How to make the the Discovery Channel Rebrand Cube Transition Effect with After Effects – Part 2

May 5, 2010

In part 2 of this tutorial, I show you how to composite our 3D render passes in After Effects using our Object Buffer passes as a luma matte to reveal different photos and to control the transitions. Then I will show you how to add the Ambient Occlusion and spec passes to put the final touches on this animation.

Watch Part 1

Tutorial Focus:  

  • I refreshed the site every minute. Thanks Nick!

    • Anirban Mukherjee March 15, 2013 at 7:37 am

      sir i have completed the first in 4d but composite in after effects the 2nd photo don’t show in (luma matte).plz help if have any other option.

  • Jorrit Schulte May 5, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    You could have also rendered out a UV pass, so you can actually create rotation for the images on the cubes.
    Love the Tutorial.

    • agreed, uv pass would give more depth look and much easier rather then get organized with all those passes. would be just easier I guess

      But it does look good already!

    • How would you go about using the UV pass in After Effects to add rotation to the images?

      Is it a case of just adding the layer? any tutorials to point to?

    • I started to wrote a “Pixel Bender” shader, but I’m not done with it yet, so quality is not perfect yet.
      Anyway you can start to play with it :

      Otherwise there is already a few other tutorial or commercial plugin that does that already. I’ll post a tutorial on my blog, when I’ll be done with the shader. In the mean time just google for UVpass in AE.

      but yeah instead of rendering matte passes of the cube, I would render the uvpass, so then you just have to create a big square comp and place 4 images side by side (2×2) in it… or something like that :p

  • Great tutorial. I did one, but used the other tutorial (some differences, but pretty much the same steps). Here’s my take on it:

    • Hi Rounin,

      In nicks tut i see 4 sides of a block used,
      Hoe did you extend the versions of pictures to more than 4 sides? i loved the ammount of variations on it, well done. (i will up my own version soon in here as well)

      By the way GREAT tut nick!!!
      Your efforts and energy you put into stuff like this are much appreciatiated!

      (accidently i forgot to paste this question as a reply)

    • hi Rounin
      very nice great work.
      can you share with us how you got difrent size blocks.
      Also you have more of a wave feel )left to right / right to left) for the transitions,, how did you get that effect.
      nice one

    • pretty much cloner, cloner, then fracture. To get the different blocks (of course you make 1 large block and one small block (1/2 the size of the big block)).

      As far as swipes, play around with the plain effector. Play with the fall-off and change the setting from “box” to something else.

      By the way nice reel you got there.

    • I saw it , nice video

  • This effect is just amazing, I love it! And you explained it in a very easy and nice way. πŸ˜‰ I found it really funny when you previewed that subtle specular pass πŸ˜€

    Visit that site every day!

  • Nicely done, as always.

  • I haven’t tried but is time remapping your luma matte necessary? (perhaps a stupid question)

    I was going like “Well just stretch the photo layer to the left.” but if it’s linked to the matte then it makes total sense.

    Awesome stuff!

  • Here’s my effort. Made from a plane with Fracture objects for different sized blocks.


    • Wow that’s nice, can you break down what you did for the random block size ?

    • Hi Davy,
      I’ve just discovered a super easy way to get totally complex random block arrangements. The way I did it was really long. Just refined it. Will try to write it up on the Vimeo page, or do a video.

    • A video is always nice Toby! πŸ™‚


      Here’s the technique. πŸ™‚

      • Hi Toby, I recently came onto Nick’s tutorial, for the block turns, Good stuff. I noticed that you supplied a link that explained how to deal with random size blocks. It seems to be discontinued. Do you still have it somewhere. Is there anyway I could get access to it. thanks so much! Malones

    • That’s a great tip Toby!
      Nice work as well, a great addon to this tut πŸ™‚
      Really appreciated it, i was curious about that effect.

  • Haha, you were finishing up and I was like, “wasn’t there a specular pass” *squinting to find it in the layers panel* but you added it later πŸ˜€

  • Wow Nick, I must say your tutorials just keep getting better and better and I’m loving every minute of them..
    Keep rocking those tutorials! Your style and level of detail is amazing and it’s a pleasure learning from you!

  • pretty simple to achieve this with different sizes and rotations.
    just simply build your “canvas” of blocks with multiple cloner objects which animate on the same effector.

    did it this way while i was waiting for part 2 :>

    @ Nick
    nice tut dude. keep it comin.

  • Hi Rounin,

    In nicks tut i see 4 sides of a block used,
    Hoe did you extend the versions of pictures to more than 4 sides? i loved the ammount of variations on it, well done. (i will up my own version soon in here as well)

    By the way GREAT tut nick!!!
    Your efforts and energy you put into stuff like this are much appreciatiated!

