One of the few things I have to create for the rapid project I’m apart of, is a starry sky to fill in the plain jane background of our title screen. This underwent a few iterations as time drew on. Initially I turned to particles to emit a starry effect but I learned quickly that the default emitters simply didn’t spawn static particles, only particles that moved and also had a lifespan. I was certain I could’ve whipped something up in 3ds Max but I felt I could do something far quicker using default AfterEffects systems and feel more clever for it.
So to break it down, I wanted a star effect that behaved almost identical to our own stars. I wanted a star field that had stars of varying sizes, that would slightly flicker over time and would also emit various colours for a microsecond.
Knowing what I wanted to achieve I started with a noise effect in after effects as I knew it would give me the random field of dots if I adjust the brightness and contrast. After playing around with a few noise effects I was most happy with ‘Fractal Noise’ which gave a good spread of spots. Then I wanted to apply some colour effects which led me to the ‘Colorama’ effect which was not exactly straight forward to figure out. So the two main attributes with ‘Colorama’ is its output and rotations. The output attribute basically assigns various colours that are selected throughout its lifespan which leads me into its rotations. Rotations turn out to be similar to animation, by adjusting the rotations to suit the amount of frames I want it to run for I attained a seamlessly looping colour effect. Then for the last effect I used ‘CC Star Burst’ which simply allowed me to essentially control the how many stars I wanted on screen and their relative size. Then to finish it all off, I tediously animated the opacity track throughout the entire scene to give the stars a slight random flicker.
With the concept done I gained feedback from my team and others most of whom were pretty happy with it. However the consistent feedback I received was that it was rather boring, which I agreed with. So in response, I simply pre-comped the layers, and then duplicated it, and with each layer I adjusted the the size and scatter values, the colours and also the opacity behaviors. The finished product I must admit I’m very happy with, the only thing I have left to do with this piece is simply add a blue effect, but I’m going to wait until I can finally start the composite stage to do that.