How to create Alien Invasion VFX – Tutorial

To prove the power of ProductionCrate assets, we put them to the test by creating a large-scale city destruction VFX shot.

ProductionCrate is a library of over 10,000+ professional video effects, stock footage, sound effects and 3D models. You’ll be happy to hear that a lot of these assets are free to download, while Pro users can access the entire library, including 4K assets.

We’re constantly updating our library with new and exciting creative content, such as our most recent bundle of 4K dust and smoke accents.

Download 4K Smoke Burst VFX Assets

These have been built in with alpha-mattes using a Quicktime PNG codec so that you simply need to drag and drop this into your project. This, with the different file formats available for you to download, means our VFX assets are compatible with After Effects, Hitfilm, Premiere Pro and more.

Another brand new asset that we used in the shot is our 3D alien spaceship model. This is provided in OBJ format, the most widely supported file type, compatible with Blender, 3ds Max, Cinema4D, Element3D and more.

GraphicsCrate provided a huge level of control for the look of the environment. While video assets are good for explosions and lasers, static graphics can give us the power to add cracks, scorch marks and rubble to our scene.

Here’s the full list of assets we used in this video:

FootageCrate

SoundsCrate

RenderCrate

GraphicsCrate

You can learn exactly how we built this shot by watching our latest tutorial, which covers several valuable compositing techniques that will improve your skills. Enjoy!

If you’re interested in some fantastic new sound effects for your cinematic trailers, take a look at them here.

Crate’s Heat Radiation After Effects Plugin – Free Download

Download the free Heat Radiation plugin for After Effects here.


ProductionCrate is releasing a free plugin for Adobe After EffectsHeat Radiation.

We’ve lost count of the number of times that we have added any fire-based effect to our VFX. Maintaining realistic colours is always a challenge for artists, as different fire VFX assets often have different styles that are inconsistent with each other. This is where our After Effects plugin comes in!

This tool is a powerful colouring plugin to help you composite your fire, explosions, lava, stars and anything else that glows hot.

It creates consistent colours which accurately follow the rules of black-body radiation, which defines the properties of light emitted from hot objects.

Download the free Heat Radiation plugin for After Effects

The results created from plus plugin can then overlay the background footage using a screen or add blending mode.

Download the free Heat Radiation plugin for After Effects

Here’s how it works:

  • Create the input layer. The brightness of the pixels will represent the temperature you believe it should be (for example, a fire input will be brighter than its surroundings).
  • In most cases, using a solid-composite effect to avoid the background emitting any light will create desirable results.
  • Apply Crate’s Heat Radiation effect! The default values should instantly provide stylish results.
  • From here you can further adjust the parameters until you’re happy.

Download the free Heat Radiation plugin for After Effects

We wanted to design this plugin accurately represent the real world, and so the temperature-based parameters are in Kelvin. This means that you can input measured values and be given colours that you will expect to see.

Download the free Heat Radiation plugin for After Effects

We’ve extended the limits far enough to reach the surprising phase where the light emitted from a hot object turns blue. This can be useful for plasma, stars, jet-exhausts and more.


Here’s a breakdown of the most useful parameters you will come across in this After Effects plugin:

Max Temperature

This controls the temperature that a white pixel in your input will represent. The minimum temperature will also perform the same, but for the black pixels. You should aim to use temperatures that you expect the scene to have in the real world.

Download the free Heat Radiation plugin for After Effects

Temperature Offset

This shifts the entire minimum and maximum temperature output by a specified value. It can be useful if you want to increase the overall temperature of a scene.

Download the free Heat Radiation plugin for After Effects

Gamma

Creates additional contrast and intensity in the result.

Download the free Heat Radiation plugin for After Effects

Yellow Influence

We recognise that not all black-body emitting objects are perfect, and have included this to allow you to adjust the intensity of the yellow in the output. This is especially useful in flames and explosions.

Download the free Heat Radiation plugin for After Effects

Black Falloff

The value of the black falloff will define the temperature of a pixel that is at 100% brightness. Anything between this and the Black Point will be linearly interpolated towards 0% brightness.

Download the free Heat Radiation plugin for After Effects


A useful tip for using this plugin is to apply a curves adjustment before the Heat Radiation effect. This will allow you to precisely control the intensity and contrast of the inputs for quick manipulation of the final output.

