How I Create my Cat Video Art in AfterEffects

Today I am going to go step by step through how I make one of my favorite styles of cat video art. I use an iPhone with the Photoshop Mix app and I use Adobe AfterEffects on my computer. I made a previous guide using just iPhone apps in a previous post.

First I take a picture of my cat Captain and a short video of a close up pan of my painting.

I edit the photo of my cat in the free Photoshop Mix app on my phone. First I import it and then I remove the background of the picture by using the Cut Out option and selecting Auto. It usually does a good job but you will most likely need to use the add and subtract options to make the selection clean and then finally choosing refine to feather the edges by a. few pixels I then center the selection and save both files to a shared folder on my computer using the Save to Files option in the Photos app to save to a folder in my iCloud Drive.

Next I create a new composition in Aftereffects that is 2000 by 2000 pixels and 6 seconds in length and import the two files.

Now I center and resize the two videos with Captain’s video on top using the shift key while resizing to maintain the same aspect ratio.

Now to edit the background I first make sure to click the little speaker button to the left of the video to mute the audio from the video. Now I select the video and choose from the menus Effect, Keying, Color Range. This allows you to key out a range of colors from the video. I choose one of the bright colors in the background with the dropper tool and then slide the Fuzziness option to edit how much will be keyed out. Now I select the background file and hit command D to duplicate the layer. I do this so that when I apply a distortion effect to the front layer there are holes in it that allow the back layer to still be seen.

Next I select the background layer that is further forward and apply effect distort CC Flo Motion. This is a cool distortion effect that I like to use. In the effects panel I select the cross hair by Knot 1 and place where I want to effect centered on the video, usually the center of the video. Next I click the arrow next to the layer in the bottom panel, the arrow next to effects and the arrow next to Flo Motion to reveal the options to be controlled by key frames. Now you can create keyframes at any time in to video by clicking the little timer button to the left of each effect. You can edit the value and then move the blue time slider and press the timer button again to place a new key frame. You can now edit the value of the effect at the new spot and now that effect will change over time between the set key frames. For this effect I place a keyframe at the start for the variable Amount one that is at zero and then move the slider to 3 seconds and add a frame using circle button between two arrrows with the value of 16000 and then finally a third keyframe at the end of the video for the value of 0. This will create an animation of the effect as this variable changes over time in the video.

Next I select the front layer of my cat and use command + d to duplicate the layer. I select the front layer and resize it by right clicking it, selecting transform and then scale and reduce the size of the image a little so that the layer beneath it creates a little boarder around it. This is so I can edit the one beneath to create a border effect around the picture.

Now I edit the rear picture of Captain by first pressing T to open OpaciTy and reduce it to 75% opacity.

Next I add the Turbulent Displace effect to the rear layer of Captain by selecting Effect then Distort and. Turbulent Displace. On the bottom timeline I click the arrow next to the layer to expand it, then the one next to Effects and then Turbulent Displace to reveal the variables. Making sure the blue slider is at the beginning of the video on the timeline click the timer next to Evolution. Now drag the timeline slider to the end of the video and click the diamond between two arrows on the left to place a keyframe at the end of the video. Now you can change the value of Evolution to 5X0degrees. This will animate the layer creating a turbulent effect. I also change the value of complexity to 5 and amount to 100 but these values do not need to change over time so there is no need to add keyframes.

Now I add the effect Colarama to this layer from Effects, Color Correction, Colorama. In the same way that I made keyframes for Turbulent Displace I create frames for Colorama under the Input Phase to select Phase Shift. With the timeline slider at the beginning of the video I place the first keyframe by clicking the timer next to Input Phase. Now I drag the timeline to the end of the video and add a keyframe by simply changing the value of Phase Shift to 4x0degrees.

Next I am going to use the same Colorama effect on the top layer except this time in gray. I apply the same effect from Effects, Color Correction, Colorama. I use the same method as before the animate it, placing a keyframe for the phase shift variable at the beginning and end giving it a final value of 3x0depgrees. This time though I change the value under Output Cycle and change the preset palette to solarize grey.

Now I always run the animation by pressing space to watch it and make sure I like it before sending it to the render queue using command + option + m. I save the video to a folder in my iCloud and it from my phone I just have to go to Files, select the video and save video to have to available on my phone.

The fun thing about AfterEffects is that you can experiment and play with the settings. I hope you enjoyed this sample and have fun.

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