William Sutherland


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Cinema 4D by Maxon
Cinema 4D
and Allplan
Cottage extension modelled in Allplan and rendered with Radiosity in Maxon Cinema 4D v8 - click for larger image
User Pages for
Allplan FT

< click to enlarge
January 2006... C4D current version is 9.521
Please Note - Pages are now obsolete
Cinema 4D
by Maxon Computer is a natural partner to Allplan FT.

While Allplan is an excellent balance of features and usability, for those times that you want greater control over lighting, textures and rendered output Cinema 4D is a wonderful tool.

comes with a link plug-in for C4D v8.5 onwards which allows the C4D model to be updated with changes made in Allplan without overwriting tweaks done in C4D.
Allplan 2005 has added the ability to import objects made in C4D using xml export/import.

Note that you will need the 'Advanced Render' module for C4D from v8 onward to have Global Illumination/Radiosity available in renders (basically Radiosity is 'bounced' light - see image above which contains no 'sun' light at all - although many professonal artists simulate this because of the increased rendering times by using lighting techniques - in release 9.521 of Cinema 4D Ambient Occlusion is now an alternative that gives similar results with faster render times)

Cinema 4D and Allplan history...

Cinema 4D is a product by Maxon Computer which is 70% owned by Nemetschek who make Allplan FT. The main benefits for Allplan users have been the 'Save in C4D Format' available in the export options and also good bundle and upgrade deals.
link to Maxon Allplan page While there is a lot of guidance available on Cinema 4D itself - books and online tutorials
(the Maxon.net website is full of tips, downloads and links to useful sites) there is very little information available on using Allplan with C4D.

The image (left) is taken from an old German language Maxon page on Allplan but there is now a useful page on the main C4D site
< Click for a link to the Maxon Allplan page

When I started a few years ago as a complete novice at using C4D with Allplan I found the differences between the graphics/animation world and the architectural CAD world tricky to integrate - no fault of either package - and so I started this page just to list things I have discovered that may be of use to other Allplan users.

Useful basic things to know...

There are a few things I wish I had known at the beginning which would have made life a bit easier ...
(OK, Maxon give you a very nice reference manual and tutorial.... but well, it is difficult for even the best technical author to think down to the level of a complete novice who has no prior experience of this type of programme... i.e. most Architects in the UK! :)

  Basic setup tips...
applies to most versions
If you use a Graphics tablet... go into Edit-> Preferences-> Common
If you use a graphics tablet (as I do) then you probably need to check this option - certainly with the Wacom tablets - or objects will move too fast to control. 3DFluff have posted a script by Matthew O'Neill which allows toggling of tablet mode
OpenGL can be enabled go into Edit-> Preferences->Viewport
If you have a good graphics card with more than 16Mb of onboard memory then try selecting the OpenGL shading option - if your OpenGL driver is not up to it (most Nvidia chipped cards seem to work OK) this is immediately obvious and you can uncheck the option.
Also try the 'Antialiased lines' option - much pleasanter on a large screen monitor. In fact try ticking ALL the OpenGL options - they all work OK on my PNY Quadro FX2000 and FX 3000 cards but some options remain 'greyed out' with less powerful cards.
However DO read the relevant section of the online manual - some fascinating insights into graphic acceleration.
Customise colours..

enable bubble help..
go into Edit-> Preferences->Interface->Colors
Also Edit-> Preferences->Viewport->Colors
for me the grey background it just too depressing and so I lighten up the default settings by pushing the sliders along a bit in the 'Color' option. Note that you can change the colours of everything in C4D (if you really must - the 'interface' tab is also full of dubious delights - you can texture the menu bars - or even give them a Mac OSX look)

Enable Bubble Help in Edit-> Preferences->Interface
Texture paths go into Edit->Preferences
click the 'Texture Paths' tab and use the browse buttons to navigate to at least your Allplan \Data Files\Nemetschek\Allplan\Std directory - you can add others later as appropriate. If you do not do this you will find that C4D will not be able to locate textures on models imported from Allplan and you will see an error message when rendering.

