Learn how to create a sample portal transition in After Effects using footage mats and 3D tracking. Tutorial includes free project files!
Creating a neat walkthrough portal transition is surprisingly easy in After Effects, and the end result is sure to get some oohs and aahs out of your viewers. This type of first-person portal transition is often found in travel videos and opening credit sequences, as it is a noticeable way to move from one place to another.
Are you ready to create your own portal? Download the free project files, launch After Effects, and follow the step-by-step video and transcription below. Let's start.
Download the free project files
Which footage should be used?
To get the effect you need two different shots, both of which are tracking forward. It will definitely improve the look of the effect if they move at almost the same speed.
The camera movement also needs to be pretty fluid, so I recommend filming with a three-axis gimbal or drone. I find it also helps if the second shot is more of an open area than the first. This helps avoid any obvious parallax problems between each video clip as they move forward.
3D camera tracker
When you've selected your first shot, add it to a new composition. Then open the tracker Panel in After Effects and select the Track camera Possibility. When the tracker is done, select an area with tracker points near the center of your footage and Right click. Now choose Set ground plane and origin.
This effectively sets that 3D area as the center of the composition, making it easier to navigate as you add new files. In the end, Right click on the same area of the tracker points and select Build solid and camera.
Portal reveals animation
We now need to add some shape or text that will serve as the portal reveal animation. For this portal we use a scribble animation to write down. (I included the scribble animation in the project file.)
Drag and drop The scribble animation clip is inserted into the composition and saved as a 3D plane. Then we need to rotate the plane and reposition it in 3D space so that the tracker camera naturally moves through the center. Finally switch on Motion blur for the scribble animation layer.
Add the second video clip
Now we can add the second video clip to our composition and place it under the Scribble animation layer. Since the scribble animation layer has an alpha channel, we can set our second video clip to Alpha matte under the Track mat the settings. This effectively mattes our footage so that it only shows where the scribble animation is.
When the 3D camera moves to the center of the scribble effect, we have to do this Split the plane of the second video clip. Do this when the second video clip fills the entire screen but before the 3D camera goes through the 3D scribble layer. To split the layer for the second video clip, you can use the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + D. (Command + Shift + D on Mac).
Add rays of light
To create some rays of light we must first precompose All of the layers in our composition except for the original first video clip we used. Once you've put all the other layers together, duplicate the precomp twice. You should now have three copies of the same precomposition.
Name the top precomp copy Frosted and the middle precomp copy Rays of light. Apply the effect CC Radial Fast Blur precompact and adjust to the light beams amount Apply the effect to the matte precomposition Matte choker and set the following settings: Geometric softness up to 35, Suffocation up to 126, Grayscale softness to 28 percent.
Now set the Track mat Setting for the Rays of light to be pre-compensated Alpha inverted. Then set the Rays of light precomp. a screen Blending mode. You can then adjust that opacity The level of the light rays corresponds to a value that looks the best.
Pixel motion blur
As an optional finishing touch, we can add a few more Pixel motion blur to the footage to smooth out the scribble animation. Add one Setting level above all and apply Pixel motion blur to. I like to stop that Closure pattern until twelve.
Interested in the royalty-free tracks we made this video with? Listen again:
Here are some more tips / tricks / techniques you can use to keep your After Effects sleeve up: