New Tutorial: 3D Light Rays in AE!

In this new tutorial I’ll show you a cool technique to generate 3D Light Rays inside of After Effects without 3rd party plug-ins. I’ll also show you how to add volumetric light to a live action shot using 3D tracking. I’ll be posting project files and tutorial to the main site later today!

Watch on Youtube in HD

Watch on Vimeo in HD

Watch on Video Copilot in HD

Download Project File

We also created a blog show to demonstrate how to create light rays in real life!
Watch on Youtube in HD!

Badhan Ganesh
February 11th, 2014 @ 5:14 am
Brilliant!! Always coming up with coool ideas!! Rocker!!
    March 26th, 2014 @ 2:53 am
    Hi, I can follow the tutorial up until you add the 'solid composite'. i have AE CC but I do not have the option to select 'None' from the composite blending mode? AE CC is up to date
    March 26th, 2014 @ 2:56 am
    Ah... its in the Fractal noise effect. not the solid composite.... phew
    March 28th, 2014 @ 5:58 pm
    The Freakin' master!
    Pasindu Priyashan
    May 5th, 2014 @ 8:56 am
    How to download AE CC ? Help me..........
    May 5th, 2014 @ 8:58 am
    How to download AE CC ? Help me..........
February 11th, 2014 @ 5:15 am
Yes, finally! Can't wait..

We're working on an awesome short thriller. Get the first insights here:
February 11th, 2014 @ 5:23 am
wow man ! you are posting those days ! woho !
February 11th, 2014 @ 5:31 am
Very useful ...many thanks for this!:)
February 11th, 2014 @ 5:39 am
Enjoyed watching. Good as ever...
February 11th, 2014 @ 5:41 am
Mr. Andrew Kramer I love you!
    February 11th, 2014 @ 7:08 am
    (No homo)
February 11th, 2014 @ 5:42 am
Andrew Kramer thank you
February 11th, 2014 @ 5:46 am
Wow! That's an extremely helpful tutorial!! Thank you!!!
February 11th, 2014 @ 5:47 am
So cool man! How you find ideas for your tutorial?
Khalid Momani
February 11th, 2014 @ 5:48 am
Perfect tutorial Mr Andrew. Hope the new tutorial coming soon. Thank you :)
Hassan dar
February 11th, 2014 @ 5:53 am
Plz Watch My short film and advise.
February 11th, 2014 @ 5:58 am
This is such an awesome TUT. I wish you also went into details about the light rays from the phone + tracking. Although i'm sure it's the same technique. And am sure excited for your upcoming helicopter pack.
February 11th, 2014 @ 5:59 am
awesome man ! thanks a lot
February 11th, 2014 @ 5:59 am
it very cool and helpful to
thank u
February 11th, 2014 @ 6:04 am
i love watching funny tutorials
February 11th, 2014 @ 6:10 am
Really great effect of rays In after effects ...
February 11th, 2014 @ 6:12 am
Top-notch tutorial Andrew. Really useful and very clever.