    • Well if you noticed Nick’s tutorial and finished production it only rotates in one axis (pitch). I actually followed some of this tutorial ( That used basically cloner/plain effectors/delay effector/random effector. No noise/shader. If you’re patient, you can actually follow right on (you won’t even notice the language).

      Now in essence I think you can build off of Nick’s. explode segments and add a texture to the top and bottom in addition to the four side, then put textures on all six sides. Do everything in his tutorial regarding the shader effector. Then use the plain effector(s) and instead of using “pitch” rotation, try the “heading” or that other one . Also trying using multiple plain effectors with different settings (box, sine curve, falloff, etc). You’ll get some nice variants.

      Also if you want each side image to somewhat offset (looking like it’s attached to the side), do a normal pass and in AE put a displacement effect(using the normal pass as the layer to use)on your image and play around with the settings.

  • Gorilla! This effect was done originally with the frontal wrapping applied to the cube faces. The cubes were created manually and then put in a null object, then put in a fracture object, then with the plain effector and the random effector, you get that nice effect. Also no shadows, only ambient occlusion.

  • HI lewis, what do you mean by ‘frontal wrappping’? if i may ask.

    • Sorry!! I mean Frontal Projection. the material projection has to be frontal I’ve tried it and it works, but making the cubes is the hardest par. Also you have to put the material to every other cube, remember frontal projection.

  • Hey Nick, nice tutorial, as always!

    Just one thing, the way you are doing it at the moment you don’t get any actual 3D rotation on the texture, it’s more of a horizontal “reveal by cube”. There’s however a way I think (I’m currently working on the details, hopefully have something by tomorrow). Basically you could take your mograph object, copy it and make it editable. Then bake the texture on each side of the cubes and link the mograph clones to the polygon cubes so they move in sync. By baking the texture you get a prober UV map. That map you can then use in AE with for example the “Youveelizer” plugin (or RE:Map) and UV Map the images onto the cubes. That way you get “real” rotation in there and it’s still super flexible.

    Hm, reading this again it looks damn confusing. Once I get it to work I’ll write it down in more detail.

  • I cant import the file ext. AEC a after effects, i dont because??? HELPP. my after effects versio is CS3. help pls.

    • Go to your C4d folder in your applications – exchange plugins- after effects, then choose your OS and drop the plugin into your AE plug-in folder. Sometimes the .aec file doesnt work by double clicking, but open a new project and import it.

      Hope that Helps.

      • Hello πŸ™‚ I’m trying to achieve this effect transition but I can’t open the aec file of the rendered project. Can you help me solving this problem. I have After Effects CS6. Thanks!

    • Hey, I don’t understand your fix for this problem; there is no folder in C4D Application folder called “exchange plugins”. Can you please elaborate? I’m getting frustrated not being able to import the file! Thanks πŸ™‚

  • BTW Nick, I absolutely love your attention to detail in all of your tutes. You are definately helping all of us get to a higher level of motion design.

    Just wanted to stop lurking and say thanks for all the great tips and tricks.

  • Hi Nick,
    just a quick idea here…

    Based on all of this information that you are getting here now, maybe a good idea to do a short part 3, on how to get the variations etc?

  • Tobias@pocketcommerc May 6, 2010 at 3:51 am

    I’m trying to do this in C4d only.

    Billboard style with different pictures mapped to 4 sides of a cloner. Can’t make it work though. Cinema keeps crashing when I use the fit to object.
    Very funky.

    Ideas Anyone??

  • Really nice nick. First I toughed that only cinema4d was really needed. But after watching this, Maybe after effects after it is much better. Saves time in rendering and it if you need a new photo you just drag it and make a quick render. This is what discovery would do if they need a new sequence tbh. It has a perfect outcome and also it is easy to update.

    Really awesome and ones again this learned me some new methods.

    /me gives applause.

  • Nick you are so fantastic!!!
    i Learn cinema with your tutorials!!!
    Thanks so much!!

  • From one nick to another, you have changed my life.

  • hi Nick.
    thanks for the tutorials, starting to get a grip on C4D.
    With this tutorial i noticed you got a bit muddled up cutting layers then duplicating them ect.
    if you select the 2 layers then hit cmd, shift, d then it will cut the layers at the playhead location and then duplicate the 2 layers starting at the next frame.

    saves alot of time πŸ˜‰


  • Great Tutorial. I think I’m gna find a few uses for this technique. Cheers.

