Cinema 4D / BodyPaint 3D Program Documentation Reference Cinema 4D Cinema 4D Prime Animate Menu
Function available in CINEMA 4D Prime, Visualize, Broadcast, Studio & BodyPaint 3D

Timeline

The Timeline is a powerful tool with which you can control, edit and play your animations.

The animation range for all scene objects is displayed in a horizontal window. The key element to all animations is the key frame (key). Keys contain movement (and other) information pertaining to an object at that particular time in the animation. Most animations will require the setting of at least two keys. The change in an object’s property’s values will be interpolated between these two keys (i.e. a rotation from 0° in key 1 to 90° in key 50). The movement can then be seen once the animation is played. That’s basically what the Timeline does.

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If the Timeline is active, the Spacebar can be used to play or stop the animation (use the Tab key to switch between Dope Sheet, F-Curve and Motion modes).

Tracks are used to differentiate what is currently being animated. Simply said, each track represents the temporal change of one object property. This can range from a simple change in position to a change in the Phong rotation. A track can also represent complex special effects such as pulsating, 3D sound rendering, and more. Each track contains the corresponding keys, of which an unlimited number can be created.

In addition, each track has its own F-Curve that controls the interpolation between keys (except for properties that cannot be interpolated, such as an option). Mini F-Curves are located in the expandable menu below the corresponding track’s keys and can be edited here, although only in a limited fashion. F-Curves can be edited much more comfortably in F-Curve mode, in which the curves are displayed larger and are more easily editable.

The Mini F-Curve region can be scaled vertically by dragging its lower edge. A larger or smaller Mini F-Curve view will result respectively.

Cinema 4D’s new layer system is also helpful when working with the Timeline. Only the objects to be animated and their keys and F-Curves can be made visible, which makes working only with these elements much easier. Objects can be locked to avoid making changes to them by mistake.

In addition, the Objects Manager’s powerful filters have been integrated, which help you concentrate on what is essential.

Material Animation

A very important animation feature is the "material morph" feature in which two different materials are steplessly crossfaded.

For example, create two new materials, one with a Checkerboard shader and one with a Marble shader in the Color channel. Drag the checkerboard material onto a Cube object. Rename the Cube object’s Texture tag to "Cube checkerboard".

Tip:
You should always rename your materials to reflect their purpose, look or position, etc. Otherwise every material will simply be named "Mat" and you won’t necessarily know which material is which.

Open the Timeline and click on the "+" symbol at the left of the Cube object. This will display all of this object’s tags (you must be in the default Automatic Mode).

Next, right-click on the texture’s name and select Add Property Tracks | Material from the menu that appears. A Material Track without keyframes will be created. Create a new keyframe (e.g., at frame 0 by Ctrl/Cmd + clicking on the Track. The current material will automatically be saved to this key.

In order to create an animation you will have to set a second keyframe. Using the method just described, create a second keyframe at frame 25. The Checkerboard material will be added here as well. Now drag the marble material from the Material Manager onto the keyframe’s Material field.

You have just created a material animation spanning 25 frames. Any number of materials can be animated using this method, regardless of whether with image textures, shaders or animations.