Create a Wavy Band Surface in Cinema 4D

June 19, 2014

In this tutorial, I’ll walk you through the technique I came up with to recreate the nice, clean undulating bands in these spots:

RocknRoller Studios for The Sound of Deep House
WeAreSeventeen for Betfair

I’ll start off by showing you my thought process and my first two failed attempts and see how I finally came to discover how to recreate this look. Cinema 4D has an amazing amount of useful tools and I had to think outside of the box (or cube) to figure this one out! The technique I demonstrate in this tutorial can be applied to many styles of mograph and hopefully helps you think out of the box next time you become stuck trying to figure out a technique!


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  • Wow, the great EJ and the great GSG together, my head is exploding, thanks!

  • Could you guys enable the full-screen option on the tutorial clip pls 🙂

  • Hey Anwar, give this a shot:

  • Great Tutorial, thanks very much. I have already tried it out

  • Hello,

    I’m trying to figure out why, when I add a shader effector to the cloner, I end up getting an a) representative cube in the scene for the shader effector, and b) the trace of the null points becomes a rectangle encompassing their collective x-y-x span. Very strange. Thought it was a glitch but restarted and rebooted, same behavior.

    • (x-y-z span, typo)

      • Make sure you apply the Shader effector to the cloner that is cloning the Nulls and not the Cloner that’s Cloning the Cloned Nulls. Phew…that’s a mouthful!

        • Thanks for the reply EJ! I’m talking verrrry early on in the tutorial. I make the null, clone the null and spread them, add the tracer (set to the cloner), all the same settings as you had and it shows a spline as expected. When I select the cloner and add the shader effector I get a representative cube in the scene all of a sudden(?). I tried hiding it in the editor. Then when I use the noise to displace the nulls, I get this kind of swept trace (but its not generating any geometry if I render).

          • Hmmm, really confounded now! I deleted my ‘prefs’ folder and the behavior appears to be normal again, except when I open the original file, I get the same behavior. Strange. Anyhow, maybe some weird C4D glitchy issue on my end… Sorry!

          • Glad you got it to work, David! 🙂

  • Thanks E.J. Nice Tutorial. But there is already a Spline available within c4d, which can be driven by efftectors. Its the MoSpline.

    • Hi Manfred! Thanks for the comment! MoSpline is awesome and can definitely be used for this look, many ways to skin a cat as they say! So cool to see everyones workflows, in fact I added some project files to my post on my site that you can check out, one of them using the MoSpline! 🙂 The one thing that my setup has up on the MoSpline is that the Adaptive spline settings are really nice to have to optimize your scene for speed. MoSpline only has the “uniform” type of spline subdivision option so you really have to crank the subdivision value up high to get smooth curves and it really bogs down your scene. Wish the MoSpline had the same type of Intermediate Point options as a normal spline. :/

  • Great work. I’m having a small issue. My profile spline is 500 wide 100 tall and oriented XY. My clones are going down the x axis = tracer spline is oriented down the x axis. My sweeps object looks like a wide flat ribbon laying horizontally on a table. As soon as the first part of my falloff, for any effector, touches the sweeps object, the sweep immediately rotates 90 degrees. When the falloff of the effector is completely clear of the geometry of the sweeps object it rotates (jumps) back to flat like the way I want it. I get the vertical movement of the clones that create the waves but why is my sweep suddenly rotating 90 on the X axis when the falloff hits it. What am I missing or doing wrong? Thx!

    • Same Problem here …

      • I know the exact issue you’re running into. Key difference between your setup and mine is that I cloned the objects along the Z so there isn’t that odd flipping. Another way to fix your issue is going into that SweepNURB and checking the “Parallel Movement” and that should clear up any flipping! Dont know what it does that, perhaps a bug? Going to let MAXON know about it!

  • HI! Awesome Tutorial EJ Thanks So Much For Sharing This.

    Can You Please Tell The Rendering Settings Because My Result Was Not That Beautiful.


  • Is a mac Pro the way to go if you do a lot of 3D rendering? Do you have the base-model?

