I recently did an animation from scratch, without plug-ins, without keyframes (just with expressions) and tools given by After Effects. But I had problems visualizing an idea I have which includes volumetric light. I know there are plug-ins around like Lux by Trapcode but I try to avoid these. I've created sprites of light cones, arranged them like a cross, duplicated them and twisted them 45° to get a fake the volumetric effect. A little neat trick by game developers. But it's far from perfect. Especially when the cones are directed into the virtual camera which I tried to disguise with an optical flare.
Link to the animation:
Do you guys have any idea how to improve this and make some volumetric light without additional plug-ins?
The only thing that comes to mind right now would be an animated mask with a variable feather on a white solid layer and then play with transparency. This way you can simulate a volumetric light when it's in front of the camera.