Getting A Sci-Fi Look Using After Effects Plugins

Your palette as a filmmaker is vastly expanded by using after effects plugins. One of the most stylized genre’s that can benefit from this is science fiction films. It used to be that sci fi films were noteworthy because of their cheesy special effects, but now, with several beneficial programs to use, you can add what would have previously been very expensive for a lot less. Some of these plugins are Ultimatte, Horizon and Shine, and you may be able to use any – or all of these – to get your desired effects
Step 1: Determining Your Look and Content

What are you going for? Is your sci fi piece set in an urban landscape? Maybe something lunar? A laboratory? If you have a plate or footage of the background you desire, you can bring that in. Is there a glowing space ship? Smoke or explosions? There are after effects to help with all of these.

Step 2: Using the Ultimatte Plugin

Ultimatte Advantedge is an amazing program that will allow you to composite together characters and settings that have never been together – and indeed never could be together – except through compositing. Putting your protagonist into a background that is hand-drawn or created in Photo Shop, or in a photograph from your family’s last vacation. Ultimatte is a pricey add-on, but if you need this kind of effect, in the long run it will save you money. Put your character into a dark city-scape. Then, what can you add to that?

Step 3: Making It Shine

Once you’ve put together your elements to put the character into the dangerous, urban landscape, consider a glowing orb. Take your elements, and determine where you want your orb. Shine will allow you to create and place the orb, but it will let you give it a healthy (or not so healthy) glow. And the glow can increase in intensity or in volume! Shine is a program that allows you the latitude to color to create glows and shines as you see fit.

Step 4: Being Particular

Perhaps this glowing orb grows in intensity and explodes! Trapdoor Particular lets you create the explosion, lets you throw the sparks where you want, and helps create the smoke that follows. If all that is too intense (maybe you just want to create a moody piece within the city), Particular allows you to add elements, such as rain--don’t forget, you’ll have to create the splashes in the puddles too!

Step 5: Check out Other Programs

These are only a few examples of the programs available. There are after effects that can help you make a head explode, make a house disintegrate, and make a person morph from a normal human to a make-up monster. Take a look at what’s available in after effects, then see how you can use it for your particular story.