    • Haven’t done enough research on the NEW mac pro, but the older ones are super fast and have tons of chips. My 12 core from 2011 is still cray fast.

      • I have the 8 core model, but the thing to note is that C4D’s viewport doesn’t recognize the 2 powerful GFX cards in the new Mac Pro’s currently, so there isn’t much speed upgrade as far as the C4D viewport is concerned…rendering speed is nice, though! Hoping MAXON updates to take advantage of the GFX cards in the new Mac Pro’s but I won’t hold my breath! 🙂

  • EJ!!! Man, I’m soo stoked you’re working with GSG now! Talk about the A-Team! Your work inspires me like no other, so keep up the excellent work man! Thanks for everything!

  • Hey man great job figuring this out, i am trying to replicate this but i find that i get a problem with the cloned nulls when i render them i notice they vibrate slightly in a glitchy way. I’m not sure if anyone else has come across this problem. If so let me know! 🙂

    • I think i have the same problem. The waves are kind of vibrating… And i “made my priorities straight”, having the cloner before the tracer, like mentioned in the tut. Has it something to do with render settings?

  • Hi EJ!
    Thanks for the great tutorial. I run into an issue I can’t figure out when I get to the point of cloning the cloner. I end up getting all the same shaped ribbons which don’t react to the falloff of the shader. I’m in R13 and here is my project file:
    Thanks in advance for any help you can offer!

    • Actually I figured out a work-around. I took the Sweep Nurbs with the Rectangle and the Tracer and pulled it out of the “Band Group” hierarchy and outside of the second Cloner. This way the Cloner is making all the lines, then the Tracer traces all of them at once. I haven’t had any problems with this method yet.

  • Nice Tut! Thx EJ!

  • nice tutorial. i was wondering how you would go on about the following:
    we take the current set up but use a lot less clones and attach the first null in every row to another a cap made out of wavy bands…i can´t wrap my head around that…

    • i mean “CAPE” ! 🙂

      • To do this you could either play with the falloff so the effectors are only moving certain Nulls or to pin only the top Null in place, you could use Mograph selection tags to isolate whichever Null clones you want to be affected.

  • Hi EJ! +1 on the awesomeness of you teaming up with GSG. I’m curious about how you did the graduated logo reveal. I tried to recreate the effect in AE and I end up with a bunch of layer masks but it doesn’t look right… Did you do it in c4d with a plane effector controlling the transparency? I can’t quite figure it out and it’s driving me nuts. Thx!

  • Loved the tutorial, been looking for something like this for a while. It will be really useful for some future artwork I’m planning. I followed your tutorial on a fairly modest Intel Core i7 4770 PC with 8 gigs of ram and it had no viewport issues like you experienced on the mac pro.

  • That’s cool Ej but you left us hanging, nick would have taken us into the process lighting,texturing, and animating but thanks anyways????

  • EJ, thanks much for this tutorial! Here’s a variation on the theme:
    (The resolution got degraded when I uploaded to vimeo.)

  • Nice tutorial!

    Seems like they actually faked the flat surface in post for the original. Looks to me there is a solid on top of it with an expanding, slightly feathered, mask. The ribbons don’t seem to intersect either.

  • Hello! I can’t get the circles to show up and create a spline? I don’t know what I did wrong? I had to pause the video after you gave the circles a blue colour because mine didn’t show up at all.

    Any idea about this issue?
    Thanks man you’re awesome!!


  • Hi Nick,

    Would you please tell how can one texture just the side of the bands another color? similar to doing C1 or R1 but to the sides or top and bottom of the bands?


  • Hey, it may sound stupid, but i cant deal with the first part of the tutorial, why didnt you started from zero? :0. Thanks anyways, great tutorials all by the way!

  • I love this and I love this freaking website. Just amazing!!!

  • Great tutorial!

    I was wondering if there was a way to effect the position of the spline points by using an image instead of a noise effector?

  • AWESOME tutorial, learned a lot… here is my result:

  • What if I want to add like a metal texture? The uvw mapping doesn’t understand the UV when the sweeps are moving like that. So the texture changes all the time. A stick texture doesn’t do the trick. Do you know a solution for that?


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