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I’m working remotely with a client that designs mostly in Cinema but also dabbles in VW. My role is drawing the venue model and technical production. They’re mostly designing the scenic. My hope is that I can set up Project Sharing, so they’ll always have a base model from me. The icing on the cake is if they can Send (their working file) to Cinema 4D… 

 

Before I propose that workflow to them, I want to consult The Oracle to see if anyone has experience testing it. Please advise on best practices and anything to watch out for… 

 

Thank you!

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Following with interest. 

 

I'd set up a test file with one version of everything you have going into file (PIOs, truss, hybrids, lighting instruments, walls, etc.) and kick that back and forth a few times before starting the actual build out. 

 

 

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If you are handling the venue and technical and they are pulling into C4d as they design, I would do as Evan says and make sure you are confident that what you are sending is what they are getting.  Shouldn't be any issues I can think of, but I have had problems with railings made from the railing tool corrupting, floor objects being ruined...so you never know.  

On their side I would recommend that they import into a shuttle file first, and then pull into their file.  If everything is put into a master null (c4d speak for group) they can delete the old and replace with the new.  You can get as crazy as you want with that type of organization and get pretty seamless with swapping out parts

On your side, pulling in their model may be a bit of a pain as VW is not going to retain a lot of that organization for you.  Sometimes I would ask collaborators to send things as piece by piece .obj files just to save the pain of reorganization on my side.  

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Thinking about this more - some things that may or may not help you (forgive me - I don't know if you use Cinema yourself, so ignore if you know all this):

 

1. I always name my objects in VW - or at least name the group they are in.  Those names will carry over to Cinema so your client can see the names in the Cinema object manager.  If not named, they will get 1000 objects named extrude...... 1786 objects named Solid Addition, etc.

2. I try to solid model as much as possible instead of POIs and convert things to generic solids once I'm ready to export final model.  Keeps things cleaner - though if you do this, name it AFTER you convert.

3. In Cinema, you have to be careful of complex or PIO objects splitting into dozens of polygons and should be fused back together to keep the file running efficiently (Connect objects + Delete command in Cinema.  For example - a stick of truss will come into Cinema as a folder with each chord and each piece of lacing as a separate object.  Multiple this by all the truss and your got thousands of objects slowing down the scene when not needed.  I go through and connect them for efficiency sake.

4. Layers translate to master folders in Cinema (called Nulls) - so if you have all the truss on it's own layer, your client will automatically get a folder in cinema with all the truss in it (and anything else on that layer) - so use layers with that in mind.  I certainly use more layers then I normally would in VW, knowing that this will help me stay organized in Cinema later.

5. I always use "Export to Cinema (3d Only)" and never use Send to Cinema.  I found it buggy, but haven't tested in recent versions.  I prefer to export and open the generated file in a clean shuttle file and then copy and paste into my master document.

6. Find out what render engine they are using.  If native cinema, then you can texture in VW and they will carry over.  But if they are using a 3rd party render engine (Redshift, Octane, Arnold, Corona, etc.) they would have to rebuild the textures anyway.  So you could still make texture for unique materials (concrete, glass, Iron beams) but those could just be all white with no dialed in properties.  Then they come through as white and assigned correctly, and the client can just swap your blank concrete for their, say, Redshift concrete and go.  Make sense?  No point in using specific materials in VW if they are using 3rd party materials in the end since they will have to rebuild.  There are material converters, but honestly, they don't do a great job and get messy fast.

7. If you are adding lighting instruments (as lighting instrument objects instead of just symbols) - do some tests with client.  Lighting instruments lose their rotation and focus when you export a lot, so dial this in with some test files first.

 

I realize a lot of this is more on your clients side, but might be useful information.  Let us know how you get on.

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"Send to Cinema" is indeed buggy.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it does nothing.  On days when it works,  it is a great workflow.  But going the other way, "export to Cinema" opens the save dialog which allows you to have an additional layer of certainty about what you are exporting.  So if you updating, say...Trusses, you just overwrite the Truss file and you have a poor mans' version control that way. 

 

When opening the saved .c4d file you will get a master Null under which all exported geometry will reside.  If you have an auspicious day and Send to Cinema is working, and you choose to update the Cinema file all geometry under that Null will be replaced with the incoming geometry.  And consequently any changes you have made inside of Cinema will be gone, therefore I recommend the shuttle file method. 

