range, current frame, and we'll render to picture viewer . And that's the way to render to your desktop is this render to picture viewer. And in the picture viewer, you can see the render time for each frame. And this is just a great way to be able to check the progress of your render, make sure everything looks good and there are no render errors. So right there that took 21 seconds. Let's try again using physical render. So I'm going to render the picture viewer again, and this will then render to whatever output path we have set here. Currently, I don't have an output path. So this isn't actually saving this file anywhere. So you want to make sure when you render, that you are saving this to some output path. So let's go back and check out how well this render is doing. No what you can see is that, the physical render setting is actually a little bit longer. So it all depends on your scene, whether the physical renderer renders faster or not. So this is just a great way to be able to check the renders. And you can see, if I toggle between these two renders, we're only getting a slight difference there. So in this specific composition, this specific project, you'll want to go with the standard render as it saves you four seconds per frame, which over a bunch of frames like 300 frames, saves you loads of time. So always check to make sure if your render is handled better and faster in standard or physical. So let's cover ambient occlusion that I just mentioned there. In the physical settings, you can see we have the individual settings for ambient occlusion. So if we want to add ambient occlusion, we'll just go into the render effect and just add ambient occlusion. Now, what is ambient occlusion? Well, ambient occlusion is a fancy technical term for the shadowing that occurs in reality when a surface isn't visible to ambient light, or the shading that occurs in the nooks and crannies of objects or when two objects are close to another. Now, why ambient occlusion is called ambient occlusion is because it's shadowing based on ambient light. So think of light on say, an overcast day. So you can see that when I added it to my scene, we have all these darker, shadowed areas on my submarine and all the other objects in my scene. Now, if we just render this with the ambient occlusion, again, just compare this to the last render we had there. And I can just see, even just clicking back and forth here, you can see the difference in the darkened areas, especially if I zoom to 100% here, all the ambient occlusion shadowing that's happening in the nooks and crannies of the areas in my scene versus before. So this is a more realistic type of shading. You can definitely see this down at the bottom of the sand. But ambient occlusion is something that happens naturally in real life. So if you want your renders to look more realistic, you'll want to be using ambient occlusion. That just looks much nicer and more realistic already. So let's just cover some of the ambient occlusion settings that you need to know. And really there's only a few things. Number one is just the color. You can double click this little color notch to say, change the color. Maybe you want to pump in a bluish hue to your ambient occlusion by just adding that color to the left side of this gradient. The next is this Maximum Ray Length. Now, this is just basically how far the ambient occlusion travels across your object. So the smaller the number here, the less the ambient occlusion will actually travel. So if we make this a low number, say 15 and render again, we can compare and contrast those two different lengths. So you can see we're seeing a lot less of that shading reaching further compared to the render that had 100 centimeters. So the main reason why you should be using ambient occlusion, especially with objects that are touching the floor, is that when you don't have it on, like say in this first render we did without ambient inclusion, you can see that the fishbowl kind of looks like it's just floating, if not for this little shadow. But ambient occlusion really helps it look like this fishbowl is resting on a surface. So you can even tell that by moving the Maximum Ray Length down to 15, we're also saving in render time. So keep that in mind, the smaller the Maximum Ray Length, again, depending on the scene, the speedier your render will go. So that about covers all of the major render settings that you need to know. And again, if you want to render, make sure you save an output path. I'll just go ahead and save this to my desktop. And I'll go to this little render menu, click and hold and go to Render to Picture Viewer. So there's a few more settings to pay attention to versus After Effects. But remember, if you ever want to figure out what a certain setting does, be sure to go into the render settings, right click and go to Show Help to learn more about that setting and have a deeper understanding of all the Render Settings inside of Cinema 4D.
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