Makin’ a meteor / atmospheric re-entry in After Effects

In this tutorial, I use Adobe After Effects’ included effects and two free plugins from Video Copilot to recreate the look of flaming plasma as a spacecraft enters Earth’s atmosphere.

CC Particle World is used to make the flames, sparks and smoke. I use VC Orb to create the rock falling to the planet and VC Saber as a way of creating a firey surround to the plummeting asteroid.

In the tutorial, I also show a 3D Space Shuttle – I struggled to find a free 3D model of this spacecraft that could be used in either VC Element or Cinema4D Lite, so I imported one into C4D Lite and edited it to make it work. I have included this model in the download links too. I used C4D Lite to prepare the shuttle for VC Element and applied textures in that program. I haven’t included the VC textures I applied as they are not royalty-free for distribution, but everything is labelled in the model.

Original Model (with textures) can be downloaded from

Expression used:

X = thisComp.layer("Meteor NULL").transform.position[0]+effect("3D Point Control")("3D Point")[0]; 
Y = thisComp.layer("Meteor NULL").transform.position[1]+effect("3D Point Control")("3D Point")[1]; 
Z = thisComp.layer("Meteor NULL").transform.position[2]+effect("3D Point Control")("3D Point")[2]; 

Other Tutorials mentioned

Linking CC Particle World to a 3D Null

Makin’ 2D, 360 and 3D stars


Video Copilot plugins



Published by ShiveringCactus

Tutorials and videos, mainly After Effects, but with some 3D and puppetry stuff too.

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