How to Export Your Scene From Cinema 4D to After Effects

October 27, 2009 - By 

I made this tutorial to show you how to prepare your renders in Cinema 4D for export into After Effects. Then, I go though the process of importing your render into After Effects using Multi Pass, compositing tags and object buffers. I also show you how to change lights and add textures in AE to finish compositing your 3D scene.

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  • Hi NIck
    What an awesome tutorial! But somehow it’s not happening with me. I am running r11.5 with AE CS3. I have done the settings part exactly as you’ve shown yet I can’t get special passes folder after importing the file into AE. Looks like object buffer isn’t coming into AE. I have installed the plugin correctly. What could be the issue?

  • hey Nick,

    awesome tutorial! Just a quick question about the red solid layer that is imported into AE.

    I noticed when I attached the tags to the cube and I scaled the cube, the red solid layer follows the move of the camera. Is there any way that I can get the red solid to scale with the cube as well?

  • Dear Nick,

    Thank you for your awesome tutorials, apps products etc

    I do have a question on this tutorial.
    I have followed your steps to import into after effects but for some reason when Im trying to open my after effects project from the folder where I told c4d to save it into it keeps giving me this message:

    After effects error: Cant import file “whatever.aec” : unsupported filetype or format

    what does this mean?

    do I have to set something up in c4d that allows me to do this?

    please help! its driving me nuts!



  • NIck thank you so much!
    This is so helpful specially for people starting in C4D. I really like your explanations of WHY are we checking boxes and using tools.

    Mauricio you can download the plug in for after effects directly from maxon website. Make sure you drop it in the rigth folder.

  • Hi Nick. Nice tutorial. How come the matte layer animates, despite the fact you rendered it out as a bunch of Tiffs and only dragged one in? Thanks.

  • Hey Nick,

    Just started exploring Cinema4d and stumbled upon this tutorial again today! I’d seen it awhile ago but never found the time to get into Cinema.

    Very helpful, thank you!

    • Just wanted to say thank you. Your tips have porven very helpful in a number of situations and I wish you continue sharing your knowledge with the world. Cheers.

  • Hey Nick,

    Attempting to make a wall of TV monitors that can be replaced. I built a monitor, put the correct tags on the screen, then duplicated several times before dropping into an array to create the finished wall.

    Once in after effects however, there were no solids from the external compositing tag.

    My initial thought was that I was still only using one object buffer for all the screens, and a 2nd for my lights, but I would think that I should at least still get one big red solid, if not the many separate ones I’m trying for.

    Any suggestions? Has anyone else run into this problem?


  • I really like this Tut, but I have C4D 12.0. when I went to render my file for after effects it wont render as yours does. There are some slight differences between C4D 11.5 and C4D 12.0 please help. The Solid replacement does’nt work correctly.

  • Hey Gorilla.
    Working really fine but du you have a workaround if some glass is in front of the layer what i want to replace? πŸ™‚

  • Hi Gorilla, thanks for the great tutorials. U’ve been such an inspiration since i started using C4D a month ago.Please help me out on creating such an animation on the link below.

  • This a very helpfull tutorial. Thanks Nick.
    I`m trying to bring a stage with 3 cameras, but I donΒ΄t know why, when in AE, everything goes well for the first camera. Then, the object I bufferd gets stoped, as if not being in sync with the other cams. Does anyone knows how can I fix that?

  • Truly loving these and I’ve learned a ton. Thanks for giving of your time. However… I’ve done this one at least 10 times and I’m missing something. I’m on c4d broadcast version 12. simple scene, logo sitting on a beach. on a plane. logo and plane come in fine into AE, but background item comes in black. will this method not import backgrounds? thanks again.

  • I am having an issue Syncing Cinema 4d camera to After Effects. It seems to drift slightly. Anyone have this issue?

  • Does anybody have a solution for the problems about 20 of us are having here? When we render, using the exact same settings you have, it creates the .mov, and a .aec file, which then does nothing. You can’t drop it into After effects, it just sits there. Can anyone help? Thanks.

    • Try to install the Cinema4D Connect plugin in your AE plugins folder

    • Hi Diego, this is what a lot of us have been doing. Instead, this is the problem. When you use the multi-pass tags, you then need to save a filename under “Save>Multipass” in the render settings. If you don’t do this, then nothing loads up.

  • is ther a way to do the same things in 3dsmax please?

  • when I try to open that .aec file in after effects it says that filetype extension cannot be opened then it says 0:: 1 or something like that. What is going on?

  • Hi i just watched the tutorial and what iff you have a solid thats bigger then what it lets you put in? the screen is 2214 by 1249 and the solid can only be made up to 1000 by 1000

  • Hi everyone, my first comment on gsg πŸ™‚
    First of all I love what nick does, really great tutorials.

