Drama Ident

Download Cable Project

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This Foxtel Store ident was created using Maxon Cinema 4D, Adobe After Effects and GenArts Sapphire.

I started by modelling the handset from a low resolution cylinder object, which was cut in half and dropped into a Symmetry object. The speaker holes were modelled separately then attached to the handset.

A Subdivision Surface object was used to smooth out the geometry. Notice that even though there are some triangles it’s okay because they are on a flat surface. Modelling the speaker holes manually rather than using a Boolean object results in much cleaner geometry, especially on the fine bevels around the holes. Once one speaker was finished, it was dropped into a second Symmetry object to create the lower half, converted to polygons and modified to reduced the amount of holes in the lower speaker.

Modelling straight then using an FFD to distort the shape is a great time saving technique.

The main body of the phone was box modelled, split into sections, dropped into a Symmetry object then smoothed using a Subdivision Surface object.

A rounded, rectangular spline and Extrude object were used as a basis for the booth.


Cuts were added to the body using the Knife tool to create insets for the instruction decals and a coin slot. Extra cuts were added to the coin slot and adjusted to fan it out at the sides.


I probably could have gotten away with not making a hole for the coin return lever but decided to anyway, to add detail and for the practice!

The coin return lever was modelled from a Cone object and dropped into a Subdivision Surface object.

With the coin return lever in place you can still see a subtle highlight at the base of the hole which adds valuable detail.

The handset final position is off the hook at the bottom of the booth, but I used it as a positioning guide for the cradle first.


The cradle was box modelled using symmetry then positioned in a rectangular hole cut into the body.


The hole is a bit rough but non-perfect fits can add realism.


The tongue for the cradle was modelled using symmetry, from a section of a Cylinder object.


There is still minor some pinching evident at the top but that wasn’t visible in the final so wasn’t an issue.


A key was modelled from a Cube object then dropped into a MoGraph Cloner object to create the keypad.

The next step was to create the holes in the body for the keys, including the extrusions around each hole.  At this stage I had to decide whether to continue working with the low resolution body inside the Subdivision Surface and add more cuts, or convert the Subdivision surface to an object, cut a hole and stitch the detail in. I decided on the later, but in retrospect I could have included the extrusions around the keys with the Cloner object and not bothered with cutting holes in the body for the keys. Stitching the holes into the body was good practice though!


Mastering the approach is key to being a good modeller. Before you go ahead and add more cuts consider other approaches and whether a shortcut might look identical in the end. If it looks right it is right!

The cash draw and the coin return.

The cable took some consideration and thanks to help from the excellent Cinema 4D community it was actually pretty easy in the end. I took Brett Morris’ suggestion and used a combination of Rectangle and Helix splines with a Sweep object to create the geometry, then wrapped that along a spline using Spline Wrap. It’s important to keep the poly count as low as possible with these kinds of shapes which can decrease redraw speeds when working and make render times balloon.

Another Sweep object with a Circle spline was used to create the inner part of the cable. The circle was swept along the same spline used for the Spline Wrap. Click on the link at the top of the post to download the cable project.

The telephone holes in the sides of the booth were created using splines imported from Adobe Illustrator combined with an Extrude object and Boolean object. I usually try to avoid booleans because of the mess they make to the geometry, but these flat surfaces rendered cleanly so it made sense in this case.

The takeaway coffee cup on top of the phone was created using a path created in Adobe Illustrator and a Lathe Object. The cup was converted to polygons and the lid split off into a separate object. This allowed me to offset the rotation of the lid slightly for added realism.

The finished model. Realistically the cable should have been longer but I took creative license in this case.

Two spotlights were used to represent streetlights, providing the overall illumination of the scene.

A downward pointing Parallel light was used to represent the booth light.

An Area light was placed in front of the phone to act as a fill light.

A second Area light was used to add extra illumination to the chrome objects, which were isolated using the Include mode.

The camera position at the end of the move.

This free HDR image from NoEmotion.net applied to a Sky object looks great in the chrome reflections and was perfect for the mood I wanted to convey.

All of the booth materials excluding the gradient for the booth light were sourced from cgtextures.com. All of the materials were cubically mapped.


This was my first time to use Reflectance and although I’m happy with the results, it was slow to render. The Diffusion channel was used to add dirt and wear and an extra layer of grunge with alpha channel was added on top.

For the coin release and U.S. Coins Only text I got great results using a black and white PSD with the Normalizer shader added within a Layer shader.


The decals were created from scratch in Adobe Illustrator then imported into Adobe Photoshop for texturing. I used reference images of many different phones as a guide but took plenty of creative license for the final images.

A scratched plastic texture was added in front of each of the decals.

The keys were given individual decals based on a real world phone, but would have looked better with a few more visible scratched and general wear and tear.

The logo was added to the cash draw using the same Normalizer shader technique used as the coin text.

The handset also used the Normalizer shader for the scratches.

The final textured payphone was then rendered in OpenEXR format and imported into After Effects with various object buffers.

In After Effects, a faux depth of field blur was created using a gradient layer as a blur map for Sapphire ZBlur.

Sapphire Gamma was used for a basic colour grade.

The booth was isolated using an object buffer and graded separately using the Curves effect.

The chrome objects were also isolated using an object buffer and brightened in the midtones using Curves.

The Reflection pass of the handset was isolated using an object buffer and comped over the original to beef up its reflections.

Adjustment layers with Sapphire Gradient were used to fake the light spill from the booth light. Keyframes for Start XY and End XY ensured that the gradient shifted upwards and out of the frame as the camera panned down.

Sapphire Vignette was used to darken the outer edges and add mood.

The Sapphire Builder preset “Chromatic Abberation” combines Warp Chroma with Vignette to create a chromatic aberration effect around the edges of the frame.

  1. Dan

    Awesome breakdown, John. Very inspiring. I’ve got to model more. It was great to see you at NAB again! Keep up the great work, brother. Until next year…

    • John Dickinson

      Thanks Dan, it was great to see you again too!

  2. Rogue Robot

    Great piece of work. But it’s opened up a million questions about modelling in C4D and moving on from the basic tools I use.
    What are the chances of a real-time modelling tut on this with you rebuildin the model again (!) or something similar? I’d love to see more detail about your use of the knife tool, FFD and Subdivision Surface.

    • John Dickinson

      Thanks, I learned many of those technique from Rob Redman while watching Making It Look Great 8 and 10. Both are available here on Motionworks!

  3. Kadınca

    Doing this kind of work is really a masterpiece. You need more than a creative mind i think. We can say it is the artistic engineering. RARE!

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