After Effects Vacuum Effect

For a recent motion graphics project that I was working on, I needed to use a sucking-in vacuum effect where some logos were being sucked into a TV. Not being a motion graphics expert and jumping into after effects for the first time in a while, I first went searching  some forums to see if anyone else asked the question and had gotten answers. Indeed people have asked how to get this affect, but not too many useful answers were out there. Fortunately, I was able to put together something I was happy with and wanted to show anyone that’s interested how the effect was achieved.

Here’s an example of what it will look like:



Step 1:

Open or create a new composition. Place a shape on screen that will serve as the item being sucked in (the suckee) along side the item that will serve as the sucker.

Step 1


Step 2:

Apply the bezier warp effect onto the shape. The goal here is to warp the shape over the set amount of time in a way that looks as if it’s being sucked up gradually with one side being sucked up first with the rest to follow eventually. So set a keyframe on the first frame of the animation for all of the vertex and tangent points.

Step 2


Step 3:

Move the playhead about 30% of the duration of the animation and start moving the one side of the shape towards the end position. I like to do it for the one side only for the 2nd keyframe but still set key points for the rest of the vertex and tangent points whether they are moved or not.

Step 3


Step 4:

Move a few more frames (to 55% or so) and advance the previous points more towards the goal with the points closer together. At this point, I also start moving the tangent points of the unwarped side a little bit too.

Step 4


Step 5:

Go ahead to the end keyframe and move the remaining points closer to the goal.

Step 5

You’ll notice that it looks OK, but not great. What we have now is a decent guide for where the shape will get sucked through. To get more of a fluid vacuum effect, you’ll need to use one more effect called Flo Motion. An effect like this is precisely what it’s made for.


Step 6:

So apply Flo Motion to the the shape layer. On the first frame of the animation, set Knot 1 to where the real suck-in should take place. In this instance, it would be at the edge of the where the logo “enters” it.

Be sure to uncheck the Tile Edges option. What that does when checked is tiles the parts of the warped shape onto the edges instead of having the parts that have already bled off stay out of view for the duration.


Step 7:

Go to the last frame of this sequence and move the  Amount 1 setting to 3o or so. The amount will depend on the shape that you are “sucking”, but that’s what worked for me. You may want to play with the Fallout setting which manipulates the timing of the actual fluid movement within the animation. I have it animating from 1.00 to 1.24 for the length of the animation.

I also like to add a little direction blur to give it more of the illusion of speed as it gets sucked in. Play around with the settings to get the effect you want to achieve. This method prooved to be exactly what I needed.


And there you go. A vacuum sucky in effect in after effects. This was my first tutorial, so let me know if this was helpful or complete rubbish.


Greg Kepler is an interactive developer at the Barbarian Group. He started as a design student graduating from RIT with a degree in New Media Design and Imaging in 2004 and fell in love with Flash. He worked for 4 years as a designer, developer, and interactive studio manager at Iomedia and moved on to the Barbarian Group in 2010 as an interactive developer where he tries to get his hands dirty with whatever technologies he can.

  • DAH

    This is so helpful! I am going to work through the steps now. I’ll send a link to how my project turns out! Thank you for posting!



  • Viktor

    very helpfull. Great job. thanks

  • GregKepler

    I’m glad that worked out for you, Viktor.

  • Helena Nandya Terranova

    Will this work with video? I’m relatively new in the AE world..