Alas I don't have a notepad with lots of precomposed formulae on, but thankfully we have you. \^^/
February 11th, 2014 @ 6:17 am
VERY COOL! The camera tracking/volumetric lighting bad-ass. I created some volumetric lighting to my e3d text by using the shine effect. Is there any possible way to have a more realistic effect with the Raytrace font, e3d or cineware 3d fonts? Possibly using a similar trick?
February 11th, 2014 @ 6:25 am
Wow! This means I can put down the gasmask and turn off the smoke machine?
February 11th, 2014 @ 6:36 am
I think you are Jesus and this is second coming
February 11th, 2014 @ 6:47 am
Awesome work!! Looks like at least someone has watched my tutorial on volumetric light!! :-)
February 11th, 2014 @ 6:52 am
In your face Trapcode Shine!! hahahahhahahaaaa
February 11th, 2014 @ 6:59 am
A 1000 birth rate particle thanks to you Andrew :P . Your techniques are amazing, your presentation is very enjoyable and your effects are globally utilized.
February 11th, 2014 @ 7:06 am
hahahah follow us on tweeter!!!
Great tut! Thanks!
February 11th, 2014 @ 7:22 am
Pls Andrew, tell me that Element v2 is about to be announced recently, i can´t wait i am so excited !
    February 11th, 2014 @ 6:36 am
    In "The Postshow" Podcast he say: Before Summer!
February 11th, 2014 @ 7:30 am
Thank you Andrew :) You bring a smile to me. God bless you
February 11th, 2014 @ 7:33 am
How would you set this up in combination with E3D?
    February 11th, 2014 @ 6:43 am
    Yes, will there be a better light control for E3D so that it responds to light in the same way? Shadows, etc.
February 11th, 2014 @ 7:36 am
just what i needed! Thank You a lot Andrew!!!!
February 11th, 2014 @ 7:40 am
That made me kick myself - such an ingeniously simple solution to complex effect! You are brilliant, Mr Kramer! Wish I'd been able to do that for our Silent Night virtual choir.
February 11th, 2014 @ 7:42 am
So usefull ! Just... thanks.
February 11th, 2014 @ 8:24 am
Thanks! Nice technique. Layer space transforms are always a bit mysterious to me. I just try different ones till I get what I want or give up in despair.
February 11th, 2014 @ 9:02 am
Does this technique work with Element 3D layers?
    February 11th, 2014 @ 8:22 am
    Try it and find out :)
Mister B
February 11th, 2014 @ 9:11 am
Fantastic! Setting that bar high for 2014. Thanks Andrew and crew. You never fail to inspire. Keep it up!!!
February 11th, 2014 @ 9:14 am
Andrew Kramer Thank you very much
February 11th, 2014 @ 9:21 am
Back in place, and his all up in our face, with some tuts that we embrace, like a mother to her child, we kicking it Kramer style. :)
February 11th, 2014 @ 9:33 am
Combination With E3D its not working in that ,i tried an Electric sparks Effect in E3D text by using Alpha luma mat effect and masking i just failed ,I hope this effect Andrew will figure out that..... Thanks Andrew
February 11th, 2014 @ 9:52 am
"Mind... Blown..." !!

Thanks for sharing!
February 11th, 2014 @ 10:05 am
I have to say this was a super cool tutorial and we all are grateful for you taking the time :0)
February 11th, 2014 @ 10:13 am
That will come in handy ! Thanks
February 11th, 2014 @ 10:16 am
Incredible tutorial !!

Please can you take a look on my first demoreel :
February 11th, 2014 @ 10:19 am
Very useful, Thanks for sharing.
February 11th, 2014 @ 10:22 am
Thanks Andrew. Despite the fact that I own Element 3D, it's good to get back to some concepts that don't require it.
February 11th, 2014 @ 10:30 am
im trying to recreate a flash light shining from behind and moving from the left to the right. the problem is, the shadow animation gets rough.

does any body know how to get the shadows move smoothly when you move both layers connected to each other, the light source and the null (point) ?
Mike James
February 11th, 2014 @ 11:01 am
Excellent! I'd never thought of this, I've previously tracked a point and then scaled the tracking data (for the illusion of being far away) and linked the radial blur to that
February 11th, 2014 @ 11:34 am
Missed your tuts sooo much !!! <3
February 11th, 2014 @ 11:59 am
hy.. andrew need some help in editing .. how to create a proper glitch tv effect like person of interest .. plz reply..
February 11th, 2014 @ 12:42 pm
Andrew Kramer! This is really cool Effect!
Thank you so much for sharing your Knowledge Again!
Where do you learn all this things?
February 11th, 2014 @ 12:53 pm
I'd be really interested in seeing this combined with E3D
reza irani
February 11th, 2014 @ 12:55 pm
thanks a lot!very nice and perfect tutorial!and Also you make me Laugh!thanks for that!can we do something like this in element 3D?
February 11th, 2014 @ 1:19 pm
Amazing effect, very handy. Great job and thank you for this.
February 11th, 2014 @ 1:45 pm
I am using CS5 and followed the steps exactly, yet there are no shadows cast. Everything is set up properly. Is this feature only in CS6?
    February 11th, 2014 @ 2:14 pm
    Precompose the text layer ...
    February 12th, 2014 @ 12:56 pm
    Go to Light Options and turn on Casts Shadows.:)
February 11th, 2014 @ 2:39 pm
Very useful!
I like the Window part, it can be used in so different many projects.

