Getting Started with Cinema 4D, Part 17: Scene Optimization Tips & Introduction to Using Layers

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Instructor eyedesyn

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In this video, you will be introduced to some important scene management concepts to allow you to work fast and efficiently in 3D.

In this video, you will be introduced to the Cinema 4D Layer system and learn how to utilize it to organize and manage your scene as well as learning some important scene management concepts to allow you to work fast and efficiently.

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Just like with working with complicated compositions and After Effects, it's also just as crucial to stay organized and optimize your Cinema 4D project because it's absolutely crucial to speeding up your workflow. So the tips I'm going to be covering in this video are going to help optimize your scene, organize your scene, and they're going to be tips and tools you're going to be utilizing in every single project. So there's a few main contributors to a slow Viewport. So we're talking about navigating in your scene and just speeding up how you move and groove inside of your project. And the main contributors to a slow Viewport are polygon count, the amount of objects in the scene, deformers which are calculations, as well as generators like a corner object as these also slow down your scene as well. So let's talk about that first item, which is just the polygon count and the amount of objects in your scene. Now, to get a good sense of how dense your polygon count is, or if you have way too many polygons, or way too dense of a mesh for some of your objects, it's important to go into your Display, go into Garage Shading Lines. And here's where you can see if you have just way too much geometry in some of your objects. So right now, I think that, say, the Fishbowl group, the Fishbowl's looking okay, I'm just going to hide that for now. I think the one area where we could probably get away with bringing down the polygon count, our fish and maybe our little propeller back here as well. So for this Fish Cloner, the main contributor to the high polygon count is this Subdivision Surface. So if I go into my Object tab, you can see my Subdivision Editor and Renderer are at three. And this is where it's really going to be dependent on is your camera, like if you have a camera animation, are you going to be really close on this, or you are going to be fairly far away? And if you're going to be far away from objects that have a high polygon count, you're not even going to make out the details on this object. So you can afford to bring down the subdivisions on those kind of objects. Now, you can see we have a way less dense fish object, and that's going to actually help speed up our Viewport. And you can see with, say, our Submarine Group, the little propeller items here, maybe we can get away with say, bringing the rotation segments down and the height segments down on our propeller. So maybe something like that, as well as maybe this little propeller base here as well. Maybe we can bring down the Rotation Segments, the Cap Segments, and the Height Segments. And you can see that that's way less dense. And again, this is going to be all dependent on Camera View. So if you're going to have a camera move that's really close up, you're going to see that well, we can actually see some of these polygons, so we're going to need to smooth that on out, okay? So it's all relative to how close you're getting. Like, if I'm getting this close into my submarine, you're going to notice these little chunky subdivisions. So again, you'll have to up these as well. But since we're going to be moving our Camera View pretty far out, I think we're going to be quite alright with the amount of subdivisions we have going on there. So that is one way to speed up your composition as far as subdivisions and polygon count goes. Now, there's a couple other contributors to a slow Viewport and they are the Deformers like our Bulge Deformer and our Bend Deformer as well as our Generators like our Cloners, our Lathes, our Symmetry Objects that are all in our scene. Now, one easy way to be able to really take control over your scene and really greatly organize it, and to be able to easily toggle these calculations on and off, are using what's called layers. Now, not using layers in Cinema 4D would be tantamount to not using pre-comms in After Effects. It's really that simple. So it allows you to not only group objects into singular layers to help organize the scene, but also allows you to toggle calculations like our Generators and our Deformer. So to add an object to a layer you simply select the object so for example, this Fish Cloner Object, I'm just going to right-click and go to Add Two New Layer. Now, to see our layers we're going to go and click on this Layers tab and you're going to see this brand new layer with this little color box here and that just designates what layers in the Object Manager are attributed and assigned to this Layer. You can see that the Fish Cloner is. If I twirl this Cloner Object down you'll see that the only object that's actually in this layer is this top most parent object. Now, if we wanted all the children object underneath our Fish Cloner to be added to that layer, we can simply click and drag. And if we hold down the cmd or ctrl key, you'll see that'll add a plus to the box there. And if I let go of my mouse, you'll see that that'll add all those objects to that layer as well. Now, what I can do is double-click on that text, rename that Fish Group. I can also double-click on this little rounded rectangle to change the color of that layer. You'll see that will update. But now, with all of these objects assigned to this layer, it unlocks all of these really powerful options that come with the Layer System. Now, the first thing that's going to be the most important as far as organization goes is this first option signified by an S, and this is the Solo Switch. So if I click this button, it's going to Solo all of these objects that are attributed to this layer, and this is absolutely crucial to helping navigate massive complex scenes, being able to isolate individual layers, and be able to focus on them. And this is a great way to be able to speed up your scene as well, just focusing and isolating those objects that you need to work on at that moment. So the Solo Switch is alone one of the biggest useful features of grouping all of your objects into different layers. So for example, if we wanted to add our Submarine Group to a layer, I'll just go ahead and right-click, go to Add New Layer. And again, I'll click and drag holding the cmd or ctrl key down to add all those children objects to that new layer. And you'd see all the Submarine Group objects are now in this layer. I'll just rename this Sub Group, and I can Solo those objects as well and just isolate the submarine. So this is really great. Now, the next feature of the Layer System is the ability to deactivate objects from showing up in the Viewport. So this is similar to the Visibility Switch on our individual objects. And you can see that I have the Fishbowl object turned off at this moment, so you can toggle it that way or you can do it on a per-layer basis by using the Visibility Option in the Layer System. This next R-Option is hiding these objects from Render. So this little clapper if it's grayed out, these objects will actually not render. As you can see, when I click the Render View, they're hidden from Render on a per-layer basis. Now, next up is this M, which toggles the objects from showing up in the Object Manager. You can see as I toggle these objects on or off, or if I just click and hold and drag down, you'll see I can actually adjust both of these layers at once. And this will allow you to really clean up your Object Manager here to just include the objects you want to focus on. Next up is L for Lock, and that just locks your layers so you won't be able to click on them in the Object Manager or in the actual Viewport. You can see I can't even click the submarine anymore. Let me just go ahead and undo all those clicks there. So that's really, really handy if you know you're done with an object and you don't want to accidentally move it or edit it. So Lock Layer is really, really great. Next, is A for Animation. If you have any keyframed animation, this will toggle the animation on or off. G stands for Generator so we can toggle off all of the Generators in our scene. Similarly, the D is for Deformers, we can turn off all the Deformers like the Bend Deformer, deforming our periscope there. So very, very powerful. Now, this next one is E, and that stands for Expressions. Now, you might be asking, what are Expressions in Cinema 4D? Well, the Vibrate Tag is an example of an Expression. And if I hit PLAY, and if I check off this espresso cup, you're going to see that the Vibrate Expression that was making our submarine bob up and down is no longer active. So we toggled the expressions that are generating that procedural movement. So I can toggle that on or off as Expressions also contribute to scene slow down. So you can see that the propeller was created with Keyframable Animation, so I can turn that off using that Animation toggle. And last is this X which stands for Xrefs. Now, on a basic level, Xrefs are kind of like precomps for Cinema 4D, where you can import an entire encapsulated project into another project using Xrefs. But this just toggles that option on or off. So another thing we can do is make a layer a child of another layer, and if I hold down the cmd or ctrl button, we can actually click the top-most parent it will cascade down those changes to the children layers there. So extremely handy, extremely powerful, and knowing how to organize and speed up your scene and utilizing this powerful layer system is going to be crucial to ensuring that you're spending more time being creative, less time trying to make sense of a complicated project or navigating a very heavy and slow Viewport.
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