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Heat Wave

Creating heat distortion and shimmer with After Effects By Stephen Schleicher

Late summer is always weird.  One day it is 101 degrees, the next is 75.  If you live in the hotlands you have probably seen heat shimmer coming off the road, your car, anything that absorbs and reflects heat.  But what do you do if you need to recreate that effect?  After Effects and particles are the answer.

There are two things that happen with heat shimmer.  The first is the refraction of light that occurs when looking through the moving particles.  This results in the distortion of the background.  To reproduce this in After Effects we need to use one of the distortion effects.  The second thing that occurs with heat shimmer is the blurring of the area behind the heat wave.  To accomplish this, well use a native After Effects effect.  Since heat waves are particles that have become excited, the particle engine in AE will work wonders here.

1.  Begin by finding a desert shot you want to use for this tutorial.  I went to Morgue File and did a quick search for the background plate being used in this tutorial.

2.  Launch After Effects and create a new composition by pressing Command+N on the Mac or Control+N on the PC.  Use the preset matching your system.  In this lesson, I will use the DV NTSC Preset.  Set the length to 10 seconds and click OK.


3.  Import the background plate and add it to the Timeline.  Resize and position as needed.

4.  Create a New Layer by pressing Command+Y on the Mac or Control+Y on the PC.  Name the layer Red Particles.  The layer size should be the same as the composition.  Color for this exercise is not important.

 

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Related Keywords:particles, after effects, heat wave, ripple, distortion, blur, shimmer, schleicher

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