  • asychrone ? πŸ™‚

  • Hey Nick, amazing tutorial, but that goes without saying because you always manage to make the learning fun…

    oh and i second the petition for making a part 3 of the tutorial with different sized cubes for a beginner C4D and AE user

    • it is like i said above nothing more than build the total “canvas” of this Grid with seperate cloner objects with different sized cubes, which then shares the same effector!

      cmon , you can do it!

    • Yes, Tedris is correct.
      I used this technique, it worked perfectly, then I read these comments. πŸ˜‰

    • i hear you guys… don’t take me wrong but, to a beginner (started using C4D like a week ago) it’s not as simple for me to just open up C4D and build it like you guys say…. now I’ve been following Nick’s tutorial carefully and because of him i decided to take up C4D… but again there is nothing better than trail and error =D

  • Hi, is there a way to pause a animation render in Cinema 4D?

    • Do you render movies of pictures? (tiff’s)
      because i think that when you render tiff’s it continious where you left of right? (feedback nededed here).

    • If you render out an image sequence (Highly recommended) you can go on from where you stopped but you CANNOT stop rendering a video file like MOV or Avi and pick up where you stopped.

    • Thank You!

  • Thanks GSG!
    Micro Tip: The cube primitive has a check box for “separate surfaces,” so you don’t have to do that disconnect-explode step, just check it, make editable and it’s done!

  • plese, give c4d render file.thank

    • Sorry, Thares. I don’t give out projects for tutorials. All the information is there to recreate it. Besides, tutorials are made to be learned from, not just to copy. Cheers!

  • Thanks for the great tut, Nick!

  • hi , micro tip for AE.
    instead of alt-bracket + duplicate + reorder + edit in and out point of your layers
    just select the layers you want to cut and duplicate on the good time , and press shift + cmd +D
    it does all of it in once!!

  • i believe we can also use a gradient with in the shader effector to control a wipe for the cube rotation.
    or better a combination of noise + gradient in a layered material. can you confirm nick?
    thx again, great tuts.
    ps : forget my previeous comment it as been already mentionned (shift + cmd + D = rulez).

    • You have to control the gradient a bit differently than noise, because there is no brightness parameter to animate. But if all you want is a fairly simple wipe, it is easier to just do it with a moving plain effector…

  • Thanks for the tutorial.

    It inspired me to try and recreate it in Blender with much success.

    I watched the Russian tutorial first, then after seeing your tutorial I modified my python script to generate the cube with each side having its own object index. Using the Blender node system I was able to kick out my passes just like you do C4D.

    • I was actually wondering if there were a solution using texture to rotate the cube as he did in C4D. because this is pretty smart idea, but can’t figure if it’s possible or not in Blender. any idea ?

  • hey man, tnx!

  • Hey Nick great tuts like always.

    I was just asking myself how did they do in the original stuff to make the cubes rotate in different ways and wasn’t able to find the answer.
    If somebody else found the solution please let me know.

    Thanks again, I’m waiting for the next sexyshinything now !

  • i love it!
    i play it
    but Aftereffects CS4 cannot read a file of Cinema4d! Why will be it?
    Please help me !

    my C4d file <

    • I understood the problem of Japanese C4D R11.5!!

      There is the problem that I cannot read when I began to write it in Aec if the
      name of the light of CINEMA 4D is Japanese.

      I must transfer the name of the light to a half size British number on
      CINEMA 4D, and please output it.

  • Another great one.
    Keep rockin

  • Great tutorial as always.
    If you’re trying to make the cubes rotate differently use 2 Cloners with a cube and a null in different orders and an effector each.
    Does anyone have an idea how to do completely different cube sizes (not just different sized rows) rotating differently? Like the one used with the crash test images.

  • At long last, my version using non-cubical boxes.

    Thanks to Morten Christensen for his idea of exporting paths from Illustrator.
    This took forever to make-lots and lots of steps had to be done for each separate box.

    A version with somewhat better resolution will be up soon at my youtube channel HomeOfHappyPixels, if anyone is interested…

  • i have problam in shader effectos not run !

  • sorry, that not on the tutorial
    but please look :
    sorry for bad english πŸ™‚

  • Fernando Sucre May 13, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    cool transition thnx again for cool tutorial

    Please look at my new project ”functional Food Project”
    software:cinema4d r11.5,photoshop and Aftereffects

  • Thx for this!! I hope I can put this to use on a future project! Here was my out come:

  • Hey everyone,
    thnx for the great tutorial! Is there some 3ds Max guru, who know how to do same effect in Max pls? πŸ™‚

    Thanks again for tut, and keep doin great work!

