If I am importing a 3d scene from Cinema 4D into AE, do I have to render anything in Cinema before I can use the AEC file in AE? In other words will it automatically update changes in what I see in my AE timeline after making an animation change in C4D without rendering those changes in C4D first? I prefer not to use Cineware as it ignores things like target tags, etc.
AEC files are only meta files that contain transform data of ligghts and objects as well as the render pass info for easy compositing. They do not contain any rendered data. You still have to render everything in C4D properly first.