How to make the the Discovery Channel Rebrand Cube Transition Effect with Cinema 4D – Part 1

May 4, 2010 - By 

In this tutorial, I show you how to recreate the Discovery Channel Cube Effect that is the main part of a recent Discovery Channel Rebrand made by Royale. I have been trying to figure this out for a while now and I always had trouble controlling the boxes in such an organic, yet specific way. It wasn’t until I started playing with the shader effector that it dawned on me that this was the solution. Anyway, check out the tutorial where I also use a Cloner Object, the Plain Effector, Object Buffers, Ambient Occlusion and Specular Highlights to get this animation ready for composite.

Want to learn more about this technique? Check out this Mograph.NET Discussion about how to achieve this effect. It was while reading this when I finally decided to figure this thing out once and for all. Finally, many of you have mentioned this Russian Tutorial about the same subject. The final render looks good and he has a slightly different solution to the same problem. Which reminds me. There is no right way with motion design. Remember, if it looks right for the final render, then you did it the “right way”. Keep experimenting!

Final Render

Watch Part 2

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  • Another awesome tut Nick! The possibilities this opens up are amazing. I didn’t know anything about effectors before this. Thanks!

  • Sir Nick, why I can’t export the *aec file that I’ve made in C4D?
    It always says “Unsupported Filetype or Extension”?
    need help please..

  • Sir Nick, why I can’t export the *aec file that I’ve made in C4D?
    It always says “Unsupported Filetype or Extension”?
    need help please..

  • This is awesome, just found this site after being out of the AE thing for a few years, inspires me to get right back into it.


  • 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

  • I haven’t finished watching the tutorial yet so you or somebody may have already mentioned this but You can apply a sphere falloff to the shader effector, duplicate the effector, and animate the scale and such to have the start of the cube rotation spread out like in the Disney versions.

  • Hey, when I apply the noise material to the shader, it only manipulates the scale of the cubes, does rotate them… Followed it to a T – although I’m guessing I must have missed something… any help?

  • Hi dear Nick.firstly thanks for the nice tutorial…but I have a problem about render output settings…
    when I start the render,I can’t see ”Background Layer” in the layer mode.I’ll check my output settings again again…but nothing changed 🙁

    can you help me please?

  • greaaaaaaatttttttt..!!! like this! :D:D:D

  • Hey Nick!
    First of all thank you for all your tips and tricks for C4D….
    Just a question about this tutorial:what about if i need to get the plain effector follow a path imported from illustrator??
    I tried to set the shape of the PLAINEFFECTOR falloof in “source”, dragged my AI path into the “source link” but nothing happened : / !!!
    I’m sure u have the answer to my problem !!!! please help me !!

    Matt from Italy !!!

  • Nick.. You are my biggest inspiration when it comes to motion graphics. Because of you I’m gonna go back to school and study motion graphics. To get it on paper and hopefully work with it in a couple of years. Thank you so much for teaching me everything, lots of love from Sweden 😀

  • I always thank you for your tutorial with kind explanation. Good luck with everything you do.

  • Thanks for the great tutorial! For some spec work i did recently, i found a different way to create the transition effect entirely in cinema 4D. This way, you get real perspective distortions on the textures:

    I created the cubes by setting up 6 different clone objects, each with a plane inside. Every clone object makes up one side of the cube – this way, you can map the textures on each side directly in cinema 4d.

  • Gorilla, You’re very pro, I made this tutorial step by step following your teachings, and it really seemed like a tutorial with a lot of data, I would say broudcast level.
    I have one question and how to solve the
    movement of the buckets in the slower rotating, especially at the end, and happened to me
    I also saw in your final render example. Discovery seeing there is no such difficulty.
    Will have to adjust more precisely the tension between curves? Thanks anyway is a great tutorial.

    I appreciate everything you do. Abrazo!

    I know my English is very bad!

  • well here is my try for the whole rebrand stuff its not up to date but i hope someone gives a comment on this one
    btw nick i like all you stuff youre doing a great job for us
    love and regards


  • hi nick,my c4d can’t save the file into after effects.pls any advice,cos i can’t finish the part 2 of this tutorial.please.