    Sry for English πŸ˜‰

  • composited in fcp (first time really using fcp)

  • Hey guys did you know that all cube/square thing were animated by hand at Royale? This sounds really cheesy to me πŸ™‚ classic client tactic LOL , here is the info;

    btw godd work Nick !

  • Hi Nick! – Thanks for this great tutorial but i have ONE BIG PROBLEM….

    I did the same render-settings like you including the project-file for AfterEffects….

    Now, if i browse in my folder, there is the .aec file, but with an Bridge icon for it – if i now drag and drop it on my after effects cs4 icon in the dock, after effects says “this is not a after effects file” ….. what did i wrong ? and why is this .aec-file a bridge file, and not a After Effects file ?

    Maybe anyone else can help me out please!!! Thanks!

  • ok sorry for my post, but now i have it – it’s imported πŸ™‚

    the trick is, to install the “C4D.plugin” from the Maxon Folder into After Effects, and now its possible to open the “.aec”-file to After Effects!

    Here is the explanation:

    “Inside the MAXON folder on your HD, navigate to the Exchange Plugins folder. Inside there is an After Effects folder. Inside the After Effects folder, there are folders that will say mac 5.0, pc 5.0, etc.

    Choose the one most appropriate to your OS and AE version. I think 6.5 is the highest so if you’re running 6.5 or above choose that one. Inside that folder is a plugin (you may have to unzip it). Copy that plugin to your After Effects plugin folder. Now you should be able to import the .aec files directly into AE.”

  • Great tut!

    I have just upgraded to CS 5 but cant import the .aec file.

    Is there not an exchange plug-in C4D.plugin CS 5??



  • Love all the tutorials but when I try to go back to them a few days later i struggle to find the same ones. Is there a list of all the tutorials somewhere on the site?

    Could someone please help me?

  • hey nick i follow every step but when i want open the aec file my aftereffect didn’t accepte it i have after effect cs4 can you help me

  • hi Nick…

    i have avoided using 3d software for yrs…i dabbled with lightwave many yrs ago but the headspace required was just too much for me to fit into my life. Now i can’t avoid getting some skills in cinema cos AE alone ‘just don’t cut it no more’. And if i get a graduate to work under me, no pun, they will be far better than me but if i know nothing of it then i can’t even direct them well.
    Enough of the context already.
    What i wanted to ask was have you given, and if not, would you please consider giving, a demo of setting C4d up. i mean things like render settings setting up defaults for global illumination and how to get fast renders whilst working and then cranking it up for final render. A few more of the basics i guess, more of the software settings as opposed creating work. I have watched your early tut’s and learnt from them but still i find i am lost on a lot of the ‘backend’ basics. It would be great if you could give a newbie a grounding on the principles of setting up the working environment to enable a good workflow an wot not…sorry i’ve babbled a bit. hope you follow me…and thanks for all the energy and wisdom you are passing on…you are a good man..a bit young to be so good but hey, am just jealous cos power pc’s hadn’t even arrived when i finished my degree. yer a star…thanks…max

    • Hey Max, Nick creates awesome tutorials, but for the basics you might try They just released a CD4 11.5 basics tutorial series that should get you going. Then you can come back here to push yourself to a higher level of learning. We’re never to old to learn and be creative!

    • Al i think you are probably right. Thanks for your opinion. I just thought i’d ask Nik cos, well, ye know – HE is the gorilla! – and i like his style of tutorials. All the asides around the instructions are just great for understanding the “why’s” as well as the “how to”. But yeah, the basics can be gotten elsewhere i guess, just won’t be as much fun to learn from as Nick. Life can’t be all fun though eh…good stuff..thanks…Max

  • Mark Robertson-Baker June 2, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Your work is fantastic and your, ah, quirky humor is appreciated. Hoping to buy your lighting tools, soon.

  • Hello im yassine 17 years old from morroco i just finish this is my result

  • thanks nick, these tuts helped me lot.

  • Yo Nick..From the Caribbean here.. I’ve been sort of playing catch up… kinda missed all the action as it happened..but..I have learned so many things, so many questions that i had was answered as I sat down to watch them all.. you’re a great inspiration… keep up the awesome work.. and!! Keep it GORILLA!!

  • See my beta result here;

    Found a way to rotate the cubes 45 degrees.
    Btw, niceee tutorial!!

  • Hey how is it going?
    Am following every step. Instead am making the cubes go up and down instead from left to righ. I created the Object bypass and all, but For some reason when i open it on AE and i use the correct transfer mode i cant place the pics on the cubes. Can u please tell me what am I doing wrong, Thanks

  • I just saw this tutorial being used on national Tv for a show called Mind Games

    You know that reminds me of: Are Motionworks and Video Copilot creating “deadwood” ?

