Glitch FX: No Plugin Needed

Glitch FX: No Plugin Needed

The Glitch can be achieved in a thousand different ways. In this article, we’ll walk you through the fastest and most efficient way to master that distorted VHS feel. This is 100% After Effects and doesn’t use any external assets, which means it’s 100% easy and 100% client friendly.

This is what we’ll be creating:

Glitch GIF [Step 0].gif

Core AE tools used:

  • Fractal Noise effect

  • Displacement Map effect

  • Black Solid

Step 1:

Glitch GIF [Step1].gif

First, you need to create your displacement map. This will be the reference pixels used to distort your subject. Make a new black solid and add a ‘Fractal Noise effect’ and copy the above settings.

You can play with the scale and contrast depending on what sort of detail you’re going for. You want it to be blocky and really stretched out.

Step 2:

Glitch GIF [Step2].gif

Now we need to animate this. Go to Evolution Options > Random Seed and Atl + click on the stopwatch to add an expression.

Add the expression time*15 and the fractal noise will randomly re-generate 15 times every second. This number entirely depends on your frame rate (at Vidsy we like to work at 25fps). You want it to be roughly 60% of your frame rate, as this allows for a more jittery effect.

Once you’ve done this, pre-compose the layer (Shift + Cmnd + C), name it "FractalDisplacement" and hide it from view as it is just to be used for reference.

Step 3:

Glitch GIF [Step3].gif

Now apply the glitch to your subject. Add a 'Displacement Map' effect and make your Fractal Displacement layer your Displacement Map layer. Be sure to change the horizontal and vertical displacement to Luminance, so it knows to only look at the black and white pixels.

As you play with these numbers, you’ll notice the displacement taking effect on your subject.

Step 4:

Glitch GIF [Step4].gif

You need to make sure you don’t push the displacement too far, or it will look ugly. The best way to do it is either, only work with one of the horizontal/vertical displacements, or to keep your numbers low and under control. This works nicely as a quick and subtle effect.

Have a look at how we have keyframed it and kept the numbers nice and low in the example above.


Glitch GIF [Step5 Diffenet Examples].gif

Here’s a couple of different examples of what you can do with the horizontal and vertical displacements.

Of course this isn’t limited to just text and shapes, this will displace footage, images and anything you apply it to. So have fun with it, but remember it works best when it’s subtle.

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