  • I have a problem, my cubes seem to be rotating in pairs instead of individually, does anyone know why this is? I’m new to this sort of thing. Thanks

  • Hello I would like to ask if you want the video showing the different sizes of boxes which need to C4D how in the production of ideas.
    thanks you

  • Okay, correct me where I’m going wrong, but can’t this be pulled off just with After Effects and a custom card wipe transition? I need to try it out there now instead of trying out Cinema for this.

  • Great tut Nick. One other option is to have separate cloner objects with varying heights/widths of the cubes so you can get the same kind of randomization as in the reference. Also, I ended up assigning RGB luminance textures to selection sets and rendering out a multimatte pass in order to work non-destructively. Then in AE I just chose the channel I wanted and used that as the alpha matte. Thanks for getting the ball rolling!

  • When you talked about disconnecting the parts of the cube at 17:30, there actually is an easier way to do it.

    While the cube is still parametric, check the “Separate Surfaces” Button. When you make the cube editable, it will come as seperate planes under a null object.

  • Hi, somebody know why in Cinema 4D R13 Plain Effector not work – i konnot get it to work properly 🙁

  • OK, I’m really dumb, but I can’t figure this thing out –> whenever I render, the render preview or file always defaults to the view I have of the object–but I want the full size 16:9 view! I’m getting the rectangle at an angle with the black BG. How did you get C4D to render just the cloned cubes you made in its entirety without picking up the space around it?

    It seemed like you just resized till the viewer captured the entire thing, and shift-R finished the job, but I’m getting these borders which is the empty space surrounding the object. Help, please! Thanks.

  • Hi Nick,

    Great tutorial, thanks for sharing with the world 😉
    I’ve this problem with the Plain Effector, wich is not affecting the shader as it should. Can you help me with that? My version is R13.

    Once again thanks a lot.

  • Anyone know why you can’t “explode segments” in R13…GRRRRRRRRRR
    DAMN YOU MAXON!!!! hahahaha

  • I can not get the Plain Effector to do anything…. I put it to -90 for the Logo and it will not adjust anything, So I can not get the “orange side” .. Any help appreciated on this lovely thing. Otherwise I will keep truckin on with the tut.

  • Is there any place i can go to download Ambient Occlusion ? i found a .cof file but no idea where to put it. (if it makes any difference i’m using a mac)

  • how can i explode the segments in cinema R13?
    please help!!!!

  • Hi there… I assume that something changed in R13 because the plain effector is not working, doesnt matter where I place it… Any clue on how to fix this?

  • hey Nick… awesome tutorial.. am trying to utilise the technique for a static poster. I am using R13 and I’m stuck at the point of Exploding Segments to create separate faces. R13 doesn’t seem to have that function.. any help would be really appreciated. .. Many thanks

  • I love this website, so inspirational. I was trying to watch this one and couldn’t because I got the idea to turn this effect into a sound effector, and I got it working. Turned the wall of blocks into an equalizer where they turn and change color in bars to the music. C4D is so cool.

  • You can send for everybody source file????? It is very great

  • Hey I just want to know if its possible to put a video in place of photos.

  • Hi,is it possible to add this effect to a video?

  • Hi there! I was wondering, How to create the Bug on Discovery channel! I have been looking every where for a tutorial or walkthru to create the globe + D swing around and then Discovery pops out then comes towards the screen with the D + Globe again … :)? Does that make sense? LOL. Thanks

  • Hey! Man thanks for this great tutorial. I’ve learned so much. But i have an issue right now, i’m using the CINEMA 4D and it doesn’t have the menu “Functions” and i can’t disconnect the cube and keep following the tutorial. Or there is any other way to do it. I’m a beginner in C4D please help. I need to finish this for a project. Please Nick or someone answer me as soon as posible.

  • and here is what i came up with
    different sized cubes
    thx for sharing Nick!

  • Hi Nick,

    While following many of your great tutos (Thx a lot), I used the camera projection technique you told us in the house tuto to make it entirely in C4D (it’s the bonus – the wrong thing is that your picture have to fit perfectly to the size). For those who haven’t seen it:
    1 – do the cube+cloner+shader effector stuff
    1 – create a material with a picture in the color channel
    2 – create a camera
    3 – Apply the material to one side of the cube / cloners objects
    4 – choose “camera” for the “type of projection” and put the camera you’ve been created in the camera field.
    That’s it

  • thank you, I couldnt find it.

  • Could someone please explain how to vary the size of the boxes?
    I’m stuck on how to pull that off.