Windows Installation

To install the plugin, simply navigate to your Adobe After Effects folder (C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe After Effects CC 2019\Support Files\Plug-ins) and insert “HeatRadiation.aex”.

Mac Installation

 

To install the plugin to a Mac device, locate your Adobe After Effects folder (/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Common/Plug-ins/7.0/MediaCore/ProductionCrate) and insert “HeatRadiation.bundle”.

 

Download the free Heat Radiation plugin for After Effects

We hope you enjoy creating even more spectacular projects with this free After Effects plugin. If you’re interested in more content, check out all of our scripts and plugins for Adobe After Effects here.

Download Debris and Destruction VFX Assets

Download the HD/4K Debris VFX Elements here.

Destruction is one of the cornerstones of action VFX. While destroying things in real life may be fun, the movie-making industry has been shifting towards the CGI approach. We’re here to help you do exactly that.

ProductionCrate has just released a collection of professional-quality 4K debris explosion assets. These action effects are packed full of detail, ensuring you’ll be able to create the finest VFX instantly!

These destruction assets all include an alpha channel and built-in shadows, meaning that no green-screen keying is required to achieve transparency. This allows you to drag and drop the effects onto your project and have it blend in for unbeatable results.

They also all stay completely within frame. This means you can scale, position and rotate these debris VFX assets anywhere in the scene without any visible borders, an issue which is often seen from other stock footage sources.

Compositing destruction and explosion effects digitally allowed us to do things that practical effects cannot, such as being able to precisely control the final look even after we’ve shot our footage!

So how do you create and use the debris VFX? In a mini tutorial, let’s take a look at an example of how you can use these to achieve Hollywood level special effects instantly:

Download Debris and Destruction VFX

Our background (from Pexels.com) is an example of what scenes work best with these assets. We recommend a concrete surface as the ground, but you can easily use other surfaces such as brick, sand or dirt.

You’ll then want to pick your debris VFX assets from our effect library. Try to select ones that best match the lighting and perspective of your scene. For example, the one we are going to use will match the sunlight coming from the side in our background image.

If you know you need even more content in your scene, feel free to also explore the wide range of content we provide that will also help you composite your VFX. We have over 10,000 to choose from, ranging from fire, smoke, explosions and more… (A lot of them are also free to download!).

In your preferred editing software, such as Adobe After Effects, Hitfilm or Premiere Pro, position your downloaded content onto your background. I recommend you also flip the assets horizontally if needed to precisely match the shadows of the scene.

Incredibly, the only step left to do is to colour correct the asset! This is important as it will allow the chunks of rock in the debris asset to look like they come from the ground being obliterated.

A powerful tool is to use a curves effect. Cycle through each of the RGB channels, carefully adjusting the controls until the colours match perfectly.

Did you notice how easy that was? This should prove just how effective our high-quality debris assets will be in your VFX editing workflow.

From here, you can further make enhancements such as masking out the foreground to fully integrate the effect into your scene.

Download Debris and Destruction VFX

We are really excited to see what you create with these! If you’re interested in more compositing tutorials, check out our helicopter VFX assets.

Download Free After Effects Glow Script – Crate’s Glow

Download the Free After Effects Glow Script here

Believe it or not, there’s a lot that goes into a good glow effect! I’m overly passionate about this particular topic, and would happily spend hours fine-tuning each little pixel of my glow to make sure it makes my VFX absolutely perfect – and ProductionCrate wants to help you do the same.

Except it won’t take you hours… Instead, just a few seconds!

We have built out a powerful glow extension for After Effects, capable of producing the most stunning optical effects for your compositing projects with a single click. We’ve tested this tool to its limits, and are insanely proud of what this can do for VFX artists like you. Additionally, we’ve made this free to download for everyone!

Download Free After Effects Glow Script - Crate's Glow

So why did we make something that After Effects can already do? Those who have already used After Effects built-in glow effect already know the answer – it’s pretty ugly.

That leads us to our next question; what makes Crate’s Glow any better? Our script has been carefully designed to follow the natural physical properties of light, allowing the final result to imitate the realistic gradient-based falloff that we see in the real world. This eliminates the artificial look that After Effect’s built-in glow generates and instead gives us an incredibly aesthetic result.

