Create a Floating Balloon Animation In Cinema 4D Using HDRI Lighting and Particles

June 23, 2009

In this tutorial, I go though the process of modeling, animating and lighting an animation I did for a Five Second Project called “Balloons In Black And White.” Follow along in Cinema 4D as I use particles, HDRI lighting and reflective textures to create this scene.

Original Animation…

Tutorial Focus:  , , , , ,
Software:  ,

  • Hi nick loved the Tutorial but can you add the HDRI file so I can try this out for myself ?

    Keep it up

  • This was great! Thanks Nick

  • OK. This puts GSG over the top as my new #1 site.

    I’m practically developing obsessive-compulsive disorder visiting here daily! Keep up the awesome!

  • Hi Nick,

    Been sowing this around the office today and people are blown away.

    I have one question, is it possible to do this with an alpha on the balloons so I can compost them in AE with out the HDRI background for example?

    Cheers, Garus

  • This is the type of stuff I’m talking about. The new schedule format is working great. Again, thanks for taking the time to do this. You’ve got more style than a fashion designer that knows CSS.

  • Great tutorial! Being able to connect a modeled object with a particle system is going to come in handy!

    Here is my attempt at this tutorial:

    The edges are a bit ratty, I may have forgotten to set the anti-aliasing or I didn’t have enough segments. The three balloons in the bottom right corner were added in Photoshop, since that corner was a bit empty.

    Thanks again – great tut!

  • Nice One. I’ve strayed from particles in C4D cause they seem to confuse me to much. Any chance you could post a quick comment on how you would achieve detection between each balloon, so if they touched while flying they would bounce off each other.
    Thanks dude.

  • Great tutorial. I was wondering if there was a reason that you choose to add more geometry instead of using HyperNURBS? Great site. I’m a big fan.

  • Hey Nick I was looking for a photoshop tutorial on your website and suddenly a suggestion came to my mind, it would be great if instead of one link called “more tutorials” there were 4 different ones called “photoshop”, “after effects”, “cinema 4d”, and “all tutorials”. That way it would be much easier to find them, unless I have been searching bad.

    Cheers! keep up the good work : )

    • Thanks Xavier! I’m always struggling to find a way to keep my blog better organized. Try using the “Categories” picker to choose specific tutorial categories. I am also working on a secondary navigation bar with sections for each program. More to come as always.

  • Hi nick one more fantastic tutorial, i would love to know what plug in do you have to PS AE and C4D


  • Hey Nick I noticed that you updated to C4D R11. I also updated this week and was wondering how did you get the render settings to look like R10. R11 render settings are set up a little different by default.

    • I just got through the rest of the video and realized you were using 10.5…lol…hey you should do a tutorial about the R11 render settings…its a bit different.

  • CAn you do a tutorial showing how to do a Transformer type of animation. Where something folds out into something new. Thanks

  • Do you think your original Balloon Null would have worked if you were to ‘Unhide’ the grouping?

    Great tutorial by the way, thanks so much. πŸ™‚

  • Cool Nick!

    I’d like to point out one thing regarding the wind deformer. Wind deformer in your scene didn’t have any effect on the particles, because the shape of emmiter is set to box by default, which means it only affects particles inside that box and your particles didn’t really fly trough it.
    One more thing, wind deformer is working in Z+ axis, so if you want your particles to fly up you should rotate it around so the Z axis of deformer is pointing the way ou want it.

    Just my two cents πŸ™‚

    Keep those videos comming in, it’s good to get off work for a moment and just watch those tutorials πŸ™‚

  • hi,

    Great tutorial. that wind backwards thing was buggin me all the way through =P

    Small things though. In the part where you try to reduce the amount of balloons and increase the size of the emitter, you could just decrease the size of the baloon =D

    And lastly you should check your emitter, there appears to be something wrong with it. Mine takes null objects just fine.

    Oh yeah, and gravity isnt infinite it’s defined by a box by default. you have to change it to unlimited in the “shape” tab.

    but cheers on all the regular posting!

    • Thanks for the tips Aleskey! I usually play around until it works and then stop. I definitely need to learn more of the finer details and workflow of C4D. You comments help. Thanks again!

      • No Problems.

        If you have any questions about c4d, just shoot me an email, i’ll do what i can to help. I’m really inspired by your site and your effort! I’ve been trying to start making tutorials again for like 3 years now, just can’t get off my ass and make em.

