Introduction to Animation in Cinema 4D

We've covered the basics, texturing, and lighting so now let's dive into actually animating. So we'll pop open After Effects, select File, New, Maxon Cinema 4D file and wait for it to load up.

Once we're all set in the program let's make an object for ourselves to animate. We'll be doing some simple animation here to look at the way Cinema 4D handles keyframes so we'l pick something simple like a cube or sphere or something.

We'll pop in our object and a floor, and add some lights and texture. That way it'll look snazzy, and be sure to remember to turn shadows on for your lights. We won't be rendering today, but it's good practice to do this stuff as much as possible when starting out to keep it all fresh in your mind.

So let's slide our object, in my case a cube, over to the left side of our stage. Once it's over there we can look at the bottom right hand window of Cinema 4D, our properties window. When we select the cube it'll be on the Object tab, so we can select the Coord (coordinates) tab to get it moving.

You'll see that there are a whole bunch of letters, numbers, boxes and circles. The first column, X, Y, and Z are its position. The second column are our object's scale in X, Y, and Z and finally the third column is its rotation. It's automatically set to H,P,B but I like to change it to X,Y,Z because I don't know what H,P,B stands for.

We'll see next to each of our axis that there is a solid circle with a circle around it. This tells Cinema 4D to turn on or off keyframes, kind of like the stopwatch in After Effects.

If we click these buttons to turn on the keyframes for our positions, we'll see that they become a red solid centered circle.

If we scrub forward on our timeline at the bottom of our stage window, we'll see that the solid circle becomes a red outline. That means that there are keyframes in this attribute, but not one currently where we are in our timeline.

If we click our object and move it over to the right of our screen we'll see the red outline becomes an orange outline. That means that our object has changed these attributes but a keyframe has not been applied to it. If we scrub forwards or backwards at all we'll lose this change, so we want to click on each of these circles to change it to a solid red circle, and lock the keyframe into place.

Now if we hit the play button below our timeline we can see our object animate. Ta da! That's basically all there is to animating in Cinema 4D, it gets a lot more intense quickly but that's basically how you do everything. You'll also notice that Cinema 4D creates eases automatically, unlike After Effects.

You'll also notice to the right of our play and rewind buttons below our timeline there are 3 red circle buttons. The first with the key in it will make a keyframe of whatever you have done, but it does so to all attributes which can get messy quickly.

The second is the Auto Keyframe button, if you turn this on Cinema 4D will act more like After Effects after you've turned the stopwatch on and do it's best to apply keyframes for whatever changes you make.

I'm not crazy about this method because I find it gets messy fast, and it's best to have complete control over your animations.

The third is the keyframe selection and you can ignore that, I've never touched it.

So that's all there is to it! Those are the basics of animating in Cinema 4D so play around with that and we'll jump into more in depth animating in the future.