    I have a trouble which is unsolvable for me. Regarding exporting the scene 3d elements (camera, nulls, etc) to after effects. I used external tag, and everything is ok when imported to ae, except one thing. Everything is orientated wrong, -90Β°. I saw a lot of other people have the same problem, but didn’t see adequate solution to this. Any thoughts? Cheers from Sarajevo.

  • RE: Problems importing .aec files produced in C4D r12 into AE CS4+

    Anyone having this problem, install the C4D exchange plugin into:

    After Effects CS4 / Plugins / Extensions

    I have no idea why, on some machines the exchange plug works fine just dropping it loose into AE’s plugin folder. On others, it has to go in Extensions.

    For those with the former problem, try the latter. Fixes whatever bug it is no problems, perfect import.


  • Hey Nick,
    Thanks for the tutorial! Just what I am looking for, 2 years after the fact! I do have a question. I have a plane in C4D that I am slicing into 6 parts. I’m then collapsing these parts in, like an accordion, to use as a transition. Is it possible to use this technique to have a movie playing on the entire object as it deforms within after effects? Thanks man!

  • thanks a lot for your tutorial.
    But my question is, how can use external composite on a curve object to exported to After Effect

  • Im having trouble generating solids in after effects from c4d. I am trying to create solids from an array of imacs I built (just the screen element); it seems as though the compositing tags only work when you put them on the entire array rather than the child element. Any Ideas? Am I approaching this the wrong way?

  • plz help, i cant drag pic onto screen solid like tutorial, why?

  • great tutorial as always, i just have some notes it might be useful for u and some thing i want ask u for;
    1st i see that after u had transferred ur work to AF u remained working in none liner work flow here wht u have to do to work in liner work flow in AF after opening the project from cinema 4d
    1-import the project.
    2-go to file >> project setting
    3-in the color settings “work space” choose SRGB IEC61966-2.1, then enable linearize work space, then ok, bam ur in a linear work flow now.
    the thing i want to ask u about in C4D when i use external composting and enable the solid if the box or the plan i am taging is in a different orientation than that which work with XY plane and after rendering and export to AF i found the generated solid has different orientation than that i want is there any way to adjust the external composting so that it give me the right solid orientation that i want….

  • Thank you, great tutorial!!!

  • pleace link for downlad plugin

  • Followed the tutorial and it worked great, but I’m getting a white line around the object when it is composited together in After Effects. I think I saw it a little in your example too. Do you know of anyway to get rid of the white border?

  • PLEASE HELP…ANYONE…..ok thanks for looking. I am totally stuck on this project…what I am trying to do is mask out the blue light trail thingy when it is behind a sphere….what I have done is create the footage in C4D and imported the .mov into AE….then I created the trail in AE…but I have tried so many mask and track mask ideas…but honestly I don’t know what I am doing…so I am wondering if I need to import the cinema file as shown in this tut into AE to be able to get the trail to actually be behind the sphere/s in 3D space…Any suggestions?

    take a look at the video I am talking about:

    Thanks a lot…I am wracking my brain over this…cheers

  • Jacob, First your render from c4d need to have Alpha, On render settings check the Alpha box and use (straight alpha), In After Effect you will have to place your “trail” lights behind your c4d render. or in case your environment comes from c4d do two passes one with the background/environment and the second all the other elements you want to have in front of the “trail” light. use the composite tag to separate them it make work!

    Good Luck

  • I have tried a very simple run at this with a floor and a screen. When I follow this tutorial, my “screen/billboard” is not just an object I can place video onto and see the floor and the background, etc. When I drop my movie onto the “screen/billboard” it fills up the entire editor screen. I must be missing something and can not figure out what.

    C4D Version 12
    After Effects CS4


  • Thanks alot. so helpful.

  • My exports/imports in r11.5 work great… Recently got r13 and all new exports from this version won’t open in AE now!

    Did some research and updated my plugin to the latest version from MAXON.

    also installed it in several places and combinations like sugester here:

    any other suggestions or work arounds anyone?
    Im on snow leopard, Adobe CS5.


  • For anyone having issues importing- I installed the C4DExporter and Cinema4ADE plugins to:HD/library/applicationsupport/adobe/plugins/CS5/fileformats

    It worked for me!

    • Thanks for your help!
      My problem was slightly different.

      Had already tried installing both files ‘Cinema4DAE.plugin’ & ‘C4DExporter.plugin’ on the two recommended locations:

      My problem would have been that the ‘C4DExporter.plugin’ was still the old version supplied for 11.5 and that’s why those files where still opening fine… When re-doing the procedures stated above, I replaced those plugin files with the new version (named exactly the same) but supplied together with C4D r13.

