NEW TUTORIAL: Depth Charge!

In this exciting new tutorial we will explore the underwater abyss from concept to completion! The idea for this tutorial was to take a project and figure out solutions as if we were working from scratch.

I know nobody will EVER work on a submarine movie, it’s not possible but if you learn to solve problems and combine the techniques you have learned, you can do anything. You can even be an astronaut!

We’ll cover many tips such as:

  • Composite multiple explosions to create a underwater charge
  • Build volumetric lighting AND shadows in AE!
  • Basic concept of a 3D animation pipeline for After Effects
  • Combine multiple render passes in AE
  • Add glows and camera shake
  • Tips for adding realistic bubbles and debris

To take this tutorial a step further you can use the Foam plug-in to create great looking bubbles and with a little work you could even add some damage to the submarine too. Another idea is to add a stream of bubbles coming from the propellers and maybe even out of the ship after it gets cracked open… lot’s of fun to have!

Watch Tutorial

August 18th, 2010 @ 7:54 am
Interesting outcome :)
August 18th, 2010 @ 7:56 am
Yeah nice.... as allways. you ROCK!!!

i love your work!
August 18th, 2010 @ 7:57 am
Very cool! I love the volumetric effects. Where's the bubbles? :) I just did a tutorial today about Stabilization and Object removal in AECS5. Check it out:
August 18th, 2010 @ 7:59 am
mmmhh fire explosion under water? i think the only explosion you see is with a lot of water bubbles, but not fire..
August 18th, 2010 @ 8:01 am
Looking forward to checking it out, thanks.
August 18th, 2010 @ 8:04 am
I found the lack of bubbles disturbing :S
August 18th, 2010 @ 8:04 am
As usually - good job.
Great things to learn from.
August 18th, 2010 @ 8:08 am
Nice Job, Brasil is here seen all of yours tut.
August 18th, 2010 @ 8:11 am
And yeah I missed some bubbles and kinda wave comming from the source of explosion.
August 18th, 2010 @ 8:15 am
Awesome! Thanks for the excellent content as always, Andrew. I might try using Particular to compose some bubbles to add a bit of drama later on.
August 18th, 2010 @ 8:18 am
Definitely a good idea to add some bubbles and I would have liked to add some damage to the submarine too. In the tutorial I demonstrate a really cool plug-in called Foam that makes really nice bubbles.

You could even create a stream of bubbles coming from the propellers and maybe even out of the ship after it gets cracked open... lot's of fun to have!
August 18th, 2010 @ 8:20 am
hi, thx for useful tutorial, i spend lot of times to see this
August 18th, 2010 @ 8:29 am
you should do some more serious vfx, Stuff like the crater and such 3d visual effects i love them! Anyway this was a good tutorial, learned a bit from it.
August 18th, 2010 @ 8:37 am
Awesome stuff, thanks again Andrew :)
August 18th, 2010 @ 8:52 am
Im still wating for the 3D stereo tutorial you said your gona make
did you forget about it?
Jon UK
August 18th, 2010 @ 8:52 am
What more can I say - This site is the best there is
Allen Zayden
August 18th, 2010 @ 8:53 am
This is awesome!
August 18th, 2010 @ 8:57 am
Just watched. Awesome as usual Andrew. :)
August 18th, 2010 @ 8:57 am
Wow, that was great Andrew! Very cool techniques and it looks so real. I hope I can make a submarine movie, maybe in the bathtub. . .

Thanks Video Copilot!
Allen Zayden
August 18th, 2010 @ 9:01 am
Argh, could you please give us a link or show how to find the Foam plug-in? I am Googleing it, and I can't seem to find it.
August 18th, 2010 @ 9:07 am

The foam preset comes with After Effects.
August 18th, 2010 @ 9:11 am
Underwater fire?:) It isn't possible in reality. But in a movie... everything is possible, even space explosions with a big fireballs and other fire stuff.
August 18th, 2010 @ 9:19 am
thanks Andrew :)
August 18th, 2010 @ 9:21 am
I am on my way :)
Vicky Shah
August 18th, 2010 @ 9:41 am
That was amazing sir ji...


good-luck videocopilot team
August 18th, 2010 @ 10:24 am
For anyone saying you don't get fire in an underwater explosion, please remember that the explosive compound carries it's own source of oxygen and that the detonation is actually VERY fast combustion.

