The way I would do it is to clone a bunch of discs onto the vertices of a plane. Then deform the plane using the formula deformer (for the ripple effect), or cloth, or the flag deformer, etc. Use a mograph target effector to keep the discs facing the camera.
This looks like a right approach. I don't quite understand how it's build though. Would you mind explaining it in detail? A step by step would be really useful. Mainly, I don't understand how the disc is connected to the plane. I just started using C4D, so any help is really appreciated.