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Planet Asteroid Field Using Element 3D

Today in this lesson, I’m going to go over how to create a fairly interesting 3D asteroid field using After Effects and Element 3D from Video Copilot. We’ll also take a look at lighting the scene, building the planet, and creating an atmosphere. With some clever tricks and experimentation, you can create a pretty dynamic and massive space environment, great for your short sci fi film or project.

Preview Video


Some Tips

One of the biggest flaws in my demonstration is the parallax, which is why I really emphasized the size/distance in Z space for the planet and asteroid. The planet should barely be moving due to the distance and sheer size of the object, whereas the asteroids should be moving a bit faster since it is closer to the camera and is smaller. These are the kinds of things you want to experiment and tweak to get a more realistic movement.

For a more realistic approach, you may want to create some shadow rays for the asteroids considering the sun is extremely bright in the background. You can do so by duplicating the asteroid layer, applying Shine or Radial Blur, then place the shadow layer under the asteroid layer for some dramatic shadows.

To really create more volume in the scene, try adding some light dust using Trapcode Particular. You can do so by creating a large emitter space, changing the particle type to Cloudlet, then turning down the opacity. Of course you’ll need to play around with some of the physics and velocities.

Finally, light and color grade the scene a lot better. I did everything very quickly for demonstration purposes, but you’ll definitely want to play around and experiment more. Have some fun!

If you create anything awesome or add on more stuff, let me know! If you have any questions or comments, leave them down below and I’ll get to them ASAP. Also, special thanks to Squarespace.com for sponsoring this tutorial. You can start your free trial and get 10% off by using promo code: DOJO.