So you do, indeed, get a flash of fire and a bubble of gas which collapses and rises to the surface;

And the famous scene in 'Crimson Tide' which was done wet for wet using underwater explosives in a tank;

At 1:58 approximately.
August 18th, 2010 @ 10:39 am
Yes! Happy Wednesday guys.
August 18th, 2010 @ 11:14 am
Cool, going to watch right now!
Rick Joaquim
August 18th, 2010 @ 11:18 am
Moon was such an awesome movie :)

Thanks for the tut
August 18th, 2010 @ 11:48 am
Thanks Andrew! I'm going to watch it right now!
August 18th, 2010 @ 11:51 am
Hi? Andrew Kramer, You know I love you too I do not know why, and thanks to you I do a lot God bless
August 18th, 2010 @ 11:53 am
DAMN! I've been waiting for this desperatly!!! THANK YOU AK!!! You rock!
August 18th, 2010 @ 12:06 pm
Thanks for making this one Andrew. These are the most inspiring tutorials seeing you fooling around with the settings and getting ideas during the tutorial! You should try and make more like these ;)
August 18th, 2010 @ 12:10 pm
A W E S O M E ! ! !
August 18th, 2010 @ 12:24 pm
Not the best tutorial on this website but thats not surprising since there are 110 but I was hoping for the submarine to explode not just an explosion next to a submarine
August 18th, 2010 @ 12:25 pm
Hi Andrew, great idea and a good tutorial.
What do you think about the inversion of explosion, that might give a better effect.
The first explosion is a good example.
August 18th, 2010 @ 1:33 pm
Dear Andrew,
I would like you (in your next to tutorial) to show us how to make plug-ins. I have looked everywhere and have not been able to find ONE FREAKING THING talking about how to make plug-ins. I don't want to know how to make something really complex like optical flares, but something pretty simple like SureTarget or VCReflect.
Mourad Ifrane
August 18th, 2010 @ 1:55 pm
T es toujours le meilleur fxMan,Merci pour ta généreuse creativité
August 18th, 2010 @ 1:58 pm
another impressive and inspiring tutorial covering a range of ideas and elements and combines them in a 5-6 second shot for an unbelievable (and totally believable) result! love it! :) thank you!
August 18th, 2010 @ 2:00 pm
""..or maybe I'm just crazy"

N1ce tut!!11
August 18th, 2010 @ 2:11 pm
cool and funny shit! Steven Segal would be proud of you ;)
August 18th, 2010 @ 2:14 pm
was this AE 7 you where using? I saw no puppet tool in your toolbar..
August 18th, 2010 @ 2:51 pm
great work
always love ur work
August 18th, 2010 @ 5:26 pm
muy bueno los tutoriales. saludos desde de venezuela
August 18th, 2010 @ 6:17 pm
Andrew you are the man! :D
August 18th, 2010 @ 6:45 pm
this explosion didn´t look good, at least some more bubbles ;x
Gabriel F.
August 18th, 2010 @ 7:16 pm
Dear Andrew,
I would like you (in your next to tutorial) to show us how to make plug-ins. I have looked everywhere and have not been able to find ONE FREAKING THING talking about how to make plug-ins. I don’t want to know how to make something really complex like optical flares, but something pretty simple like SureTarget or VCReflect.[2]
Same thing here.
Cheers from Brazil!
paul holt
August 18th, 2010 @ 7:41 pm
Gabriel optical flares are easy!,and eloquent or can be as complicated as you wish....Simply a beautiful set of plug-ins...

Nice tut Andrew and appreciated...The day I stop learning is the day I die
Helper hand
August 18th, 2010 @ 7:57 pm
@Gabriel F.
I think this will help you:
Pixel Bender toolkit lets you develop your own plug-ins. This video will help you get started.
August 18th, 2010 @ 8:14 pm
How could you forget 20,000 leagues under the sea

I dont think there were any explosions though :P
August 18th, 2010 @ 9:06 pm
Love the radial blur light rays idea! Genius!

