Freezing Motion / “Bullet Time” Effect

Samples made in Cinema 4D, but could be done in most 3D programs.

In the example above, an object explodes and freezes as the camera moves around, then the pieces reverse motion, and the object reassembles. A second version where after freezing, the objects continue their motion is at the end.

In this example we have the words “Bullet Time” converted to a polygon object. We will use the "explosion" deformer on the words but you could also have a group of objects and use the "randomize" function to scatter the objects.

Make a 120 frame sequence. Go to the first frame and record keyframes for the scene camera and explode deformer position. The explode deformer is out of range of the words and hasn’t affected them yet. The camera is to the left of the words.

If you are going to randomize the position of the objects instead of using the explode deformer, record keyframes of the position, rotation, and scale properties of the camera and object before randomizing them at frame 0 and 100.

Go to about frame 100 and record the end position keyframes of the deformer or word position. The words have not moved since the explode deformer is still in the same position as in frame 0. Move the camera to its end position (to the right of the object in this case) and record a keyframe for the new camera position.

Go to frame 60 and move the explode deformer into the middle of the word objects, it will shatter the object and push the parts away.

You could also select you object group, and randomize the position of the objects to scatter them.

Record a new keyframe for the position of the explode deformer (or new object positions if you have randomized them.)

Now go to the Timeline window, and marquee the keyframes for the explosion deformer at frame 60 (or object positions) and move them to about frame 30. Control-drag (Mac) to move a copy the keyframes to frame 90. This will create the pause in the movement, making the exploded parts freeze.

Move original frame 0 starting position keyframes to about 15, and the original ending position keyframe at 100 to 105 to create a pause before and after the explosion.

There will be a problem with the motion of the parts. Because of the position keyframe interpolation of the explode deformer, the movement of the objects will not freeze, but will continue moving. (Note the arc between the keyframes.)

Select the deformer keyframe at frames 30 and 90, and go to keyframe properties. Select "link tangents" and "clamp" to flatten the movement curve between the points as below. The arc is now flat, and the movement will freeze.

That's all there is to it! See the Cinema 4D file link below. You can take about any keyframe, copy it, and separate the to keyframes to create a frozen pause in the movement. Just remember to flatten the tangents between the points to bring the motion to a complete stop.

Cinema 4D 8.5 scene File: MG_BulletTime.c4d

Here is a second, traditional version of the file. In this case the motions of the exploding pieces slows to a near stop, but continues moving, then after the pause, the motion continues and finishes.

The difference from the "reassemble" version above is the ending position of the explosion deformer end keyframe is not a copy the starting position, but records the finish of the explosion.

To pause the movement during the explosion, record a new keyframe for the explode deformer at the point you want to freeze, then copy that keyframe to later in the timeline. The Y position at the copied keyframe is about 24 m higher to keep the pieces slowly moving during the pause.

Cinema 4D 8.5 scene File: MG_BulletTime2.c4d


A Method for Freezing Motion in Cinema 4D

Here is a simple way to freeze time in an animation without additional plugins in Cinema 4D.

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