Tutorial 9 | Blow and Pop

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This tutorial will go over how to take an object, inflate it like a balloon, then make it pop with debris falling everywhere. We will use a combination of dynamics, cloth, tear and pressure to make this happen. Though the actions are pretty complex, with the new dynamics engine introduced, this simulation is actually very simple. But because of the new C4D parameters, the files and tutorial I am about to give to you should only be attempted if you have R12 or above. R11.5 won’t load my files, and may not have the dynamics capabilities. For sure, R11 and below do not. To download the starter file, click the link above and let’s get started.

This scene begins with a floor polygon, the renderready text minus the “N”, the sky for reflections and some render settings to help you guys out. To start, let’s go ahead and create the “N”. Click and hold on the spline object button and choose “Add Text Object”. This is going to drop a spline with the word “Text”. In the text category, swap out “Text” with “N”. Make sure it’s capital. Then for the font, I used Helvetica Neue Bold. Now attach an extrude function to the spline and increase the depth to 90.

Now that the “N” in “re_derready” is complete, we need to give out text dynamics so we can inflate it using pressure. The new dynamics engine in R12 is amazing and can be easily applied to any object. Select your “N”, and in simulations, choose “Dynamics” and click “Rigid Bodies”. Now your text has a rigid body tag applied to it. But pressure does not work with Rigid Bodies, only Soft Bodies. And just like the name sounds, Rigid bodies are like wood while Soft Bodies are similar to jello or grotesque amounts of body fat. In the Dynamics tag, select the “Soft Body” tab and in soft body, switch it from “None” to “Made of Polygons/Lines”. If you press play, your “N” will fall apart because this N was never really connected together to begin with and the soft bodies tag exposes this. But this can be fixed, thanks to the wonderful people at C4D Cafe, but you have to follow the next part closely.

Select your N and press “C”, or convert to editable object. You can see now that your body and caps are separate objects. Highlight all of them, right click and choose “Edit and Delete”. Now we got this wonderful “N”, but if we try to blow this letter up the way it currently is, there are not enough polygons to make it work. So, we need to add them manually. In your front view in point mode, right click and choose your knife. In the knife mode section, choose “Line”. Then turn off “Visible Only” and cut at the joints of the “N”. Once that is complete, turn your knife mode from “Line” to “Loop”. We will then add 4 more cuts to each of the long areas in the “N” geometry. Then we need a cut in the middle of the N to split it into half. Use the knife tool in “Line” mode.

Now that the geometry has enough polygons to work with, select your N, go to point mode and select all the points in the object by going to “edit”, “select-all”. Then finally, go to the “Functions” tab and select “Optimize”. Now play the animation back with soft bodies turned on and your geometry should slightly wobble and bend, and now your entire geometry is one piece.

Position the N after the E in Renderready. At frame 40, set your soft body tag to “off”. Then control-click the keyframe button next to it and move to frame 41. Turn it to “on” and control click the keyframe. Now the N will will become a soft body at frame 41 and that’s when we can begin to inflate. To do this, we will keyframe the “Pressure” feature at certain points up to 150. For me, I used these settings at these keyframes.

Frame 41: 0
Frame 50: 200 (inflates once)
Frame 70: 100 (deflates)
Frame 80: 1000 (inflates a second time)
Frame 97: 200 (deflates)
Frame 133: 2000 (inflates)
Frame 135: 1900, Frame 137: 2100, Frame 139: 2000, Frame 140: 2200, Frame 141: 2000, etc. all the way to Frame 150 (This gives the N a vibration/wiggle when it’s about to explode)

Also, turn off “Use Accurate Solver”. It’s great with dynamics, but when it’s turned on in this instance, sometimes it causes one polygon to jut out larger than the rest, which makes it look awkward. Now the N looks like it inflates, but it’s got lots of jagged points. This is really easy to fix. Drop it under a Hypernurbs tag and at Frame 40, turn the Subdivision Editor & Renderer to 0, then at Frame 41, turn the Subdivision Editor & Renderer to 1 or higher if your computer can handle it. I chose 1.

The N looks great, but we need it to react to the other letters. For the other letters in the scene, attach a dynamics tag. This will allow it to interact with your balloon N. Also, if you increase the friction on certain letters, such as the R, the letter will catch and flip rather than slide across the floor. You can also make sure the D’s don’t rotate by keyframing their animations from box to automatic or set their dynamic to trigger on collision rather than immediately.

So the Soft Body part of this project is now done. We’ve inflated the N, but now we need it to explode. To do this, we need to switch from our dynamic engine sphere to a cloth sphere. Play back the animation to frame 149. This is the balloon we want to explode, so copy it and create another version of your N. Delete the soft bodies tag and add a cloth tag. This is very important and do this *before* you play back your animation. In the Tag tab, turn off Auto and set the start frame to 150 and end frame to 300. If you don’t do this, you second geometry will react to your dynamics from the first object and everything goes really badly from there. Also set the “Stiffness” to 60 and Flexion to 10%. Also add some subdivisions to this geometry using function/subdivide and triangulate. Now let’s blow this thing up.

