School of Motion

Pro Tip: Position Lights Like Cameras in Cinema 4D

  • By Andy Needham
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Did you know you can set any active object to be the camera in Cinema 4D?

Ready to learn a really cool Cinema 4D trick? I figured out a while back and I HAD to share it with you today. Essentially you can position lights as if they were cameras. This can be really useful when setting up lights as it allows you to aim the light as if it were a camera. It's kinda like Call of Duty, but less zombies and more inverse square law.
To achieve this, simply create a light and then from the Viewport (Perspective works best) choose: View > Set Active Object as Camera.
Then you can manipulate the view as if you would with a camera. Nifty!
When you’re finished, choose: View > Camera > Default Camera to return to the default camera view.
This technique also works great with third party renderers such as Octane and Redshift.
set-active-object-as-camera.gif
Set Active Object As Camera
Let’s make this Cinema 4D trick more efficient…
I've found that it can be useful to map this behavior to a keyboard shortcut. To do so follow these steps:
  • Choose Window > Customization > Customize Commands or press
  • Shift+F12.
  • Search for “Set Active Object As Camera”.
  • Create a keyboard shortcut and assign it. I’ve used Shift+Alt+/ but you can use whatever key combination you’d like. C4D will prompt you if you are about to overwrite an existing shortcut. It’s nice like that :)
I’ve also mapped Default Camera to Alt+/ so I can toggle between the two commands easily.
customize-commands.gif
Customise Commands to create Keyboard Shortcuts
As a closing tip, I’ve turned off Smooth View Transition in the Preferences. Edit > Preferences > Navigation > Smooth View Transition
smooth-view-off.gif
Turn off Smooth View Transition
Hopefully this has been of value and will speed up your workflow when it comes to lighting objects in Cinema 4D. See you next time!