I want to make the most of using 3D models in PowerPoint, and I'm looking for a good workflow for this with Cinema 4D. Specifically, I'd like to know the ideal file type (.fbx, .obj or something else), and my materials don't display in PowerPoint accurately. The default lighting is lacking, too. I'm sure I'm doing a few things wrong, but I can't seem to find any solid documentation. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

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    I don't think PowerPoint supports these formats. Here's the relevant page on the Microsoft support site which shows a list of supported file formats: support.office.com/en-us/article/… – Billy Kerr Jul 12 '19 at 12:56
  • The models (I've been using .obj) do indeed import into PowerPoint, and animate with the morph transition, but mine seem very lacking compared to the online choices that Microsoft offers. – itsmikem Jul 12 '19 at 12:59
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    Perhaps they have still to update the support page, if it's a new feature. – Billy Kerr Jul 12 '19 at 13:01
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    Found this if it's any help: ellenfinkelstein.com/pptblog/how-to-insert-3d-into-powerpoint – Billy Kerr Jul 12 '19 at 13:02
  • Thanks, I've seen that. It's helpful, but I'm using Cinema 4D. – itsmikem Jul 12 '19 at 13:04

Here are all answers to your questions. Especially the downloadable PDF at the end of the page explains the best export settings etc.


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I've been having a lot of difficulty finding documentation on this myself, so wanted to share the results of my experiments. I would rate my C4D skills as maybe a 4 out of 10, and I've been fumbling in the dark when it comes to bringing 3D models into PPT, so this information may not be 100% accurate.

  1. I've gotten the best results exporting to .FBX, with all export options checked on. PPT can also import OBJ's, but there are weird issues with the way complex shapes are brought in -- especially extruded text that's been made editable -- and I was never able to get the textures to import properly.

  2. You have to flatten absolutely everything in C4D before export to FBX. It's not just the obvious stuff like MoText and deformed objects -- PPT will not see untouched primitives if they are not first made editable.

  3. The .fbx export method does preserve your textures. The issue is that PPT can't read more complex textures. It basically only looks at the Color channel, and then to a highly limited extent, the Reflectance channel. This means you can add bitmapped textures and command some control over the specularity. Beyond that, if you push it too far, PPT will either ignore your texture, or give you weird results. For example, using Illumination caused PPT to fall back to a default texture, but Transparency "worked" (except instead of a semi-transparent shape, it rendered with a weird diamond pattern).

  4. Lights are completely ignored. As far as I can tell, you're stuck with the default lighting, which is flat and uninspiring as you've noted.

  5. After export to .fbx, you can open the model in Paint 3D to make any edits, but your options there are limited to replacing textures that didn't make it (with simple replacement textures) and adding new primitives. Paint 3D has a kind of silly option to change the position of the light source. They could at least offer some presets here.

This is still a relatively new feature and perhaps Microsoft will make it more robust -- C4D is exporting a lot of information to the FBX format that PPT and Paint 3D are just ignoring.

Their primary consideration is likely performance, since any Morph transitions need to be rendered in real-time. So it's kind of understandable that PPT ignores your carefully constructed three point lighting rig.

But ultimately I was left with a what's-the-point? reaction. It looks way better to just finish your C4D animations as an .mp4 that plays on click in PPT, or render out stills. Once you get the 3D model into PPT, it's not possible to make any edits or swap any textures without round-tripping to C4D, so there's not much of a workflow benefit to keeping the models in PPT. Pre-rendered video gives a bigger wow factor. The audience doesn't particularly care whether PPT is rendering in real time.

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    Nice answer, especially the last paragraph about the wow factor. Wellcome. – Rafael Aug 6 '19 at 15:27

It seems the best workflow is as mentioned by Billy Kerr in comments:

Export from Cinema 4D to one of Paint 3D supported formats (3MF, FBX, STL, PLY, OBJ, and GLB) and make any adjustments in Paint 3D (probably materials and light), then export again to Powerpoint as 3MF, OBJ, FBX, PLY, STL or GLB. Check which format produces less issues.

More info here.

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