Hologram / Projector beams without plugins (IMPROVED)

A tutorial for Adobe After Effects.

I’ve taken another run at creating hologram beams (which could also be used for a movie projector). In my original tutorial I used lots of CC Radial Blur, which almost worked, but here I show a completely different technique which it’s simple to set up and really adaptable – it’s all based on the Corner Pin effect, but rather than leave it there, I show first how to get a “Star Wars” hologram look, then I build up a number of effects all on one layer, so that I can save it as a preset.



Force to centre of comp:

X = thisComp.width/2;
Y = thisComp.height/2;

Corner Pin Lower Left:

X = effect("Corner Pin")("Upper Left")[0];
Y = effect("Corner Pin")("Upper Left")[1]+1;

Corner Pin Upper Right:

X = effect("Hologram Layer")("Layer").transform.position[0]+effect("Offset Object width")("Slider");
Y = effect("Hologram Layer")("Layer").transform.position[1]-effect("Hologram Layer")("Layer").height/2;

The trick to making Intersecting Shapes in After Effects

A quick tutorial for Adobe After Effects.

In this video, I answer a question I see a lot on forums:

“How can you get one shape to cut out bits from another”

Lots of people

it’s a clean look effect which a lot of people think is really complicated involving track mattes, masks and parenting. It’s not. It’s super-easy, barely an inconvenience. Once the intersecting shapes are set up correct, a transfer mode, then I share a simple method to change their colours so that you’re not stuck with black and white.

Eclipse from Space / Moon Shadows in After Effects

A tutorial which uses Video Copilot’s free Orb plugin. In this video forAdobe After Effects, I first demonstrate how to link a moon to a planet using null objects, parenting and the Orb effect. Then I combine the Circle and Offset effects with a Linear expression to range map a shadow to follow a planet. This means I get to avoid ray-tracing, heavy render times and can adapt the eclipse size / moon shadow pretty quickly.

I can also use this technique to cast words or even spaceship shadows on a planet. After talking you through all of the above, I then show how to apply it to a Earth model you have already set up. –


Dan Ebberts’ toWorld:

L=thisComp.layer("Emitter Position"); 

Linear Offset:

X = linear(thisComp.layer("Moon Rotation NULL").transform.yRotation,-90,3,1100,-100); 

Y = linear(thisComp.layer("Moon Rotation NULL").transform.zRotation,-30,30,1000,0);


Create a Curvy Arrow Preset for After Effects

A text and path tutorial.

In this quick tutorial for Adobe After Effects, I demonstrate how you can combine text and mask paths to create a simple curved arrow / pointer you can save as a preset.

This works for Adobe After Effects CS6 and Creative Cloud users, although in the second part of the tutorial I show how to use JavaScript to draw the mask points and control the angle. This element is not available for CS6 users unfortunately.

Text to copy


Expression used

var cw = thisComp.width/2;
var ch = thisComp.height/2;
ArrowPoint = [effect("Arrow head")("Point")[0]-cw,effect("Arrow head")("Point")[1]-ch];
EndPoint = [effect("End of the line")("Point")[0]-cw,effect("End of the line")("Point")[1]-ch];
AnglePoint = [effect("Angle")("Point")[0]-cw,effect("Angle")("Point")[1]-ch];
createPath([EndPoint, ArrowPoint], [ArrowPoint,AnglePoint], outTangents = [], isClosed = false)

The best plugin you’ve never heard of? – Stock3D

A short review of Stock3D.

In this video, I talk about Stock3D, a 3D stock footage “plugin” for Adobe After Effects. Strictly speaking this isn’t a plugin, but it behaves like one. Stock3D is a collection of 4 fireballs, which can be added to any comp. Once in the timeline, you can select the angle of the fireball, which makes it so much more than a flat 2D piece of stock footage.

I’m still exploring the product, but you can see it in my recent ‘Black Hole destroying Earth’ tutorial ( https://youtu.be/cwiDR73mVI0 ) and I also used it to make Stargate’s kawoosh (which you can see in the video).