Download Free After Effects Glow Script - Crate's Glow

Each parameter has been fine-tuned to create the best result with one click. You can easily make further adjustments with user-friendly parameters. These can be changed even after the glow has been created by using the sliders in the “Glow Controls” null layer.


Threshold                              – Minimum brightness for an area of the image to begin to glow

Intensity                                 – Brightness of the glow

Spread                                   – How far out the glow reaches

Flicker Intensity                    – Increase this to have the intensity shift over time

Flickers Per Second             – How often the flicker fluctuates in a second

Tint Strength                         –  When increased, the glow will match the chosen color more

Tint Colour                            – The color used for the tint

Vibrance                                – If you’re losing color in your glow, you can use this to boost the saturation


Usually, the glow effect will work without any extra squabble, but I’ll quickly go through how you can take full advantage of the features available.

Here’s an example of an explosion VFX shot that needs an exciting glow effect to give the fire some further intensity.

Download Free After Effects Glow Script - Crate's Glow

Since we’re organised (most of the time), we have the robot-explosion VFX layer separated from the background. Using keying tools, we can isolate the orange flames in a new layer.

Download Free After Effects Glow Script - Crate's Glow

Selecting this layer, and clicking “Generate” on our glow script will have the glow effect only applied to these flames, adding an extraordinarily epic glow to our fire VFX.

Download Free After Effects Glow Script - Explosion Effect

And it’s as simple as that!

Download Free After Effects Glow Script - Explosion Effect

To download and install the script, open up After Effects and navigate through File -> Scripts -> Run Script File. Find a folder you wish to keep the script stored, and extract “Crate’s Glow.jsx” to the new location. Double click the .jsx file and the script window will open.

If you’re looking for even more scripts to add to your workflow, check out our incredible Hologram extension!

Free After Effects Glow Script - Crate's Glow

How to Install Scripts to After Effects (Windows and Mac)

After Effects scripts are a powerful way to automate and accomplish tasks that would have otherwise taken far longer.

For example, many popular scripts automate the way that you animate, automatically adjusting keyframes in an instant to save you valuable time and get better results.

If you haven’t tried any out yet, you can browse our library of exclusive scripts and plugins. Many of them are free to download, while Pro members of the ProductionCrate community can access the entire collection, as well as over 10,000 other creative assets.

Thankfully, installing these scripts is an incredibly easy process, and works the same on both Windows and Mac. We also ensure that our tools are compatible with the most recent versions of After Effects (CC 2018, CC 2019).

Our example today will be walking through the installation of our free Hologram generator script which has just launched!

 


1 – Extract the script to “/Adobe After Effects CC 2019/Support Files/Scripts”

If you don’t have any .zip file tools, you can use WinWar.

Using this software to open the .zip file that you download will allow you to then drag the files to a new location. Make sure that you extract all of the content from the zip file.

Our destination is usually found in the Program Files folder. In most cases the full directory is:

C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe After Effects CC 2019\Support Files\Scripts

But if you are using any other Adobe CC version, feel free to place it there instead.

How to Run Scripts in After Effects

2 – Create your After Effects composition

Most of our tools won’t work if there’s no footage for it to work on!

3 – Click File -> Scripts -> Run Script File

From here you can then navigate to the place you extracted the files to. Clicking on the “.jsx” file will then launch your chosen script.


Fixing Errors

There’ll always be the chance that something goes wrong. We’ve compiled a list of steps you can take to troubleshoot these issues

Double-Check

Take a moment to quickly look back in the zip folder, and check if all of the contents are also in the After Effects script folder. If it isn’t, simply drag it all over again!

Settings

Go through Edit -> Preferences -> General. A window will open with a bunch of checkboxes, where you can enable “Allow Scripts to Write Files and Access Network”.

Call for backup

If all else fails, you can ask on the forums, the comments below or contact us at Support@ProductionCrate.com, we’ll happily try our best to help out!


 

Free Hologram Generator Script (Download)

Download Crate’s Free Hologram Script here

Creating holograms in After Effects is about to get a lot more fun with the release of our latest script.