        Just had an idea for your 5 second project, hope i can get myself to do that.

  • Brilliant. Thanks Nick. I actually managed to create something in C4D that looks pretty stunning.

    One suggestion for something I’d like to see covered in a future post is how to use depth of field in C4D. I’ve seen the option in the rendering settings, but haven’t really been able to get it to work.

    Keep up the good work.


  • Hmm. Looking closer at my render, it doesn’t look like the transparency is working. I’ve tried lots of different settings, but still can’t get it to work properly (reflections and lighting looks great, but not transparency).

    Looking again at your tut, it looks like it’s not working for you either? Works in you original animation though.

    Any ideas?

    • I thought the same when I saw my render first time. But render it out and open it in AE and youΒ΄ll see the transparency. Its not obvious on every frame, but here and there you will see some nice shinethrough/refraction of the ballons in the background.

  • Hey Nick,
    Recently stumbled upon your blog but, Im already a humble fan.
    I have a question about the HDRi file, I loaded the file into the material>Luminance settings and applied that material to the sky layer, but it only showed up as black.
    I opened with photoshop and the file look as it did on your screen. Not sure what to do.

    • Try to rotate the sky object in its rotationsettings, maybee you just show up only the dark part of the Hdri-image…

    • Same thing happened for me – think it must be a r11 thing? You’ll need to open the file in PS, save it as a 32 bit tiff and then import it. Hopefully that should do the trick.

  • hey nick saw this @ CGTalk maybe is usefull πŸ™‚

  • My attempt to this tutorial, thanks for this site, thanks for tuts!

  • Nice information for those beginning. Really nice to see cinema 4D users helping each other on the web. Great job

  • Hey nick! Once again a great tutorial!

    What software do you use to record your tutorials? Its great that we can see exactly what you are hitting on the keyboard! Thanks

  • Hi Nick,

    Would you be kind and doe a soft schadow ttorial for C4D.

    Thanks man,

  • Hi Nick, great tutorial.

    Good to see that also great men ‘stumble’ sometimes ;). The reason your ballons are not showing in the emitter is you turned off the visibility on the balloon-object, with the red dots.

    Wonderful textures on the balloons. You’re doing a great job with the site.

  • But why it doesnt look like the original one? πŸ™

    Thanks anyway, I’ve learnt a lot.


  • The .exr file is not working for me. Anyone know why? i am able to apply it in the luminance channel, but for some reason it does not show, i can’t see it.

  • happening to me aswell, the exr is not showing in the luminance channel, any ideas???


  • the reason it doesnΒ΄t show the ballons is cos you have to click show objects in the the particle settings, no need of so many connects stuff.

    thanks, nice tuto.

  • Hello Mr Gorilla;

    Thx for sharing knowledge I never thought of entering the 3D so easily but if you have time maybe you will answer this question. I followed this tutorial step by step cheking all the thing and i still have a problem (problem solving right? =)
    when i put my Tiff render in after effect and just hit play i have a fog in my balloons a black fog exactly. it look like its too fast . I render it @ 30 fps and everything is setup @ 30 fps in AE .when i import the Tiffs in AE i let AE do the alpha thing . With a still image everything is ok but in motion, bam i have this damned blackfog .Keep up the awsome thx again

    regards from Belgium

  • Hey man!

    Love your video’s. This one is truly amazing. I’ll stay around for more video’s to admire.


  • Nice job Nick!thank you for share with the knowledge.i’ll keep in watch you exciting tutorial!

  • you know you can turn that crappy “flick panning” off in photoshop yeah?

  • hey great tutorial. helped me a lot! but like somebody mentioned above I canΒ΄t apply the .exr file to the scene nor use it in another test scene. any ideas what is wrong there?

    would love to use it and test the turoial by myself!!!

  • Not sure if you still check the comments on older post, but i’ll try anyway.

    I was wondering how to add collision detection to this tutorial? Has anyone figured it out?
    im still working on 10.5


  • Here is what i’ve got:
    Pretty week, i confess, but for a two day C4D user, it’s ok for now.


  • Heres my attempt. This was a fun tutorial and only the 2nd thing Ive done in C4D. Thanks for the ideas and knowledge. The model was based off AdN’s work.

  • Thanks for the tutorial, inspired me to do my own balloon project! Here’s my test I did in XSI.