  • Original rebrand was done by Nate Howe of now when he was still freelancing if this helps you on whom did this.

  • The thing with you Mr. Campbell is that you may not be the cinema4d guru, but you surely are a great teacher.

  • Hey Love the tutorials thanks a bunch for creating these. I’m having a little problem with the disconnect of the cube. I am able to do the U-D and get disconnect but then I can’t do the explode sections. I am using Cinema 4d R14 Broadcast version. I can see the explode section but It’s grayed out. Am I doing something wrong?

  • Thanks for the amazing tutorial, I spent almost a week searching the web to find out how to do this transition – Cheers mate .
    Also can i place a video instead of a picture . will that work ?

  • hi, greyscale i love you and i love what you are have been of great inspiration to me. you are indeed a great teacher.
    i need help please. My c4d software lacks some things in it. on the mograph panel so many things are missing. For example:
    shader effector, plain effector and so on,. i use r12 and r13. please teacher help, what should i do. Hope to hear from you. regards

  • Someone said it before, I´ll say it again anyway: You are a Saint. Thanks so much for this and all the other great tuts.


    How would you do the exact same thing but using pyramid objects instead of cubes?

  • Ariel De la Rocca May 25, 2013 at 7:46 am

    Hi Gorilla,

    What’s so special about the Discovery channel effect is not just the rotation but the variance in cube size. could you please explain how it was done?

  • Hey,Nick I think You Can Easily Do This Trick In After Effects.By Card Wipe and Messing With Settings And To Make Image 3d And Cubes also Just Copy The Effects Multiple Times And The Image Multiple Times..

    Anyway You Are The Boss
    Bye And Thanx For the Tutorial…..

  • Tairony Medeiros August 6, 2013 at 8:52 am

    Hey guys. I have been following tutorials GSG and learned a lot! Thank you! But I can not apply the Plain Effector. Can anyone help me?

    Thank you.

  • Hello Nick Great work you are my favorite . I have one question for you , if you can answer it ,i’ll be very gratefull. I have C4D R14 and i have one problem, you remember that project with your parents in Hawaii with cubes ,i disconnected the cubes, then when i tried to explode segments and can not see the option, i cannot make them to break up in seperate sections in the menu , can you help me have a nice day Nick

  • explode segments doesn`t work in r14. stupid maxon(

  • i’m working with r13 so explode segments does not work. then i did the polyonsgroup to object-issue but by now i could not figure out how to have my seperated-faces in the object-manager.would anyone give me a hint?

  • I was trying this tutorial as a bit of C4D practice (relatively new to the software) and am having an issue with the multi pass render – specifically the ambient occlusion. The files appear to have generated correctly but are pure black.

    Is there some setting that I might have missed somewhere? As far as I can tell my settings match Nick’s in the video.

  • i have problem when i try to save the file of after effects with C4D R13

  • Thanks a lot Tom with your idea of polygons group . i did search but you are the first one i got who can tell.

  • Im using Cinema4D R16. After converting the “Cube” to a Polygon and “Disconnect” (can be found under Mesh Menu > Commands), I can’t seem to click “Explode Segment” (can be found Mesh Menu > Spline). Help me :/

    • Little late in this but, If it helps after disconnecting, select each side of the cube using polygon mode (the left menu select the cube with the top in orange) then right click on the side and select split. This works just the same.

  • HI Nick

    I hope you can help me I was following a long with your tutorial until I couldn’t get how could I separate the cube in different faces. IM using CINEMA r16 .038 Broadcast and the explode segment was not clickable in my case. I can click the explode segment if I use splines only. Hope you can help me. Many thing in advanced.

  • using r16 …same as above…No matter how i tackle it I can not get “explode segments” to work. 🙁 Any ideas Nick)

  • Solved for R16
    once you disconnect the cube use the polygons to group in the same menu under conversion (its at the bottom) hope this helps you all

  • Hi Nick !

    I recently discover you tutorial, it’s a very good one !

    Is there a “simple” trick to export UV map for all cube faces ? As I can see, you built your scene without having UV map in mind so it seems complicated regarding that to export a clean UV map for each faces.

    Thank you for your help !

  • Where’s the video for these? They aren’t showing up!

  • Hello, is the video tutorial still up? I can’t seem to see it? If not I would really like to watch it somehow. Thanks

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