These effects are one of the most requested on ProductionCrate, our library of thousands of digital assets to help build your creative endeavours. We know that often you will need to control what’s projected in the hologram, which is why we released this tool to help you do exactly that.

Not only can you download it for free, but using it to create your After Effects hologram is a one-click process!

Download Free Hologram Script for After Effects

Every feature that you could possibly need was built into the script. This includes:


  • ColorDownload Free Hologram Script for After Effects
  • Glow
  • Projection Rays
  • Chromatic Aberration
  • Scan Lines
  • Displacement
  • Flicker
  • Signal Interference
  • Framerate
  • Pixelate
  • Blur
  • Sharpen

All properties are fully customisable, meaning no matter what style you were aiming for, you’ll get there.

If you wanted to save your customised hologram, you can also click Animation -> Save Animation Preset to be able to apply it to any other shots you may have.

And if you wanted to save time, you might be interested in checking out the presets that we have built into the script. You can navigate through these by clicking the arrows on the pop-up window. These have been built to mimic some of the most recognisable movie holograms, referencing Star Wars, Iron Mans HUD, Aquaman and more.

Download Free Hologram Script for After Effects

To download and install the script, open up After Effects and navigate through File -> Scripts -> Run Script File. Find a folder you wish to keep the script, then extract both the images folder and “Crates Camera Script.jsx” to the new location. Double click the .jsx file and you’ll be ready to create your holograms in an instant!

If you’re wanting to save even more time, you can download these HD hologram VFX assets for your video.

Using VFX Assets in 60fps (After Effects + Premiere Pro)

So you’ve embarked on a video editing project at 60fps? Here’s a little thing you might want to know!

For those who need an introduction, the “fps” refers to how quickly a video will switch between individual pictures to create the illusion of a movement, which begins at roughly 15 frames per second.

So why would you want to create a 60fps project if most video formats are at a standard 24-30fps? For one simple reason: it’s satisfyingly silky smooth.

60 FPS Comparison GIF

Other than it’s an impressive visual effect, it can also help out for a variety of purposes. For example, gameplay videos are often recorded at 60fps since the games strive for immersion, and so this smooth playback helps gives the game a more natural look.

Another case is for motion graphics, where a clean art style compliments the fluid framerate. This is common in infographics, such as a personal favourite from the YouTube channel Kurzgesagt.

So what do you need to do to your ProductionCrate workflow to make the assets you download fit into your scene? As you may know, most of our FootageCrate elements are 30fps, so here is what we suggest to make it work.

Introducing a much-loved technique, time interpolation! This handy tool is the computer taking a guess at what is happening between two images. From the guess, it then creates an image which is what it predicts the image to look like halfway between the first and the second image. This means you can convert a 30fps asset into 60fps, as the software will create the 30 extra frames out of thin air. We need to apply the interpolation to the 30fps asset to convert it to 60fps.

60FPS Explosion

Most mid-tier editing software supports this. Here’s how you’ll find them:

After Effects

– Right-click on the ProductionCrate asset, go through Effects -> Time -> Time Warp.

– Set the speed to 50%, and make sure your project is in 60fps.

Premiere Pro

– Right-click on your ProductionCrate asset, and select “Speed/Duration”.

– Adjust the speed parameter to 50%.

– Choose Optical Flow as the Time Interpolation method.

Congratulations, your video is now as smooth as butter!

60FPS Motion Graphics Subscribe Button

If you’re interested in levelling up your compositing skills, you might also be interested in our recent rotoscoping course!

Rotoscoping Tricks in Adobe After Effects and Mocha AE

Adrian Jensen recently created this Pro VFX Course teaching you his techniques for rotoscoping in Adobe After Effects and Mocha AE. Here are some highlights from his course, Pro Users can view the entire roto-series here. If you’re rotoscoping to place video effects behind your subject or to integrate Motion Graphics into your project then this course is for you.

Rotoscope with Masking in After Effects

This is the most common technique for rotoscoping in After Effects. Some think it is antiquated, however we utilize it all the time.

When you’re using masks to roto in After Effects don’t try to use one mask. This may seem like the correct approach at first, but you’ll quick realize how complex and messy it will become. Instead, break up your subject(s)  with multiple masks, this will speed up your workflow tremendously.