And with the shadows, definitely got my brain going on a watercolor-type effect!
Awesome! Thanks!
August 18th, 2010 @ 9:47 pm
why didn't you used trapcode shine for the shadows of the objects blocking the sun light??
August 18th, 2010 @ 10:09 pm
AK: I think you should be prepared for people to make submarine movies now, simply because you said they wouldn't!
August 18th, 2010 @ 10:42 pm
WoW andrew its great
August 18th, 2010 @ 11:02 pm
As the say on "Little Britain": Yes, but no, but yes, but no... Mmh, I'm not sold on this one. It looks pretty fake and out of place. You know, the colors are too bright and there is no expanding pressure shell containing explosion gases (which is what actually does the damage and also causes the bubbling when it dissipates).
August 18th, 2010 @ 11:37 pm
A new tasty tut, thx, Andrew!

2 remarks
- I think we should add distinct shockwave, like in "Serious FX" - where explosion wave distorts the street

- also the explosion and fire should have water come faster inside, due to high water liquidity and pressure. now the water feels not so liquid (judging on demo piece for tut)
August 19th, 2010 @ 12:40 am
why u dont mind to teach us?
August 19th, 2010 @ 12:52 am
Dear Andrew,
I would like you (in your next to tutorial) to show us how to make plug-ins. I have looked everywhere and have not been able to find ONE FREAKING THING talking about how to make plug-ins. I don’t want to know how to make something really complex like optical flares, but something pretty simple like SureTarget or VCReflect.

Very thanks Andrew for new tutorial
I am Edris Mohammadi from Iran and I love you.
August 19th, 2010 @ 1:14 am
I feel like doing a submarine movie just to say "AH ! Got you, Andrew." :)

I was wondering why it was so long for you to make some tutorials, but now I know. That's not the tutorial part, that's just to find the worst jokes ever (which I absolutely love) :D

That aside, the techniques demonstrated here will prove useful in other situations too. More creative uses of AE2 can be made, like on sci-fi projects... Combining elements and making them do "crazy" stuff and distort could lead to fantastic results. Many thanks, as always.
August 19th, 2010 @ 2:22 am
I'm pretty sure they also had a submarine explosion in the final season of Lost (Episode 14 - The Candidate). Can't seem to find a clip of it online but it was quite recent so would be interesting to see how they did it. Will post a link if I can find it!
August 19th, 2010 @ 3:39 am
Hey Andrew, like always, awesome tut
greets from Colombia
Lazy Monkey
August 19th, 2010 @ 4:02 am
What a great tutorial! I've learned a lot, besides from how to make a submarine-movie, which I won't. But the techniques can easily be applied to other things. The shock wave for example. I can use this everywhere!
Also the way to change the action essentials to whatever I need. I'll think about it, when I'll need a very specific effect.
asif bisen
August 19th, 2010 @ 4:33 am
very-very thanks Andrew........
August 19th, 2010 @ 5:05 am
Andrew, interesting work as always. I like especially the fact that you've rather quickly setup an impressive scene with rather an "unimpressive" sub model, pretty quick and simple render and a few explosion elements. It shows once more just how much coolness can be added in post.

I disagree with you regarding bubbles however, there are no bubbles underwater. Unless some air got pushed in from the surface by submerging objects (charges perhaps?). Also, air escaping from the Sub's cracks is fine. But neither general "bubbliness" nor the rotor emitted bubbles make sense in real world. What one could add to the environment to add water feeling are tiny particles, as sea water is full of them (plankton etc.). This was featured well in Finding Nemo i think.

