I am clueless how to create a spherical hologram in After Effects without CC Cylinder effect …

Do I need to animate it in a 3D software and then import that model with the animation in After Effects or is there an easier way to create it solely in AE?

NOTE: The sphere needs to be scaled on the y-axis. I don't want a perfect sphere and therefore can't use the CC Cylinder in AE (I think).

enter image description here

  • 1
    I just want to make sure I understand you correctly. Are you sure you're not mistaking cylindrical (more like a tube shape) for spherical (more like a ball shape)? The image that you are showing here looks as though it would be a perfect use-case for CC Cylinder, so I am uncertain as to why you think you shouldn't use it. There shouldn't be anything stopping you from scaling it on the y-axis.
    – Clif
    Feb 2, 2020 at 22:58

1 Answer 1


This is not something you should ever do in After-Effects. Primarily, After-Effects is a motion-graphics program, so it works in 2D 99% of the time. Something like this scene from ghost in the shell was probably created using a 3D-Program to model out the cylinder (Modo, Cinema4D, Maya or Houdini could have been used), and then send over to a compositing-program, of which I'm pretty sure they used Nuke. If I was to get a job like that, this is how I would've worked:

  • Track the original shot and create a 3D-Camera (using Pf-Track or something similar).
  • Create a mask around the Lady and export it as a matte-image-sequence.
  • Import the camera in your 3D-Program of choice and set the original Clip as your background, so you can see where the cylinder is supposed to be in space.
  • Model out the Cylinder and texture it accordingly.
  • Set the 3D-Kamera to fit the real camera, i.e. Lens-distortion, Chromatic-Abberation, Mono-Chromatic Abberation, etc.
  • Light the scene to perfectly fit the video-clip.
  • Cut out the back part of the cylinder using your matte-image sequence from prior.
  • Export the sequence as a tiff or exr with alpha-channel (the transparency)
  • Import the image-sequence into Nuke.
  • Add some finishing touches such as grain, glow, etc.
  • I agree about not using After Effects, but that's just because I don't have a very high opinion of Adobe. People use AE to motion track and composite 3D elements into 2D scenes all the time (not to mention rotoscope, add filters, chromatic aberration, etc). In fact, I don't see anything in your post that AE can't do. It even has lite versions of Mocha and C4D included (albeit, very out of date). In my OPINION, one shouldn't do this kind of thing in AE, because Adobe are abusive to their customers, who suffer from Stalkholm Syndrome. Feb 7, 2020 at 3:44
  • Also, I feel like I should mention Fusion. Yes, Nuke is king of VFX compositors. Fusion is a very Nuke-like alternative, but is cheaper/free, and a good entry point for someone learning node-based compositing. Layer-based compositing (AE) being a poor approach to temporal media is a solid argument against its use. Just calling AE a motion graphics program is not. Feb 7, 2020 at 3:55
  • @JasonConrad I fully agree with you, actually. My crippling phobia of doing 3D work in AE made me recommend Nuke, although it indeed is theoretically possible in ae. Feb 7, 2020 at 8:26

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