 

Regarding texturing, I'm not sure but I think it might be advisable to put some kind of bitmapped (non procedural) texture on items so that they get an UV map.  I recall having issues with that for a while.  My workflow, when possible, is to assign a vectorworks texture to the objects that gets me close to the output renderer (I use RedShift), with the name having a prefix of VW.  That way, when I get the model into Cinema, I can drag and drop my RedShift textures (prefix RS) over the VW ones and be done.  @zoomer I think that was one of your tricks. 

 

YES, name everything in VW!  That they relegate the naming box down to the obscurity of the bottom of the screen is a major UI flaw in VW.  I wish that VW had an object list like C4D does.  With a search bar.  With filtering.

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1 hour ago, grant_PD said:

all geometry under that Null will be replaced with the incoming geometry.  And consequently any changes you have made inside of Cinema will be gone,

 

 

Not really.

But I try to avoid changes in C4D tree as much as possible.

E.g. if you overwrite a (VW) Null's or (VW Class) Layer's Name,

it will stay that with that name.

Same for manual Material replacements.

Manual editing in C4D is kind of excluding from Sync.

But it is not 100% known when these, or which changes counteract

updates via Sync or when not.

 

This way you easily get into Synching Contradictions and lose

control over your Data.

 

In the past I did such small edits in C4D when having deadlines.

I expected these to Sync later when I update the main VW file.

I try to avoid now.

 

 

2 hours ago, grant_PD said:

I can drag and drop my RedShift textures (prefix RS) over the VW ones and be done.

 

C4D Material Editor has a Material Exchange function.

You can save out your Materials to an external C4D file,

which you can edit or extend.

After a VW reimport you can start Material Exchange,

choose your external file and overwrite all Materials

with the same name in one go.

Should be perfect when manually exchage imports or

only parts of files by "Export C4D".

 

But for me it works great with C4D Exchange.

I have all Materials assigne to specific (Material)Layers.

 

In the rare cases, VW brings its old material in again, because

of e.g. new geometry, I can realize these few Materials as they

don't have a Layer assigned.

So if there came 3 old Metals in again, I activate only "no-Layer"

and my M_METAL Layer. So I will see only my Metals and can

ALT+drag my C4D Metals over the old VW Metals.

 

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I think C4D Exchange got better and better over the years.

Although there always have been issues growing or diminishing over VW Versions.

Nevertheless for me, overall it was the best solution.

 

Of course at the beginning of a project, I will start with a "Export C4D" into

my project folder. (not any arbitrary Temp folder like by "Sent to C4D")

After that I do Exchange only.

I have projects that run over 3+ years and many VW Versions.  3-5 times a year

I may need to update the VW drawing and run multiple Exchanges.

I am always impressed if it works again after migrating to newer VW and C4D

versions.

Of course at one point you may lose control and need to start Exchange from

scratch. But overall for me it is much less work by using Exchange.

 

E.g. renaming Symbols in Doors, will not be properly recognized even in VW,

which still keeps using the old Symbols in Door Cache, so you won't notice

in VW But in C4D which imports the new Symbols but VW's old instance

links, Doors will disappear.

You will have to manually re-link al Door Instances in C4D manually again.

Or,

Walls with Windows and Doors in Wall, when copied and moved in VW, did

disappear in C4D or some Geometry which exports fine to Twinmotion or

anywhere else by C4D or FBX, will appear in C4D Viewports, but disappear

in C4D Rendering, no matter how hard I tried to repair/delete/reimport.

If that gets too much, you may better start from scratch.

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Thanks, everyone! Sounds like my original plan was a great example of “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Nevertheless, as I get to know their process, and we continue to collaborate, this thread will be a fantastic knowledge base for streamlining and troubleshooting our workflow. 🤘🏼

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  • 1 month later...

This project has come full circle: I now have a subscription to Cinema, and am exporting the client’s scenic designs from Cinema into a VW shuttle file.

 

I read that 3DS was recommended but not all of the objects were making it into the the 3DS file. I’m currently testing OBJ which seems to work better.

 

Many thanks again to everyone in this thread. It’s even more helpful now that I’m using Cinema (even at this very basic newbie level).

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee
On 1/6/2021 at 7:17 AM, grant_PD said:

"Send to Cinema" is indeed buggy.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it does nothing.  On days when it works,  it is a great workflow. 

Hi @grant_PD, could you please report a bug with specific issues and attach a test file so we can fix them for you? Send to Cinema command should display a scene organization dialog, and when you accept that dialog Cinema 4D should start up with the exported scene. I have never seen this command do 'nothing' so I'm interested in how you reproduce. 