Create a sphere, lower the subdivisions down to around 12, set the type to “Icosahedron” and turn it into an editable object. Now select random faces and let’s extrude them. Then select another group and randomly increase the size of those as well. Once complete, let’s set this bad boy to be positioned in the center of the balloon at Frame 150. Then in 5 frames, have it grow by 200-500% by key-framing the scale in the coordinates tab. This sphere is going to rip the cloth apart in random ways and speeds as well. To make this work, add a cloth collider tag to this sphere. Turn off the visibility of the sphere.

To get the cloth to tear, in the cloth tag properties of the balloon, in the Tag tab, turn on use tear. Drop this balloon under a cloth NURBS tag from the simulation drop-down and increase the tear/adjust the size of your exploding sphere until your tear looks awesome. It make take a couple tries, but you’ll get there. Finally, in the cloth NURBS tag, increase the thickness to around 3.

The final disappearing act is to show the N soft body from Frame 0 – 149, then the cloth balloon from 150 – 300. This is really easy. Right click and attach a display tag. Turn on “Use” in visibility and for the N, set visibility to 100% on Frame 149 and 0% at Frame 150, and vice-versa on the Balloon object. Now they should play seamlessly. Once this is complete, let’s attach your materials onto your objects and then do a quick test render.

Now that you’ve played back your scene and you love your 3D file, let’s get your render settings established. I set my render output to NTSC D1 Widescreen Square Pixel and rendered all 390 frames. In the save tab, choose your file path and set your format to RPF with all the options turned on, 16-bit and alpha channel and separate alpha channels turned to “on”. Turn on your multipass and set that to PSD. In compositing Project File, turn on save, make your target After Effects, and check on “relative” and “Include 3D data”. In Multi-Pass, add Ambient Occlusion, RGBA Image, Reflection, Shadow and 4 buffer channels for N_cloth, N_dynamics, Re_derready text and your floor. Set your Anti-Aliasing to best and turn on your Global Illumination and Ambient Occlusion.

In your Global Illumination settings, set it to IR + QMC (Full Animation) so the shadows look great and adjust in size and scope as your text inflates/explodes. Also, and here’s a very important tip: Make sure you go to Irradiance Cache File tab in GI settings and Flush your Cache. If not, you’re going to get weird artifacts in your render and nothing sucks that spending 14 hours rendering a piece and seeing odd things like that in your composition.


In After Effects, start yourself a new file and in your “Project” tab, go into your sequence folder and find your .aec file. If you import that file, all your compositions and layers will be imported into AE. Select your folders and drop them into an new folder and call it “3D”. In your folder, find your composition file and open it. You should find when importing a Special Passes folder and .c4d folder. In the Special Passes folder, you’ll get all the sequence folders. In the .c4d folder more passes as well as the composition. Open the composition.

Inside, we can start this file by adding a background. Go layer, new layer and make sure the color matches the grey on the floor. Add the RPF sequence to the scene above the background. In this layer, let’s go ahead and add a depth matte from the effects/3D Channel menu. Push the depth matte to around the-2700 and give it a feather of around 600. This will blend the background with the foreground. Let’s also add a curves adjustment to this layer and darken it. Then go into your Special Passes folder and find the matte with the floor alpha, place that layer above this layer and set your main RPF sequence layer to “Luma Matte”. Now your layer will have a nice alpha mask.

We should now create the floor. Duplicate the RPF sequence and set it above your alpha channel. Delete the curves adjustment. In the effects panel, go to 3D channel and get your ID Matte. Find your floor matte number and set your feather to 3. This will hide everything except your floor. Add a Matte Choker and set your geometric softness to 3. Now adjust your background to match the color of your floor, so it’s looks like an infinite background for your scene.

Next, drop in from the Special Passes folder your “Shadow” pass. Set it to multiply, lower your opacity to around 25% and drop a “Fast Blur” effect with a blurriness of 16. This will enhance your shadow and give your scene more depth. Now grab your “AO” pass, reduce the opacity to around 70%, and set the opacity to around 70%.

Now let’s get this scene to have that blue tint. Add an adjustment layer and drop in a Hue/Saturation filter. Click on the colorize setting and adjust the color hue to that bluish tint. Lower the saturation to 15 and set the lightness to around 5. Add another adjustment layer and drop a curves adjustment to brighten the entire scene a little.

The last little detail for looks is to add a vignette to your scene. Add another adjustment layer, double-click on the circle, invert it and set the feather to around 115. Drop a curves and exposure filter and lower both to make the vignette more pronounced.

