The visual effect known as a "HUD" or Heads Up Display is often used in computer games, sci-fi and action movies. These futuristic graphics seem to communicate vital information to their user, and are a great visual to the movie goer that the protagonist needs that information to guide their actions. Often they glow, they move, graphs or charts appear, voice patterns dart across or even heartbeat monitoring flies across the screen. In sci-fi, a droid like R2D2 can project the map of a galaxy into the air, the planets moving on their axes 

This afternoon I wanted to pull a HUD out of the air. It acts like a compass, but also has sonar and radar scanning capabilities! Of course, it's just geometric elements moving on your screen, but that's what HUDs are. The compass movements are randomised with a wiggle expression, freq=0.9 and amp=50. The radar line is controlled by the equation time*100. The sonar is created with the Radio effect in After Effects. An adjustment layer was added on top, with Glow effect applied. Two solid layers form the background - the bottom one with a radial Gradient Ramp from blue to dark blue, the upper solid has Grid effect applied, lines at 0.5px and grid size controlled by slider. 2 masks helped create the fanning out shape, a small inner circle subtracting from the centre, and a large circle intersecting on the outer edge.

HUD in 2D


Same HUD placed in a 3D environment