Tutorial 1 | The Basics – Part 1


This tutorial is the introduction into the pipeline integration of Cinema 4D and After Effects. This is aimed at properly setting up your 3D scene and exporting the RPF sequence into After Effects for maximum control.  We’re first going to start off with a little bit of modeling, and cakes are always fun to make because they’re very easy.

If you want to skip to the part where we start rendering out content, move forward to the 10:50 mark.  At that point, I begin to add the compositing tags, buffer channels, and set up my render sequence so that it’s friendly in After Effects.  If there was ever a moment to explain what I just said, it’s right now, so let me define a few terms that will help you with your 3D renders.

RPF Sequence
An RPF sequence is a rich pixel sequence.  From what I can tell so far, it’s exactly the same as a tiff sequence, psd sequence or any other image sequence except it embeds a little more information.  I love this sequence because it can contain the following:

1. RPF Camera Importer – If your file somehow gets corrupted but you have your RPF sequence, you can pull out the camera with all of it’s keyframes from After Effects.

2. Alpha Channels – Much like other sequences, your alpha channels will import correctly into After Effects.

3. 16-Bit – More color information means more to work with in post.

4. Buffer Channels Built In – Perfect for really quick editing, masking, and color correcting.

5. Uses After Effects 3D effects palette – You can add depth of field, depth mattes using ID tags, fog and more in post. Can be a huge life saver if things don’t come out the way you expected.

6. There’s more – Just haven’t figured it all out yet.

Though I wish it was a one-and-done rendering format, there are some flaws.  RPF’s buffer mattes do not carry over anti-aliasing well.  In fact, it’s pretty horrible.  But you can always render out your alpha channels in a separate pass and then use a luma key matte afterwards.  But other than that, it’s a pretty reliable sequence and between these and TIFF’s/PSD’s, I prefer this format.  The more you can alter in post, the less likely you’ll be re-rendering.

The second most important thing to do when rendering out to post is clicking on the little button in the Save tab in Render Settings called Compositing Project File. If this is an animation going into AE, then check the save button, choose After Effects, and select Relative and Include 3D data. Doing this will create an AEC (After Effects Composition) which will when rendered and completed, can be automatically inserted into After Effects.

What type of information comes over? Well, for starters, the camera data. Then the lights. Also, any null objects with external compositing tags attached to them. And finally, your special passes such as reflection, ambient occlusion, depth and more. That way, you can truly finish your 3D content in post (Campbellism).

For those of you awesome enough to read this entire blog, you can download the actual project file by clicking HERE.


  1. 26 June 11, 8:56pm

    hi-ya, I like all your posts, keep them coming.

  2. 25 May 11, 9:43pm

    That is interesting. I’m curious to see if it’s really an RPF issue or is it a NetRender issue. I really don’t use NetRender that often. Let me know if you figure it all out!

  3. RoVino
    25 May 11, 6:24pm

    Hmmm maybe its my NetRender? It seems to not like my original 2 files I tried rendering on.. but I just worked on a 3 file and it rendered it with RPF as well. funky.. What I meant is the file rendered but only 1 computer did all the images instead of speading out the work. where as on my 3rd animation all 4 computers shared the work load.

  4. 25 May 11, 5:22pm

    I used quicktime in the past, but since then I stopped and started using photoshop/png files. Reason is you can render files 1 – 299, crash on the last, and lose your quicktime and start over. Old habits that have evolved over time.

  5. 25 May 11, 5:18pm

    Weird. I’ll also look into that as well. I recall using RPF’s for network rendering for a while. I’ll let you know if I run into the same issues!

  6. Rovino
    24 May 11, 5:25pm

    Hey AL, found 1 flaw with the RPF render I didnt not like. At work we have 4 machines running NETRender.. RPF for whatever reason will not work with NETRender. Ive tried on 2 different projects no luck. then I changed the output file to png seq.. and it worked.. Booyahh!! kidding.. any how I’ll keep playing with it. I wonder if the renders are slower overall because of all the embedded data?

  7. Rovino
    20 May 11, 11:34pm

    Hi Found this place after watching your NAB presentation..

    Nice work. This is only the 2nd tutorial Ive ever seen mention the stage. Its highly underrated.. thanks for the great tutorial.. Gonna play around with RPF.. I always used png sequences simply because of the size and embedded alpha channel but I’ll try our rpf.. 1 question.. why Quicktime movie for your multipass? and what were the settings? animations codec? photo-jpeg?

  8. 16 May 11, 6:17pm

    This forum nedeed shaking up and you’ve just done that. Great post!

  9. 16 May 11, 6:06pm

    Kudos to you! I hadn’t tuhhogt of that!

  10. 16 May 11, 5:10pm

    Fell out of bed feeling down. This has birghetned my day!

  11. 15 May 11, 10:09pm

    You’ve got it in one. Couldn’t have put it btteer.

  12. 15 May 11, 4:42pm

    That’s the best anwesr of all time! JMHO

  13. 06 April 11, 4:06am

    I hear you. RSMB is a great plugin. I wish it was a little cheaper, but sometimes, you have to take what you can get. In R12 though, object motion blur is gone. And scene motion blur takes WAY too long.

  14. 03 April 11, 11:26am

    13 hours!! Wow. I decided to skip the Global Illumination and tried to get as close as possible with another light.
    Motionblur I prefer to do in post. I render out a motion vector pass. Saves lots of time.

  15. Val-R
    24 February 11, 3:29pm

    Thank you for all of your tutorials! I love C4D and it’s really cool to find free tuto as interesting as yours!
    Keep posting!


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