In this video tutorial, learn how to add a creative, organic animation to your footage that will leave your audience wondering how you did it.
If you’re looking for an effect to add eye-catching visuals to your footage, you’re in the right place. Whether you use it for a brand video or just for fun, this fluid animation will definitely bring a new dynamic to your project. The great part is that it’s relatively simple, involving only a few layers and one mask. Your audience will be hooked when the organic shape flows across your screen.
Here are a few examples in action.
And here’s how it’s done.
Step One in After Effects
First, you want to create a new composition — 4K or HD both work fine. Create a solid of any color you want. We can always change it later.
Creating the Effect
In Effects & Presets, type CC Mr. Mercury, and drag it onto the solid. Next, to give the animation direction, select the pen tool and make sure your solid isn’t highlighted. Draw a path of your choice. I find that an S-Curve works best.
Directing and Manipulating the Effect
On the Shape layer where you drew the path, click the dropdown arrow next to the layer. Then hit it again for Contents, then Shape 1, Path 1, and then you should arrive at Path. Highlight the Path and copy it. Close that layer, then navigate over to the solid you made earlier. Hit the dropdown arrow, open up effects, then select CC Mr.Mercury and find the parameter labeled Producer. Drag your time indicator to zero, then highlight the producer and paste the path. If you hit play, it should follow the path you drew.
Change CC Mr. Mercury in the Effects Control Panel, to the following:
Adding Some Color
Head over to the Effects & Presets panel and type in “fill.” Apply that onto the solid. Now you can pick any color you want. If you’re fine with that look, you can skip to the next step. (Recently, I have been obsessed with a neon glow look, so I took it a step further.) Grab the Glow effect, and drop it onto your solid. In your Effect Controls panel, change the glow settings to your liking.
Masking It into Your Footage
Get any video that you want and drag it under the solid. Then make a duplicate, and drag the copy above the solid — so you should have something that looks like this:
Make sure you have the duplicated footage layer selected, go over to your pen tool, and outline whatever you want the fluid animation behind. For best results, take your time here.
When you’re finished, click the drop arrow on the duplicated footage layer. Open up Mask, and right-click on Mask 1, then click on the option for Track Mask. Head over to the window that opens when you click Track Mask, and hit the play button. This will follow whatever you outlined. After Effects will make a new keyframe on every frame that represents the mask’s new path. Hit play, and the effect should go behind the portion that you masked out, making it look like it’s in the 3D space of your footage. Play the video, and if the mask is not correctly outlined, you’re going to have to go in frame by frame and fix it.
Once you’ve finished making sure the mask is in the correct position throughout your video, feather it to give it a more natural blend. Do this by clicking on the dropdown arrow for Mask 1. On the Mask Feather option, change the setting from 0 to 3. Now, if you want the animation to seem like it’s part of the bokeh in the background, apply a camera lens blur to the solid and play with the Blur Radius to fit according to the depth of field.
Interested in the tracks we used to make this video?
- “Luna Howl” by BedLake
- “Never Fading” by Tonemassif
- “Night Fly” by Cruen
- “Don’t Forget” by Marc Walloch
- “Breakthrough Road” by Make Music
Looking for more post-production video tutorials? Check these out.