Grunge Effects Help

The following is a transcipt of the Grunge Effects video tutorial. Note that template instructions can also be found inside the Grunge Effects template, in the "Instructions" comp, and in layer marker notes.

What is the Grunge Effects template?
Grunge Effects is an After Effects template for CS5 and up. The template allows users to transform their video footage into a variety of unique, hyper-stylized grunge looks. These grunge looks resemble a handmade collage of different grungy textures. The template comes with a library of grunge texture photos so you can achieve many different looks. The presets allow you to quickly drop in your footage and export a grunge look. All of the effects are customizable using slider controls.

First Step - Importing and Preparing Footage
To import your footage or photo into After Effects, go to the File menu, then choose Import, then choose File. Locate and open your footage. In the Project panel, drag your footage clip into the comp at the top of the Project panel, named Your Footage. The Your Footage comp will open automatically, and you will see your clip. A good dynamic range (lightest areas are pure white, darkest areas are pure black) in your footage will yield better results from the effects, so if your footage needs any brightness or color correction adjustments, you can do that in this comp.

Choosing a Preset
In the Project panel, open the folder named Grunge Effects Presets, and you'll see five folders - one for each preset. To preview the different presets with your footage, open the comp named Grunge Effects Preview. Isolate any of the blue layers and play the comp to preview the preset. Yellow layers are copy-and-paste effects, which can be copied and pasted into your preset comps if needed.

Customizing a Preset
Once you have chosen a grunge effect preset in the Preview comp, you can open that preset either by double clicking the layer, or double clicking the preset's comp in the Project panel. The preset can be exported as is, or you can customize it by using the slider controls on the CONTROL LAYER, found at the top in the timeline. Just select the CONTROL LAYER, and you'll find the controls in the Effect Controls panel. Each grunge effect preset is built differently and therefore, has different controls. The Outline controls allow you to add an outline over the contours of your footage, making your subject more recognizable. The Threshold controls allow you to adjust how much of each texture is seen. The Turbulent Displace controls distort the image slightly on each frame, causing the image to constantly change shape. This quality adds to the hand-crafted appearance.

After you are finished customizing your grunge effect, and before you render or preview your comp, unhide the Stop Motion Effect layer. This layer is turned off by default because it can cause very long processing delays in After Effects Creative Cloud. When you turn it back on, it may take 30 seconds or more to load the first frame, but the rest of the frames will render quickly. This effect is optional, but highly recommended.

Make Your Own Grunge Effect
In the Grunge Effect (Create Your Own) folder, you have the ability to choose your own textures and make a custom grunge effect, which could be useful if you want to make something that's unique, or, if you want to use textures that fit with the theme of you video. For example, if your video is about kids you could use children's paintings, or you could use graffiti textures for an urban-themed video. There are dozens of textures to choose from inside the Dynamic Textures folder.

Dynamic Textures are animated textures that use one or more high-resolution photos. The photos are continuously and randomly being flipped, rotated, repositioned, and blended together, ensuring that no two frames ever look the same. Paper, paint splatters, and rusty metal are some examples of the textures that make up these effects. There are numerous finished dynamic textures in the Miscellaneous Textures folder, and in the Paper Textures folder. Ddynamic textures use photos from the Image Library folder.

You have two options for creating your own grunge effect. Option 1 is quicker and uses pre-made dynamic textures. Option 2 allows you to make your own dynamic textures by choosing which photos are used.

Option 1 - Dynamic Textures
Open the Option 1 - Dynamic Textures folder, and then open the Step 1 - Insert Dynamic Textures folder inside. In this folder, you can see there are three comps: Texture Dark, Texture Light, and Texture Medium. The final effect separates your footage in to three portions - the lightest areas of the footage, the darkest areas, and the medium areas. The dynamic textures that are put inside these three comps will actually be replacing those portions of your footage. Therefore, we want a brighter texture in the Texture Light comp, a slightly darker texture in the Texture Medium comp, and so on.