      Its all working fine now.

  • Thanks a lot, Nick! This tutorial is very helpful and super!

  • No matter how many times I open the project up in afx the solid I am replacing is NEVER in the right place. I had a soild between two headphones. When I open in afx its in front and not masked correctly and not in right place. And the Luma mask does not help me. πŸ™

  • So my object is not rotating properly and would hate to have to animate the rotating. Is this because the null light is inside an object. And the partent of the light is inside another object. The lights rotation values are at 0,0,0 but the parents are different rotations. Thanks for any feedback!

  • Hi gorilla
    thanks a lot for your tutorial.
    I need to see this tutorial but I can`t see any things!!!
    can you help me . I think your old files need to upload again.

  • Hey Mr. Nick, The Gorilla! I’m your avid follower, you always inspired me with your tutorials, keep on rockin’ Gorilla we always support you and follow you everywhere! thanks for your effort, more tutorials and God bless Us all!

  • Dere nick

    I cant Export my video becuse i dosent have the right codes
    how can i get more codes to a avi video

  • Hi Nick, first thanks for the tuts, they realy helpme to lern to use cinema, I realy thanks for your help.
    Nick, when I export my composition from cinema to after effects, the solids do not appear in the correct position, are all in same rotation. why this happens?
    thanks !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • all i am doing is using 3d text

    and when i export it from AE it comes out as a black screen

  • If I have a cloner (that’s animating) of screens and I want to be able to change their video in AE afterwards, how do I go about that?

    If they’re in a cloner lights and external comp solids don’t end up exporting to AE. I tried with lights as well.


  • Cooool! This is so useful! Thanks!

  • hey nick i did exactly what you did but it’s not letting me do anything in after effects is there a way you can put the cinema 4d file of the billboard so me and other people that watch this can practice your tutorial the same way

  • September 23, 2012 at 5:44 am

    I followed the instructions to the letter, but I have a very odd problem.
    All the layers exported exactly as they did in the video, with solid, special passes, etc. But when I replaced the solid with my image, it doesn’t show up on screen.
    In my version, I am animating a small, square object that rotates around a ball. I want to replace the square (exported as a solid from C4D v12) with an image. When I drag and drop the image onto the solid layer in AFX CS4, the name and description of the layer changes (to show that it’s been replaced) and maintains all the keyframes,etc. But it doesn’t display! It continues to show the “solid”.
    Any suggestions?

  • Great tutorial. If you could help me on my issue. I have a piece of video that I motion tracked in PFtrack, then brought it into C4D and created some text, then outputted to AE, however, during the output, the AE file isn’t working…When i go to locate the file, it’s not Blue, it’s an exclamation mark in a yellow triangle and says, “Diagnostic Report” ….not sure what i’m doing wrong…I’m using C4D-13 and AE, 11.0.2. Oh, also whenever I open up AE for the first time it says my disk cache folder is on a drive that doesn’t have enough space to safely store the full amount specified in my preference….Not sure if that matters?
    thank you for any help.

    • Marc,

      I am having the same issue — getting an unopenable “Diagnostic Report” file when i try to export a basic scene from C4D to be composited in After Effects. Have you found a solution?

      Your help will be GREATLY appreciated right now as I am under a deadline pressure!

  • Hi Nick,

    Great tut as usual. I followed all steps, have the scene inAfter Effects fine. But when I Alt Replace the red layer, for some reason it makes my artwork that I added sit at a right angle to the panel.

    Any idea why? And how I can avoid this?

  • I can’t get the object rotation information by using external compositing tag. If there is a camera animation, I have no problem with that. But if there is object rotation animation, it doesn’t work.

    What am I missing?

  • Hi Nick thanks for al your super tutorials!

    Now for this specific tutorial, is this all still possible in After Effects CC ?
    Are there still solids that can be replaced in AE CC?

    Many thanks four your reply.

    Best regards

    • OK, found it.

      Cineware Commands -> Extract
      Add 3D layer to the image I wanted in the solid & connect via parent to the solid.


  • I really enjoy & benefit from your tutorials. Is the billboard model available for download.? I find that following along enhances my learning experience. Just watching or working with a completely different model undermines the point of a hands on tutorial for me. I will skip this tut until I am able to follow along using the same model. Thanks!

  • Koolstof-Arsenicum July 28, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    If you render a cinema 4d template on this way with text, can you edit the text in after effects?

