Midweek Motivations + Tutorial: The Northern Lights

Midweek Motivations + Tutorial: The Northern Lights
Inspirations, Tutorial Mar 18, 2015 at 01:19 PM

Did you miss the mesmerizing dancing and streaking greens and purples in the northern sky last night? Not only will you get scientific background on the aurora borealis, but today I present some inspiring time-lapse of auroras and methods to make them yourself in Adobe After Effects!

The aurora has been on my bucket list for years. We've taken long drives up north to escape the light pollution of the city only to never see them because of clouds or late nights. A few days ago there was a G4 level geomagnetic storm on the sun, making last night's aurora display spectacular. Unfortunately, I missed it again! Check out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's aurora gallery for photos from around the world.

The Aurora Borealis

A movie created by Per Byhring with Apple Motion 4 for the University of Oslo Department of Physics explaining the aurora. There is some really nice animations of the sun and space in this short film. 

Iceland Aurora

Shot in more than 50 locations around Iceland, Iceland Aurora is a non-narrative time lapse film showing the hypnotic northern lights and gorgeous scenery of the island country.

Elemental Iceland

Stian Rekdal presents some stop motion of the beautiful landscapes of Iceland, including the aurora.

Elemental Iceland from Stian Rekdal on Vimeo.

Create your Own Auroras

GenArts Monsters M_Aurora

GenArts Monsters is a set of natural phenomena and particle plug-ins that runs in several host applications including After Effects, Nuke, Sony Vegas Pro, Autodesk Smoke for Mac, Smoke, Inferno, and Flint. One plug-in in the package is called Aurora and it does a nice job of creating undulating, mesmerizing movement that can be used to create things like auroras, energy fields and more. Below is an example I created this afternoon using M_Aurora and M_NightSky for the stars in After Effects along with some trees generated in Photoshop.

GenArts Monsters M_Aurora

As you can see, the Effect Controls for M_Aurora, there are a lot of options!

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After Effects Tutorial - Create an Aurora with Particular

QuickVFX shows you how to create the Northern Lights with Trapcode Particular in After Effects CC. We featured this tutorial on our blog back in December, but it's a good one so it's worth repeating. 

Recreating the Northern Lights Using After Effects

Haffi Mår uses Mettle FreeForm (formerly Digieffects FreeForm) to create the Northern Lights.

Abstrakts "Northern Lights" Photoshop Tutorial

I figured I'd throw in a Photoshop tutorial for kicks.

Posted by Michele Yamazaki

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