A lot of tutorials suggest a fixed number of frames to move before keyframing. Adrian suggests keyframing your masks at the point of most-motion as a better approach.

There are two different kinds of masks you can use, Adrian prefers the Auto-Bezier mask option.

Remember, you can double click your masks and rotate them, this will save time, especially for rigid body objects. You don’t have to move each mask point by point every time.

Color code your masks. This will help distinguish them from one another, and will help if your mask looks too similar to the subject you are trying to roto out.

Rotoscoping with Mocha AE

Boris FX Mocha AE

Adrian’s preferred method for rotoscoping is Mocha AE.

Mocha AE comes with After Effects and is a terrific tool for motion tracking and rotoscoping work.

You can track multiple masks (or ‘layers’) at one time with Mocha AE. Adrian still recommends multiple masks for your subject, instead of attempting one mask.

When using Mocha AE set your spline up and let it track all the way through before making any adjustments.

Lock your mask when you are done with it, you can turn off the Gear icon to disable processing.

 

Want to learn more? Visit Adrian’s Pro Rotoscoping Course and get your roto-game leveled up. Adrian covers masking, Mocha, the Roto Brush Tool and even techniques to avoid rotoscoping entirely.

Creating Earthbender VFX

Recently we’ve had a dig at creating one of our most epic shots in ProductionCrate history – Earthbending!

We utilised the full range of FootageCrate content to help us achieve this destruction VFX. After building out the scene in 3ds Max, smoke bursts, shockwaves and debris elements from FootageCrate (which you can download here) brought the compositing to the next level.

Our powerful Camera Shake Script also gave us control over realistically jolting the camera to fully immerse our viewers into this clip.

The crashing elements from SoundsCrate can also help build the action.

We used 3ds Max and After Effects as our choice of software, though anyone wishing to follow along will be able to use almost any program that has the same features!

Head over to our recent Davesplanation video to check out how we did it!

We hope projects like these inspire you to create your next epic project using ProductionCrate assets.

You can check out our previous Davesplanation, where we destroyed a plane!

How to Make an 8-Bit Effect

8-Bit is back! You’ve probably noticed the growing popularity of this retro style. We’ve seen it in titles and openers, logo animations, indie games, VFX Shorts and many more. Let’s take a look at how to achieve this style. We’ll be using After Effects but if you’re a Hitfilm User you can find an awesome tutorial here.

We’ll show you how to make this 8-Bit style in AE, but you can also download the preset here

For our effect we chose this aerial explosion from the popular Anime and Toon Category to give it that 8-Bit look.

cartoon explosion assets

Import your clip or effect into After Effects.

A popular technique in AE for achieving the 8-Bit look is by using the Mosaic Effect, but we find it far too difficult to achieve the perfect squares and pixelation needed to pull this effect off. Instead, we’re going to use CC Block Load.

 

Drag CC Block Load onto your footage. Set the Completion to 0. We set our Scans to 3. For the number of scans, use to your discretion. Uncheck the Start Cleared selection.

Classic 8-Bit games were limited in what colors were available. While our explosion doesn’t appear to have too many colors, we can still limit the variation and add some color degradation with the Posterize Effect.

 

Add the Posterize Effect to your layer. You will instantly notice some color degradation. Play with the level. Depending on your footage you can find the right look for you. We suggest adding these effects to individual layers but staying consistent with the CC Block Load scan number for pixel consistency.

One additional item you can change is your composition’s framerate. We are going to change our comp’s from 29.97fps to 15fps. To do this you can go to Composition>Settings or just hit Control K (Command K for Mac) and change your framerate there.

learn to make an 8 bit explosion

For the final step we want to get rid of those semi-transparent pixels. This can be done quickly with the Levels effect. Drop the levels effect onto your layer, and select the Alpha option from the drop-down.

 

Select the Alpha Input White number (32768) and type /2 for (32768/2) and deselect. Now your number will read half of that, or 16384. Copy that number and paste it into your Input Black. Now you have crunched out those semi-transparent pixels!

Now you have your 8-Bit style. Mess around with the Anime FX and see what works best for you.

8BIT AFTER EFFECTS

 

Want to keep learning? Check out this Bouncey Text Tutorial in After Effects