This cute little guy is going to help me offer a very brief overview of my three favorite After Effects plugins; perhaps we'll be able to take a closer look at each in the near future. But for now, I'm just going to show you quickly what they do by using this footage of a fawn shot in my backyard as our source imagery.
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And now, without further ado, my three faves:
On paper, Colorama (Effects > Color Correction > Colorama) is pretty straightforward - it maps input colors to different output colors. But in use, Colorama can create the most eye-blasting color treatments known to man, along with much subtler tint and tone effects. The default settings give you some pretty psychedelic effects on their own, but things get really tripped out when you start animating the Input Phase Shift, as we are doing here:
Card Dance (Effects > Simulation > Card Dance) is another deceptively simple plugin that breaks a layer up into "cards" - small squares - and offsets them in 3D space based on the grayscale values in another layer. But the results can be unlike anything else you've ever seen. Card Dance can also be used for subtle 3D displacement effects, like adding dimensionality to flat or static layers, particularly when you start animating those offsets.
Here's how it works: you apply Card Dance to your layer (our fawn, in this case), then add another layer for your grayscale displacement layer - here's a simple Photoshop gradient image we're going to use:
Then in Card Dance you set the image as your Gradient Layer 1 and for example, animate the Z Position Multiplier with positive and negative keyframe values:
And this is what you get by animating a single property with just four keyframes - even more spectacular results are available by animating other properties in Card Dance, all by starting out with the simplest of resources.
Time Displacement lets you create imagery in which parts of any given frame have been sampled from other frames in the clip. These are based on the grayscale values of another layer - that is, just as Card Dance displaces parts of an image in 3D space based on another layer, Time Displacement displaces parts of an image in time based on another layer. It may sound complex, but even with very simple imagery (in this case, a basic black-to-white gradient is my displacement source), the results can be hallucinatory:
Clearly, all these plugins deserve a more in-depth inspection, but for now, that's my overview of my three favorite After Effects plugins. I encourage you to check them out on your own.
Hungry for more After Effects training?