How to Make a Music Visualizer Using After Effects?

Music visualization allows you to create shapes that flow with the music. It’s like a visual interpretation of the amplitude, frequency, and components of the piece being played.

You’ve probably come across this type of technology in music players such as Windows Music Player or iTunes.

And here is how you can make your own music visualizer in Adobe After Effects.

Getting Started

After having installed and set up Adobe After Effects, launch the program and press “Ctrl + N” to open a new composition.

In the composition’s settings, you can choose any numbers you want.

The most important part is to change the “Duration” to the length of the song to which you want to make your animation. Make sure that it wouldn’t fall short or that there wouldn’t be any extra frames.

Hit “OK” for the canvas to open up.

Importing the Music

Press “Ctrl + I” and select the music file you want to import, which will appear in the project tab.

Now it’s time to focus on the timeline. Go to the layer menu, hover over “New” and select “Solid.”

By clicking that, you can add in a solid color and give it a name –let’s say “Visualizer.” This is where the effect is going to be based on.

Now it’s going to be selected in the timeline. While it is, go to the effect menu, hover over “Generate,” and click “Audio Spectrum.”

And while you can do things with “Waveform,” but “Spectrum” is the more suitable option for this guide.

When the default spectrum pops up, go back to the projects’ tab and place the music file into the timeline.

Now you’ll see your music displayed as a green line and the effects as a red one. Align them both together at the beginning.

With the visualizer layer selected, return to the effects control tab and adjust all the settings you like according to your preferences.

Under the parameter titled “Audio Layer,” make sure that there’s a link to the music file name.

The animation will start automatically once you click that.

Tweaking the Animation

Without any adjustments, the animation would look pretty mundane. That’s why you want to play around with the settings to bring it to life.

You can control the thickness of the lines, add frequency bands, or adjust the height of the lines to get more contrast on the spectrum.

Moreover, you can change colors to make the inside and outside colors different –you can do any sorts of combinations.

The start and end points determine where the line is placed and allow you to angle it as well, while the side options cut the lines in half.

After you’ve added some tweaks, play the piece and see if you like how things are going.

Take some time and practice with all the parameters you can find to fine-tune the animation to your preferences.

How to Change the Shape of the Visualizer?

To do so, you can either play around with the start and end points. But that’s not it, you can delve deeper into shaping the visualizer.

For example, if you want to make a circle, you should go to the “Rectangle” and click and hold on it to get different shapes.

If you go for an ellipse, place the crosshair in the middle of the effect, and click and hold “Ctrl + Shift.” This allows you to scale the ellipse proportionally from the center of the screen.

Then, center the shape according to your own preference, and then your effect will be surrounded by the shape.

Afterward, go back to the effect controls for the visualizers, go for the path option, and choose “Mask 1”.

This makes the effect work its way around the circle.

However, the effects may be cut off due to the square-shaped mask. To get rid of that, go to “Add” in the lower portion of your program.

Change it to “None,” and then there should be no cropping going on.

If some lines are going off the screen in any areas, bring the maximum height down to bring them into perspective.

If you only want the effect on the outside, choose “Side B” from the side option. Contrarily, choose “Side A” if you want the effects applied on the inside of the circle.

Exporting the Video

Go to “File,” hover over “Export,” and choose “Add to Render Queue.”

Under the output module, you can change several settings. What you should make sure of, however, is that the audio settings are turned on so that you don’t lose your audio.

Moreover, if you want to composite the effect you’ve created over another video footage, you can have the black background automatically removed.

To do so, change the channels from “RGB” to RGB Alpha.” This renders the video with 32-bit cover space, which allows you to enjoy transparency.

Final Thoughts

Once you learn how each parameter affects the shape and size of the animations you create, you can really create some awesome visualizations.

All it takes it a little experimenting and a lot of passion.