In this After Effects tutorial, you will learn how to make a swirly abstract background that you can use in your videos. You will also learn how to use simple expressions like the time expression to add motion to your background without having to keyframe all of the different properties.
To get started, create a new composition in After Effects with a size of 1920x1080 and a frame rate of 60. Next, create a new solid layer.
In the effects and presets window, type “fractal noise” and drag it onto the solid layer. You will notice that nothing happens at first, so you need to change some of the settings.
To add motion to the fractal noise, click and drag on the Evolution property. You can also use an expression to change the Evolution property instead of keyframing it. For example, you can type “time times 15” into the Evolution property. This will cause the fractal noise to evolve over time, and the rate of evolution will be determined by the value of the time expression.
You can also change other properties of the fractal noise, such as the contrast, noise type, size, and complexity. You can also keyframe in between different types of fractals.
To add more movement to the background, you can use the turbulent displacement effect. To do this, type “turbulent” into the effects and presets window and drag the Turbulent Displace effect onto the solid layer.
You can change the amount of displacement, as well as the offset turbulence. You can also use an expression to change the offset turbulence over time. For example, you can type “x equals time times 12” and “y equals time times 15” into the X and Y properties of the offset turbulence. This will cause the offset turbulence to move across the image over time.
You can also add other effects to the background, such as the Twirl effect and the Colorama effect.
Once you are happy with the look of your background, you can export it as a video file.
Key steps involved in creating a swirly abstract background in After Effects using time expressions:
- Create a new composition in After Effects.
- Create a new solid layer.
- Add the fractal noise effect to the solid layer.
- Use an expression to change the Evolution property of the fractal noise over time.
- Add other properties to the fractal noise, such as the contrast, noise type, size, and complexity.
- Add the turbulent displacement effect to the solid layer.
- Use an expression to change the offset turbulence of the turbulent displacement over time.
- Add other effects to the background, such as the Twirl effect and the Colorama effect.
- Export the background as a video file.
In this After Effects tutorial I’m going to show you how to make a swirly abstract background that you can use in videos. And this will show you how to use simple expressions like the time expression so you don’t have to animate all the different properties of fractal noise and turbulent displacement. This is a very easy way to add in motion to an abstract animated background without having to keyframe all properties. So let’s get started. First I’m going to make a new composition. 1920x1080 is fine along with a frame rate of 60. Next I’ll make a new solid by going layer new solid. It doesn’t matter what color this solid is and I’ll just press ok.
Now that I have a solid I can go to effects and presets. In the effects in presets window I’m going to type fractal noise. Then I’ll drag fractal noise onto the clip. Once I have fractal noise you’ll notice on the playhead nothing happens. That means we have to change some of the settings. So if I click and drag on Evolution you notice that it changes, but what I can do instead of evolution I can have different things happen. I could use an expression to change that rather than key framing it. So for example at Evolution, if I type 0.0 at the beginning and then I click the stopwatch on evolution, then I can hold alt or option and then click and it gives me an expression. So here on Evolution I can type time _ 15. So this will take the time in the video and times 15 and then it will continue to add the evolution. So now if I press play and then I stop you’ll notice that now the evolution is at 34. So this will continue to change as I go through the video by me typing just a simple expression time _ 15. And we can change the rate so if you wanted it to go faster I could make this * 30. And now this is going to change much faster but I think I’m going to go back to 15. There’s many other options you can do. One thing with fractal noise is changing the contrast. So we can increase the contrast. This will help different effects later and then there’s different noise types. So you can have a spline noise or you can have soft linear or linear as well as the actual fractal type. So you can make it swirly, you can make it cloudy, you can make it smeary. I like this one here because it kind of makes like a marble or organic feeling to the fractal. There are many different ways you can do this and you can also keyframe in between the different types of fractals. We can change the size and the complexity of the fractal so under transform we can change the scale. We can also change the rotation so here we have the fractal moving.
But what if we want to actually change the rotation? We can do the same thing in the beginning by holding option and this keyframe and then type time times five. So now we have the fractal is rotating as well if that’s too much rotation you can slow it down so we can do times let’s say 1.2, so now we have a slower rotation.
It just gives that little bit of extra movement and what’s really nice is we can do the same thing for X Y coordinates. So here we have offset turbulence. If I click option or alt on the stopwatch, let’s go back to the first frame, then click alt or option here I can type x equals time times 12.
And then if I scroll up so we can see what’s going on here and then I can go y equals time times 15. And then I can do square bracket X comma y. And in After Effects Expressions we need to add semicolons at the end of these lines. And now it’ll work fine. So now it’s saying that the X Dimension should be time times 12 and the Y Dimension should be time times 15 and then use X Y for this property of evolution. So now we have the rotation and the offset turbulence so we’re moving the frame all over the place as it’s going so now we have a really nice fractal that’s moving. And of course we could continue to add this time to other different properties which is kind of fun but let’s go ahead and add more effects to this.
So I’m going to twirl up fractal noise then over in effects and presets I’m going to type colorama. Colorama is a great way to add color. It uses the gray scale of an image so then I can go to the output cycle and I can pick a preset. For this one I’m going to pick fire because it gives this kind of lava magma look to this and of course I could change the amount and contrast in my fractal noise and it’s going to affect the colors of this, but I want it to be more swirly. So once again in effects in presets I’m going to type turbulent and then we’re going to do turbulent displace. So now I have it all swarmy and smeary. And we can also use the displacement amount so I can increase this displacement amount to really have it be swirly and turbulent. Then once again on this offset turbulence, remember this is under the turbulent displace, I can hold alt or option on the stopwatch and then I can do x equals time times 12 semicolon and then y equals time times 13 semicolon then square bracket X comma y.
And so now I have the turbulent displace is also moving across the image and so we really start to have a lot of different things happening all at one time. We could also make these negative numbers if you wanted it to go the other way. So that can be a great way to have opposing movement, so one movement going one way and the other movement going the other way.
So hopefully you can use these expressions of time. This works on most effects so you can have something change and you only have to type in a keyframe expression at the beginning and then you basically just change the rate of something that’s changing. So this is sometimes easier especially for animations that are going to go for a long time. They don’t have to keyframe the entire time and you just have this continual progression. Hopefully you can make some abstract backgrounds with the time expression in After Effects.