View Full Version : Looking for an Exploding Ring/Shockwave Tutorial

03 March 2005, 04:38 PM
Hi all. We are all very familiar with the now infamous exploding ring effect first seen in the beginning Star Trek VI (or was is V?) and used to spruce up exploding Death Stars in the ends of Episodes IV and VI in the new releases. So, I think you all should have a good idea the effect I am referring to.

I checked all over the place online, hit the Creative Cow and a few of my other various tutorial haunts, but can not find a tutorial for this effect. I even it up some of the Lightwave tutorial sites, and though I found links, all of them to a one came up as dead links (go figure). The thing is, I actually downloaded one some years ago, which had two versions. One utilized a specific plug-in (making me thing that it was from Creative Cow as they love to do this) and another which did not use a plug in and turned out nicely. I even have the original finished movie I made, so I know I downloaded, printed and did it with great results.

If anyone knows a place to find a nice exploding ring tutorial, or even has some ideas on how to get me started, that would be fine. I remember having a track matte with a radial gradient falloff and a fractal based ring, and that the whole thing was on a 3D layer, but that's about all I can remember.

Thanks in advance to all who can offer assistance.

03 March 2005, 06:15 PM

I guess this is the Creative Cow tutorial you're referring to: very plugin heavy
Apart from that, I dont know of any. Sorry.


03 March 2005, 08:25 PM
Thanks Khalor, but unfortunately, that is not the tutorial I was thinking of (though I did go over that one and forgot to mention it). Here are a couple of pics from the original clip I made long ago:

The original color was orange, by the way.

This is from a quicktime file, but was originally done on PC. There have been a couple of decodes and recodes since, resulting in the loss or res. You should be able to see the difference from the one at the Cow though.

Thanks for the help anyhow.

03 March 2005, 07:33 PM
I gave this thing a shot and came up with following idea. You need to create a bitmap of a circle - actually a sphere whith an alpha channel gradient towards the center of the circle (center is transparent).

After this you create a composition in After Effects. I am referring to version 5.5 Production Bundle.
Insert this circle as a layer. Make that layer a 3D-layer.
Now there are two ideas as a starting point for getting this fractal-fire effect.
First of all I need to curse myself, because I once installed the German language version of AE, so it's quite difficult to me, naming the plugins properly in English.

I guess it is "feathered edges" in English - that's a fractal plugin that featheres the edges of an layer with alpha channel. Play around with the settings, until it looks the way you like.
You need to keyframe the evolution setting to make the fractals move. Be generous and use high rotation values.
After this you can apply the glow plugin, and/or a blur effect. Rotate and pan the layer to your desired position, then scale it small and keyframe the layers scale value.
After that you can duplicate the whole layer and remove the effects from the duplicate and tweak around the color and layer settings for retrieving the brighter glow of the outer circle.
The result may look like this:

Just a few ideas for messing around with... :)

03 March 2005, 11:14 PM
Thank you Tommi. Although that is not quite the look (yet) I was after, it is certainly a very good place to begin if I can not find the tutorial and have to try from scratch. The fractals look great, and if I read what you wrote correctly, they will almost self animate as the aplha passes over them.

That, I think, was the key. The actual ring expanding simply defined what of the fractals underneath were seen, as well as acting as a transpanrancy fall-off, creating the illusion that the fractal laer itself was animated.

I think with what you wrote I can begin to fasion my own, but the original tutorial was really nice. Pity we can't seem to find it.

Thanks again though, I appreciate the help.

03 March 2005, 10:33 AM
The fractal's movement is actually not influenced by the alpha channel. The so called "evolution" setting (this "clock"-shaped gauge control in the effects properties list) creates the illusion of movement.
I was thinking about it once again... maybe you prefer fiddling around with the "fractal noise" effect plugin. This does not affect the edge of the circle only, it creates a fractal cloud structure on all visible pixels of the circle/ring bitmap and this effect can be animated for "movement" as well by its evolution setting.
Fractal noise is popular for creating steam and fire effects, too.

Maybe a combination of "feathered edges", "fractal noise" and "glow" works for you, using several layers of that ring bitmap.

Good luck, and post some screenshots when you're done :)

03 March 2005, 08:56 PM
The tutorial was from the guys at Cult FX several years ago using their (at the time) 3rd party plugs. Now they're all included in AE 6.5. Go to and download their sample projects. The shockwave should be included. If it's not, there's still a ton of info to be gleened from the projects.
Rather than use a bit mapped image, just use the Render>Circle to get the leading edge of your shockwave. You can then use the plugin's own Edge Feather to soften either the outer, inner, or both edges. This will also allow you to animate them as the wave expands. Much more flexibility than a psd.
Circle is a very simple little plugin that seems pretty worthless...until you monkey with it a little. Then it's great for all sorts of stuff.

Good luck.


03 March 2005, 07:32 PM
Thanks a lot for the help guys! I will try to get something worth posting soon.

04 April 2005, 05:33 PM
I'm going to be using this on my teaser... stay tuned!

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