After Effects & Maxon Cinema 4D tutorial: Add a 3D object to a comp in After Effects using CineWare and Cinema 4D Lite

Discover a simple way to automate the process of cutting a sequence of comps together on the Timeline in After Effects, and apply 3D lights, cameras and effects to all of them.


In this tutorial, you’ll composite a 3D object created in Cinema 4D into an After Effects composition using the included CineWare plugin.

After Effects CC comes with a ‘lite’ version of Cinema 4D, so if you don’t have a full version installed, it makes it easy to model and edit 3D objects to add to your scene.

This tutorial is part of Angie’s series looking at intermediate to advanced After Effects techniques. They’re based around a music-led advertising project inspired by an old trick her Grandad used to do with a five-pound note. He would fold the paper in such a way that when titled it would make the Queen’s face happy or sad. You can see how the trick appears here.

For this tutorial, you’re using this idea in After Effects to create an ad for a hair product. The idea is to create a Sad Hair/Happy Hair scenario where magical – and unfortunately fictitious – hair product Happy Hair cheers up your drab barnet.

In the first part, Angie created the concertina effect on our 3D layers using a combination of parenting and expressions. In the second part, she sequenced a series of comps using markers and clever scripts.

This project is based around the audio track Pages, by up-and-coming electronic act Lifecycle (which features the bass skills of Digital Arts’ own Letitia Austin).

Software needed

Adobe After Effects CC; Maxon Cinema 4D Lite

Time taken

2 hours

Project Files

Please visit the desktop site to download the project files.

Step 1


Open 02_Cineware.aep. This the comp we created in the previous tutorial on creating concertin, plus some text and a background layer.

Let’s put the finishing touches to this by adding a shampoo bottle to the scene. After Effects CC comes with a ‘lite’ version of Cinema 4D if you don’t have a full version installed, which makes it easy to model 3D objects to add to your scene.

We start off in After Effects. Go to File > Import > File. Choose the Shampoo_Start.c4d file. Place the new file into the Timeline and then Hit Cmd/Ctrl + E to edit the original file in Cinema 4D Lite (if you have a full version of Cinema 4D the file will open there instead).

Step 2


In Cinema 4D, click on the Content Browser tab at the top-right of the application and go into Presets > Lite > Models > Hawaii.

Double-click the Suntan Lotion model to open it in your scene. Notice that it’s positioned up in the top-left corner of the Viewer. I’ve placed a null in the scene to mark the position we want the bottle to be, so the next step is to move it into place.

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Step 3


Select the 01_Start comp null in the Objects panel in the top right of the screen. This is kinda like the Timeline panel in After Effects in that it gives you a list of a scene’s elements and any parenting between them, though the elements aren’t on top of one another in the scene (as they all exist independently in 3D space) and there’s no timeline for key framing (this is exists separately in Cinema 4D, below the main Viewer).

Click on the + icon next to it to expand it. Drag the Suntan Lotion object onto the Shampoo Position null.

Next we’ll move below the Objects panel to find the Attributes panel (which is like AE’s Effects panel). With the Suntan Lotion object still selected, Shift-click on the X, Y and Z Position coordinates to select them. Right-click on one of the selected coordinates and choose Reset to Default. This has the effect of adopting the position of the null.

Step 4


The bottle is too small for our scene so we’ll scale it up. In the Objects panel, select the Suntan Lotion object and then, in the Attributes panel change the Scale Coordinates to 35 on all three axes. Save the file and then jump back to After Effects.

Notice that the bottle is in our scene and reacts to the same cameras and lights as the layers created directly in After Effects. However, we need to adjust the rotation of the bottle so it’s facing the girl.

Step 5


Back in Cinema 4D, move to frame 326 to see how the bottle looks. In the Objects panel, select the Suntan Lotion object. Select the Rotation tool by hitting the R key – you’ll see a coloured gimbal to help you adjust rotation in all three dimensions independently of each other.

Click and drag on the green band to adjust the Heading value to about 20 degrees. Then manually tweak the three Rotation values to taste.

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Step 6


Let’s also adjust the colours of the bottle so that it matches the look and feel of the animation with some bright, gaudy colors. Go to the Material editor at the bottom-left of the screen.

One by one, double click on each material and change the colours so that bottle is green with a red and yellow lid. Next we’ll also add some glow to the green colour to make it stand out.

Step 7


We’ll add another light too. Go back to the Presets > Lite folder in the Content Browser and open the light and studio setups folder. Double-click on the Studio Softbox Round preset to add it and then save the file.

Jump back to After Effects to see the changes update. To render your scene go to File > Add to Media Encoder Queue and choose your preferred preset. And you’re finished - ta da!