  • I need some advice on my file I can render my animation, I think it wouldb e better served if someone were to look over my file and tell me where I went wrong.

  • Hey, nice tutorial! I have a question though, for some reason, i cant see my segments, you know what you call in this video “resolution”, if i turn them up, i can see it getting rounder, but, I cant see the white segments, any idea? Thanks!

  • i have a very….newbie kinda question…i havent gotten the new version of c4d just yet and i am very new at using it and trying to teach myself…i guess my question is…how do you expand the keyframes if you want to make a animation longer than 90 frames?

  • Hi, I want to say great tutorial, soon I will send you some questions about cinema 4d or suggestions too, inspires me that people like you spend time doing these things, thank you.
    Greetings from Argentina

  • hey! have you seen these balloons on the new skunk anansie’s video? pretty close nick’s.

  • por favor dime donde puedo descargar la imajen hdri…. nesesito esa imajen, no la encuentro en ningun lugar… me puedes decirr donde descargar es imajen… porfavor el archivo hdri no lo encuentro… ayudame… hel my please

  • Hey Nick,

    do you have a tip how to prevent the balloons from overlapping ? It seems not to be easy i think ..



    • You have to add some Mograph Dynamics to keep them from touching. I am working on a tut now actually. Stay tuned πŸ™‚

      • Hi,

        Just wanted to check and see if you ever did a tutorial demonstrating collision detection between the balloons?



    • Hey Nick,

      i found in one of your tutorials, that you can use effectors like wind and gravity to a clone objects with mograph, that was the missing link ! So i got it working in a pretty simple way, keep on your work i really love it.



  • Hey nick,
    can you post where i can get your hdri, please…

  • Thanks a lot for this awsome tut.

    Here is my try…. Could have been better! πŸ™‚

  • Learning a lot with you Nick! Thank you so much!

  • I love the tuts by the way! But i had a quick question…is there a way you can make the particles interact with each other. Instead of just merging, to make them bounce of each other.

  • Hey Gorilla

    thanks for the tuts on your blog its really helping me!

    this is the first time i used c4d for animation and first time using after effects too – this is what i managed (after alot of head scratching)

  • Thank you Nick, my render to your tutorial . I tried to add mograph modul to the colision but it didn’t work at all. I stay tuned for the next trick πŸ˜‰

  • Just completed my take on this tutorial.

    Check it out:

  • Thanks for the great tutorial.
    I kept it close to the example because this is my first C4D animation

  • Superb tutorial, my first successful attempt with c4d, thanks G

  • Hey Nick,
    That was a nice one!

    If you put some blur amout with a frensel on the transparanty it won’t look so “glassy” with that refraction level.

    But on the other hand; that will seriousy slow down the render time.

    Earlier on a made this wallpaper, check it if you like πŸ™‚

  • Hi man, that material u used for the sky, can u get that for free?! If yes, where can I get it?!


  • Hello Nick your tutorials are great! but I have a question … how do I get the balloons do not cross each other, ie how to apply the particle collision??

    If anyone can help me! hug everyone. Thank you!

  • Whatup Gorilla, You Killin me when you forgot the ballon layer hidden lol..
    I like this tutorial & i’ii show you my final render…
    ThankX The Gorilla

  • Hi everyone. I’m 16, I live in Brasil. Your site is just amazing, i’ve lern a lot since i’m seeing it. Here is what I was able to do:
    cheers and please comment pleae πŸ™‚ hope you likeit.

  • Hello Nick!

    First let me just say thank you for making so many helpful tutorials!! I’ve learned so much from watching as well as doing the tutorials that you create.

    I have a question. I’ve been using C4D for probably about 3 solid months and because of your tutorials, I’ve got a decent idea on how to do things. I was wondering… I am doing something along the lines of this ballon floating through space, except mine is a bubble floating through space. Is there a way you know of to pop a ballon?

    Also should I not invest in trying to create water in C4D? I was told that RealFlow is meant for that and C4D water isn’t as realistic.

  • hey nick, this is my final result! thanks again
    and look at the other video here


  • hi nike thanks alot for the tuts hekps alot, am just 2weeks old in c4d, but am doing pretty good. thanks man

  • Great stuff! Here I saw analogue attempt about balloons: πŸ™‚

  • Hi Nick,

    Endless thanks for this great tutorial.
    I’m just wondering how long did it take for you to render the final movie?


