Volumetric Lighting in After Effects



In Pete’s lesson this week we were working on simulating volumetric lighting in After Effects, in the end we wanted something similar to the GIF on the left (Pete’s example) which I got somewhat close to actually, I could only include a screenshot as rendering the full animation out would have taken a large amount of time which I didn’t have by the end of the lesson, the only things I was lacking from Pete’s example was animating the lights behind the logo to shine through more and twinkle overtime, more intense light and having the logo zoom out, I have set a goal to make another with my own logo and improve on the things we learnt in the lesson.

Here is how I did it, sorry for the lack of detail.

  1. New composition, 720p, 25fps and 10 seconds long.
  2. Insert the vector Magnetic North logo into the timeline.
  3. Position it centrally, turn the 3D layer on and push back on the Z axis.
  4. Use a grey solid to make a ground for the logo.
  5. Turn on accepts lights/shadows and cast shadows on the Magnetic North logo.
  6. Make a new point light that has cast shadows enabled and have it behind the logo to cast shadows towards the camera.
  7. A second light needs to be created to illuminate the front of the logo, this time a spot light that didn’t cast shadows.
  8. Make a  1-node camera with a 28mm lens and DOF enabled.
  9. Create a new white solid and place it behind the logo, used to mimic a light source. Use the ellipse mask tool to shape a new solid to size, I did mine to look like a torch light. Turn on 3D, push it back in the Z axis and in material properties turn off accepts lights.
  10. Create a Null , make it 3D and name it volume control.
  11. Create an adjustment layer at the top of the stack and have a radial fast blur applied, set to a strength of 70 and its blend mode set to brightest it can be.
  12. parent the centre of the radial blur to the Null layer.
  13. Add Curves twice and do some colour correcting to mimic the logo, above and below CC Radial Fast Blur .
  14. Create another white solid and add fractal noise effect to it, change the effect type from basic to dynamic, change the rotation to 200 and contrast to around 220.
  15. Add an ellipse mask over this and feather it out in the mask settings. Soften the edges using an effect called “Solid Composite” and change it’s colour to black.
  16. In the fractal noise settings, change the blending mode to none and add an expression to the evolution “time*175” which will animate the cloud looking solid to look more like smoke and offset it behind the logo.

That’s about all I did before the lesson time was over, I really enjoyed this lesson as it has gave me quite a few ideas for what to do with me own logo and hope to work on that soon.


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