How to Make the 2010 Winter Olympics Ice Cube Event Bumpers Part 1

February 25, 2010

In this tutorial, I show you how to make the ice cube bumpers that have been popular on the NBC’s presentation of the olympics. I show you how to build an ice cube using material displacement, refraction, transparency, reflection, and specular highlights. I also cut out a photo of a snowboarder to add to the ice cube logo. Then, we animate the rotation of the ice cube and prepare it for After Effects where we will add the rest of the elements for the final piece.

Photo By Darkmatter

Watch Part 2

Tutorial Focus:  , ,
Software:  ,

  • Ever since I saw those I wanted to know how to do the ice material. Now I know. Tmely tut Nick!

  • It’s good to hear your voice again Nick! I’ve been watching loads of tutorials lately, and all the hosts are stiff, nerdy robots. But you stay human! Or gorilla, whatever works.

    Keep on being awesome!

    (And this was helpful by the way. Jake was cool too.)

  • Fantastic,man.

  • Very cool! Thanks for the tutorial…

  • Nick, If you’ve read any of my FB posts (and I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t), you’d know that I am a huge fan of the work of David Barton, the MG Artist who did these bumper pieces for not only the Vancouver Games, but also Beijing in 2008 and Torino in 2006. So this tutorial is right up my alley. πŸ™‚

    For fellow Gorilla fans who want to see MG reels from previous Games and other NBC projects, check out

  • Once again some new things learnt.

    Sound difference was massive. All gravy though.

    Cheers fella

  • Cool! This I can apply this on other 3D programs. I like how you used the luminance of the texture to get reflection (great for product lighting/reflections). Oh man, does it mean we have have to wait til after the weekend to see part 2?

    I’m really loving these two parter full project tutorials using both C4D and AE. Awesome job.


  • Yes! I was waiting for this tutorial!

  • Awesome tutorial πŸ™‚

    However I got a question/suggestion. What if you boole out the bubbles from the cube? Wouldn’t you get the same effect? maybe even more realistic? I’m not a science guru, but aren’t those bubbles trapped air? XD – I’m definatly going to try it out myself. Maybe ill post here my outcome.

    But ones again, awesome tutorial.

  • LUCK…
    For maybe a month I will not be able to do serious work because my lovely demon (yup, my PC)died a smokey death just a couple of hours ago.
    Wish me luck because I’ll have to work hard to get the money to buy a new one.

  • I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to make these tutorials. Without people like you, the world would stop turning…


  • hey great tutorial nick! i wanted to see the render though XD.

    i wanted to ask you sth, if that’s okay with you haha, could you do a little vRay tutorial for Cinema 4D?? it’s a great plugin and i can’t find any good tut online.

  • Your a complete Gorilla a canΒ΄t say more.

  • What can I say…again a great and helpful tutorial, thanks a lot!

    Get well soon!


  • Hi mighty Gorilla ^^

    i just wanna say those vid tuts are the best iΒ΄ve ever seen. You are a funny dude, dude ^^

    iΒ΄m looking forward to the sexy IceCubeManAfterEffectsVidTut, and maybe we see the dog again πŸ˜€

    greets from germany

  • Hey Nick,

    It’s almost like you read my mind on this one. I was experimenting with it myself and it’s great to see another take on it. How long are you in Denver? You making any appearances around town while you’re out here?

    Thanks for all your great insight to the world of motion graphics!


  • The best way to cut out that image in Photoshop would be by using the most contrasted channel, duplicating that, then applying Levels, then painting out any problematic areas that might be left (the Dodge and Burn tool work like magic in the edge areas), and you have your mask in less than the time it takes you to go around with the Magnetic Lasso. Instead of using a single channel, the Select > Color Range function may even give better results (it’s basically a Linear Keyer). But these two ways are going to give you a near-perfect matte in no time.

  • Hey Nick, You are the best! πŸ™‚ Thanks!

  • I love seeing real world examples like this. It’s this kind of work that brings me back again and again!

  • Hey Nick I just posted David Barton’s stuff on GraphicsMafia. He’s the senior designer at NBC responsible for a lot of the Olympic stuff, including this bumper.

  • Great job, tanks

  • Hey Nick, thank you very much for your efforts and work you put in there. Your tuts are the most high-quality stuff I found on the net and , lucky for me, entertaining… Keep on the incredible stuff you do and again thanks!

    P.S.: one little tip…you linked the photo you used with “BlackMotion”…it’s “Blackmatter”, just to keep you out of license trouble πŸ˜‰

  • Hi Nick. Will watch this tutorial soon. Probably beautiful as always. The reference video is for US viewers only by the way.

    Thanks for all.


  • Awsome tutorial nick! I have watched all your tutorials today. And i have learned a lot πŸ™‚ Thank you so much.