  • I have to say that your videos+personality had made C4D fun to learn, two thumbs up. when I am finished, i am def. going to buy some of your products.


  • This is amazing. Any way to make a dangling string from the end of the balloons?

  • Just cant seem to get a sequence where one or more of the balloons don’t pass threw one another.
    Had a crack at making them rigid body and opened up a whole new rabbit hole to play in. Plus im working in R12 so id love to see if I can inflate one of the balloons as it goes past.
    I think im making this harder than it should be.
    Maybe a good tut to re-do with the new dynamics system in r12.

  • Hi everyone,

    HDR link

    P.S: Nick, i’m really like your glasses brother πŸ™‚

  • is there anyway to make it pop?

  • Hi.
    How to make that the balloons don’t pass threw one another?
    Is it possible?

  • Man you sounded way too serious in 2009. Your communication skills have goten better!

  • I know I’m like 3 years late to the party … but I just started using c4d, and I’m trying to work my way through as many tutorials as I can. For some reason I couldn’t get the transparency to look right and in my viewport the black balloons were always kinda greyish, so I tweaked it in after effects. I don’t know if any of you ran into that problem, but it would be great to know what I was doing wrong.

  • Thanks for the nice tutorial.
    Here is my result:

  • Hey Nick! Thx sooooo much 4 all ur tutorials, they’re just AWESOME! U really inspire everyone who loves this! This is my final render, I know I got A LOT to learn but I wanted to show u what I did, It’s quite girly but It’s my wallpaper now :).

  • I truly love your site.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you create this website yourself? Please reply back as I’m looking to create my very own blog and want to know where you got this from or just what the theme is named. Appreciate it!

  • hi guys
    i know this is a very old tutorial,but…
    do you thinck there is a way to add text layers to the ballons?
    i mean diffrent text to each could be nice for names or logos etc..
    i really dont have a clue where to begin..
    any way,this is a great website,thought me a lot!

  • Hey, thank you so much for the tutorials you make.
    I often struggle with Cinema 4d, because most of the tutorials are really boring, but I like that yours are real and as you said you solve problems on the go, which makes it more interesting and teaches people how to think for themselves, not just follow blindly the tutorial =))

    Thanks so much! =)
    oh and btw: I loved your talk at creative mornings =) I showed it to everybody from my specialty in the university =)

  • Nick i have a problem

    When the result of this project is to record T?FF

    When the result of this project is to record JPEG Because of this false image of balloons with the rear view, video I can not register i want to add seemlesfloor with C4D

    Can I solve this problem with AE?Can you tell me if it does, how it is?

    How do I handle this problem?

  • i really like your voice πŸ™‚

  • Hi Gorilla! This is my result …

    Thanks a lot man!

  • Gustavo Jitsuchaku August 1, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    is it possible? To cache emitter?

  • Love your tuts!!:)Keep on:)

  • You are a master, really good and amazing tutorials thanks.

  • Hello Nick. I Have a question. How can I avoid to getting balloons one into another. I tried to add rigged body tag but it’s don’t give a correct result. I will be happy if you will give me some suggestion. Thank you again.

  • Hi check this out, it’s long time ago I designed this one by C4D. Objects tried to be designed and animated to avoid from others.

  • If I wanted it so that when the balloons collided, they bounced off each other, how would I go about it?

    I’m pretty new, and tried using the rigid body tags but that doesn’t work.

    • yea a rigid body tag and then select it and go to the force tab and play with the follow position/rotation. I set the position to 5 and the rotation to 35. that was perfect for me. learned that from another tutorial posted about a month ago πŸ˜€

  • Hi Nick,
    Thanks for the great tutorials!
    Had a question. I’m trying to do balloons with strings with my animation class. We are using a tracer object with hair. The hair/strings seem to come off the balloons when the animation is played more than once.
    Here is the set up:
    Cloner>Add Tracer. Tracing Mode=Connect Elements. Select Tracer and add Hair. Hair Dynamics=Hold Roots, Roots 500cm, Segments 24. Hairs>Roots>As Guides


  • It’s so good I can almost hear the squeaking of the balloons. πŸ™‚

  • ciao bello
    i cannot find the HDR Map and C4D Project file anymore.Would u be so kind as to put it again?.
    Grazie, Lorenzo from Rome.

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