How To Create Glitch Distortions in After Effects With No External Plugins

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Glitch effects are very cool and in this article, we’re going to take a look at how to create these effects from scratch by using only the built-in tools from After Effects. It’s a great technique to know and master and each video editor should have this trick in his video editing tool belt.

Here’s how to do it step by step:

    • First, import your footage into After Effects and create a new composition from it

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    • Next, create a new solid layer by going to Layer-New – Solid. We need to create a pixel map now so for this we’re going to use the Fractal Noise effect. Choose Effect – Noise & Grain – Fractal Noise

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    • Next, change the noise type from Soft Linear to Block and the complexity to 1.5. We only need to keep the brightest area so we’ll add another effect. Choose Effect – Color Correction – Levels. Push the gamma of the histogram close to the end and bring the input white a bit until you get rid of the grey blocks

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    • Back into the Fractal Noise effect, in the Transform section, turn off Uniform Scaling and scale up the width so that the block is a lot wider and bring down the height
    • To animate the blocks, hold down the “Alt” key (or “Option” on macs) and press the stopwatch next to the evolution property in the fractal noise effect.

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We’ll now add an expression: time*600

    • The next step is to precompose the layer, so we’ll choose “Layer – Precompose” and Move all attributes into the new composition. We need to do this because the displacement map effect that we will use later cannot work directly with layers as it doesn’t see the applied effects.
    • Next, we’ll choose the footage file and go to “Effect – Distort – Displacement Map”. Set the vertical displacement to 0 and check “Wrap Pixels Around”. In the Displacement Map section, choose the composition we created earlier and set the horizontal displacement value to around 150.

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    • Go back to the fractal composition and with the fractal map selected, choose Effect – Color Correction – Tint. Change the map of the black to 50% gray by setting the values for RGB: 128, 128 and 128

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Going back to the main comp you will see everything look fine now

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  • As a final touch will be adding a matrix image overlay and place it on the top. We’ll set the transfer mode to “Soft Light” and bring down the opacity to around 36%.

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We hope you enjoyed this article on how to create digital distortion effects/glitches in After Effects with just the built-in tools. This is a quick way to make your videos look amazing and you can even save this project as a template and use these particular setting with any other footage. There are a number of 3rd party plugins which are able to take edits likes this to a different level and we’ll discuss them in future tutorials

Remus Hosu

Remus Hosu

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