 

On 1/6/2021 at 7:17 AM, grant_PD said:

When opening the saved .c4d file you will get a master Null under which all exported geometry will reside.  If you have an auspicious day and Send to Cinema is working, and you choose to update the Cinema file all geometry under that Null will be replaced with the incoming geometry.  And consequently any changes you have made inside of Cinema will be gone, therefore I recommend the shuttle file method. 

 

Export to C4D is different than Send to Cinema4D, in that it will only save the exported file on the disk. It will not provide a 'working file' where you can keep merging incremental changes like the Send to Cinema command. In fact, starting with an exported .c4d file and then using Send to Cinema 4D will create two completely different files and merging is not guaranteed. If you start by the Send to Cinema command, then we will be working on the same file and can merge the changes. In that case, your geometry shouldn't be replaced, it should be merged.

 

 

 

You folk probably already know these but I wanted give some simple tips for merging files to work seamlessly:

  • Send to Cinema 4D functionality was overhauled a few versions ago. You can now choose different scene organizations from the export options dialog that pops up. Choose one that's most useful for your case and use the same scene organization throughout the session. For example, using Sort by Class in the first send and Sort by Texture later will break the merge.
  • Changing object types will break the merge. For example, converting objects to symbols, grouping/ungrouping them etc.
  • Changing scene hierarchy in Cinema 4D might break the merge. i.e. merging multiple poly objects resulting from exporting a wall, moving Null objects around in the document etc.
  • Sorting by Texture is great if your workflow includes replacing VW materials with C4D materials.
  • If you change the option Export Symbols as Render Instances in between merges, that might break the links with symbols. 
  • If you sort by class or material, changing the class name or material name might break the merge.
  • If you sort by class, Vectorworks layers are translated to Cinema 4D layers
  • Vectorworks classes become Cinema 4D layers if you don't sort the scene by class
  • Changes in which software will take precedence during merging is controlled by Update Merge Options dialog that opens in Cinema 4D. For example, if you turn on Materials option from this dialogue, changes made to textures in Vectorworks will override changes made in Cinema 4D. Usually it's a good practice to keep geometry changes in VW and material changes in C4D.

 

PS. Thanks @zoomer for raising this issue. I will test this on my end, but could you send me a file where you can reproduce reliably?

  • Walls with Windows and Doors in Wall, when copied and moved in VW, did

    disappear in C4D or some Geometry which exports fine to Twinmotion or

    anywhere else by C4D or FBX, will appear in C4D Viewports, but disappear

    in C4D Rendering, no matter how hard I tried to repair/delete/reimport.

    If that gets too much, you may better start from scratch.

     

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@Selin what's your recommendation for exporting from Cinema (to be imported to VW)?

 

I've tried 3DS but not all objects are exported, OBJ but the file size is usually too large and unmnagable, and most recently DXF which seems to work great (all objects, fast and lightweight). @zoomer mentioned FBX but I haven't tried that yet... 

 

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18 hours ago, Selin said:

Walls with Windows and Doors in Wall, when copied and moved in VW, did

disappear in C4D

 

I forgot or are not sure what I wrote there.

If I really experienced missing Walls or just the Doors.

There were 2 issues.

 

1.

Long ago, I had to do larger geometry changes in floor plan at a building's outer edge.

There I may have deleted/cut/copied/moved parts of previous Walls around to reflect

the changes. Most of them were missing later in C4D.

Can't estimate how long ago or which project and maybe that was fixed already.

 

2.

My Revit imported Doors came in as totally default Doors, with just an overall Symbol

applied at first Door settings level. After I renamed the cryptical names of Symbols from

Revit, for better legibility - all these Doors disappeared in C4D.

The Problem is that Doors with Symbols forget the Link to their Symbol and don't recognize

when their Symbol changed. At least the Symbol name, not sure if it would recognize

at least geometry changes when updating such a Symbol ? So opposite what we are normally

used when working with Symbols or Classes in VW.

(Which is totally dangerous as purging or deleting such Symbols may not even tell you

that such Symbol is still in use)

Unfortunately VW seems to cache the Symbol geometry in the Door, so you in VW you can't

even notice that something is wrong.

But in C4D Exchange file, the Door "Instances", still link to the former Door Symbol Names,

which aren't neither in VW's Symbol Library nor in C4D's Symbol Folder anymore.