  • Strong work…. Can’t wait for part 2.

  • Great stuff Nick…really cool to see how “easy” it is to create an ice cube with distortion. You aren’t visiting Effective UI in Denver aswell by any chance are you :)?
    Once again…. great stuff!!

  • Great tut as always, thanks Nick.

    I have a strange problem when i try to render, weird color dots appear. Somebody know how to fix that please.

  • In Render Settings and Anti-Aliasing try puting it to(best)mybe.
    See if that helps…..

  • Great Tutorial! Again!
    Can’t wait for part two!
    Thanks a lot!

  • Great tut, Nick.
    But not as gorilla as I was expecting.
    Next time, try recording it on your laptop in a bobsled with Jake at the controls.
    Now, THAT would be gorilla!


  • Hey man, your idea of take comercial videos and recreate effects in Cinema 4D is great, we can learn a lot in a project that looks like a pro. Thanks!

  • Can’t wait for part 2.

  • Gonna be fun to see how it’s going to look after part 2.
    Good tutorial as always.

  • Great tut Nick. I love your work and I thank you for how much you’ve helped me develop my C4D & AE skills. Keep it up.

  • Nick,
    Great tutorial. Just a small favor if you would. Can you make the C4D file available to download, I only have after effects and would real love to do something like this. Thanks

  • sooo damn gorilla

  • I have NEVER used cinema 4d before but I will now!!!

    Assume outcome! Excellent teacher!!

  • Could someone from US to download the video and post into another video server? for international viewers, thanx!

  • great idea,great project.Thanks.Wish all the best

  • The strange white line is because C4D can’t render alpha and DOF through transparency. In your rotate animation your plane intersects with the reflect planes so in your render you’ll have soms stripes in the corner.

    Great stuff nonetheless I love your videos, very inspiring!

  • Hey Nick

    first of all, thank you for the tuto, it’s great! And besides what Peter said up there about cutting photo in PS, in your case of this tuto, you can increase the frequence of the Magnetic Lasso and that will automatically add more points to the edge of your photo, and it will becomes more accurate on going around the subject in the photo.


  • hey man, couldn’t wait for part 2 .. check out mine so far…

  • Happy Birthday, greyscalegorilla blog! 2 years ago you poted first, congrats and thx for all the efforts!

  • nice we need to see the next part ..


  • Nice tutorial again , Nick! πŸ˜€

    I hope to see part 2 as soon as possible πŸ˜‰


  • Is there any reason (pros/cons) to render the 3d animations in a tiff/psd sequence rather than a quicktime or avi?
    Just wondering. I just like to keep things simple so I usually render just a .mov file.

  • Blow your nose dude!

  • Nick hi! I need your help! Please tell me, what can be the problem.. I am trying to render my project from AE, and when it starts to render, it’s skips and render doesn’t go through, I mean it is not rendering, what can be the problem? it shows like 7958 render time it means I guess, but it’s not rendering properly,why?

  • Hi, Master Gorilla….awesome tutorials ur site it’s one of my top 5 bookmarked already…cheers from Peru…sorry for my english… keep them coming..

  • “white stuff creeping in” kinky much :’)

  • great tutorial homie

  • I don’t have in the displacement meniu the sub-polygon displacement meniu. How can i activate it?

  • is that a jack russek terrior?
    I have one 2!

  • my bad *russel

  • What’s up to every single one, it’s truly a fastidious for me to pay a visit this web page, it consists of valuable Information.

  • Great stuff, as always. The ice cube inspired me to make this …

  • Hi Nick.

    Regarding the Creative Commons licence for the image you use: on the Flickr page, there are 3 icons in circles on the bottom right, to the left of the text that says “some rights reserved”.

    These detail the specific aspects of the creative commons licence that apply to this image – in this case they are Attribution, No Commercial Use and No derivatives. Technically you should have contacted the owner before using this, as the licence on the flickr page is the most restrictive of the CC licence combinations and doesn’t allow for derivative use.

    I have made an animation for creative commons new zealand that explains the way these work (

    Yet another great tutorial, so please don’t take this as some sort of scathing comment. I totally love your work and appreciate the effort you put in to sharing your knowledge with the greater community.

    • Thanks for the clarity. I thought because it was for non commercial use and that we gave attribution it was ok. I will look more closely next time.

  • Hi everyone.
    Based on this fantastic tutorial (thanks again, Nick), I’m developing an animation in C4D with a frozen logo. For some reason I cannot fathom, some parts of the ice animation look a bit jagged during the camera pan. The size of the artifacts is really not big, but as it flows from one frame to the next it has an odd reverberating effect that ruins the animation.
    I tried a higher anti-aliasing measure, but that only makes it render for longer times with similar results.
    Any suggestion as to what may be wrong with my animation? I’d appreciate any tips or comments. Thanks.

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