Reset layout to default

C4D is so configurable that you can quite easily mess up the default toolbars and window layouts by accident (I do it all the time) -
this is why the 'Save Layout at Program End' option is not enabled by default - however if you have checked this option and messed things up to reset everything back to the default arrangement go to 'Window->Layout->Reset Layout'
No context sensitive help C4D does not have a context sensitive (standard MS windows type) 'Help' system - i.e. pressing 'F1' does not bring up a context Help file. Help consists of an Acrobat format file - and you cannot access help until you exit from the menu or whatever you are puzzling over - Ho Hum. That said, the online guide is excellent with good cross referencing and masses of useful and interesting information. Use the Search options within the Acrobat reader to locate topics.
Setting up + Saving a rendered image Rendering is more complex than in Allplan because of the high-end features available - even to output a default rendering takes a bit of working out. The simplest method I have found using default settings is to click on the middle button (of 3 in top of screen menu bar) with the 'vase' icon (if you click and hold on it a range of options appear) which renders the current view to a new window... on this new window menu bar click 'File->Save Picture as...'
To control all the render parameters use Ctrl+B or 'Render->Render settings'.
Don't be put off by the mass of options, just work through the headings and only change things you understand (!) - like save in tif at 96 dpi or whatever rather than in the default targa format.
Note that this dpi setting makes no difference to the actual saved resolution - it is used by programmes like Photoshop to decide what resolution the image was created at.
For the bits you don't understand, get out the online manual and read up on the options - it takes time but eventually you will get the hang of the Radiosity and other settings.
is an excellent tutorial on Radiosity in C4D or buy the excellent 3DFluff DVD tutorial on radiosity and interiors
Remove duplicate textures Prior to version 2003 Allplan brought in the same texture more than once and so one of the first things to do after importing a model from Allplan that contains textures to C4D is to click 'Function' in the Materials Manager (bottom of the screen by default) and then click 'Remove unused materials' and 'Remove Duplicated materials'
Note -this has been fixed in v2003 of Allplan.
Even in v2005 of Allplan all objects come in with a 'Phong' tag and material properties including reflection, transparency, specular and sepcular color. Double click on material ball and then draw a box by clicking and dragging with the mouse or pen through all the balls of materials at the bottom window of the interface which selects them all and then Ctrl+Click those materials you do not wish to change - then untick those options from the material properties dialogue which will then clear the settings for all the materials selected in the Material Editor.
Which way is up, please? the XYZ axes are different in C4D to Allplan - in CAD X and Y are right and up in plan view and Z is up in 3D views. In C4D X is right and Y is up and Z is into the 'page' or screen - historical differences I guess.

Where has my model gone?



Upon import to C4D from Allplan it is quite likely that you cannot 'see' your model - try pressing 'H' on the keyboard or on the actual window 'View' menu - 'Edit->Frame scene without camera/light'.
Press F5 for a multiple window view and then click and then press 'H' in each window to centre the model or Alt+H does it all in one go.
It is useful to double click on the Camera that came in from Allplan in the list of objects (on the right-hand side of the screen - click the + sign to expand the list of objects) and call it 'Allplancamera' or similar, and then create a new target camera from the Objects->Scene->Target camera and assign the top left Viewport to show the view from this new camera via the menu item on this viewport Scene->Scene cameras. (You should see 2 cameras listed - the Allplan camera and the new one).
Set up like this you can click on the newly created camera in the list of objects (top left of screen by default) and move it with the mouse using left-click and drag anywhere in each window (by default Move tool enabled) and since it is a Target camera the Target can also be move about to change where the camera is pointing.
It is important to realise that the top left view (if all views, F5 , turned on) is the one that is rendered either within itself or separately in the render window which opens when you click on the the middle render icon (with default setting). Note also that when you create a new camera the view attached to it defaults to the current view before creating the camera. Thus it is simplest if the perspective view is the current window when creating a new camera.
You can choose another window as the choice for output by clicking on the Edit menu item on the particular viewport menu bar and selecting 'Use as render view'.
It takes a bit of getting used to but it helps to explore the menu bars on the viewports for options rather than the top level menus.

