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01 VIEWS AND PREFS By Ko Maruyama
After Effects.... CINEMA 4D....  a perfect marriage in a motion graphics broadcast house.  But what if you're an After Effects user who doesn't know CINEMA 4D?  As an After Effects and CINEMA 4D user, I note that there are many similarities between the programs, and it is fairly easy to understand the differences.  Unfortunately their naming conventions are different. Because of these different name syntaxes, it is sometimes difficult to cross-reference.   In this short series of tips, I'll try to make a connection to C4D from AE.  With the new releases of CINEMA 4D, it is even easier for Adobe After Effects users to create their own 3D animations and incorporate them into their composites and animations.

This isn't a basics primer.  Instead, it's just a "heads up" when you want to find something in CINEMA 4D that you're already familiar with in Adobe's After Effects.


Both After Effects and CINEMA 4D's layouts can be user defined.  Personally, I don't like how either application ships, but that's why they offer complete customization.

Here's AE and C4D in default: click any image to view a larger version

In Adobe After Effects ("AE"), you can use CMD-OPT-; (semi-colon) to bring up preferences. Switching to "User Interface Colors" you can dim the settings of the overall look.

In CINEMA 4D ("C4D"), you can use CMD-E to bring up preferences.  Under "SCHEME", you can see that there are several preset colors and button options that will modify the look of the entire application.

If you're into tweaking colors, open PREFERENCES - INTERFACE - COLORS.  There you'll find a bunch of trouble, including the ability to change to your own bitmap background if you want. (A separate tutorial for bitmap backgrounds is coming later).


Every broadcast designer is familiar with ACTION and TITLE SAFE.

In AE, you can toggle it at the bottom of the comp window. (You can set up the percentage sliders in preferences of AE).

In C4D, you can toggle ACTION/TITLE safeties on/off individually.  (Only Title / Only Action / Both / None)

Because C4D supports numerous viewports and cameras, you can set up safeties for each viewport.  In the small menu that governs the viewport, choose EDIT->VIEWPORT.  Of course, by default you can simply use "SHIFT-V" to bring this attribute window up.

In the window, select "VIEW".  There, you'll see check boxes for "Safe Frames", "Render Safe", "Title Safe", and "Action Safe".

Here's the quick definition for each:

SAFE FRAMES: Turns all of the guides on/off for "Render", "Title" and "Action".
RENDER SAFE: What will actually show up in the frame based on your cameras FOV.
TITLE SAFE: What is certainly visible within a percentage of the Render Safe area. (A smaller percentage of Render Safe.  Usually 80%.  Usually designated for titles (text information of all kinds).
ACTION SAFE: What will actually show up in the frame based on your cameras FOV.
TITLE SAFE: What is certainly visible within a percentage of the Render Safe area. (A larger percentage of Render Safe.  Usually 90%.  Used as a guide to ensure that even small elements are completely visible when broadcast).

Turn on SAFE FRAMES.  Then check the boxes for the individual guides.  By default, the guides are dark grey.

You can change the color of these to any other RGB color by changing the film format in the preferences.

1. CMD-E to open the application preferences.
2. Select VIEWPORT
3. Select COLORS
4. Select FILM FORMAT (the second in the list), and change the RGB colors.

That's it for now.

If you have any questions, would like to see more tutorials like this, or have specific requests, be sure to post them to the forums.

Be sure to visit the MAXON CHANNEL and the AFTER EFFECTS CHANNEL for more tips and tricks like these.

Coming soon, check out resources on MAXON's website.

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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.

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