After Effects – Quick Tip

March 12, 2010 by michelhansen

3D, Animation, Art, Branding, Design, Identity, Illustration, Motion, Storytelling, Strategy, Television, Title Sequences, UX, Web

This post was originally posted on my own site

Hello There!
- This is my first tutorial ever, and i would appreciate any critics or ideas to help make future tutorials better!

In this tutorial we will be taking a look at how to create the “effect” called Chromatic Aberration in After Effects without any Plugins, also called Chromatic Distortion or even RBG Split. This is a technique that I use alot when creating Motion Graphics and it is especially a useful effect for creating that ultra realistic render you have been looking for. Now.. I am sure that there is alot of Plugins for After Effects that can do this easily, and i know that Magic Bullet Looks is one of them. (a really useful plugin). But i like this method better, and this is why:

  • You will have way more control over the effect in general.
  • You can easily mask of each of the colour channels anywhere in the composition.
  • It is just cheaper than buying an expensive Plugin, when you can actually create the exact same effect (if not better) without spending 1 dollar.
  • I am sure there are more reasons, that i just can’t think of right now!

First, Here is a “quick” explanation of Chromatic Aberration:

Now, Lets get started!


Create a Composition, and put in whatever video or still picture you want.

You should now have something like this in your Timeline.


Now duplicate your Composition 2 times, and your Timeline should look like this.


Now go to Effect > Channel > Set Channels, And apply this effect to each of your 3 compositions.


On the first composition set the “Set Red To Source 1’s” to Red. Now set the settings for the other 2 Compositions like you see in the picture, And your Effect’s Panel should now look like in the picture.


Now Set the Transfer Mode’s of the Compositions like you see in the Picture below.


Now, Go to Effects > Blur & Sharpen > CC Radial Blur, And apply this effect, to all 3 Compositions.


Set the Blur “Type” to “Fading Zoom” in all 3 Compositions, like you see in the picture below.


Now You can adjust the blur as much as you want for each of the 3 Compositions, And now watch what happens to your Footage. You have now achieved Chromatic Aberration, In the picture below i set the amount a little too high for my taste though.

So after a little playing around with the settings, i got the result i was looking for, just a subtle effect, to enhance the final look of the 3D Render.

You now know how to create your very own Chromatic Aberration! Congratulations.

What you could do now, to further enhance the realism of you 3D Renders or whatever you are making, You could try adding some Grain, Some Lensflares etc.

As you can see in my final Render on top of this page, I have added some light effects and a lensflare to my footage. This was all done with the wonderful Plugin “Optical Flares” from

I have added my After Effects Project File for you to download, to play around with the settings and maybe learn even more.



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