After Effects: The Old Television Tutorial

When starting out with this weeks Friday Tutorial, I decided that I would make an After Effects tutorial. The question turned immediately to “what to do”. After spending days thinking about where to begin, I thought, what better symbolism to turning on the world of post production is there than having a tutorial on turning on a television. I believe it’s quite appropriate as I also find that there’s something really interesting about old televisions turning on. It always seemed like an image was popping in out of nowhere. So here it is, popping in out of nowhere, this weeks Friday Tutorial.



Click above image for desired effect.


Step One: Start off with three Solid Layers. Make two black and one white. Move one black solid layer to the bottom, and the other black solid layer to the top. With the top layer selected, proceed to mask out the shape that you want your display to be. I then find it ideal to create a background in photoshop in order to make the screen a little less flat, add this in above the white solid layer.



Step Two: Next what we’re going to do is create a mask on the white solid layer. This is going to be the television screen actually turning on. So create a mask and animate the scale and position of the layer. Start off really thin and close to the top of the “television screen” and then have it get wider and open up to the full screen. Have it happen relatively quickly. Animate it over a 20 frame span. At this point you can also animate the opacity too. Animate it over 3 to 5 frames.



Step Three: Start this step off by adding a glow effect to the white solid layer. Animate it starting with a glow radius of 1000 and have it quickly drop to zero by the time the mask animation from the previous step has finished. This will extend some of the glow outside of the initial mask to make it not so hard-edged.



Step Four: We’re still missing the pop out of the center of the screen that those old televisions used to have. So in this step, we will tackle that. Move down to your bottom black solid layer. Scale the layer down to 1%, 1%. Animate the opacity over the first 4 frames going from 0% to 100%. Next we’re going to almost mimic the animated mask we made in step 2, but using this entire layer. The problem here is that we can’t really see what we’re animating, so to kill two birds with one stone, let’s add a glow effect to this layer. Move into the glow effects options and change ColorA to white and turn up the glow radius to 1000. Once you’ve animated the scale and position up to about the point where the white screen starts to become visible, animate the glow radius over the next 3 frames going from 1000 to 0. Finally turn on the motion blur to this layer.



Now things should start coming together. As you can see the screen has the pop-out from the centre that you’re used to seeing on the old televisions. You can play around with the animations of the scale and position until you get the result you’re looking for, but note that this is the most important step for having that POP!


Step Five: Now for the final touches. Add an adjustment layer and put it right under the top black solid layer. Add a lens flare. Animate the Flare Brightness and Flare Centre following out from the centre of the screen. A little tip would be to try to follow the path of the bottom black solid layer and keep the flare in the centre. Start off with the brightness very low and have it flare up as the glow from the bottom black solid layer approaches the top of the screen. Then fade it out at about the same speed keeping the position near the top.



Realistically, you could finish with this. But to add a little more realism, I add a little blur to my adjustment layer and/or maybe even a little noise. You can also put something on the screen for when it turns on (I’ll leave these adjustments for you play around with).


Be creative, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and you will be rewarded.



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