  • Hi Nick

    How do I get reflections on the ground, when I put a video on a TV screen in After Effects for example? Because when I render the scene in C4D the screen’s empty and when I put in the video, I don’t get how to make it reflect…

    Thanks by the way for all the great tutorials! Please tell Chris not to talk & click that fast! πŸ˜‰

    Cheers, Denis from Switzerland

  • Tried a thousand times, i have a screen on a model i want to replace in afx, I add the external compositing tag to it, and export.. open in afx the null is miles out, not in correct rotation either.. am really getting fed up and do not know what else to do.

  • Hey Nick,
    Greta tut, moving into AE is a good challenge. I have just updated to C4D R13 and AE cs6. In the exchange plugins dir in C4D under win there is no plugin. I found the C4D Importer and Exported pluging and put them in the after effects plugin dir. When I followed your tutorial I seam to have problems when opening the aec file C4D produces. The info (animation and so on) is there but there but the output is off, white and spotty and not clean like the quicktime video it produced. Any ideas?


  • hi nick i have tried this billboard and followed your steps but the solid in after effects is different from c4d and facing the wrong way what is the problem you think my units in c4d i changed it to meters still no good result lol i am going nuts dude

  • you guys might as well give the download of these projects tutorials

  • my problem is I had a ae cs4 n c4d r13 render from c4d .ace file cnt open in ae n nothing happen, nothing ther ..whereas plugin is latest vir from maxon site. plz any one help…

  • Hi Nick,
    I built a rocket in C4D that is parented to a null that came from AE CS6 tracking data. Unfortunately, when I bring it back in AE to use particular for the rocket exhaust (I don’t have pyrocluster) the Z axis is at 60,000+ units from the camera.. Particular can only go to 30,000. I tried changing the units in C4D but nothing changed when I’m back in AE CS6. This is very frustrating as I spent hours on the rocket, got it to track perfectly in C4D, and am now stuck with a problem that seemingly hasn’t been answered anywhere on the internet… people have asked the same question on CCow, but no one answered. Any help would be very greatly appreciated… I’m building this for a reel and need to get it out there.
    Thank you in advance!

  • hello everyone. Amazing tutorial
    i am doing the same thing in tutorial, but after that i do render in the C4D i found only file AEC which is not open in the after effects. what is happening? Please help me.


  • I’m running C4D R15 Studio and After Effects CC. I’m doing everything exactly as is shown in the tutorial, however, AE is not recognizing the file being output by C4D. Obviously, the tutorial is quite old by now so it’s possible there are better ways of doing this now that I am not aware of. Could this issue be addressed in a follow up tutorial?


  • Hi Nick. Know this is an old tutorial but do you have a link for the billboard model you used or would you mind sharing it?

  • This Workflow works for Motion 5?
    Thank you!! Great tutorial.

  • hi
    i have a problem i cant open the .aec file in cinema, when i click it appears as a code text. what can i do?

  • Love tutorial, however for some reason I am unable to see anything in C4D after I export an AE doc with Maxon Cinema4D exporter. It shows a layer, but no image. I am new to this…Any demos I’ve watch make this a very simple process. I can import C4d newly created files and render w no issues…. would really like to use the export feature.

    MacBook, Yosemite
    – Using AE CC2014 version and Cinema 4D lite R16
    Are there additional plugins needed?

  • Great tutorial!
    however i still have problems.
    I have a c4d macbook project and i would like to switch the opening white empty screen with a AE composition.
    The issue is that when i open the exported project in AE the external composed screen rotates on its central anchor point and not on the anchor point of the c4d project.

    I’m using C4D studio R15 and After effect CS6.


  • Hey there,

    at first I would like to thank you for this tutorial and all stuff you providing for motion graphics area.
    I am a newborn in Cinema 4D and trying to follow tutorials to get some skills now. What I am trying to do is export my project into AE CS6 with transparent background to be able to do some extra stuff in there. I found out one issue during making the project in here. I trying to use knife footage made in Cinema 4D and transform it into text. When I apply the plugin it works, but both elements for transition changing at the same time and not as I wanted, that means knife should first appear, than start transform into text. Another thing is, when I apply texture into text, not whole text area is filled with the actual texture and pieces of R1 appearing in the area as a texture that should be covered only with metal texture I want to have it in.
    I also apologize for my English, might be maybe a bit hard to understand what I want to say in here.
    If possible I would like to send you file and if you would not mind to have a look at that … Would that be possible …?

    Thanks again and hope to hear from you soon.

  • Hi Nick, please help, I have a issue with projectionman, the camera create a film offset, but ae not recognize that, try to resolve for 37 hours and nothing. You know any trick for that?

  • what a nice tutorial, could you know how to make an animation with a prismatic billboard?
    like this page
    or this

    best regards.

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