Three Worlds, One Image: Star Trek Transporter Cinemagraph

Making Of / 07 July 2022

When I first decided to create an animated fly-though of the image in After Effects, the sequence I was most looking forward to working on was the Star Trek transporter. The original beaming effect is exactly the kind of thing After Effects excels at doing and the stylization I’d used for it in the still image was the biggest departure from the original material, so it was going to be nice to add a touch that could be more in line with the original effect once I got everything moving.

I thought it would also be a great opportunity to add some storytelling. Rather than have Spock, Uhura and Mirror Spock all beam in simultaneously, I figured it would be more in keeping with the original Mirror Spock story to keep him fading in and out, like there was a glitch in the transporter (or the multiverse.)

One of the great things about using vector art from Illustrator in After Effects is that everything essentially comes in “pre-masked” as long as you put everything on the right layers. I was able to create multiple copies of a single particle effect and mask them off on each character  in a couple of minutes. 

I was able to add some animation to all of the Star Trek characters in two motion graphics. Next up was going to be to add some life to the characters from Star Wars.