Create a Doctor Who (2010) Time Vortex in After Effects

A Trapcode Particular and CC Particle World tutorial.

Geronimo! Fly down the time tunnel as seen by Matt Smith’s timelord. Avoid the storm clouds, lightning strikes and plunge into fire. This Adobe After Effects tutorial aims to recreate Framestore’s iconic title sequence which reimagined the time vortex.

Part of the Makin’ Wormhole series, I show how to adapt the Wormhole projects to by changing their textures. Then using a nifty expression covered in those tutorials, I show how to add lightning within the clouds and how to change the tunnel from the tornado to the flames.

Links Mentioned

Dan Ebbert’s expression for altering the radius based on keyframes

fadetime = 0.1;
dur = 0.2;
p = effect("Tunnel Position (%)")("Slider");
val = 0;
if(p.numKeys > 0){
    n = p.nearestKey(time).index;
    if(p.key(n).time > time) {
    if(n > 0){
        t = p.key(n).time;
        if(time < t+dur){
            val = linear(time, t, t+fadetime, -70, 80);
        } else {
 val = linear(time, t+dur, t+dur+fadetime, 80, -70);

Create a Doctor Who (2005) Time Vortex in After Effects

A Trapcode Particular and CC Particle World tutorial.

Fantastic! After all these years, it turns out there’s a simple way to recreate a David Tennant era… I mean… Christopher Eccelston era time vortex. In this dual After Effects tutorial, I show how to take the particle tunnel / wormhole I previously showed how to make, and adapt it to match the 2005 – 2009 Doctor Who title sequence.

And not only that, but then I also demonstrate how to reverse the direction of travel, swinging the camera around and changing the colour from blue to red. Just like the blue-shift to red-shift of the titles. Oh yes! I do have to use a couple of expressions, but I promise they are easy to follow and won’t make AE go all wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey.

Links mentioned

Create an Interstellar wormhole in After Effects

This tutorial shows how to use either Red Giant Trapcode Particular or CC Particle World to create a particle tunnel.

Part of my Makin’ wormholes series, showing how to create really cool, sci-fy tunnels in Adobe Video & Motion After Effects. Christopher Nolan’s 2014 epic Interstellar attempted to scientifically accurately depict black holes and wormholes. Which won the team at DNEG an Academy Award. My tutorial produces a fairly decent recreation of the wormhole effect and should give you the basic look as I’m sure you could improve upon it.

Other tutorials mentioned

Create a Wormhole tunnel using Trapcode Particular

This Adobe After Effects tutorial flies a camera down a tunnel of particles.

Wormholes are cool and a sci-fi staple. You’d think you would need a full 3D package with particle generation. As it turns out, 3D Particles are not the main issue, instead the challenge has always been getting a camera to move along the same motion path as the particle tunnel. In Cinema4D, this is known as Align to Spline.

In this tutorial, I show how to create the equivalent using a few null objects, some simple expressions. The texture for the particles comes from a precomp which makes it simple to swap in different tunnel textures.

Create a Wormhole Particle Tunnel in After Effects

This tutorial shows you how to fly a camera down a 3D motion path.

Wormholes are cool and a sci-fi staple. You’d expect to create your own versions you’d need a full 3D package with particle generation, but in this tutorial I demonstrate how you can use a few null objects, some simple expressions and CC Particle World to create a dynamic, flexible, adaptable tunnel of particles that renders in minutes. All in After Effects with no plugins.

The texture for the particles comes from a precomp which makes it “super easy barely an inconvenience” to swap in different tunnel textures.

Links mentioned

Simulating a rope with Fake Dynamics in After Effects

This tutorial introduces you to a simple way to animate a rope, lasso, cape, cloth or even hair.

Fake Dynamics is the brainchild of Wasib Qureshi with help from Colin Harvie, Pchelovek1205 and Daniel Gies. It is a script which you can run inside Adobe After Effects to link nulls to a driver (parent) null and have them respond to it.

This is also my first YouTube collaboration ( sort of ) as I get interrupted by a real cowboy, Buffalo Billy who tells me how wrong I am when trying to lasso a goat. It’s bit of fun I hope you enjoy.

After the interruption, I explain where to find the AE Fake Dynamics script, how to install it and then show you a couple of simple ways to use it. I start with a dangling rope which sways around as I move the top of it. Next I quickly animate a very basic lasso looping around a goat’s neck and yanking it off screen.

During the tutorial I also make use of AE’s included script “Create Nulls from Paths” and Dan Ebbert’s Overshoot expression.

Links mentioned

Briar Patch-style nebula from Star Trek Insurrection

An After Effects tutorial showing how to use free and included effects to recreate the look inside a sc-fi nebula.

This tutorial takes a different approach to creating gas clouds in space and gives you more control over the final look. Using the Turbulent Noise (or Fractal Noise if you prefer), 4-color gradient and Turbulent Displace effects, I show how to create the look of a nebula from the inside. By arranging the solids in 3D space, and using shading to help with a sense of depth, you’ll see what’s possible without needing particles.

I go on to demonstrate how you can use the circle effect with blending modes to create lightning or plasma bursts within the clouds. Finally, after using VC Element to add a starship, I use the Set Matte effect to generate a cutout of the Enterprise, which I then use with CC Radial Blur to create volumetric shadows.

Links mentioned

(It’s Blender, but you can convert it to an OBJ file easily. I cover how to convert Blender for use in Element in this tutorial:

How to Import Animated Characters into Video Copilot Element

This tutorial shows you how to animate characters in the Video Copilot plugin for Adobe After Effects.

VC Element is a great way to easily animate 3D objects inside After Effects and while it can import C4D files, this imported animation is limited to position, scale and rotation. To get animated characters in Element, you have to import an OBJ sequence – separate files for each frame of animation.

If you have full Cinema4D Studio, you cannot export directly, but you can use a script (links below). C4D Lite does not have character animation. If you’re using Blender, then it is a lot easier. This video takes you through all the steps involved in exporting from C4D using a script, then importing the OBJ sequence into Element. Finally, I show how to export 3D characters from Mixamo, import these animations into Blender, then export for Element.

Links mentioned


Text in a circle in After Effects

In this tutorial for Adobe After Effects, I answer one of the most asked questions I see on forums: “How do I get text to go in a circle?”. Text layers can have masks applied to them and they have a Path option, so it’s really simple to draw a circular mask and then have the text wrap around it. I talk through the options, but there is an issue that it is still awkward to smoothly rotate the text layer as it will not be perfectly centered / centred. I share a method to ensure the layer’s anchor point is in the exact center /centre, making it easy to rotate.

I also quickly show how to animate the text on any path by drawing a squiggly line and using the First Margin and finally, I use a pre-comp to wrap text around a sphere.

To copy the sphere in the title card, with the text larger than the Earth, simply make 2 layers and in CC Sphere radius settings, set the Text sphere to be slightly larger and the type to be Outside only.

Creating a 3D Asteroid Belt in After Effects

Using just CC Particle World and C4D Lite, this tutorial shows how to create a set of rocks hanging in space which you can fly through. No external plugins needed!

I use a series of Nulls to generate a line of particles using CC Particle World. Normally this is not ideal as CC Particle World particles can interact with each other and cause flickering. My technique avoids this. Then I generate random particle textures using an image and Turbulent Displace to generate rough, rocky shapes. Finally I head into Cinema4D Lite and use a Landscape object as a foreground rock.

Expressions used

L=thisComp.layer("Position NULL");
X = wiggle(15,400)[0];
Y = wiggle(15,400)[1];
Z = value[2];

Links mentioned