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How to export images and video from Cinema 4D Lite

We can't export images and video directly from Cinema 4D Lite, but that's where After Effects comes in! Here's what you need to know about importing from Cinema 4D Lite and exporting with After Effects.

How to use render settings in Cinema 4D Lite

  1. In Cinema 4D, open the Render Settings panel (⌘B / Ctrl B).
  2. Set the dimensions for the export with Width and Height.
  3. If you want to export an image, select Frame Range ▶ Current Frame.

    If you want to export a video, choose Frame Range ▶ All Frames to export the entire timeline or Frame Range ▶ Manual specify a range.

  4.  Frame the scene in the render area. Dark areas on the sides of the viewport won't render.
    • Hit H to frame all the geometry in your scene.
    • Hold 1 to pan, 2 to zoom, and 3 to rotate in the viewport.
  5. Save your Cinema 4D file. (File ▶ Save or ⌘S / Ctrl S).

How to import your Cinema 4D Lite scene file to After Effects

  1. In After Effects, locate the Cinema 4D scene file in the Project Panel.

    • Starting a new After Effects project from scratch? Just click-and-drag your Cinema 4D scene file into the Project Panel, or go to File ▶ Import ▶ File... (⌘I / Ctrl I)
  2. Right-click the Cinema 4D scene file and go to Interpret Footage ▶ Main.

    In the Interpret Footage dialog box, select the Alpha Ignore option. Click OK

    • After Effects defaults to a transparent background for imported Cinema 4D scene files. Ignoring it will import our scene exactly as it is, background and all.
  3. Right-click the .c4d file again and go to New Comp from Selection.
  4. In the CINEWARE panel, change the Renderer to Standard (Final) for a full preview.

How to export images from After Effects

  1. With the composition open, go to Composition ▶ Save Frame As... ▶ File to create an image in your Render Queue.
  2. In the Render Queue, click Output Module to change format from the default Photoshop Sequence to PNG or JPG.
    • Don't worry about the word "sequence" here. This method will just export one image.
  3. Click Render to save.

How to export video from After Effects

  1. Go to Composition ⇢ Add to Render Queue (⌘M / Ctrl M) to add a video to your Render Queue.
  2. Click Output Module to change the file format and output settings.
  3. Click Render to save. 

How to open and edit an existing Cinema 4D file with After Effects

  1. Click-and-drag your Cinema 4D scene file into the Project Panel, or go to File ▶ Import ▶ File... (⌘I / Ctrl I).
  2. Select the Cinema 4D file in the Project panel and go to Edit ▶ Edit Original... (⌘E / Ctrl E)
  3. Your original scene file will open in Cinema 4D Lite.


CINEWARE is the built-in After Effects plugin that allows you to link After Effects projects with Cinema 4D scene files. You'll also hear motion graphics folks use CINEWARE as a blanket term to describe the integration between After Effects and Cinema 4D.

FAQ: Can I use Cinema 4D Lite without After Effects?

Yes, but After Effects has to be open to initialize Cinema 4D Lite. Otherwise, it can run without it—you can safely close After Effects and continue working on and saving an open Cinema 4D Lite scene file.

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