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Graphic Bed, Flowing background
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Posted on February 26th, 2006
Adobe After Effects
Welcome back to an After Effects tutorial. Today I will show you how to prepare a graphic bed for an opener or just as a background for your portfolio or similar work.

I'm now working since a few weeks on my new portfolio, and I was searching for a way on how to make my background a bit more attractive, so I thought of recording some cigarette smoke. Me and my friends started to smoke like hell in front of a black wall so I could use it for my background. I've included a small part of the movie for you to play around.

You can download the footage HERE

First of all, let's start with a new composition, I've used 320x240 for the size and a comp length of 10 seconds, name this composition "Curtain".
New comp

Then create a new Solid by right-clicking the timeline and selecting New -> Solid or by pressing the keyboard shortcut CTRL+Y, make it the same size as the composition and press ok.

Now you need to assign the Fractal Noise effect to your newly created Solid, this can be found under the menu Effect - Noise & Grain - Fractal Noise.You can also select your solid on the timeline, press the F3 key and rightclick on the new window to assign an effect.

At this state you should see this:
Basic Noise

This is just the basic fractal noise effect, this is not quite what we're searching for, so let's change the settings a little bit.

Ensure that your playhead is located at the beginning of the movie (00:00:00), on the effects window click on the stopwatch icon of: offset turbulence and Evolution leave the settings as they are we will change them later on.
Open the transform dropdown of the noise effect, uncheck uniform scaling and set the height to 5000px leave the width by 100px.
Here the screenshot of my effects window for you to check back:

You should have this by now:
Noise Done

Now move to the end of your composition by pressing the END key on your keyboard, and change the value of offset turbulence to 320, 121 and Evolution to 2x+0.0.
If you do a RAM-preview now (by pressing 0 on your num pad) you will see that lines are moving slowly around the comp.

Ok, that's it for the first part, now we have a nice "curtain" flowing, let's make it a little more attractive, by tilting it.

Go to your project window grab the newly made composition and drop it on the create a new composition button
New comp

This step will create you a new composition including the "curtain" composition that you just made, you can also just create a new composition and drag & drop the curtain comp to the timeline, but I prefer this method, so I can ensure that the comp will start at 00.00 seconds, and not where the playhead is located.

After Effects 6.x upwards has a nice 3D function so that you are now able to move objects also in the Z-axis which is quite cool, so activate the 3D functions for this layer by checking the 3d box.

Now open the layer properties of the curtain layer and change these settings:

Scale: 113
X Rotation: 0x-15

This will make our curtain look tilted down. Black + White is pretty cool, but I was looking for something more colourful, so if you want to achieve the blue curtain effect you just need to select the curtain layer and press F3 to open the Effects window, do a right-click inside of it and select Adjust - Hue/Saturation.
I've used this values:
Hue Saturation

Last but not least let us implement the cool ;) smoke clip that I've included in the ZIP file, import the movie by right-clicking on the project window and choose import.

Drag the smoke clip underneath the curtain layer and change the Mode of the curtain layer to HardLight, I've also changed the opacity of the smoke layer to 50% so we don't have a overshoot in the middle of the comp.

Here a screenshot of what we've done:

This was a pretty short tutorial, but I hope I could show you how the nice flowing backgrounds are being made, there are pretty much other variations you can do, but I leave that to you now.

Have fun

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