Cinema 4D r10 Handbook: Chapter 1

Over the course of September I’m going to be going through the C4D r10 Handbook chapter by chapter and posting general overviews and my thoughts. Once completed I hope to be able to do basic 3D animations and graphics. Posts will come Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Chapter 1: Interface

Every software program book starts with an interface chapter. They are boring, tedious, and often hard to read; but, they are necessary. Knowing the interface, where to find what tools and menus you need is an important part of knowing any program. That being said, this chapter was 90% no different. It covered the basic layout: Command Palettes, Managers, Layer Browser, Viewport, and basic Object Manipulation. Anyone familiar with Adobe After Effects will find some striking resemblances to the C4D layout.

These are the important things I gathered from the main sections:

The Main Window:

The default layout in C4D is easy to navigate. The most used icons and tools are right on the main screen, not buried in layers of menus. The panels are laid out in a  clear manner that allows for ease of execution. There are two main views “classic” and “light.” Version r10 of C4D also incorporates an intuitive help system. The bottom of the screen also hosts an identity bar (much like AE) that tells you what an icon represents when you scroll over it.

Command Palettes:

Command palettes are a big reason why C4D is so intuitive. The icons used to represent commands, or tools, are really descriptive and easy to find. All the basic commands line the Viewport on the left and top. Move, scale, rotate, extrude, create basic shapes… everything you need to create a 3D object are confined easily in the Command Palettes.


“Managers are windows that represent program elements within C4D.” Managers are how you create parent/child links, manage layer hierarchy, and keep track of all of your elements in your project. The two main managers this chapter talks about are the Object Manager and the Layer Browser. “The objects in the scene are named and organized in the Object Manager… objects can be linked to create hierarchies.” There is also a filter option in the object manager that allows you to sort through lists of objects by various characteristic, or by name. So if you find yourself working on a scene that has a large number of objects, it will be easier to find a specific one.“The Layer Browser helps you organize and keep track of both large ans small scenes.” It operates much like the object manager, but on a larger scale. You can add objects to layers to put them into the same scene. “You can also turn on/ off animations, expressions, deformers, generators, and activate solo mode.”

There is a third manager this chapter talks about, and that is the Attributes Manager. I’ve chosen to break this away from the other managers because it is one of the big reasons why I say C4D is similar AE. The attributes manager “displays information about objects, tools, tags, and anything else.” Basically, whatever is currently selected is shown in the attributes manager. But, like in AE, you can manually input variations of specific values. So, you can make objects specific sizes, or movements/ animations a specific length.

The Viewport:

This is the area where all objects, movements, animation, etc lives. It literally is what you see. I like the analogy that the book uses (mainly because it’s camera related), “This window is like the viewfinder of a camera that allows you to view objects and their relationships to other objects.” It is the window in which you see the three axes of movement (x,y, and z) known as the Euclidean Geometry Model ( I like the analogy of the camera’s viewfinder because the viewport is also where all of the camera controls live. You can control focal distance, lens, and where and what the camera sees. There are for tools (Camera Move, Camera Zoom, Camera Rotate, Toggle Active View) that give you the same control of a camera that you would have in other 3D programs like Maya, or like you would have in After Effects.

Within the Viewport you can make changes to the configuration that suit your needs. One of the most useful things for filmmakers is the ability to have Action Safe and Title Safe appear within the viewport. There are actually so many ways to configure the screen that after a while you may not even recognize the program as Cinema 4D (or at least, so says the book).

The rest of the chapter talks about specific keyboard shortcuts and customizing the interface to match your needs. So far I think Cinema 4D is going to be easy to understand and will be a great tool to add to my list of skills. Check back on Monday for Chapter 2: Beginning Modeling.

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