Great tip on Foam effect though. Cheers, buddy.
Always great to see your new stuff!
August 19th, 2010 @ 6:08 am
I love "moon" its one of my favorites, Awesome soundtrack and CGI.
August 19th, 2010 @ 7:05 am
cool !!

i learn to camerashake used slider effect and various explo and so on in this tutorials

thanks very much andrew kramer!

i predict and hope that you will be long-happy-life!
August 19th, 2010 @ 7:27 am
The bubbles that come off a propellor are called cavitation;

The internet is your friend and full of information. Some of it is even true! :)

Some plankton etc. in the water is always cool too.
August 19th, 2010 @ 7:29 am
A W E S O M E L Y .... T E R R E F I C :D
August 19th, 2010 @ 7:49 am
One of the best tutorials ever! Mindblowing
August 19th, 2010 @ 8:20 am
Nice tutorial, and very nice idea about the light rays,
and the shadow!
Very nice thinking and very nice use of simple effects to create a nice looking complex shoot!

I got the felling that everybody can do the same things,
if only pause for a moment and think a little about the what they are doing, and not just copy paste the effects!
Like you said "OK someone will say, that explosion does not mach my shoot", so make it mach, combine a little...

Anyway, nice tut, keep on coming ;)
August 19th, 2010 @ 9:45 am
Man Andrew Kramer nice tutorial, but I like your comedy just as much as the actual tutorial. Thanks for keeping us all laughing.
Jim Hines
August 19th, 2010 @ 10:00 am
Very generous and creative as always - thank you!
For me the exciting discovery here is using the volumetric lighting effect to also simulate shadows. I never thought to do that. Continue rocking!
August 19th, 2010 @ 10:14 am
@SteveB: I therefore stand corrected regarding the propeller bubbles.
Thanks for the info.
August 19th, 2010 @ 10:42 am
I think a lot of people have got carried away with the idea of the post explosion effect on the ship. To them I say "please start working out solutions instead of problems" and "please say thank you when someone takes the time out to do what you should be doing". I'm sure Andrew's not doing this to save you money or time. It's just for the love of the medium. Enjoy it while you can. Not everyone's a genius like the rest of you and ,honestly speaking, not everyone's as hollow. If you know how to do what you want done then spit it out. If not. Swallow it.
August 19th, 2010 @ 12:01 pm
I am working on a underwater submarine scene ...
should I stay at home when a storm comes up ? :p

anyway, great coincidence !!

thanks a lot !
August 19th, 2010 @ 12:38 pm
Hi Andrew.

That's very cool,but it's very easy for you and it's Repeat work.
if you can make new Tutorials about Particle Animation to Music(red_music),Please.

I am Mehran Aghramazani From iran/Sanandaj.

August 19th, 2010 @ 1:19 pm
ok let's move on to some more hardcore tutorials now.. something like the "transformers"

even if the tutorial is months long, im down to watch it if you guys are down to make it.
Jason W
August 19th, 2010 @ 5:37 pm
This is not related but it is equally exciting...(actually more exciting...anyway) The Foundry has released a 3d motion tracking plug-in that works directly in AE and exports to max and Maya! No more external software! That's pretty exciting! Check it out!
August 20th, 2010 @ 1:13 am
Thank you SteveB for your videos.. Of course fire is possible, but as you stated right only a very short flash!! and not a large fire explosion in this tutorial.

Mr Kramer just wanted to use action essentials for this tut. ;) but i would more try to get a result like this:
August 20th, 2010 @ 7:54 am
Well that video is of a tiny explosive, something not much bigger than a matchhead, We're talking about something the size of an oil drum, carrying 90kg (200lbs) of high explosive.

Which is why I also posted the trailer from 'Crimson Tide', showing the simulation of a much larger underwater explosion.

But without footage of an actual depth charge detonating underwater (I can only find films from the surface) this is always going to be personal taste. :)
August 20th, 2010 @ 12:39 pm
Como dicen en su idioma, Cool....... Genial, en verdad, gracias por tus tutoriales Andrew
August 20th, 2010 @ 4:11 pm
hey nice tutorial like always but do you know what the "bulge" effect is called in german?
August 20th, 2010 @ 5:43 pm
I'm falling in love with videocopilot hehe, now, because of you I can solve the problems that come in fron of me, (sorry about my english) you give too much! XD!
Diego G.
August 20th, 2010 @ 6:40 pm
Try something like Ausbuchtung, at least that's what the translator said...
August 20th, 2010 @ 10:49 pm
awesome mate !!!!
August 21st, 2010 @ 1:58 am
First off, amazing tutorial. Learned so much and definitely gave me a bunch of new ideas for working with stock footage and adapting it for different scenarios.