(Which is what we would expect, that C4D updates Symbols that were changed)

Therefore in C4D all Doors disappear, as all Door Instances still link to a no more existing

Parent Object, according to VW's wrong Door Link Info. Although the renewed Symbols

would be available in C4D Symbol Folder.

AFAIK it would not even help to reimport into C4D from scratch, as the VW Revit Doors

Links are still wrong. And not sure if there is any useful way to repair/update the

Revit Doors in VW in any way.

You can just try to search for the Doors in C4D by name to select each instance group and

manually reapply the correct Symbol.

 

Edited by zoomer
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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee
13 hours ago, Mark Aceto said:

@Selin what's your recommendation for exporting from Cinema (to be imported to VW)?

Hi @Mark Aceto, we suggest OBJ, SketchUp or 3DS. These come in to Vectorworks as complete meshes with correct normals.

If you're having trouble with the sizes of the files, check out Modify->Simplify Mesh on big meshes. It can significantly reduce mesh size without compromising the look or normals.

 

I would also suggest looking into importing textures separately from .c4d files using Import Cinema 4D Textures. If you edit them in Vectorworks they become VW textures, but if you don't they live in the VW document as C4D materials, with all the settings from Cinema 4D, and they work great with export.

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@Selin  interesting that DXF didn't make the list as that's the only file type I've had success with (imported all objects, lightweight) I'm going to send you some files, so you can see what I'm talking about first hand.

 

Also, Simplify Mesh is not an option for me on this project because it changes the shape of the objects that are being fabricated. I have been converting to generic solids when possible but I haven't noticed as much of a benefit as I'd hoped.

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2 hours ago, Selin said:

we suggest OBJ, SketchUp or 3DS.

 

I also wanted to say Sketchup to VW, but doubted that C4D can export.

If it does, great.

I also would try DXF, just for geometry and only to have something to snap to.

 

 

2 hours ago, Mark Aceto said:

I have been converting to generic solids when possible but I haven't noticed as much of a benefit as I'd hoped.

 

Yes, most time you can now convert Meshes to Generic Solids.

But that can't optimize the geometry like recreating Curves from Polygons.

So garbage in, garbage out.

So it may not be even worth to convert Meshes. VW doesn't like Meshes

very much but can deal with them reasonable.

Converting Meshes to Solids even extends File Size noticeably. So although

it has (or had) even more problems working with or displaying Meshes,

conversion doesn't seem to help much.

 

Wherever possible, Simplify Mesh or redrawing from scratch in VW may be

more useful.

 

Edited by zoomer
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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee
On 1/5/2021 at 1:32 PM, Mark Aceto said:

I’m working remotely with a client that designs mostly in Cinema but also dabbles in VW. My role is drawing the venue model and technical production. They’re mostly designing the scenic. My hope is that I can set up Project Sharing, so they’ll always have a base model from me. The icing on the cake is if they can Send (their working file) to Cinema 4D… 

 

Before I propose that workflow to them, I want to consult The Oracle to see if anyone has experience testing it. Please advise on best practices and anything to watch out for… 

 

Thank you!

 

Hello @Mark Aceto,

This morning Vectorworks 2021 SP3 shipped, and with it Vectorworks Cloud Services now supports sharing folders with edit permission.  You could put your files into a folder in VCS and share that folder with your client.  If they have a Vectorworks account (free or VSS) you can share the folder with them with edit permission and you can exchange files inside that folder.

 

Also, VCS works with Project Sharing this way too if you put the project file into a shared folder with edit permission.  You can both check out and in to the same vwxp in the cloud shared folder.  Hope this helps!

 

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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

@grant_PD you are seeing only that wall in exported document because you're exporting Selected Objects on Active Layer. That option will export selected objects ONLY. You must've started your export with one of the "All Visible Objects .." options if you are 'losing' geometry.

By doing that, you are updating a Geometry null object (previously sent with all VW objects) in Cinema 4D to be a Geometry null that only has selected objects. Merging algorithm thinks you don't want the other objects anymore because you didn't include them in your scene. This is equivalent to deleting all the other objects. If you start with All Visible xxx and want to see all of them in export at all times, keep that setting the same during export. The way it is, you are not only changing a wall in the scene, you are changing the exported scene itself. 

The reason your way doesn't 'delete' geometry is because when you are merging a saved file and a new file, those scenes and Geometry objects and the objects under that are different, with different IDs. We're not updating the same scene in that case, we are merging two different scenes.

 

 

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