Video Copilot - Tools for Digital Artists
Exporting 3D Objects from C4D
Saving projects for Element Import
Cinema 4D users do not need to export OBJ files but instead import C4D files natively. Turning on the cache, and saving the project will allow element to read the file correctly. Saving the project for element can be slightly different depending on what version of c4d the project is saved in. 

In the c4d project click Ctrl D or CMD D on the keyboard. Click on the tab called Cineware, and check on "Save Polygon cache" and "Save Animation cache". Save the project.

In the Preferences go to Files, and check on "Save Polygons for Cineware" and "Save Animation for Cineware". Save the project.
Polygon and Object Caches : Cineware 21.0 SDK

R20 and past versions
In the Preferences go to Files and turn on the "Save Polygons For Melange" and "Save Animation For Melangecheckbox from the Cinema 4D file Preferences. In R15 and past versions "Save Animation For Melange" is not available. Cinema 4D R12 or newer is required to import inside Element.

Place c4d file at your Documents/VideoCopilot/Models folder, or select the import button in the Scene Interface. 


Placing c4d file at your Documents/VideoCopilot/Models folder allows the C4D files to be selected in the Element Model Browser. When you have imported your object, a dialogue with import options will pop up.


This allows you to choose what imports with the object. Whether materials are linked to files, Physical or Standard Shader system, if you want to import the animation. You can then hit ok to import the object.

For the C4D file import to work perfectly, it is best that you own a copy of C4D or C4D lite as there are some preferences and optimizations for importing that may need to be made. Check out the next couple sections for some specifics if your model is not looking correct on import.


Normals determine which way geometry faces react to light. There are two important reasons why you want all normals on an object to be pointing the correct way.

Invisible Polygons and Lighting:
If normals are flipped the incorrect way, geometry in Element will appear to be invisible. You can use the Draw Backfaces option to force Element to render those reversed polygons, and use the Auto Normals options and that can help a bit. However even with those fixes, the lighting on the model still may not react quite as desired. It is best to fix in c4d for best results.

How to fix:
If you have colored materials on your object it may be tough to tell, but if you select your object, then switch to polygon select mode, polygons that are more blue are reversed. Polygons that are a tinge yellow are facing the correct way. You can also turn on the Normals from the Viewer Options and the lines will show which way the normals are facing. This helps to see when you have a material on your object. 

Select the blue/inverted line polygons and go to Functions/Reverse Normals or Functions/Mesh/Reverse Normals. Then save.

After saving your .c4d project, you can go back to Element, and the polygons that were reversed into place will show up as solid faces now. You can reload the object or just rotating it in the Scene Interface will reload the object. Once you are in AE, you may want to go to Edit/Purge/All Memory as it may cache the old model.
Texture files that are JPEG or PNG’s saved in C4D Material Slots will import to Element Material Slots on import.


Keeping the import dialogue options at default will allow the Diffuse, Glossiness/Specular, Reflectivity, Illumination, and Normal texture map channels to import into Element.

If a material is using a C4D built-in procedural texture (noise, pattern, ramp, ect) it will not import into E3D, as that is something native to C4D. The only way to get out of C4D and in to Element would be to bake those out as textures.
UV’s are what tell the model how to wrap textures around the model. Using a UVW tag allows that info to be imported into Element so the model retains the UV information. If a model does not have a UVW Coordinates Tag the model will not wrap the textures correct on the Element side.

If the model does not have a UVW tag, the UV type has been changed, or the material’s tiling and offset have been adjusted, create a new UVW tag by selecting the material(s) on the object and selecting Generate UVW Coordinates from the Tags tab.


Once the UVW Tag is created this will allow the object to wrap the texture correctly on the Element side. Save the Project.
Element supports the import of C4D PSR (Position, Scale, Rotation) animations. Objects are able to be keyframed within c4d and that animation will import into Element. Currently nulls that are animated are not supported.

ANIMATING IN C4D: Change an object parameter then Ctrl Click on the parameter keyframe dots for the value to create a create a keyframe. Then move forward on the timeline move the object and repeat to create a second keyframe.

Then save the C4D file and import the file into Element with either the import button or the placing in the Model Browser folder. Once it’s imported you can scrub the animation with the Start Frame option under the model Animation settings as a preview, and set that back to 0 once you hit ok to go into After Effects.

Once in AE scrub the timeline for the animation to playback. You can turn on Motion Blur for the composition and layer for the animation. Shadows and other render settings will work as expected with C4D imports.
Here’s a fun way to import physics from C4D to Element 3D.  Download and install the C4D Plugin KeyMate that will bake C4D physics into keyframes that Element can use. You can place the plug-in at MAXON\CINEMA 4D R15\plugins.


In this example we’ll use a several balls placed above this plane. Right Click to add a Collider tag from the physics tab onto the plane. Add a Collision tag to all the spheres.

Hit play to let the physics run. Reset the timeline back to the beginning.


As a side note save a new version of your project, as physics can get tricky and it’s best to have a back up. Go to the top Plugins tab to run KeyMATE. 

Change the Global Copy tab to No Copy. Position and Rotation are checked on by default. Hitting OK will create a string of keyframes for the objects.

Save your project, and you can import that animation into Element 3D and After Effects!
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