Should I upgrade from CS5 to CC just to get this 3D tracker or get a Foundry tracker plug-in instead?
    February 11th, 2014 @ 3:00 pm
    if you dont have either, try tracking a central area with the 2d tracker in cs5, but with scale and rotation selected. also, if you can stabilize while filming, do that then add shake virtually if you want, afterwards. another alternative is getting used to mocha, which should come with cs5. draw out a flat surface in the video to give yourself a reference point and check tutorials on it for more help
February 11th, 2014 @ 3:11 pm
I was looking for a practical way to do that.. like always; right on time Andrew.. thanks..
February 11th, 2014 @ 3:12 pm
Andrew everything i know of AE , i learn watch yours video tutorials.thanks very much for share. Sorry my english. cheers from Argentina. Luciano.
February 11th, 2014 @ 3:53 pm
hey guys, little trick for realistic dust particles in this. trapcode form is easiest but any particle simulator will do if you can amp up the air resistance. make a big box emitter with 0 velocity and just a hint of fractal displacement (if no fractal options just use some velocity and a lot of resistance), then overlay it above the radial fast blur adjustment layer and bam, particles only show up in the light
    February 12th, 2014 @ 5:31 am
    Brilliant... thank you.
    Richtige Brett
    February 20th, 2014 @ 9:12 am
    Doesnt't work in my case and I don't know how. And I don't understand how it should work just because you say that it should ;)
February 11th, 2014 @ 4:17 pm
You Are a constant source of inspiration to me
Thanks Alot MR Kramer
I Love You
February 11th, 2014 @ 4:29 pm
You're a genius! Andrew is ROCK!
Bayu Rahmawan
February 11th, 2014 @ 4:40 pm
you made my day ..
INA - jogjakarta..
    March 12th, 2014 @ 1:59 am
    Great job, i love your work Andrew.
February 11th, 2014 @ 4:58 pm
Andrew, I added a animated Fractal Noise so its look like a smoky room , in addition to the volumetric light and put it in Luma Matte
RA Elliott
February 11th, 2014 @ 6:30 pm
Hey Andrew, some cool work here. When you get to the fractal noise part you set your Solid Composite effect's blending mode to "None", but mine only has "normal" and the rest of the blending modes. Any ideas why the difference? I'm on CS6.
    February 12th, 2014 @ 10:03 pm
    I'm having the same issue. I'm using After Effects CC. Anyone have an idea what's going on?
    February 15th, 2014 @ 12:54 pm
    It's the Fractal Noise blending mode that needs to be set to "none" - Solid Composite should be set to "Normal"
February 11th, 2014 @ 6:41 pm
February 11th, 2014 @ 7:18 pm
Its a great tutorial. I was waiting for this. thank you andrew
February 11th, 2014 @ 8:48 pm
Hello, fantastic tutorial as always, can you teach us how to find and choose expression like the one .toComp in you video, sometime without expression like that it too difficult to do it by hand. Sorry for my english. Thanks
February 11th, 2014 @ 8:48 pm
You are a GOD!

This is such a practical but important tutorial that can be applied to countless scenarios :D

Keep 'em coming.
February 11th, 2014 @ 9:58 pm
hye andrew sir Is It Working with Element 3d layer ???????
    February 15th, 2014 @ 6:25 pm
    The CC radial fast blur works with E3d but lights wont cast shadows.
February 11th, 2014 @ 10:06 pm
Haha, just what I needed for a short film!!! But I bet this is just a try out for you and that you're working on a plugin called optical flares 3 - volumetric lights! Am I right????
February 12th, 2014 @ 12:18 am
Perfect It's force me to watch 20 minutes without moving !! such perfect effect
February 12th, 2014 @ 2:13 am
I love this one! Especially the window part :)
February 12th, 2014 @ 2:43 am
Andrew, HELP ME PLEASE!...
Y my last hope...=\
I did... Hmmm... "Something" in Blender3d and exported Element3D,
added materials and parts made ​​glow plug-in, but when you view appears strange and ugly flickering.
How to get rid of it???!!!

