We recently released a branding project for Baraja centred around their use of pointclouds — a set of data points in space produced by 3D scanners to visualise for humans what the scanner sees. They produce these using LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensorheads, mounted inside or on the roof of a vehicle, which send laser pulses out. Once the laser returns back to the sensor, the LiDAR system will record data based on information received.

In an attempt to visualise these pointclouds in an aesthetic way and surface them as a branding element, we busted out After Effects and started off with a new HD composition. We created a new solid with Trapcode Form and increased the size of the grid to larger than the composition size, giving us a cool dotgrid-style canvas to start.

Since LiDAR scans in rows (or columns depending on how you’re looking at it), we increased the particles along the X plane to form horizontal lines to simulate an increased particle counter. Dispersing the particles and adding randomly generated opacity helps give it a less structured feeling, while still maintaining the horizontal lines.

Pointclouds typically use the visible wavelength of colour to convey distance so we created a colour map with a noise pattern with a half-transparent, colour-blended solid purple layer overlay so it’s on-brand. Changing the opacity and size variation of the fractal field by a small values increased the randomness of the particle grid. The faded particles give the illusion of shadows.

LiDAR is typically used to scan an environment, so we needed the pointcloud to show that. By changing the disperse values we were able to get the look of terrain. The displacement mode is XYZ Linked by default but can be changed to XYZ Individual for better control. We created a camera and moved in closer to get a more interesting angle. If you’re trying to create something similar at home, we recommend changing the Form Render Mode to “Motion Preview” to save processing time when trying to find the right angle.

Finally, after finding the camera angle we liked the most, we turned on Depth of Field to give the particle grid a macro look. What’s awesome is that adding a random value expression to the rotation values of the camera or any other values means that you can generate hundreds of variants in seconds.

But, it wouldn’t be any fun if we didn’t produce something animated! We produced a little something-something for the team… and our own desktop wallpapers:

Thanks for reading!