How to Create Glitch Screen Effects in After Effects

After Effects 04/08/2022 4 min read

Glitch effects have always been trendy, and with digital content creation growing every year, glitch effects are more popular than ever. Glitch effects are fun and impressive to watch, but they can also help add consistency to your videos. You can add a glitch to pretty much anything from transitions to titles. The best thing about the After Effects glitch effect is that you can build them in layers, creating unique looks and styles from just 3 techniques.

Part 1: Adding Image Distortion Effect

Image Distortion is the base effect used for any Glitch and has numerous options for customization. We’ll show you how to create a distortion effect using settings suitable for our footage, but you can play with the values to see what suits your project.

  1. Go to Layer > New > Solid; name the Solid ‘Distortion’ and set the color to black.
  2. Search for Fractal Noise in the control panel, then add it to the Distortion Layer.
  3. In the Effect Controls Panel, change the Fractal Noise Type to Block.
  4. Adjust the Contrast to around 200 and the Brightness to -100.
  5. Find the Scale setting and click the check box to turn off Uniform Scale.
  6. Adjust the Width to around 800, and play around with the Height until you’re happy with the look.
  7. Find the Evolution setting and while holding Alt, hit the Stopwatch icon.
  8. In the Expression Box on the timeline, type in time•100
  9. Select the Distortion Layer and hit Command/Control + Shift + C to create a new compound clip; make sure you select Move All Attributes to New Layer.
  10. Click the Eye icon in the Layers panel to make the Distortion Comp invisible.
  11. Go to Layer > New > Adjustment Layer; make sure it sits above your Distortion Comp.
  12. Search for Displacement Map in the Effect Controls panel and add it to the Adjustment Layer.
  13. In the Effects Control panel, set your Displacement Map Layer to your Distortion Comp.
  14. Finally, hit the Wrap Pixels Around checkbox to fill in the edges of your canvas.

Part 2: Creating an RGB Split Effect

One thing a fantastic After Effect glitch effect can’t do without is the RGB Split; this is where the prism of color is created. We’ll continue using the Distortion Effect from Part 1, but you can use this method with any video layer.

  1. Duplicate your Distortion Comp by hitting Command/Control D on your keyboard.
  2. Search for Shift Channels and add it to the top comp.
  3. In the Effect Controls panel, set the Blue and Green settings to Full Off; your image should now be Red.
  4. Using Command/Control D, create 2 more copies of your comp.
  5. Set the Red for both layers to Full Off; for the first layer, turn the green back on, and for the second, turn on the Blue; you should now have 4 duplicates; the original and green, blue, and red versions of your comp.
  6. Go to the Layers panel, then find the Mode options; change the top 2 layers to Screen.
  7. Select the Red Layer and hit P on your keyboard.
  8. Hold Alt, then click the Stopwatch alongside the Position setting.
  9. In the Expression box, type Wiggle(2,20).
  10. Copy the expression from the Red Layer and add it to the Blue and Green layers.
  11. Finally, add keyframes to the Opacity settings for each layer to make the effect fade in and out.

Part 3: Optics Compensation Effects

Adding Optics Compensation creates a cool blurred style and is essential for creating glitch transitional effects. For this step, you will need to use Expressions; don’t worry, it’s super easy, but if you want a bit more information about this topic, check out this excellent tutorial about expressions.

  1. Go to Layer > New > Adjustment Layer; make sure the Adjustment Layer sits above your other clips.
  2. In the Effect Controls panel, search for Optics Compensation and add it to the Adjustment Layer.
  3. Go to the Effects Controls panel and adjust the Field of View to 120.
  4. Next, click the Reverse Lens Distortion check box.
  5. Find the View Center setting and click the Stopwatch icon while holding Alt.
  6. In the Expression box on the timeline, type wiggle(5,250).
  7. Search for the Radial Blur Effect and add it to the Adjustment Layer.
  8. In the Effect Controls Panel, change the Blur Type to Zoom and the Blur Amount until you’re happy with the look.
  9. Select the Adjustment Layer in the timeline and hit T on your keyboard.
  10. Add a keyframe where you want the glitch or transition to start; set the Transparency to 0.
  11. Move the playhead to the middle of the transition, or the point where the glitch effect is at its most intense. 
  12. Create a second keyframe and adjust the Transparency until you like the effect.
  13. Finally, add a third keyframe when the transition/effect ends and set the Transparency to 0.

Part 4: Title Glitches

Title elements offer slightly different animation options such as video, shape or graphics layers, giving you even more options for your text glitches. 

  1. Write your title on the screen using the Type tool (T on your לeyboard)
  2. Adjust the Font, Size and Weight in the Character panel.
  3. In the Layers menu, twirl down the Text Layer properties until you see the Animate button.
  4. Click the Animate button and choose Opacity from the menu.
  5. Hold Alt, then click the Stopwatch alongside the Opacity setting.
  6. In the Expression box on the timeline, type in wiggle(5,5000).
  7. Next, hold Alt and hit the Range Selector Offset Stopwatch; type in the Expression wiggle(-100,100).
  8. Move the Text Layer below the Adjustment Layer to include it with the Optics Distortion Effects.

Whether you’re creating custom glitch effects for your video clips, transitions or titles, these 4 techniques give you the tools to create a stunning After Effects glitch effect from scratch. Glitch effects are incredibly versatile, allowing you to use your new skills on everything from music videos to business presentations. 

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