Only you can help me! Nobody knows what it is! ...

I tried ...
February 12th, 2014 @ 3:08 am
Wow Ridley Scott will be pretty pissed of because of this late discovery!
February 12th, 2014 @ 3:32 am
Nice Andrew! You see my showreel
    February 12th, 2014 @ 9:04 am
    THAT is pretty impressive stuff there my friend. Good job!
    February 14th, 2014 @ 12:22 am
    One of the few showreels posted to VCP that I wanted to watch multiple times. Nice work!
    February 15th, 2014 @ 3:30 pm
    Yeah great showreel!
    Vizual Alkemist
    February 17th, 2014 @ 5:30 am
    Great Job Damian
    February 17th, 2014 @ 7:29 am
    thanks! :)
February 12th, 2014 @ 6:08 am
Advance Old School VCP at its Best! Great stuff. Excited for 2014
February 12th, 2014 @ 8:52 am
Brilliant. I've been trying to do this exact thing for the LONGEST time! Then you make a way that's so simple it almost makes me mad. Keep it up
February 12th, 2014 @ 9:05 am
Your stuff is awesome and amazing - as if you didn't already know that. (when I found this site, I told my husband, "I need everything on this site. Everything.") But thank you so much for these wonderful tutorials. Have only been able to afford one of your products so far but saving up for the others. I learned so much through these - things I never thought I'd be able to do and wham - in a week, I've got a full promo video for a project that is stunning. Thank you for showing us tricks for those who are on a limited budget and can't buy all the plug ins just yet...
February 12th, 2014 @ 11:52 am
Thanks Andrew!!!!In the window part, how to make a dust?any tutorial?
February 12th, 2014 @ 11:52 am
andrew you are amazing.
February 12th, 2014 @ 6:26 pm
Work easy with Element thank's again
M Steele
February 12th, 2014 @ 6:32 pm
Am I the only one who face palms myself when I see how clever, yet how simple these magical techniques are? Brilliant! What will this year bring?
Element 2.0? I saw your hidden blending modes options in the texture menu of your element screen cap within the Star Trek titles vid...
February 13th, 2014 @ 6:17 am
Awesome! Literally just got a company who make blinds as a client so this technique is perfect for that! nice one Kramer!
Michael Tate Jones
February 13th, 2014 @ 7:55 am
Love this tut Andrew. Thanks! Quick question...will this technique work with Element 3D text also? I know in the tutorial you say its technically a 2D trick. Just curious.
February 13th, 2014 @ 8:22 am
This is amazing as always!
Silver dance
February 13th, 2014 @ 8:58 am
cool (let the light be)
February 13th, 2014 @ 1:20 pm
Thank you very much Andrew!
February 13th, 2014 @ 4:02 pm
Andrew! You're killing me, dude! Can you PLEASE remember your devoted, dedicated (not to mention POOR from buying VCP products!) and loyal followers, and maybe save some (or all!) of these project files as CS5.5 projects? Or at least post them somewhere where we can download them?

I can't afford to upgrade to CS6 because I spend all my spare cash here...

Pretty please!?

Thanks for considering...

February 13th, 2014 @ 7:51 pm
February 13th, 2014 @ 8:10 pm
Another great tutorial from Mr. Kramer!
February 13th, 2014 @ 10:37 pm
jst awesome. thnx for the great tut
February 14th, 2014 @ 3:54 am
Yep, awesome. Been trying to achieve this effect without plugins myself and couldn't figure it out - your knowledge of after effects is second to none - thanks Andrew!!!
February 14th, 2014 @ 10:13 am
How can I use this technique on text from element 3D?
or is it even possible?

Andrew.... Would have been nice with a short example of how to use this technique with 3d element :)
    February 14th, 2014 @ 10:00 pm
    Hey, I haven't tried it yet.. But this should work with anything, because it just applies the blur to any light around edges.. If you place the text, then make the light the way he did in the video, and apply the blur it should always work, regardless of the object, if the transfer modes are correct.

