In today’s world of crisp, clean, and sometimes boring footage, purposefully destroying and blending your work is gaining popularity. Here’s how to do it.
If you’ve ever stayed up late enough to catch Adult Swim’s Off The Air, you’ve probably seen some really trippy-looking visuals mashed together into a bunch of colors and swirling pixels in a true display of aesthetic madness. You can see this technique, along with many others like it, in all kinds of places. Most recently, it’s become popular in music videos.
In the following video, Robbie from Shutterstock Tutorials walks you through four different ways to cause trippy, souped-up mayhem in your video edits.
Datamoshing is a technique that has been gaining popularity over the last few years. It started with old editing software that was a bit buggy, sometimes causing “I-Frames” and “Delta-Frames” to not play nicely the way they’re supposed to. (Don’t know what those are? Neither do I.) However, some people leaned into this glitch and created a pretty viral trend.
While there are some pretty cool underground (and more purist) ways to create the datamoshing effect, there is now a very convenient plugin that you can use with After Effects to accomplish the same thing. In the video, Robbie uses the Datamosh plugin to get his effects quickly and easily. Using the plugin, you can customize the Delta frames and I-frames. According to Robbie, altering the Delta Frames creates that blooming and stretching pixel effect. The I-frames track one pixel from one frame to another. So, altering this will keep certain pixels exactly where they are, causing one image to bleed into another.
Beyond datamoshing, there are other interesting ways to create interesting looks and transitions using your video editor of choice.
2. Displacement Wipe
This method is mostly for creating an interesting transition. It uses some pretty specific displacement of the image to achieve the effect.
This is a method developed by yours truly — while staring at After Effects and playing around with different effects in the distort category and the like, trying to come up with my own datamosh-style effect using native After Effects plugins.
The best one I came up with is this one, using the Displacement Map effect. You apply the effect to the first clip in the transition. First, set the displacement map to the second clip in the transition. Using the effect, you turn off the horizontal displacement altogether by switching the dropdown to “Off.” Then, for the vertical displacement map, you change the dropdown to “luminance.”
Now, using the vertical displacement options, start the stopwatch, and raise the vertical displacement significantly over time. This causes one image to melt into the other based on the second clip’s luminance values.
3. Double Exposure
A common effect that you often see in photography is a double exposure effect. This means you see two different exposures, usually taken to merge them together interestingly.
This effect is also possible with video. You get the most interesting and effective results when you record footage of your subject against a stark, white background. Then, using blend modes, you can layer the two pieces of footage on top of each other. To get the most popular look when using this effect, you can use the “Add” or “Screen” blending modes. Sometimes you can get interesting results using “Hard Light” or “Overlay” as well.
You can create this effect using any editing software that includes blending modes and very basic compositing options.
4. Key Transition
Another interesting transition effect involves using color keying to your advantage.
This is something that you can do basically anytime you have something with a strong, solid color in your shot. A mailbox, a sign, a car — anything with a bright and saturated solid color that you can use with a keying effect.
In this example, Robbie uses a landmark sign that was a bright green color to key. In Premiere, you can use the Ultra Key effect and simply select the necessary color with the medicine dropper for the “key color” parameter. You may want to customize the screen matte options or the contrast/color of your scene to get the desired effect. However, this is a great way to make your scene feel like it flows from one world to another. Pair it with a gimbal, and you can flow from one environment into another seamlessly.