Secondly. I have to voice a small complaint. I honestly would have liked to see how Andrew lit, animated, and rendered out the footage of the submarine. True, there are many 3d Tutorials on the web where one can learn the skills necessary to accomplish this. The problem, is that few of the authors of these tutorials have the natural ability to teach that Andrew possesses.

I can honestly say I've learned more about After Effects from Andrew Kramer than I have from thousands of dollars spent on books, classes, and other tutorials. I would give anything to be able to improve my 3d skills the way I have my AE skills. Please andrew, come out with a product for teaching 3D (Max esp.) I will pay any price for a product that features VC style lessons on 3D effects and compositing them.
August 21st, 2010 @ 2:44 am
LOL! Comop ("kom op") means "C'mon" in Holland!!
August 22nd, 2010 @ 11:14 am
LOL! 86,000 views and only 86 comments? Andrew what kind of programming you have set while making your website...? Here I refresh my browser, and there 4-6 viewers increase in number...How?
August 22nd, 2010 @ 11:23 am
It certainly means that the people on this earth have only one work left to do- Reading Andrew kramer's tuts all the time! LOL!
Even Microsoft's site wont have this much traffic in a single day. Andrew you should be the next MD of Microsoft.
August 22nd, 2010 @ 7:08 pm
Eyyy moon is one of my favorite movies! :D
August 22nd, 2010 @ 10:21 pm
ddddddddd ddd dd
how to get that fire?
John b
August 23rd, 2010 @ 1:08 am
AWRIGHT! Another shot for my portfolio! I kid, I kid...... O__O
Tgan peace
August 23rd, 2010 @ 2:52 am
Its a very great tut site out there andrew, i learn alot from you daily.i will be purchasing my first 10 pack of your products this season for my first film.Have been learning for three years on your site.and its changed my immargination and perspective on realising fiction in cultural spritism and anti- planetry links.
U inspire unbelievable existence, and influence the lives of unknown aspirants.let me say, a two to two for two has been a thing for thoughts. How ever keep it strong, and hard enough too big for real hearts.
Video copilot jackets could be good for the cold.
Its me *young film Jacket*
Erwin Roossien
August 23rd, 2010 @ 9:18 pm
Yeaaaaahhh James Cameron Suck on that!!!
August 26th, 2010 @ 11:01 am
Wow. You just gave me a great idea on how to create realistic and controlled light rays. Thanks!

(I just opened a project of mine and realized how bad the light rays look and then remembered this tutorial.)
September 12th, 2010 @ 1:07 pm
Awesome as always :)
Can you pls make a clone tutorial ..maybe one with stady camera and one to help solving problems with shaky camera..would be really helpfull...thx a lot :D
October 6th, 2010 @ 2:11 pm
Very cool. Even when I think there's no way I would ever need a depth charge in my work, you always slip something incredibly useful in. Thanks!
January 8th, 2012 @ 1:12 pm
I have a question and I watched your tutorial and I was hoping you had the answer to my question. I would really like that because I had to put my depth charge project on hold.

I have exported my 3d sub as a quick time movie and imported it into after effects and I have the problem with the subs black background not dissapearing like the explosions do from the videos that I bought from andrew. I made a new solid for the ramp background blue green gradiant fill. The black of the sub blocks the ramp. I am trying to come up with the format formula for the submarine quick time movie. I can choose screen for the movie in after effects and the black is transparent and also the sub become a little transparent.
Are you guys aware of any ideas?
January 8th, 2012 @ 8:20 pm
if someone has the answer please alert me of the response to
Before Posting
We're trying to encourage more thoughtful commenting.  Please take a moment to write a meaningful response to this post.
* Name
* Email (will not be published)
* field is required