Sam is a designer and illustrator based in the cold bit of Scotland. He works in print and web design as well as in motion graphics. He is a frequent contributor to creative magazines. In his spare time Sam is an avid reader, musician and photographer.

After Effects ships with a couple of basic audio effects that create motion graphics based on the audio levels of an imported file. These work fairly well for the standard application of hi-fi levels, but don’t offer much in the way of customisable options, beyond the range of frequencies and colours displayed within the effect.

In this tutorial we’re taking a different approach altogether to create procedural motion graphics from an audio layer. It’s a little bit more work, but it gives you a wonderfully organic look that responds visibly to the audio and can work as the basis for many motion-graphics projects.

Instead of using a filter to get the audio levels, we’re going to create keyframes from the audio source and use these to power a couple of other effects; you won’t need any software beyond the standard After Effects filter tools to complete the project.

You will need to choose an audio file from your own library to work with however. We suggest something with a wide dynamic range for best results – Sam Hampton-Smith used AC/DC’s Thunderstruck for his version of the project.


After Effects 7 or later

Time to complete

1 hour, plus rendering time

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