How To Create 3D Motion Graphics In After Effects

creating 3d motion graphics in After Effects.jpg

Did you know that if you've got After Effects CC, you've already got access to some seriously powerful 3D software to create 3D motion graphics? Read on, and I'll tell you all about it.

At the time of writing this blog post, spring is in the air, and the above was a cracking example of 3D software being used with film footage by Vincent for BBC 2. It's pretty hard to get a caterpillar to do a pose like that in real life! Naturally, this example is from the high-end of motion graphics, but you get the idea. 3D is everywhere nowadays, and it's really a must-have skill for most motion graphics artists.

After Effects can create some basic 3D motion graphics, but it's not its forte. So, some years back, Adobe teamed up with MAXON, who make the popular 3D animation software: Cinema 4D. The idea was to create something special for After Effects customers that Adobe could include with their software, that customers could use to generate some nice 3D motion graphics. That special tool is Cinema 4D Lite.

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Cinema 4D Lite

Cinema 4D Lite makes it quick and easy to create 3D elements, which you can add to your After Effects scenes and animate in many exciting ways. To access it, all you need to do is open After Effects CC and choose: "File > New MAXON Cinema 4D File." Cinema 4D Lite will then launch and you can begin creating 3D content.

Now, whilst Cinema 4D Lite is really powerful, it's not as powerful as the full versions of Cinema 4D. With those, you can do so much more. With Lite, you have limited object creation and animation tools. Enough to make some really nice content, like spinning logos and eye-catching motion graphics, but if you want to create anything you can imagine, you need to consider investing in some dedicated 3D software. The logical choice for After Effects customers is Cinema 4D because the workflow is so seamless and it has loads of industry-leading tools for creating 3D motion graphics. Whilst there are a few ways of moving between Cinema 4D and After Effects, MAXON's Cineware bridge is the most seamless.


Cineware makes it a doddle to adjust content, no matter how many changes your client wants. It lets you adjust Cinema 4D scenes directly in the After Effects interface, which means you can see your entire comp without having to switch between software. Naturally, you can still jump into Cinema 4D if you want to solely focus on the 3D aspects.

Cineware even lets you render 3D scenes directly in After Effects! Render settings are automatically carried over from Cinema 4D. You can define render quality, and you always have complete control over the balance between image quality and performance.

Cinema 4D's workflow with After Effects

Cinema 4D's 'Live 3D Pipeline' with Adobe After Effects is unmatched. With Adobe After Effects CC you can import, modify and render Cinema 4D projects natively within After Effects' interface via Cineware - and that's just the tip of the iceberg. You can also export After Effects project files directly from Cinema 4D, complete with layered multi-pass and animated 3D solids.

As I mentioned earlier in this blog post, if you've got After Effects CC, you've got Cinema 4D Lite. That's a great place to get started with 3D motion graphics. It may be all you need, and if not, the skills you learn are all transferable to the full version of Cinema 4D. The movie above shows loads of work created using Cinema 4D and, in many cases, After Effects also.

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We've compiled a stack of information about how to get started in 3D animation in a handy 6 page pdf. And how much is this invaluable guide? How about I just give it to you for FREE?

This FREE guide contains details on:

  • What is 3D?
  • Examples of 3D in action
  • 3D Disciplines
  • Types of 3D software
  • What to look for in 3D software
  • How to get started
  • Where to learn 3D
  • Jobs in 3D
  • 3D magazines and websites
  • 3D software recommendations for general-purpose, product design and architecture.

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About the MAXON Blog

Welcome to the official MAXON UK Blog. This blog provides the most up-to-date official information about MAXON, its products – in particular its flagship product Cinema 4D – and the Cinema 4D community. You can expect to see posts from a wide variety of MAXON UK employees.