Traversing the snow globe

For a project for work, I had to put together a snow globe. I looked into what other people had done in the past for snow globes and I had some issues. I didn’t think they looked quite right for my project. And I needed to zoom out from a video to reveal that the video is inside the globe, and nobody needed that in any other projects from my brief research. So I skimmed some tutorials to get some ideas, grabbed a snow globe vector, and gave it a try.

I got a decent looking snow globe my first attempt, but I realized I didn’t plan well enough for zooming in and out of it. The edges of the video wouldn’t look right during the transition. The layers weren’t set up right to scale correctly, or arranged in a way to logically interact with a camera.

My second attempt works much better. It’s not set up as it should be for efficiency, but it functions. If I built it again, I know some things I’d change. But there’s tons of ways to do anything in After Effects, and if the end result works, then it’s reasonably successful right? Here’s some stuff I did to make this work. This isn’t a tutorial, just some suggestions for a snow globe. If you found this page searching for a snow globe tutorial and you’re not a beginner in the program, just open up AE and do what you think might work! If you’re a noob looking for a tutorial – go look at Adobe’s introductory materials online and learn the basics first.

  • Like I said, I found a snow globe vector. There’s tons of free vector images if you look. It’s possible to make your own snow globe in AE if you want it more 3Dish.
  • The video inside can be anything, really. You can mask it to shape it to the globe, or mask a shape. Feathering helps make it look prettier. Take the opacity of the snow globe down to whatever you want.
  • I put a couple of shape layers inside my globe to make the bottom/snowy part of the globe. They have drop shadows on them to create some separation.
  • I put a Mesh Warp on the video to make it bulge a bit like inside round glass.
  • The bits of snow is an adjustment layer with CC Snow. I’m tweaking this, it’s not right. I wanted to put a fast blur on it to diffuse the bits a bit like they’re behind glass, but of course the adjustment layer was adjusting everything. Stupid, I’m forgetting something. It was Monday, gimme a break.
  • The actual snow flake looking snow flakes are created with Particle Playground. I made a new comp with just a snowflake (Wingdings letter “T” to make it quick) and made that the particle for the playground. I adjusted the frequency and positioning and gravity and all that stuff. It needs more tweaking, the birth point is too apparent. And they aren’t floaty enough.
  • The real snowflake layer has CC Sphere on it as well to make the snowflakes dance around a natural round globe a bit. The particles need tweaking to flip around a bit more.
  • There’s a light coming from the top of the globe casting a shadow onto the table. It makes the globe blend more into the scene and make it a bit more dynamic.

Like I said, the greatest thing about After Effects is there are a million ways to do things. If you have any input for how this could be improved, I’d love to hear it.