Destroying Earth with a Black Hole

This mega effect sequence combines mutliple techniques. So many in fact, it seemed sensible to break up the video into mutiple parts. In this first video, I start with  @Video Copilot  Ultra Earth 3D project and using their free Orb plugin combined with the Polar Coordinates effect, I reposition the map, so that CERN is at the center. This makes it much, much easier to add lots of circular damage.

In my video, I have a bit of fun, suggesting the scientists at CERN in Switzerland accidentally create a quantum singularity. First this starts pulling in all the air, then the cracks propagate across the crust, showing lava (or magma as its not on the surface ?). The cracks go through the oceans too, causing the water to foam and churn and creating giant waves which move towards the black hole. Eventually the air is all sucked in and the atmosphere fades. The crust turns to dust as it too is pulled in, exposing the now broken mantle and glowing core. Bit gloomy really.

Oh and a huge thank you and shout out to Birkoo for composing the music for this sequence: https://www.youtube.com/birkoo


Create Netflix’s Hellbound Title in After Effects

A guide to animating fire-y Korean text.

Netflix’ show Hellbound has some really cool visual effects, but as soon as I saw the title sequence, I knew I wanted to recreate the look of the title card which appears at the start. It turned out to be straight-forward so I thought I’d share how you can make your own.

Firstly I use Google Translate to get my name in Korean, then I head over to Fonts Adobe’s Font collection to activate a suitable font. With all that done, I head into After Effects and add a texture from Pexels, animate fire using Video Copilot’s free Saber effect and then use the Simple Choker effect to have the text bleed in.

Create a Supernova in After Effects

From star collapse to light burst to nebula formation all in one sequence.

In this tutorial, I build on some of my earlier videos to create a supernova (a massive star explosion). After a preview of what we’re going to build, I sprinkle in a few facts about these stellar phenomena then dive into the tutorial. For the sun’s shrinking to a point, I use the lesser known Time Displacement to create an organic implosion. Next I use a simple expression to link a Lens Flare to a 3D Null. For the nebula particles I demonstrate how to create an explosion using CC Particle World and finally for the shockwave I use Video Copilot’s Orb, which CC Radial Blur and Turbulent Noise to get the look.

Animate with Audio in After Effects

A walkthrough of how to use music and sound files.

You’ll get loads of people telling you not to use audio in Adobe After Effects. That you should use Audition or another sound editor and Premiere Pro or other video editor. And yeah, you can do a lot more in those programs, but it’s also entirely possible to use AE with audio and create animations and motion graphics synchronised to music. And also as a really quick way to add sound effects to your VFX shots.

In this video, I cover adding audio files, using their waveform and using layer markers for visual cues. I also look at the audio Spectrum and Audio Waveform effects (found in the Generate category) which makes it super easy to get you voice on screen. We’ll look at the Keyframe Assistant’s Generate keyframes from Audio and then combining that with expressions to drive animations. And finally, how you can create a repeating sound effect, using the expression below, driven by layer markers.

Expression used

len = thisLayer.source.duration;
if(marker.numKeys > 0){
m = marker.nearestKey(time).index;
if(marker.key(m).time > time) m--;
if(m > 0){
mt = marker.key(m).time;
if(time < mt+len){
linear(time, mt, mt+len, 0, len);
}else 0
}else 0
} else value;

Make a Podrace in After Effects

A tutorial using Particles to create multiple rock arches.

Borrowing from the Pod-Racing scene in Star Wars: Episode 1, The Phantom Menace, this tutorial shows how to use either Trapcode Particular or CC Particle World to create a particle tunnel.

I then use 2.5D images to create a desert floor, CC Environment to create a sky dome and CC Radial Fast Blur on an adjustment layer to add blurring around the edges to mimic a Formula 1 speed tunnel.

Part of my Makin’ Wormholes series, showing how to create really cool, sci-fy particle tunnels in After Effects

Links mentioned