Superhero Effects in After Effects


I remember when I was first started learning After Effects, I wanted to know how to pull off visual effects that would allow me to have superhuman powers. That included learning how run like the Flash, fly like Superman, swing off a web like Spiderman, and much more. Over the years, I’ve learned these visual effects while also improving my efficiency with After Effects. However, there are many great tutorials out there on the web that show you how to achieve the effects of fantasy characters you grew up watching. I’m going to highlight a few tutorials that showcase pulling off superhero effects within After Effects so that you can add them to any of your projects.

Run Like the Flash

In this tutorial, After Effects whiz Mikey Borup shows you how to create a speed effect similar to the new CW show, The Flash. Utilizing greeen screen compositing, precompositions, and many native AE filters, Mikey is able to recreate the look of a person running super fast. This tutorial is especially great because Mikey covers everything from visual effects on his subject to making the subject’s background look like it’s moving really fast. Aside from this great tutorial, Mikey offers cool and useful After Effects tutorials twice a week which can be a great timesaver.

Power Ranger Morphing

From the folks of Hyperdrive Pictures, learn how to morph into a Power Ranger by following this seven part tutorial. In these series of tutorials, they cover using greenscreen clothing to get the floating look seen in the older version of Power Rangers, how to generate a static lightning background, as well the final part of the morph sequence when you see the Power Ranger helmet. Growing up, I was a fan of the Power Rangers and always wondered how they pulled off these morph sequences. Knowing that all I needed was some greenscreen, props, and Photoshopped images made it even better. Although they are using AE CS3, this effect will work in newer versions of AE, and you can take it a step further.

Heat Vision Effect

In this episode of Film Riot, Ryan Connolly puts his spin on creating the heat vision effect from Man of Steel, as well as making someone disintegrate. In After Effects, Ryan uses masks, a third party plugin known as 3D Stroke, glow, Optical Flares, and displacement effects to composite heat vision lasers onto the subject’s eyes. For the disintegration, Ryan used greenscreen, CC Scatterize, and a few other techniques to accomplish the effect. What I’ve always enjoyed about Ryan’s tutorials is how he can explain complex techniques in a short amount of time, yet make it comprehensive to anyone.

Web Sling Effect

Director and VFX artist Seth Worley demonstrates in this Red Giant tutorial how to do a web sling effect akin to Spiderman. Using greenscreen compositing, motion tracking, and Trapcode Particular, Seth shows us how he was able to make his subject look like he was swinging across the room on a web sling. Seth has always delivered great visual effects tutorials, and watching this makes it seem possible for anyone to swing across the room like Spiderman. Using Red Giant products, like Particular, also open the door to create many objects from particles if you have a good understanding of the plugin’s depth.

With the right amount of planning, video production equipment, and understanding of After Effects’s capabilities, you can live out your childhood fantasies of having superpowers. In my opinion, learning how to create effects like these were the conduit for learning how to use After Effects in the first place.

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FCPX Animation Tools


I’ve been envious of the plugins that FCPX has had since its inception. The one thing that amazes me about the Final Cut Pro X ecosystem is the availability of plugins that allow you to create amazing things right inside the program; otherwise difficult in other NLEs. With effects and transitions being based on Motion templates, developers sprang out of the woodwork and seized the opportunity to offer products that would streamline the editing and motion graphics creation that a user could perform within FCPX. The creative possibilities put FCPX above most NLEs in the market. I want to highlight a selection of animation plugins from a variety of vendors which streamline user abilities to create animation inside of Final Cut Pro X



This product is a collection of self animating icons and modular elements that you can use in FCPX. Created by the team from MotionVFX, these elements are easy to combine and modify within FCPX. This product is great for doing quick infographics without having to create elements from scratch. What I like about this product is that it’s based on title layers, which offer infinite creative possibilities. There are so many parameters to modify that you don’t need to settle for default animations. This product currently comes in two different categories: Corporate and Essentials. At the price of $49 each, it’s a no brainer purchase for quick infographic based animations.

Callouts 2.0


Created by the team at Ripple Training, Callouts is a Final Cut Pro X plugin that gives you the power of emphasis to remove distractions and draw your audience’s attention exactly where you want it focused. This is a great product for projects where you have to highlight tips for training, or to emulate the pop up look from VH-1’s Pop Up video. Using the FxFactory application, you gain access to 22 callouts which can be used immediately in FCPX. Working as title based effects, you can modify the color, position, gloss, and other parameters for whichever callout you choose.

Story Pop


A new plugin to the growing FxFactory product line, Stupid Raisins’s Story Pop is a collection of over 400 animated and customizable Final Cut Pro X whiteboard style drawings designed for HD. Built to emulate the look of a cartoonist drawing characters from scratch, this animation plugin allows you to pop your story with authentic looking hand drawn whiteboard sketches. I believe this plugin is good for voiceover commercials and illustrating facts with a creative flair. I can see it used for start up companies explaining how their business model works to prospective customers.

Object Animator


Object Animator is a powerful tool that allows you to quickly add animations to any element on your timeline by simply choosing an option from a drop-down menu. Equipped with over 80 options, Object Animator can save you hours of time, helping you to avoid key-framing animations you commonly do as an editor. I like this animation quite a bit because it comes with an array of animation options that would be rather difficult to do using keyframes in FCPX. One of the biggest benefits of Object Animator is how easy it is to animate your elements onto the timeline. Equipped with axis controls, on screen controls, reflections, and more, this animation tool offers endless possibilities for achieving professional animations in very little time.



Projection allows FCPX editors to project a 2D image onto a 3D room. Then with a 3D camera, editors can pan, tilt, and dolly around their environment to observe it from unique and interesting perspectives. This animation tool is great for visual effects artists who need to create 3D backgrounds, or editors who need to project text in a 3D environment. They can take their 2D images, manipulate the paramaters, and have a 3D scene in little time. I believe this plugin is a great animation tool for FCPX users because it reduces the amount of time you would ship this out to something like AE or Motion to achieve projection mapping.

Overall, these are just a few tools that allow editors to achieve complex animations within FCPX without much hassle. I would recommend you check out each vendor for more products that may assist in your editing needs.

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