  • Here was my attempt, I opted for a combination of both your technique and Mike Udin from the Russian tutorial.
    So I have multiple Plain effectors that allow me some flexibility in transitions and Size of the blocks as well as the procedural technique you showed by haveing an AE comp and the ability to easily swap out content without the hassel of re-rendering your 3D. Ive actuall made several different versions for a future task all from 1 base C4D projects.

  • Hi, very very cool tuto! I tried to make same thing like your tuto and this video ( in C4D, but I don’t know how I make the block appear during the rotation. I used Cloner and Shader Effect from rotation, but the change of opacity is being very difficult. Sorry for my english, I’m from Brazil and I learning.


  • Hey Nick!

    Just wanted to add my “thanks” to the pile. As a long time After Effects user, I’m finally getting into the world of 3D. Honestly…without you…I’d be totally screwed.

    You and Andrew Kramer are officially my idols.

  • Hello Nick,

    I did your tutorial and I’m new to 3D. Thanks, it was a lot of fun. To make diffrent size blocks I would think the answer would be to use an extra cloner object.

    Best, Niels

  • Please gorilla my problem is I double click it and tells me the file or is not compatible composison help!!!!

    I am from Mexico

    • For all who got problems opening the “.ace”- After Effects Project-File rendered by C4D, go check that out: >> Go to the “After Effects”-section and choose your version.

      After download, unzip & just copy the “plug-in”-file into your “After Effects CS5” plug-in folder (e.g. for OSX: HD/Applications/Adobe After Effects CS5/Plug-Ins).

      Now you should be able to open the “.aec” file from Cinema4D. It worked fine for me πŸ™‚
      Greets, J

  • Omar GonzΓ‘les August 15, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Nick… Man, U Rock‘‘‘ Here is my final result. Its my first video ;). Hope u like it. Any review is welcome.

  • excellent!!
    thank u mr G πŸ˜€

  • Gorilla,
    Great tutorial.
    Muchas Gracias!

  • hey guys for those that are having the problem with the exportation to after effects here is the answer! it really works

  • Im still having problems with this .aec file thing. Why did it look like Nick had an .aep file to just click and open up?

    i did all the settings right and even tried twice. I only get an .aec, I went to the maxon site but didn’t see any C4D R12 to CS4 so just got the 11.5 to cs3/4. Obviously that has to be my issue right?

    I tried going to project open and its greyed out so I cant even select the .aec file and tried file import and it does nothing after clicking the file. Anyone can further help?

    C4D R12 & AECS4

  • Hi!
    a question.. i can import the jpg files into my after effects proyect.. i have the version cs4, and i dont know why i cant import that pictures.. Please Help Me!!

  • Hey Nick!

    Thank you for this great tutorial. It was very helpful for both – cinema skills and AF skills.
    For all guys who have a problen with .aec extension – there is a folder in cinema4d “Exchange plugins” with file you need for AF.

    Can you guys give me nice sound for this transition? May be some wood or plastic boxes falling. Or something similar. Thanks!

  • Hi Nick,
    Can you tell me what I did wrong because after open aec file to after effects, everything is in here, the comp in the right timing, the multi-pass objects, specular… but except the two lights I can see anything, everything is black or white. Specular, multipass, object 1 are white and the others are black.
    FYI in my render file of cinema 4D, all the layers are fine, I checked one by one they looks like what I need but in after effects everything become black or white. Plugins problem, after effects settings problem, Cyril problem…???
    Please help me to understand my mistake, to understand that application…

  • Dear Mr.Grayscalegorilla , i’m your online student from Myanmar.I get many C4D and AE knowledge
    from your tutorial but my country is small country so our connection is too slow i can’t see all of this tutorials from vimeo. I want to apologize ” you can upload this tutorials on youtube or other site with
    low resolution or .flv ……. Plz
    i hope you will make for me …
    Thanks a lots…….
    (Sorry for my English Skill)

  • Hey, wondered if anyone could help. Is it possible to use the shader effector without a cloner object. for example if i make the cloner object editable the shader effector has no effect, is there a way to solve this? cheers

  • Anyway I can open it up in Cs6 I created the cubes in C4d 11.5 I tried and it said it’s an unsupported file! But is there anyway for the two versions work together?

  • this is a very nice thank you

  • Brilliant….the way how you teach

  • When i try to open the file with After Effects it doesn’t work, could someone help me please ?

  • Thank you Nick. I used in this project:

    You and every educator here rules, please keep doing in it.

  • I used to be recommended this website by my cousin. I’m
    now not sure whether or not this post is written through him as no one else realize such distinct
    about my problem. You’re amazing! Thank you!

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