You can make the menu icons on the top bar smaller or larger by right-clicking on the menu bar and clicking on Icon Size...
On my monitor I normally have them set to Medium rather than Original size.
Walk before you run... take your time to understand the basics - you have to walk before you can run - there are excellent free tutorials available for download on the www.maxon.net sites and via third parties like the 3DFluff .com DVDs mentioned above.
How do I close an open file? If you have several files or 'scenes' open at once, to close one you have to use 'File->Close' or use Ctrl + F4... there is no little cross in the top right of the application window as you would find in standard Windows applications...
If the active object is hard to see In the active window go into 'Edit->Configure...' - top right of the resulting 'Configure Viewport' pop-up has options for 'Inactive Object' - try setting this to 'Wireframe' or similar and leave the 'Active Object' setting as Gouraud Shading. This will leave every object apart from the one selected as wireframe.
Note that you can also turn off objects using the little grey dots in the object manager or the tick mark next to them.
Units in C4D and
in Allplan
UK construction practice is to work in millimeters - if you want the dimensions to be the same in Allplan as in Cinema 4D then set the Units in Edit->Preferences to Centimeters in C4D.
Scale conversions for import / export are provided but I find this makes life easier.
For some reason Dosch objects I find always come in to C4D 10 times too big and need to be rescaled

This barely scratches the surface of what Cinema 4D can do - I hope to add more tips for Architects using Allplan and Cinema 4D when time allows - and this whole page (and site) need a makeover, but as always there is never the time... ;-)

camera or axis locked?...

Maybe it is just me, but I spent hours trying to figure out why I could no longer move the camera without clicking directly on it in a view...
selecting 'Live selection' disables the 'Move active element' button Look at the 'Live selection' arrow button (left) depressed...
this disables the 'Move active element' button 2 along from it...
result - cameras will not move unless clicked directly in a view.
Enable the 'Move active element' button to allow camera movement as well as 3D elements
When the 'Move active element' button is clicked camera movement is again restored. This is a curious one - in every application I can think of the arrow is the default 'safe' choice on menus. In Cinema 4D default settings you must explicitly select the Select, Move, Scale and Rotate tools and they remain in operation until unselected. There are shortcut keys for these as well, however using a shortcut key does not give you access to the properties for that tool in the Properties Manager - for example if you want to use a rectangular selection you may want to deselect the default option of 'Only Select Visible Elements' for this tool and you can only do that via the Properties Manager after selecting the tool (the Properties Manager is on the lower right of screen by default and is context sensitive).
In combination with these tools you also need to have the Use Model Tool or Use Point Tool or Use Edge Tool or Use Polygon Tool selected (by default the icons for these tools are down the left side of the screen) depending on what part, or all, of the object/s you are trying to manipulate.

Recent versions of Cinema 4D have an alternative to the Default bahaviour described above - there is a 3 way toggle icon on the left side toolbar in the default layout which cycles between Default, Automatic, and Tweak. Once you understand the toolset the last 2 options allow quick change between Point, Edge and Polygon tools.

A potential problem also illustrated in the images above is that the 'Use Object Tool' button is turned ON (the 3 blue objects on the icon on the left of screen).
This used to be the default for Cinema 4D but in recent versions the 'Use Model Tool' is the default - the icon next down in the image above - the one with a blue triangle on it. I did not realise the difference this makes until viewing the Tips on 3DFluff vol 3. Suffice to say here that you are best with 'Use Model Tool' in most situations.

If you find that you can only move in one axis and the other two are locked you may have engaged the undocumented(?) axis lock feature.
Double click the axis indicator to engage or release this lock, when engaged click another axis (or rotation band) to transfer the lock to that axis.
It is well explained in Tip 4 on DVD vol 3 by 3DFluff

Useful C4D resources...

3DFluff - outstanding DVD tutorials - recently set up forums on the site also with some free downloads. See also the personal sites of the authors linked.

Postforum.com - good all-round Cinema 4D forum in English.
Well worth subscribing to the Pro version just to get rid of the banner ads.

CGSociety Forum for C4D - very good forum - digital artists using C4D

C4DCafe.com - busy and informative C4D forum - oriented to animation but lots of useful comments and articles

Cgarchitect.com Forum - forum for architects using Cinema 4D - fairly quiet

Creativecow.net - a good international Cinema 4D forum

c4d.co.uk - useful list of news items and links

see also the 3D resources page on this site for links to C4D sites - particularly Noctua graphics and Deepshade at Maxon.

There is an incredible amount of stuff available on the maxon.net sites - well worth spending the time to look through all the pages

maxon.net Plug-in Cafe ...

'Plug-in Cafe' at maxon.net is a wonderful resource - many are free

more to follow as time allows...

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