    Hope this helps!
February 14th, 2014 @ 12:57 pm
February 14th, 2014 @ 3:33 pm
I am pretty new to AE and love the fantastic tutorials.
I just noticed that the rays of the volumetric light don't line up with the shadow lines. Would it make sense to pick-whip the radial blur to the original light instead?
    February 15th, 2014 @ 6:16 pm
    Not exactly. Since shadows are 3D projects and the light rays are a 2D projection you will never get perfect alignment but by pushing the Null deeper you can get close to matching the perspective lines.
February 14th, 2014 @ 5:59 pm
awesome tutorial. will definitely use it on the next music video!:)
February 14th, 2014 @ 10:11 pm
This is just simply absolutely (F@#$ing) amazing! What planet did you say you where from? Please transform me master :-)
February 15th, 2014 @ 2:35 am
From italy
You are the best teacher........always creative good ideas.Adobe should be proud of you !!
February 15th, 2014 @ 4:45 am
Anyone else having trouble with the Expression tying the light source to the Null?
    February 15th, 2014 @ 7:38 am
    of course... Capital C on toComp... Sorry... My bad.
February 15th, 2014 @ 11:44 am
Thanks Andrew! Nice technique and I appreciate you taking the time to show it to us. I love how you always seem to combine a few different ideas to come up with something incredible. Well done!
February 15th, 2014 @ 6:22 pm
So the CC radial blur works with element pretty well, what doesnt work is the light casting shadows. Elementary will fix this but I am sure that's why AK didnt show this since it is not using element exclusively. Most likely E3d will incorporate this. Nonetheless this is very cool.
February 15th, 2014 @ 6:33 pm
Hi everyone. I need help, I want to know how the effect of smoke which is transformed text into the clip Rihanna You Da One from 00 : 08, 0:13, and 2:45. Sorry for English, I'm French. I hope you can help me please
February 15th, 2014 @ 7:18 pm
Wow, works great with Element 3D! Just make sure your E3D layer is in the right spot. Very useful for integration with a live action shot of the sun and a JetStrike aircraft.
February 15th, 2014 @ 9:15 pm
Hi, Thank you very much, you can tell me with what program , you record this trainings very high Quality ، insomuch i'm recording too & i convert it to flv or mp4 and also with your training bitrates , but it's been very low quallity!!!? I give thanks for the answer . (excuse me for Wording because i'm from an asin country)
February 16th, 2014 @ 4:55 am
WoW... the fact that this project file can not be opened with perfectly good software, CS5, is horrible. How many people spent thousands of $$$$$ only to see it become obsolete even thought it still works? Think if they made computers like that or cars or whatever the case maybe. It becomes more about giving money to Adobe than learning a skill and using software that is still 90 percent relevant..well, it's not anymore. This is not the first time this has been brought up here. I know this is not your fault, AK. I paid thousands of $$$ for a suite that now does not work with your products.
Abolfazl Jafari
February 17th, 2014 @ 9:49 am
Very Nice
tank you for every thing i am from IRAN
February 17th, 2014 @ 12:37 pm
This is stupidly clever. Love how you've rigged it so you can spot and flood the light. I've used toComp with trapcode shine a bunch but I didn't think to add these additional controls!
February 17th, 2014 @ 7:17 pm
If I wasn't a man and if I found you attractive, AND if you weren't taken and you were gay and a man could get pregnant, I'd want to have your babies. Thanks for the great tuts, who needs trapcode shine with the technique!!
February 18th, 2014 @ 3:10 pm
Hi, Andrew and VC Group. Below is my thanks for the excellent tutorial. Congratulations!
February 19th, 2014 @ 7:39 am
when i add curves to my volunelight i cant change the color .. what to do? :/
February 20th, 2014 @ 10:56 am
How can you did extremely amazing STUFF from simple plugs and tools?! I don't stop a wonder!
mahdi sp
February 24th, 2014 @ 2:10 am
Hi andrew this tut is very useful thank for u .... i waaant sport car pack riged like jet strike in element 3d PLZ
... how time i witing for this pack hoooow ??
Dave Tunnell
February 25th, 2014 @ 7:10 am
This is so cool. AK amazes me all the time. Now I am trying to use this effect to create light streaks through BG like say a Monster ripped it with claws.
February 25th, 2014 @ 3:53 pm
Thanks a bunch! Love ya!!!
nic fanciulli
February 26th, 2014 @ 6:41 pm
hey! where's the project file?
February 28th, 2014 @ 2:40 pm
So, to make it even more "3D", you can make the direction of the bevel move relative to the position of the camera. Just add this expression to the "Light Angle" property of your "Bevel Alpha":

