After Effects: Stardust

(3 minute read)

Since diving into the world of animation and motion design, much of my practice and projects have been based out of Cinema 4D.

I have used Adobe After Effects for previous works that I've done, but that had mostly been for titles for video work. I wanted to take a different approach to motion design by using a different software and exploring its extended capabilities for graphics work.

While looking for inspiration, I stumbled upon a plugin called Stardust for After Effects. In short, this plugin allows you to play around with particles. Using the different setting you can change the shape, size, colour, direction and pacing of the particles. 

Here are some short samples from experimenting with Stardust.

Digital City Visualizer

This short clip was based on a tutorial I found on YouTube. I changed up the shapes and particle direction/pacing; in addition, instead of keeping the structures stationary I used Audio Amplitude to change their proportions based on the pacing of a beat.

I accomplished the effect by first importing the audio clip in the composition, then converting the audio to keyframes. From there I was able to play around with the range of keyframes in order to show variation in the changes.

Abstract Landscape

For this clip, the particles were created using a grid format on a flat plane. With help of the 4-view camera option, I was able to position overhead lighting to better highlight the colours. The colours themselves were extracted by placing an abstract JPG image on the surface. From there, the image colours were extracted and applied to each of the particles.

Similar timing techniques were used here from the previous clip to give variation for the rising and falling of all the particles. I had the chance to play around more with the active camera, using X, Y, and Z-positioning to give the different angles and perspectives of the scene you see below.

Song Used: Hi im pools, by pools 

(This is actually how the title and artist name are spelled, I promise it's not a typo)

UI Scan Animation

Using an OBJ model of a head, I set up the particles to follow a path around the shape of it. I set up the colouring and texturing and pacing for the path. I also felt that keeping the background plain would do more justice as opposed to making it more cluttered with other effects.


This video below may potentially trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy. Viewer discretion is advised.