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Using the Cell Pattern Effect in After Effects

One of the easiest ways to create seamless backgrounds is to use effects within After Effects. The Cell Pattern effect generates a loopable pattern based on cellular noise algorithms. With 12 patterns to choose from and several controls over size, contrast, and speed, you'll find the effect very versatile

1. Choose a method from the Cell Pattern pop-up menu. Some patterns are sharp and angular while others are more organic. Experiment as you can change methods at any time.

Here are three of the twelve cell patterns. From left to right, Plates, Pillow, and Tubular.

2. Adjust the contrast of the effect to create the desire pattern. You can use the Invert checkbox to swap values of luminance. The Contrast/Sharpness slider modifies the overall detail level of the cells.

3. Modify the randomness of the cells with the Disperse slider. The lower the number, the more uniform the pattern. If you increase Disperse above 1.0, be sure to set the layer to Best quality.

Different Disperse values were used to modify the Cell Pattern. A value of 0 creates a uniform shape. Increasing the value to 0.50 adds more randomness. A greater value of 1.50 starts to create very irregular shapes.

4. Adjust the size and position with the Size and Disperse sliders.
The key to making an animated background is the Evolution option. As you animate evolution, the pattern will change over time. By default, revolutions are progressive, which means each cycle is an entirely unique value. There is a way though to create a seamless loop point.'

5. Under Evolution Options, check the box next to Cycle Evolution. This will ensure that a revolution for the Evolution slider makes the pattern repeat.

6. Add a keyframe near the start of the composition for Evolution for 0x and one at the end for a full number (such as 2 x). By using full rotations, you'll create a loopable pattern.

Using full rotations with the Cycle Evolution option enabled will create a loopable pattern.

Tip: Want a Different Looking Background? Randomize it
You can get a different pattern by changing the Random Seed slider. Do not keyframe this value; rather drag to choose a different starting pattern. You can also adjust the Size or Offset settings.

7. To create a richly layered background, blend multiple layers with the Cell Pattern effect applied. You can stylize the background with the Colorama effect and a vignette as well.

Stacking multiple instances of the Cell Pattern effect can create depth and visual interest.
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Motion Graphics with Adobe Creative Suite 5 Studio Techniques

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