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Create Graphics that React to Music in After Effects


Learn how to make your titles and images move to the beat with this quick After Effects tutorial.

Top image via Shutterstock.

In this video tutorial, we’ll learn how to make your text or images move to the beat of your soundtrack. This technique is very popular in all types of online content with beat-heavy soundtracks. So let’s get started adding some energy to your video.

The tutorial by Justin Odisho covers the basics for animating your text to music. Importantly, the second half of the video covers smoothing out the motions, adding certain effects to your texts, and controlling your movements even further. Let’s take a look at the key points for the effect.

Create Graphics that React to Music in After Effects — Keyframes

So first things first, create a text layer. After Effects will then allow you to break your song down into keyframes. Right-click the file, select Keyframe Assistant > Convert Audio to Keyframes. This will create a “Audio Amplitude” layer that holds keyframes based on the volume of the song that will allow you to break down the song’s channels (left, right or both). You’ll see a keyframe for every second of the beat. You can also break down the song and see every beat with the Graph Editor tool.

Create Graphics that React to Music in After Effects — Audio Amplitude

After Effects gives you options for how you want the text (or image) to react to beat — such as changes in scale, opacity, or position. Just open up the text layer to view these options, and play around with the different effects under the Transform options. This versatility gives users more control over their animations. Justin demonstrates this in his tutorial by increasing the scale of the text  (hold down Alt/Option and hit Scale keyframe).

Create Graphics that React to Music in After Effects — Transform Options

This will open up Expression Keyframes. Choose the expression pick-whip “Swirl” key and drag it up to the slider. Once you’ve done this, you can prevent the text scale from changing too drastically in size from beat to beat by adding + [100,100]. The text will stay at the original size despite certain jumps in volume and pace.

Create Graphics that React to Music in After Effects — Expression Keyframes

Another quick solution for smoothing out some of these keyframes is to highlight them and move on over to the Smoother panel. This tool will blend your keyframes together, so Justin recommends playing around with the tolerance to see what looks better.

To choose music for your next project or tutorial, check out PremiumBeat’s curated royalty free music library.