Finally, let’s get the camera to shake a little before the N explodes. In layer, drop in a new null object. In effects, add a slider control. Alt-click the stop watch next to slider control and cut the slider control text out. In the position part of the null object, alt-click on position and type in “wiggle(30,1). Then highlight the 1 and paste in your slider control text. Now at 4:18, keyframe your slider to 0. At 5:00, set your slider to 7, then at 4:05, set it back to 0. This should have your null object shake right before your explosion. Then select your image sequences and parent them to your null. Now all your sequences will shake before your N explodes.

Turn on your motion blurs and render out a full animation. Then re-import your sequence back into AE and add RSMB to your video. Re-render and your animation should be complete.



  1. litote
    02 February 14, 5:59pm

    Learnt a lot from this — Thanks. Hope to see more from you. Liked the AE workflow lessons too.

    It seems that letters with unsymmetrically distributed polygons, like the letter “D” do not inflate symmetrically with Pressure parameter. You can tinker with adding polygons, but best to use letters like W an O it seems.

  2. 09 September 13, 6:07pm

    Sweet! Great job!

  3. batuhan
    09 September 13, 10:11am

    great tutorial , here is my result

  4. 12 October 12, 7:42pm

    it always collapseS Beggs you spelled “collaspes” incorrectly

  5. azlan
    12 October 12, 2:27am

    Great tutorials…after watching this one in particular, one thing came through my mind, is it possible to inflate the text without losing the shape of the text upon explosion. meaning to say, rather than the N just becoming one inflated spherical balloon, it maintains the N shape, only rounder.

    by the way…really loved the technique.
    thank you

  6. 11 October 12, 12:58am

    Thus i have Cinema 4d 🙂 but I STILL DO NOT USE THE SOFTBODY! >:(
    i only use clouth. 🙁

  7. Rick
    19 September 12, 7:15am

    Hi Al

    Just discovered your site. your tutorials are very nice, well narated, you sound enthusiastic. so altogether a pleasure to learn from. thank very much. Rick

  8. 21 June 12, 5:55pm

    It looks like it’s hanging on the W. Maybe animate the letter out of the scene after the explosion with 1 keyframe.

  9. 21 June 12, 8:19am

    Nice work, I dont know why but on my simulation the pieces of balloon dont want fall to the floor. The half of pieces stay on air? Is this the problem with gravity?


  10. 21 June 12, 8:15am

    Great tutorial, here is my work on C4D R13;

    Thank you and congrats from Croatia.

  11. BlackHat Productions
    03 April 12, 2:06pm

    Congrats from Belgium

  12. almalki
    30 March 12, 4:31am

    You are simply an artist
    I wish to continue
    We really listen to you
    I am from Saudi Arabia 🙂
    thank you very much

  13. oriol
    20 August 11, 10:56am

    Thanx for this great tutorial!
    Congrats from Barcelona city!!

  14. curtis
    02 August 11, 11:29pm


    could you do a tutorial on realflow?


  15. 13 July 11, 12:21am

    Nice! Thank you for the tips!

  16. d3signr
    11 July 11, 2:02pm

    I should also note that I missed where you wanted separate tags for certain letters to react differently, so obviously apply tags as needed 🙂


  17. d3signr
    11 July 11, 1:47pm

    Great tutorial thanks for sharing! You can however, where you apply the dynamics tags for the renderready text objects, only apply one tag to the renderready Null and under Collision, set it to Apply to Children then under Individual Elements set it to All. Also, where you do not want the D’s to start rolling, simple go to the start of the animation, and on the same dynamics tag under Dynamics, set Set Initial State. That way they are fixed in this start pose and do not roll when the animation starts. You could also set their state to be On Collision too so when the inflated letter hits them, they then react.

    Keep it up!

  18. Beggs
    11 July 11, 12:54am

    Ok i’am back again 😉
    after a computer crash, during the render process of C4d (Render time 46hours / frame 288 of 300) and a restart of the whole render process (complete render time 52hours) i finished, after a little bit of compositing, my scene 🙂

    if you want to see it just click the link below. 😉

    I know my “balloon” looks strange *lol* but i have a lot of trouble with my letter “G”.
    I dont know whats going on…it always collapse.
    And Yes of course i Select all-points and then i used the Function Optimize…still the same :o(

    Anyway…i’am here to learn something so thank you Al for this great tutorial!

    Here is my “BeggsDK – Blow and Pop” Video:


    p.s. sorry my bad english

  19. Mustafa
    06 July 11, 4:28am

    hey dude, nice job, weldone, keep posting more tuts, thanks so much :))))))

  20. 05 July 11, 8:55pm

    It took me a while due to GI. Really depends on your computer, but be sure to set some time aside.

  21. Beggs
    04 July 11, 7:29pm

    your tutorials are absolutely amazing.Especially this one is great!
    I’ve never “played” with this pressure option in the SoftBody Tag 🙂
    Pretty cool feater.

    So thank you very much for all your great tutorials.

    Beggs from germany

    P.s. how long does C4D to render?

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