Model Light And Animate A Pin Sculpture In Cinema 4D

February 18, 2013

In this two part tutorial, we show you how to model, rig, animate, light and render this Pin Sculpture Toy in Cinema 4D. Follow along as Chris shows you how to build the model and set up the Mograph and Shader Effectors to drive the pins using a depth pass. Then, in part 2, I will show you how to animate the pins using a video depth pass. Finally, we will light, texture, and render the sculpture for output to your compositing program.

Video Depth Map

We made a hacked up video depth pass by using a very bright light over our video camera. First, we stopped the lens down to expose for the bright light. Then, by having dave get closer to the light, he makes a brighter image on screen. We added more contrast and rotoscoped out some unwanted parts in After Effects. This technique has it’s draw backs (People with beards look WEIRD!) but it’s a good way to try and fake a depth pass with real video.

Tutorial Part 1

Tutorial Part 2

Tutorial Focus:  , , , ,
Software:  ,
Educator:  ,

  • Now THAT’S a fun idea! Great TV on the Radio song choice too 🙂

  • I saw it on MTV and I was wondering how they did that! thank you!

  • F*cking awesome!

    Thank you so much for sharing the knowledge.

  • I think I have already seen such tutorial over here :

    Haven’t watch yours as of now, but is your’s any different?

    • It looks like that video just shows you how to make a static image, while this tutorial goes much more in depth about how to animate it.

  • This is super cool!
    I think that the first time i saw this effect was in David Fincher’s Only video from NIN.

  • Thanks for the awesome tutorial Nick & Chris (GSG) 🙂

  • Nice. Using the depth path is awesome! What’s the song in the preview?

  • Anyone know About 6 years ago German freelancer Kay Tennemann made a commercial using this technique and posted a great behind-the-scenes video where he explains large parts of the process and shows off some prototypes.

    If you speak German I urge you to watch it (10 minutes explanation, 10 minutes C4D):

    In his blog he posts great work he finds as well as prototypes and projects he’s working on.
    His tutorials have all been in German for the past few months but there are a lot of older English videos.
    Old Blog:

  • Hi Gorillas,

    one of the things I very much like of your website is the variety of tutorial subjects. And you never forget that fun is an important part of life! Thank you for both.


  • hehe, cheap, did you get the idea for this tut from fxphd? copy cat 🙂

  • Hey,

    awesome tutorials with a bunch of new tricks i did’nt know before. Thx for this.

  • Could you make a tutorial on how to make SPIDERWEBS

  • Hey Nick and Chris! First of all, thanks for the tutorial! It’s awesome! (as always)
    I think you may use limiter or compressor for Chris voice recordings cause it’s way too quiet versus yours.

  • Honestly, I “love” what you do, I think I´ve seen all your tutorials.

    And I have respect for the fact that you have to pay your bills (or your coffee) but I hate that you try to pretend that you´re just accidentally cleaning your desk from all the Dunkin’ Donuts cans.

    Please show your viewers a little bit more respect than that, we´re not that stupid, at least I´m not.

    • Are you suggesting that i’m sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts? That fresh delicious coffee that is better than Starbucks? Do you really think they are paying me literally billions of dollars to say that they are a convenient and fast place to wake up and grab a bite to eat every morning. Me? I ask for extra egg on my Sausage Egg And Cheese™ sandwich. Did I mention that the staff at Ashland and Grand are awesome and they know my order when I walk in? I mean, taking money to say such things? I would never…

      America Runs On Dunkin™

      • LOL, best comment ever 🙂
        I love all the tutorials you make Nick! You got me more into Cinema, everything you do (and your crew) is awesome! I appreciate all of your work guys! Keep up the good work! 🙂

      • I´m not against you making money, I´m against you trying to fool your viewers. Are you ashamed of it? If not, why don´t you just say that you are sponsored by them?

        It´s false, and stupid. There´s this Swedish movie from the 90´s where it just happens to be big billboards every 50 meters in the middle of nowhere selling everything from gasoline to watches, it´s just as stupid, and it´s claim to fame is just that, it´s stupid and one of the worst movies ever made.

        • He’s giving you free knowledge and his expertise in Cinema and you’re ragging on him for having Dunkin Donuts on his desk? Wow. Some people are really ungrateful.
          If we had Dunkin Donuts in Canada I’d ALWAYS have that on my desk 😉
          Thanks for the tut Nick you’re awesome.