Inside the Dynamic Textures folder, open the Dynamic Textures Preview comp, which alolws you to preview all of the textures. Unhide and play the textures you would like to preview. When you find three textures that you like, open their comps and use the Brightness or Lightness controls on their Control Layer to adjust their overall brightness. When finished, you can place them in their corresponding comps (Light, Medium, or Dark).

Open the Step 2 - Customize Grunge Effect folder. Preview the Your Grunge Effect comp. If you are satisfied with the result, you can export the comps as it is. If you would like to customize the look of the grunge effect, use the slider controls on the Control Layer. Read the Instructions layer in this comp for details on the various controls.

Option 2 - Photos
Option 2 is similar to Option 1, but it involves finding individual photos rather than dynamic textures. The photos can be found in the Image Library folder, which has 162 grungy photo textures in it. You can also import and use your own photos. Open the Step 1 - Adjust Textures folder and you will see three comps - Texture Light, Texture Medium, and Texture Dark. Open any of the three Texture comps and you'll notice there are some default images in in the comp. To change the photos, there is an easy method for swapping them out. First, go to the Image Library folder and look for some photos. When you find a photo you like, select the file in the Project panel so that it is highlighted. Also, select the layer for the image you will be replacing in your composition. With both selected, hold down the Alt or Option key, and click-and-drag the file from the Project panel onto the layer. What this accomplishes is it changes the source file of the layer while preserving all the settings, effects, expressions, and blending modes of the layer. Repeat this procedure with the remaining photo layers in the comp, as well the other two Texture comps.

You may need to adjust the brightness levels of the dynamic texture comps. The overall brightness of the Texture Light comp should be fairly high. The Texture Medium comp should be a medium brightness, and the Texture Dark can be slightly darker. To change the brightness, open the Texture comps and use the Brightness or Lightness controls, found on the Control Layer.

Next, open the Step 2 - Customize Grunge Effect folder. Open the Your Grunge Effect comp. Preview the comp, and if you are satisfied with the result, you can export the comp as it is. Or, you can use the slider controls on the Control Layer to customize the look of the grunge effect. Read the Instructions layer in this comp for details on the various controls.

Further Customization
To change the paper texture that is used, select the Stained Paper layer. Then select a new dynamic paper texture from the Paper Textures folder, inside the Dynamic Textures folder. Hold down the Alt or Option key, and click-and-drag the new paper texture onto the old paper texture layer. Paper textures and all other dynamic textures can be customized using the control layers inside their comps.

Above the paper texture layer is the Stop Motion Effect layer. This layer is turned off by default because it can cause long processing delays in After Effects Creative Cloud. It's an important effect and it's recommended that you unhide the layer before you preview or render your final effect. What it does is lower the frame rate, while also adding subtle fluctuation to the position, zoom, rotation, and exposure of each frame, making it look like a stop-motion animation. Keep the Stop Motion Effect layer off while you are customizing the effect with the controls. To lower the frame rate of the effect, and to edit other properties of the Stop Motion Effect, select the layer and use the controls that appear in the Effect Controls panel.

Back in the Grunge Effects (Presets) folder, open the Grunge Effects Preview comp. The yellow layers in this comp are copy-and-paste effects. To use any of the copy-and-paste effects, simply copy the layer and paste it into your final effect's comp. Place it high in the layer order - it will affect any layer beneath it. You'll notice the first effect is the Stop Motion Effect (previously discussed). Next, the Smudge Shading Effect softens parts of the image with out blurring the edges. The Turbulence Effect will add some distortion to your image, which can make it look more hand-made. The Outline Effect adds an outline to your effect so you can see your subject better. The Add Color From Footage could be useful because many of the dynamic textures are colorful, and your final effect might have many different colors. While this may be attractive in some cases, it might not be what you want. By using the Add Color From Footage effect, it will restore the colors of your footage to the textures, making it a little less less dramatic.