Applying a Displacement

Follow these steps to apply the map to an image:

1. Create a new project in After Effects and make a new composition, selecting the preset, NTSC DV, 720 x 480, and 5 seconds in length.

2. Import the file Water.jpg from the DVD and the Cloud map image you just created (or use the provided map image, CloudsBlur720.jpg on the DVD). Center the Cloud map image in the Comp 1 window by dragging it from the Project window to the Timeline (Figure 2.12).

Figure 2.12 Create a new project and import the source image and the displacement map image files.

3. Now that everything is imported into After Effects, we will set the displacement map in motion. Select the CloudsBlur720.jpg layer in the Timeline window, and apply the Offset filter (Effects > Distort > Offset). Make sure the Current Time Indicator in the Timeline window is set to Frame 1, and select the Time-Vary Stopwatch on the Shift Center option in the Effects window. This will allow beginning and end points for the motion of the displacement map image.

4. Move the Current Time Indicator on the Timeline to the last frame position (5 seconds). In the Effects window, drag the horizontal position of the Shift Center option to the right, increasing the movement to at least 1,000 pixels. This is the distance the image will move (or offset) while the tile wraps around and appears to be a continuous loop (Figure 2.13).

Figure 2.13

Adjusting the number of pixels the displacement map will move will speed up or slow down the animation.

Figure 2.13

Adjusting the number of pixels the displacement map will move will speed up or slow down the animation.

You can choose a RAM Preview to test the speed at which your loop is moving. To slow it down, simply adjust the amount of motion set at the last frame in the Effects window. To speed it up, increase the number of pixels it will move.

5. Once you are satisfied with the speed of your animation, create a pre-composition by selecting Layer > Pre-compose, with the options Move All Attributes Into The New Composition and Open New Composition selected (Figure 2.14). This will treat the displacement map as a continuous loop animation in one layer of Comp 1.

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Figure 2.14

Create a pre-comp for the displacement map animation loop.

6. Hide the Pre-comp layer in the Timeline by clicking the small eye icon. The displacement map does not need to be visible for the effect to work.

7. With the Comp 1 project window open, center the Water.jpg image in the composition window. Adjust the size of the image just slightly larger than the live area of the project window frame (Figure 2.15). This will assure that enough of the image around the edges will be pulled in by the movement of the displacement map effect.

Figure 2.15

Adjust the image layer to allow source material to be pulled and pushed out of the frame by the displacement map.

Figure 2.15

Adjust the image layer to allow source material to be pulled and pushed out of the frame by the displacement map.

8. Apply the displacement map effect to the Water image layer by selecting Effects > Distort > Displacement Map. Select the source displacement map image from the selector, choosing the pre-comp layer name (Figure 2.16). Use Luminance for both the Horizontal and Vertical displacements, and set the maximum pixel movement to 15 for both. Increase or decrease these numbers to control the amount of movement you want to have in your animation.

Figure 2.16

Apply the displacement map pre-comp layer to the image layer,and adjust for the amount of displacement the map source image will affect. Be sure to select Stretch To Fit instead of Center Map.

Figure 2.16

Apply the displacement map pre-comp layer to the image layer,and adjust for the amount of displacement the map source image will affect. Be sure to select Stretch To Fit instead of Center Map.

Run a RAM Preview to test the animation of the displacement map effect and adjust the speed and pixel displacement as necessary (Figure 2.17). Notice how the neutral gray toward the top of the image has less of the effect applied, aiding the illusion of depth in the scene.

Figure 2.17

A RAM Preview will allow you to test the amount of displacement and the speed of the motion effect.

Figure 2.17

A RAM Preview will allow you to test the amount of displacement and the speed of the motion effect.

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