          • ^^facts check out.
            source: the truth

            but micke if you have that much game I will gladly come to your site and watch you spend time teaching me stuff. but make it free. thanks.

        • You sir, are wrong.

          Misters Awesome here are creating stuff for free for the ‘I-wanna-learn-3D-in-a-cool-not-boring-way’ people just like you and me.
          So you should be thankfull that these guys provide you with info, people normally pay for -> school/course/trainings (although I don’t think the quality of those educations is as useful as

          Other side of the story is: be glad it wasn’t *yet another* starbucks promo.

          Kind regards,

          A GSG follower.

          • This site could literally be 100% Dunkin Donuts related material, and if it was still the same level of high quality FREE C4D tutorials and insightful & inspiring blog posts I would come back everyday.

        • Micke. I have no sponsors.

          • might be a good idea to ask for some free donuts than… 😉
            or maybe put a nice bunch of bucks in one of the Dunkin’ Donuts cans and leave it on the desk for the next tutorial…!?

      • 😀 That’s the best reply Nick. You get me inspired with your works…..Never mind what people say, Ignore ’em ’til they fade away Amazin’ they ungrateful

    • Micke,

      I personally think the focus of your comment completely misses the mark and intentions of GSG. Someone is providing you FREE, commercial FREE video tutorials, using THEIR VALUABLE TIME to do so and your issue is whether or not Nick/GSG is sponsored by Dunkin Donuts? Believe me I did LOL in real life before deciding to post this comment.

      Even if Nick/GSG was sponsored by Dunkin Donuts and or other parties who cares? How does that fact(or in your case lack there of)translate into anything beneficial in terms of the value we’re gaining from his devotion and contributions to the C4D community?

  • Hee guys great looking tutorial.
    Im working on it right now. But i cant get the depth pass. working correct. I only have like the middle spikes ( from left to right) popping up and thats it. How is this possible ?
    pleas help. 😛

  • cooooooooooooooool……….i m loving it

  • Hey Nick and Chris!

    What can i say? Another great Tutorial from you both. Well it’s again on a more “expertish” level. But hey, i will give it a try (by now i just watched your videos, which is by the way better than watching any evening tv-shows here 😉 ).

    I’m again amazed how “easy” it looks when Chris is modeling the pin-pressure. Amazing! And the texturing/lighting/rendering is giving the whole scene the perfect look!

    May I ask you if there’s a “behind the scenes” for the depth map maybe? You “wobbled” through it a bit, Nick. And i was lost at some point… Maybe making a whole tutorial on how to set up the vid in AE is a bit too much (and a bit too dull for you 😉 ), but maybe theres some “outtakes/”behind the scenes” which can be “leaked” here?

    Anyway: Keep up the great work Nick and Chris and everybody at GSG. And next time don’t drink too much coffee (even if it tastes good 😉 ) (-> think of Fry in Futurama when he tries to drink 100 cups of coffee… 😀 )

    cheers from germany,

  • Tons of great info!! thanks guys. When Im in a hurry to render i usually have to switch off the area shadows to hard shadows. I do enjoy area shadows though….
    I wish DOF was not such a render hit. Iv seen in an earlier tut, you did some post work in frischluft. I would love to see how to make a great depth matte out of C4D, in motion, to bring in AE. I thought thats where you were going with the focus object with the null and camera set up.
    Thanks again guys!!

  • Thanks! Or as we say in Holland: bedankt!

    Great tutorial as usual!

    Gr Rens

    • Heb jij hem gemaakt ?
      Zo als je kan lezen, ik krijg de depthe pass niet goed.
      Als jij dat wel krijgt zou ik graag willen weten hoe..

      zo als jij me wilt helpen.

      Translation for the english people.
      I just asked him, if he can help me withe the Depth pass. i dont get it to work, i do the exect things how there are say to do. So if some one can help me.

      Greetings from the netherlands

      • I haven’t worked on it, just watched the tutorial + commented.
        I’ll sort it out, then ‘ll help you!

      • Which point you can’t get right on the depthpass?
        If you’re having trouble with the shader being projected on the pins:

        Go to shader > Shading > Luminance (make sure your depthpass image is in the luminance channel of your texture / otherwise it’ll see a black-luminance channel) > drag your texture from the plane into the ‘Texture tag’ from the shader.