Salman Ghafoor
March 1st, 2014 @ 12:10 am
wow! hey thanks you very much for this i just looking for what i got here.
God Bless you and your family

Thanks again Andrew Kramer
Salman Ghafoor
Andrew Notkramer
March 1st, 2014 @ 12:31 pm
Hey Andrew
I was wondering if this effect can be done using Element 3D as the text layer? That would be more awesome than cheating a 3D effect using multiple layers.
    March 2nd, 2014 @ 1:57 pm
    Try it out! As long as the E3D layer is in the right spot it should give you some awesome light rays!
March 2nd, 2014 @ 12:01 pm
Wow Andrew! Thanks for this tutorial! The way I used to try and composite 3D VLM lighting was way harder and not as efficent as this! Thank you so much!
Brian Bierig
March 3rd, 2014 @ 1:08 pm
Incredible tutorial but I have to questions.
A.) The words and the light were moving in #D together. Suddenly,around 15:18, you had the lights moving while the type remained in place. How did you do that?

B.)How do I add keyframes and animate this now that I've made it?

Thanks, sorry for the novice questions.

    March 6th, 2014 @ 3:34 pm
    nice work andrew
March 6th, 2014 @ 1:34 am
i like too so much that tutorial and project flow work, it is very simple for me, but i love that.
Arturo Chesi Visani
March 15th, 2014 @ 9:21 am
This is just soo super epic! Thanks a lot for this tutorial! Will surely come in handy!
March 26th, 2014 @ 10:13 pm
Love this so much! I have two very important questions (Well, important to ME anyway):

1. Will this work in After Effect CS3 Professional? (Stop laughing, I can't afford a newer computer at the moment. LOL)

2. I use many of the visual effects techniques that I learn from you and transpose them into my photography. I noticed that you used the volumetric lighting on yourself in one image. How would I go about doing that?

I'm thinking that I would do my full edit and composite in Photo Shop CS3 Extended, and save as a .psd. Then, load that ,psd file into AE as editable layers. Apply my volumetric lighting effects, and then export back into PS as layers file. From there, I can open the layers file, flatten the image and apply any final cosmetic touches to the overall image. Does this workflow seem like it would work?

3. How do you use the volumetric effects for video to place it behind someone? (i.e. The way Admiral Kirk was backlit as he entered the bridge simulator at the beginning of in "Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan")

Thanks again! Video Copilot rocks!
Lord VicK
April 9th, 2014 @ 1:47 pm
It works like Trapcode Shine :D
April 21st, 2014 @ 7:49 am
I used this project to make a new intro to my channel, and it was really easy to follow and the final product came out great, but I do need a bit of help... when exporting to premier Pro CC, is said two things: 1)"the preset used by one or more sequences in this project requires thid party components that could not be located. these sequenses will be modified....quit the application withut saving the project, reinstall any third-party components that are required and reopen the project" but no third party add-ons where used I followed all of the built in presets of after affects. 2)video filters missing - and named three of which are all on after affects but cant open in premier? could you please help... thnak you
May 5th, 2014 @ 12:20 pm
always loved Andrew, Thank you so much for sharing what you
June 10th, 2014 @ 11:37 am
I have download this Project file and created one of the promotional Video for one of my Client. Thanks a lot for sharing this tutorial. I just love this!
June 15th, 2014 @ 2:08 am
This is so great!
Thank you
June 22nd, 2014 @ 7:27 pm
Wow! Thanks for an amazing tutorial. I can't believe how much I still have to learn.
August 28th, 2014 @ 7:43 am
That moment when you are searcing youtube for help and you hear "Andrew Kramer here". Thank God!
September 23rd, 2014 @ 5:56 am
Best tutorial... thank you Andrew.
September 28th, 2014 @ 2:57 am
I ran into a problem i don't have fast radial blur, what could i use in CS5.5 to create a similar light burst effect?
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