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Get Organized

Cinema 4D Start File By Ko Maruyama
You organize everything to work more efficiently.  You have partitions on your drives, folders for separate jobs, and preferences within applications.  However, there may be specific project settings that are not included in applications preferences.  If you want to create a generic file to reuse at the beginning of every project, it may help your productivity.

If you've used Maxon's Cinema 4D for any length of time, you've probably already found the preferences.  By default, you can access the preferences with the shortcut key (Control-E).  While there are numerous preferences that can be saved and restored from your harddrive, some are better stored in a generic "start" file.

If you're trying to manage several projects (including work from freelancers), handing off a generic "start" file is a good way to ensure that the file is easily navigated by everyone on the project team.


1.  Create New Document

Create a New Project and save it as "Generic_60_540".  This will be a generic start file for a 60fps file whose dimensions are 720 x 540.

2.  Project Settings

Chances are you work in 24 fps, 30 fps, 60 fps, regularly.  Maxon's default is 30 fps, but if you work in 24, 60, or other frame rate, you're returning to the Control-D settings often.  Open Project settings and change your frame rate to 60 (or your preferred).

3.  Make Notes

If you're working with others on the project, or need reminders when you return to this, you'll need a place to put your notes.  (For version 8, Paul Everett wrote a great little plugin called NoteSheet.  http://www.tools4d.com).

In R9, you can use the Multiline Strings to store your notes, and even put them in the HUD.

To store your notes, create a NULL Object called "Read Me".  Under this object, you can parent other null notes, or simply add additional user data to create new notes. (see older tutorial about sharing notes)

Some simple setups here can create access to specific communication within the entire  project.  When you're done reading, twirl up the parent to hide the hierarchy.

4.  Hidden Elements

While you may work with primitives and non-destructive objects (like NURBS and Deformer objects), there are occasions when you'll need to make geometry editable in order to move forward.  Rather than losing the original settings, or relying on "undo", create a NULL object that will house all those invisible elements.

Again, you can use hierarchies to separate original primitive objects from other things you just want to hide, but keep within the project.

Turning off the visibility in the editor and renderer will ensure that all elements with default visibility settings who are children of this parent will be completely hidden if they're not selected in the objects manager.

5.  Material Organization

I've got several tutorials regarding all kinds of cool material operations in Cinema 4D, but there are organization aids here in the Materials Manager.  Set them up once, and your animators (and you) will be reminded to keep even the textures in order.

Select the Material Manager (Shift-F2).

From the function pull-down menu within that window, select "New Material Group", then name it.

You will now have 3 groups:  "All", "Other", and your new custom group(s).  You can add and delete the groups without losing the materials within them (they will show up under "All").  You can add multiple groups by repeating the process.

6.  Render Settings

You can create multiple render settings within your project.  However, these don't save at a preference level.  That's okay, because this file will correct that.

Open the Render settings from the selection in the Render pulldown menu.

- Select the "General" settings and rename this setting to "720x540 - All Frames"

- Choose the other options here that will apply to this setting.

- Select the "Output" settings, and change the resolution to 720 x 540.

- Change the frame selection to "All Frames"

- Select the "Save" settings and turn on the option for "Alpha Channel"

Continue to make changes to customize this setting.  Once the options have been modified, select "Render" from the pull-down menu again and choose "New Render Setting".   You will now have a blank slate to create a whole new set of render preferences.

Create multiple render settings to best suit your needs.  Continue to make new settings to get a good generic file made (you can always add more later).  NOTE: Don't forget to name these as you go.  They will show up alpha-numerically in the list of render options.  Now you can simply select the render option you need from the list of presets that you've created.

These are the broader elements you can cover.  Each project is unique and can have several elements that require special attention, but these may cover most of the settings you use regularly.  Additionally, there are several preference files that you can create to streamline working in Cinema 4D, but they cover the general management of the application rather than the specific project.

Now, when you start any new project, simply open up this document and start working.  Else, open the document and merge a separate project into it to maintain the benefits of the render settings.

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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
Related Keywords:Maxon, Render Settings, Cinema 4D, C4D, generic file, project file


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