        Select the plane > go to ‘Use Texture Axis Mode’ > to be found in the left menu of Model Mode, Points Mode. (it’s the square with the checkerboard).
        You’ll see a yellow-grid > press R for rotate + shift > turn it +90?.
        Your pins will move in different direction. Scale the yellow-grid to your wishes, so that your depthpass is projected nicely to your pins.

        Hopefully that’ll work. otherwise make some screenshots, type your questions and mail directly to mr Campbell or mr Schmidt!


  • Once again, another great 2 part tutorial. Chris, you sure make the modeling look easy. Lots of helpful tips and tricks in this one.
    Thanks to both of you.

  • Make a cookie!!! 😀

  • This is a totally unrelated question, but could you tell me how you created the drop shadow line on all of your product pages (first line)? The top line that looks like it’s cut intp the page almost. (these can also be found on Apple’s product pages)

    I’m trying to create it with Illustrator but it’s not working out too good.

    Thanks! 🙂

  • super awesome tutorial…
    thanks 🙂

  • You both guys are genius… I would like to know how to apply same effect on cloth or a wall…. Like faces popping out from walls in horror films… Please….

  • Nick! 4:3 presentation -really!!!!

    super cool, super fun. i think i got whiplash at times from the breakneck speed of Chris’ piece – but i think i like it!!!!

  • Watch the Video “Only” by Nine Inch Nails
    (directed by David Fincher)
    Was that you inspiration?

  • Hey Nick! Very nice tut…I know this is not about photography but …what did you use to illuminate the subject? just a little fluorescent with a diffuser?

  • Wow I’ve been trying something like this thousand times but never could pull it off for real.
    Once again Nick I thank very much :D.

  • Is it me or are you talking into the ‘top’ of a ‘side address’ microphone in Tutorial 2 ??

  • Dear Chris & Nick! You guys have been so inspiring to over the last few month. Not actually only for cinema and stuff but also and more importantly for … hm – life and work in general. Being productive, creative and so free and friendly and kinda lift own ideas up to such a professional level isn’t always the easiest thing. That’s at least how i feel sometimes. It’s like, when i’m down, I watch one of you tutorials and that makes me think “Ha, these guys are cool – go on working!” So, don’t ever forget: you’re giving a lot and it’s highly appreciated by many people. Actually my next project is buying land in Uruguay and build a house – so, you have your contribution in that. And Nick, if you’re ever that crazy going to South America on one of your road trips i just read about – swing by, I make coffee!
    Cheers, Moritz

  • Great tutorial, gentlemen!

  • Hello Nick, I’m having a problem in one of the phases of this tutorial.
    Already tried everything and still the problem persists.
    It is the creation of texture with the video when the video load the texture is completely black and does not work. Already tried all possible formats of videos and still the same. Got a tip? Platform Windows 8 – cinema 4d r14

    thank you

    • Hello Nick, already solved the problem, it took me to install the Quicktime player and everything started to work.

  • Hi everybody @ I love this site thank you! Hey can you help me out on this one? I really want to learn to create this acid-like tracer effect. I’ve only seen it here:
    I tried a few times with motion blur but can’t seem to figure it out. Any pointers would be appreciated. (I am using C4D R13)Thanks again for all that you guys do!

  • Guys, thanks for this. I learnt a bunch of stuff from this tutorial. Much appreciated.

  • Good guys, God bless you

  • so so so so so awesome:) thanks again.

  • my first comment i want thank you guys very much
    really cool tut’s and really i learn a lot of things about c4d and AE from you guys

    i know my comment is to late but i still have question … about the chris pin model preview in the first part ….. i want to know how you make a perfect city depth pass ?

  • Hey everyone,

    I was wondering if anyone had any tips for how I would go about showing a metal plate ripping. I am a novice in C4D and I’m trying to animate the metal stamping and fine blanking process. I would like to show how stamping leaves rough edges as it is torn, where as in fine blanking the sheared sides are 100% smooth. Any tips/advice?

    thanks for your time!

  • Hi,

    Nice Tut men.
    Look at this dynalmic shape display, I will try to do it in C4D inspired by your tutorial :


  • love this tut dudes! thank you and you rock!

  • Hi guys, this tutorial is really amazing.
    I am trying something very similar but with no results…. I am wondering if with this effector I could modify the number of clones instead of moving them along its axis. Ex: 3x3x1 grid + shader efx = 3x3xnumber of clones defined by texture.? the result should be something like modeling with blocks (lego, etc) … and having in a easy way a face or whatever you want with ease, only using a picture …


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