Learn about using the built-in Beat Reactor function to drive image distortion.
- [Instructor] The Boris Continuum set of effects includes a really interesting way to drive image distortion. And that's called Beat Reactor. Beat Reactor will look at a audio file and convert that data into values for the distortion, so it's semi-automated. Let's give it a try. I want to test that on my ocean scene here, and this is saved out as 3_2. There are two ways you can apply Beat Reactor. One way is to select Layer, go to Effect, go to Time, and play it as an effect.
The different ways to go to a image distortion effect and use the Beat Reactor that's built right into that effect, that's a great way to do it. So, for example, I can go to my image distortion effects and pick one of those. And many of these have Beat Reactor built into it, for example, Bulge. Apply Bulge, and if I go down towards the bottom, I'll see enable Beat Reactor. It's right inside the effect. I can turn that on, and then expand the properties.
Now in order to make it work, I do need an audio file. I have one we can use. I'm going to go back to my project, right-mouse button click, Imports, File, and here in the Footage folder is a wav file, it's called Blackleg. And this is a creative comments file, if you'd like to learn more about that, there's a license file in that folder, also. But, we'll just use this. This is short segment out of a Dubstep, and I picked Dubstep because it has a nice strong beat, so good for demonstrations.
So select that, import that, and there's the waveform. And I need to drag this into my composition and in order to make it work, I have to go back to my Beat Reactor, and then choose it as the Host Sound Layer. There we go. As soon as we do that, it's going to start working, at least it will show me the waveform on top of image, so I can make some decisions about how to use the data in the audio file, and what to connect that to.
So let's play it back. Now the first time I play it back, it will be kind of funny sounding because it's going into memory. The second time will be okay. Now I think I want to shorten this composition, though. Make it end at a better place for the audio. Let's say 80 frames for the duration. Okay, now let's preview that. (electronic music) And actually, it plays back pretty well the first time. Sometimes it hesitates. In any case, this is what happens.
As it plays back, it displays a waveform that represents information in that audio file. The left side is the low side, midtones are in the center, high values at the right. There's a gray bar that also represents the average of everything that's currently selected or visible. (electronic music) So you can select portions of that waveform and connect them to some property.
Now for Beat Reactor, when it's built-in, it actually has properties set up that you can use, and these are usually the main ones for that particular effect. In this case, I'm using the Bulge. Bulge will bulge out a part of the image like it's a spherical distortion. And so, the main properties are hooked up already if you choose them. The way it works is there's three parameters you can use. You can sample three parts of the waveform if you want, one, two, three. For example, I can go to parameter A and change that menu to the property I want to connect it to, for example, the radius of the bulge.
Once I hook up the parameter, the distortion starts to work, and also I get a gray box here, which is my parameter sample box. Essentially, whatever is in that area, gets converted to a value that gets passed to the property that you chose, for example, radius. So anything in here is averaged and passed to the radius. An average again, is this gray bar here. Let's just play it back and see what happens at this point. (electronic music) So you can see, it's starting to bulge out the image where the center of the bulge is, which is right here.
It's not very strong. This average I get from the waveform has a default scale, and maybe that scale's not big enough to really make it apparent. We can change that, though. I can expand my Audio Apply Options A, and take a look at the scale. By default, the min and max it's using is zero to 100. So 100 is the biggest value. There's also a multiplier for the scale, which is called Strength. Let's change the scale. Let's say I'm going to make the scale zero to 1,000. So that means when the audio peaks out, that the maximum value of 1,000 is going to be used.
So that's a much bigger distortion. We'll play it back. (electronic music) So, a lot of distortion from the bulge. And also, the multiplier, if you want to multiply whatever scale you have, you can, say, double it, by entering 200, or reduce it in half by 50. Or if you leave it at 100, it stays at the current scale you have. All right, so how does the sampling work? Can you adjust the sampling? Well, you can. You can move that gray box around to look at different parts of the waveform.
For example, if I want just the deepest base to drive the distortion, I can move the box and scale it. You can do that by grabbing these corner circles. There's one at the top left, and one at the bottom right. So I can just concentrate on the higher peaks of just the lower sounds, that wub, wub part of the dub step, you know. All right, so let's give that a try. I'm looking at a smaller part now. (electronic music) And you can see that, when there's not much going on, in terms of the base, distortion kind of disappears.
So here the base is almost nonexistent, and therefore the distortion does not occur. So by sampling different parts of the waveform, you can determine when things happen, or sync them to some particular event. It could be the base drum, it could be the electronic sound from Dubstep, it could be a cymbal, if you wanted a cymbal, or something with a high note, you'd sample right side. There are three different parameters you can choose, A, B, and C. If you turn on B and C, you'll get additional sample boxes, which you can place at different parts of your waveform.
For example, if I turn on Parameter B, I can hook it up to the same radius, and then I get an average of those two boxes. At least I have two boxes, so I can move the second box over and sample something else, like maybe the high end. Or we can make that second parameter drive something else, like the perspective or the height of a distortion. Or if you don't want that, just turn it off. But you have up to three sample boxes. In terms of the audio, you can also filter that as you sample.
There's an audio spectrum option section, and in that you can choose to exaggerate or repress some of the sections of the audio. For example, I can turn up sub-base, and really exaggerate that, or turn it down to zero and suppress it. I can turn up the midrange, turn it down, and so on. So you can exaggerate some parts and ignore others. It makes it easier to sample a certain thing you're looking for. Now, if you want to get rid of the graph, you can do that.
You can just hide that, go down the Audio Graph options and turn down the opacity to zero, and then you're free to render it out without that graph in the way. So let's play it back one more time. (electronic music) But let's make sure that I haven't turned down my sub-base too low. Let's turn that back up to 100. And one more time. (electronic music) And there's some audio distortion, courtesy of Beat Reactor, which is a very unique component of the Boris set.
VFX expert Lee Lanier begins by exploring shared Boris Continuum controls, and then shows how to apply stylistic effects. He explains how to work with the PixelChooser and Boris Lights, and discusses how to color grade and warp footage. He also takes you through using the Boris Chroma Key Studio and working with Mocha Pro for motion tracking, as well as how to add particles and work with 3D text.
- Overview of Boris Continuum
- After Effects preferences
- Applying stylistic effects
- Relighting with Boris Lights
- Adjusting colors
- Changing the time of day
- Warping footage
- Keying green screen
- Motion tracking
- Adding particles
- Working with 3D text