Are you interested in transitioning from rendering in Vectorworks to Cinema 4D? It took me several years to fine-tune my Vectorworks to Cinema 4D process. Here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way. I hope it helps you spend less time rendering and more time designing. 😎
Symbols = Instances
Symbols in Vectorworks come into Cinema 4D as Instances. Knowing this, you might want to convert as many objects as possible to symbols before exporting as .c4d.
Instances are amazing. You can create them yourself in Cinema 4D. I use them when I want to duplicate lighting fixtures that share the same settings. 🤗 Once you get a light object how you want it, select it in the hierarchy and create a bunch of instances from it.
Lock Your Cameras
One of the things that used to frustrate me so much in Cinema 4D was that I would accidentally orbit around my model with the camera active. I would ruin my intentionally positioned camera view. Applying a Protection Tag takes 2 seconds and saves me from myself. 😂 See video below.
Use a Template File
Maybe this is a no-brainer, but create a file with materials already created. I assign the materials to sphere placeholder objects in my scene. I do this mainly because I have a habit of purging my unused materials often (I right-click in my materials window to delete any unused/duplicate materials).
Assigning my template materials to actual objects prevents me from accidentally deleting the materials before I have applied them in my new scene. When I’m done applying the template materials, I simply delete the parent folder that contained the sphere placeholder objects.
I also use my template file to include generic 3D models of a basic lighting rig, audio setup, and a few 3D People. Lastly, I will copy and paste my Draft and Final render settings from this template file into my new project’s render setting.
Use Takes in Cinema 4D
[Disclaimer: This is only an option for those of you who have a full Cinema 4D license as Takes aren’t included in the free Lite version.]
Takes allows you to save different versions of your scene without having to make duplicates or save as. For example, let’s say you want to show two different looks for a General Session design. In Take 1, the lighting is mostly blue with images of mountains on the screens and a presenter walking on stage. In Take 2, you want the lighting to be more reds, with 16:9 content pips and a demo counter in focus.
Instead of duplicating the entire 3D model in your hierarchy to create these separate looks, Takes allows you to record which objects and/or materials change between each look. Best of all, you can send all your Takes to render in a queue while you enjoy a well-deserved coffee break.
Ditch the Carpet Texture
If you’re working with the spotlight decking tools, the Vectorworks carpet texture that imports into Cinema eats up a lot of render computing power. Either turn off the bump in this texture or ditch it entirely for your own carpet material. There’s plenty of free carpet materials available for download online, like this black carpet from C4D Center.
Connecting several objects into one combined mesh can streamline your hierarchy in Cinema 4d and save you time if you ever need to delete/ reapply materials.
Simply select the objects you want to connect in your hierarchy, then right-click> ‘Connect Objects & Delete’. I do this a lot with truss objects.
Alternatively, you can combine objects in Vectorworks before exporting to Cinema 4D. Select the Vectorworks objects you want to combine, then go to Modify> Convert> Convert to Mesh.
Invest in V-Ray (or Similar)
I know it feels like V-Ray is like learning Cinema 4D all over again, but it’s not too dissimilar. Sure, you have to learn how to work with V-Ray materials & lights, but personally, I felt it was easier and faster to build out my scene with V-Ray. I love the interactive V-Ray Frame Buffer (VFB) that renders my edits instantly in a separate window.
The best part, though, is definitely the fact that my renders finished much faster. I didn’t realize that Cinema 4D’s built-in renderer only uses CPU, while a plugin like V-Ray can utilize both CPU and GPU. Other third party render engines include Redshift, Octane, Corona and Arnold.
Mass Re-apply Materials
Ever wonder how to replace or override a material project-wide? So for example, maybe you have 50+ objects in the scene that have a material that is old/outdated. Instead of editing that old material, you want to use a new one that is already made. Rather than painstakingly swapping out the material tag on each object manually, you can tell Cinema 4D to mass delete/apply with this 3-step trick.
1. Select the old material in the materials window. Right-click > ‘ Select Material Tags/Objects‘. This will select all objects in your scene that have that old material currently assigned.
2. Next, right-click on one of the selected material tags in the hierarchy > ‘Select Tags of Same Type‘. Press delete key.
3. With all the objects still selected, right-click over the new material in the materials window> ‘Apply‘. Ta-dah!
I hope you found these tricks helpful. Can you recommend any other Cinema 4D hacks? Send me an email and I’ll add them to the list.