Game Development Reference
The Powerful Pattern Generators
In the Noise & Grain category of effects, there is a large ele-
phant in the room. Actually, with After Effects CS4, it's now two
elephants. I'm referring to the Fractal Noise and Turbulent Noise
effects. These two effects are unlike any of the others in this cat-
egory. They generate organic grayscale patterns (so shouldn't
they be in the Generate category?). That might not sound inter-
esting, but these effects can create a wealth of different effects.
I use the Fractal Noise effect (or the near-identical Turbulent
Noise effect) to create seamlessly repeating animated back-
grounds, for grayscale maps to control other effects, for creating
luma mattes, and for generating organic patterns such as fi re,
water, fog, smoke, clouds, lightning, and much more. The time
you invest in learning Fractal Noise is time well spent. Trust me
on this one.
The Add Grain Effect
Seeing that this effect has the word “grain” in its name, we
know it's going to be a good one. The Add Grain effect attempts to
make video look more like fi lm by adding grain. To the untrained
eye, the noise created by this effect might look similar to the noise
created by the Noise effect (also discussed in this chapter). If that
describes you, then by all means, use the Noise effect instead of
Add Grain. The Add Grain effect takes a very long time to render.
Those with discerning visual palettes will appreciate the clever-
ness of this effect. If you're not an expert in noise and grain pat-
terns, the complexity of options available and long render times
with the Add Grain effect might frustrate you.
Open the Add Grain.aep project from the Chapter 12 folder.
This project contains an image of a 3D character I created in 3DS
Max named Herbie the Robot. Here Herbie poses, as if in the
movies (Fig. 12.1 ) .
In reality, this image is far too clean to be a frame from a movie.
Apply the Add Grain effect to this image. The results are obvious
once the effect is applied. However, the results only show up in a
small preview window because of the long render times that this
effect needs. I'm going to zoom in closer (200%) so that the differ-
ences become clearer (Fig. 12.2).
You can move around the preview area if you'd like to, or
even change its size, color, and width to height ratio. Just open
the Preview Region area in the Effect Controls panel to see the
options available. When it's time to render, or if you want to
examine the grain in the whole frame, change the Viewing Mode
drop down at the top of the effect in the Effect Controls panel
from Preview to Final Output.