Thee Worlds, One Image: Star Trek Bridge Cinemagraph

Making Of / 30 June 2022

I’d finally come up with a more-or-less final image and was really happy with the way it came out, but I was then faced with the challenge of figuring out the best way to present it online.

I came up with the idea of an animated “fly-through” to take the viewer into the details of each area of the image but I didn’t want it to simply be a “pan and zoom” approach. I wanted to add some animation and visual effects to each area to bring them alive.

The original image being vector art I’d created in Adobe Illustrator gave me a lot of options in the way I could use the source material in Photoshop, Animate and, especially, After Effects—each background and character were already isolated on their own layers, so getting them ready to use them in After Effects or Animate was as simple as hitting “Import”.

I figured I’d start out with the Star Trek bridge. My initial idea was to create a dissolve between the initial sketch and the final art with some effects to make the transition interesting. Making stuff like glowing energy beams moving at a million miles an hour is right in After Effects’ wheelhouse so I was able to come up with something I liked pretty quickly.

I wanted to give the characters some life by animating their arms and heads with puppet pin animation. I was keeping the idea of doing some full-on animation in Animate in the back of my mind if the puppet pin animation didn’t work out but it turned out to be all I needed. I didn’t want to depart too far from the material in the image because that was still the main thing I wanted to feature.

The next project was to make the Transporter Room actually beam somebody up!