Importing CAD Models into Cinema 4D: Rhino to Cinema 4D

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Instructor Rod Ross

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In this video we will discuss the file types Cinema 4D supports. We will also discuss other software options like Rhino and Rhino IO to import CAD files.

In this video we discuss the large number of file types Cinema 4D supports. We also take a look at Rhino, a CAD program that can open native Solidworks files and export to a file type Cinema 4D supports. We will also take a look at the plugin that makes it possible for Cinema to open up native Rhino files.



In this tutorial we'll take a look at ways of bringing your CAD files into Cinema 4D. First we'll take a look at the file types that Cinema 4D imports. Then we'll take a look at a newer CAD program from Autodesk named Fusion 360. But mainly we'll focus on Rhino and a plugin to import and export Rhino files named Rhino IO. I'll close this file and then we'll take a look at the CAD file types that Cinema 4D will import. So I'll go to "Edit" and then "Preferences" and I'll scroll down to "Import/Export" and we have Allplan, which is from the CAD program and we have DWG, which is a 2D import of AutoCAD files. And then DXF, which is AutoCAD and IGES, which is an older CAD file type. You'll also notice that I have Rhino Export and Import, and that's because I have the Rhino IO plugin installed and that gives me the capability to import and export Rhino files. Okay, I'll close this and then we'll take a look at Fusion 360. And here I have Fusion 360 open, and the reason I wanted to mention this program is it's free to freelancers making under 100,000 a year. And also it opens up a wide variety of CAD file types, including SolidWorks, Pro-E, and CATIA. As of now the export options are limited. You can export to FBX, but it's an automatic export and there are no settings. You can also export to OBJ files, but you can only export one part at a time. If you don't need to bring in CAD files to Cinema 4D very often, this might be a good option for you. Now let's take a look at Rhino. And here we are in Rhino, this is a CAD type program that's been around for a long time and the commercial version is inexpensive for students. So let's open up our hammer drill file. So I'll just go to "File," "Open," and the file type is set to Rhino. I'm going to change this, and as you can see there's a lot of different file types that Rhino will open, including SolidWorks, SketchUp, and STEP files. STEP file is a newer exchange format for CAD files so I would recommend that. And I'll click on the hammer drill file to open it. As you notice the hammer drill comes in on its side, and that's because of the way the coordinates are in Rhino. If you'll notice in the layers palette, I only have one layer and it's default, so I'll add a layer just to show you that it'll come in to Cinema 4D that way. And now I'll go to "File," "Export Selected," and I'll select all of these objects, and I could just right-click and I'll name it "hammer drill," and I'll use FBX for my export file type. If I hit "Save," it'll pop up a mesh dialogue box. There are simple controls, if I click here you can just drag back and forth between fewer or more polygons and it gives you a preview. But I'll go back to the detailed controls, and Rhino gives you several different controls to get the mesh that you want. So I'll just hit "OK," and then I'll go to Cinema 4D and open this up. So I'll just go to "File," "Open," and open up the FBX file and it pops up a dialogue box for FBX import. I'll just say "OK," and keep these settings. And as you can see it brought in the layers that I have in Rhino. Also you'll notice that the hammer drill is right side up now. Now that's how I would bring in a CAD file from Rhino, and now we'll take a look at Rhino IO. The Rhino IO plugin allows us to open up Rhino files in Cinema 4D. It uses render meshes in Rhino to import into Cinema 4D. So before we save our file, we'll need to make our render meshes in Rhino, and the way to do that is either click on the "Render" button or shade the viewport. I'll click on the "Render" button and now I can just close this and now we've made our render meshes inside Rhino, so now I can save the file and I'll just name it "hammer drill." Then I'll go to Cinema 4D to open it. I'll just select the Rhino file and open, and it pops up this dialogue box. And one thing I want to point out is this checkbox to merge overlapping points and there's a threshold for that, and this is the same thing as optimizing in Cinema 4D, so it does it for you automatically when you import your file, so I'll just say "OK." The drill comes in on its side just like it is in Rhino, and that's how the Rhino IO plugin works. Whatever you see in Rhino, that's how it'll bring it in in Cinema 4D. It also brings in the colors, but if you click on this object you notice that it's a display color and not an actual material. So I'll go back to Rhino and now if I rotate this drill, I'll select all of that, I'll just type in "Rotate." I'll click here and rotate it. Now move it over to the center point. And I'll save our file. Now if I go back to Cinema 4D, and this time I'm going to merge the file in. So I'll go to "File," "Merge," and then click on the hammer drill and open it. It gives me the same Rhino IO dialogue box, and I'll just say "OK." And this time it opens up another dialogue box asking me if I want to update the scene so I'll say "Yes." Now you can see it made the changes that I updated inside of Rhino. Another thing I can do is add materials. So I'll do that and I'll just apply it to this part of the drill and I'll change the color just so it's easy to see. Now I'll go back to Rhino and I'll just move this handle over. Then I'll save the file again. If I go back to Cinema 4D and I'll merge it in again, say "OK," and "Yes," I'll update the scene, and now it's updated the change that I made in Rhino, and it kept my materials that I added in Cinema 4D. Now keep in mind that Rhino IO uses objects IDs when importing into Cinema 4D and there are certain commands inside of Rhino that can change the object ID numbers and that can change the way it imports into Cinema 4D, so it may not always update the way you think it will. Now because Rhino IO uses the render meshes inside of Rhino, it gives us a default mesh export. But I'll show you how you can change that. We'll go back to Rhino and I'll maximize this viewport, and I'll shade the viewport. Now if I wanted to customize the render meshes inside of Rhino, I would go to the options and then under "Mesh," I can click on "Custom," and then I can change any of these settings. And then when I rendered or shaded the viewport, it would use my custom settings for all the render meshes, and then I can save that out and re-import into Cinema 4D. I'll just cancel this. Another thing I can do is customize the mesh for certain objects. I'll click on this object, and then I'll click on this button for "Object Properties," and if I click "Custom Mesh," and click this "Adjust" button, it'll pop up my mesh settings and I can change that just for this object. So that gives you a good overview of Rhino IO and we'll go back to Cinema 4D. So remember, to export out of Rhino you would just export to an FBX file and then import it in to Cinema 4D. But if you have Rhino IO, as long as you've set your render meshes before saving your Rhino file, you can just open the Rhino files or drag them into the viewport and you can bring large scene files into Cinema 4D easily that way.
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