How to Create a VHS Glitch Effect in AE

How to Create a VHS Glitch Effect in After Effects - FilterGrade

You’ve probably seen a glitch effect in a music video or tv show before and didn’t even realize it. These effects show an analog looking video disruption often with some type of electronic warping sound effect. These glitch effects resemble damaged VHS video from the past, or a video signal on your TV antenna being disrupted. There are lots of templates and plugins that can help you achieve this effect but we are going to show you how to do it yourself.

So, let’s take a look at how to create a VHS glitch effect in AE. When breaking down this popular effect you’ll often see that it’s a mixture of effects that are layered to make the final effect. In the video below from Josh Noel, he’ll walk you through some of those glitch techniques.

Creating a Glitch Effect in Adobe After Effects

Pixelated Digital Distortion

The first glitch effect we’ll take a look at is a pixelated digital distortion.

The first thing is to find the clip you want to add distortion to. You can use text. You can use video. Once you have the video layer you want to affect in your timeline. You’ll create a solid. Name it NOISE. Then in your effects and presets, you’ll want to grab fractal noise and apply it to the solid. Change your settings on the fractal noise to match below.

  1. Noise Type – Block
  2. Contrast – 200
  3. Brightness – 75
  4. Under Transform turn off Uniform Scaling
  5. Sale Width – 800

Then under the Evolution options <ALT BUTTON AND MOUSE CLICK> on the stopwatch random seed. This will open up an area in the timeline that will allow you to enter an expression.

Type in – time*10

Now you can right-click the layer in the timeline and scroll down to precompose. Precompose your solid layer and move all attributes into a new composition. Click the eye next to the NOISE layer on the timeline and turn off the layer visibility. Now create an adjustment layer and from the effects menu apply a displacement map to it.  

Set the adjustment layer to NOISE. This will allow it to make adjustments from the pre-comped layer you’ve labeled NOISE.  You can adjust the horizontal and vertical displacement to achieve the look you want. When doing this you’ll notice that the video starts to leave a see-through space on its sides. To fix this cropping on the edges apply the Motion Tile Effect. Make sure Motion Tile Effect is placed above the displacement map in the effect controls box. Turn on mirror edges and increase the output width and height to get the clip just right.


The next part of the Glitch Effect that’s most noticeable is the color splitting. To create this RGB splitting effect you’ll want to nest all your layers. Select all of them in your timeline. Right-click and select pre-compose. Then duplicate this layer. Now apply a motion tile to the layer and increase the width and height over 400. Next, apply the shift channel effects. And under the Green and Blue select Full off. Duplicate the layer and set the red to full off and turn the greenback on. And duplicate this one more time and turn off Green and turn blue on. It may help to name your layers to keep track of their color.

Take the top two layers and set the blend mode to screen. On the top layer hit p for Position. Alt-click stopwatch and in the expressions tab type – wiggle(2,200) .

This will add color separation movement in the clips.

You can duplicate this effect to the layer below in the timeline. You can adjust when the effect comes on and off by adjusting the opacity.

So that’s how to Create a VHS Glitch Effect in AE. It’s a few steps but creates a nice effect.  You can adjust all the elements in the expressions and the widths and heights to customize your glitch speed and spacing. There are tons of glitch effect templates and plug in’s out there and layering effects will help you create new effects.

Sometimes these glitches can be used for transitions. As an added bonus in the Sonduckfilm tutorial toward the end, they walk you through an optical looking glitch effect that works well in transitions. These glitches can be used to make your clip look or to transition to another clip.

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