Visualizing Music and Animating to Audio in After Effects: Tutorials and Plug-ins

Animating to the beat can be a tedious job if you do it by hand. Luckily, there’s no need to do it by hand! There are plug-ins to help you with the task and we’ve also got a couple of tutorials that show you some other techniques that include free files, like scripts and templates.

After Effects – Audio Reaction and Visualization Tutorial

In this tutorial at CG Terminal, Roland Hartmann from Gravity.com walks you through how to create a fancy music visualizer with his Audio Spectrum Music Visualizer Template. Learn to use the Audio Spectrum effect and Audio Wave effect and set up audio reactions using simple expressions. Also, learn to control the Radio Waves effect and particle systems with audio.

Download Music
Download Audio Spectrum Music Visualizer Template

How to make ANYTHING React to Music & Audio in Adobe After Effects! (CC 2017 Tutorial)

Justin Odisho shows you how to make any effect react to audio with After Effects.

Here’s an expression that he uses so that you can copy and paste.

temp = thisComp.layer("Audio Amplitude").effect("Both Channels")("Slider");
[temp,temp] + [100,100]

ease(value,0,0,0,0)

How to Make Text or Objects React to Music or Audio | Adobe After Effects CC Tutorial

Premiere Gal gives a similar tutorial but explains it in a different way. She always does a great job of explaining how things work.

She uses Red Giant Universe in the tutorial (RGB Separation, VHS and 76+ more), which you can get here.

Copy and paste the expressions below.

ease(value,0,0,0,0) - for smoother and more curved transitions between keyframes

linear(value,0,0,0,0) - for straight and quick transitions between keyframes

Audio Animation with Third-Party Plug-ins

Yes, you can do a lot of this without third-party plug-ins but with a third-party plug-in, you have a lot more flexibility. You can change values on a whim without having to do a lot of extra work.

Boris Continuum Beat Reactor

The Boris Continuum BCC Beat Reactor has been around for several years. It is a filter that can be used within Adobe After Effects to generate keyframes based on an audio track within the composition. These keyframes can be used to affect other parameters within the composition by using very simple AE expressions to link the generated keyframes to other parameters or by copying and pasting the generated keyframes to other parameters.

Beat Reactor displays a spectrum graph including vertical bands representing the audio levels within various frequency ranges. This graph can be used to help target particular elements within the audio track for use in generating keyframes.

Beat Reactor is a plug-in on its own in Continuum but it’s also integrated into many other plug-ins in Continuum.

With this tutorial, learn how to customize music tracks in SmartSound Sonicfire Pro for use with Continuum’s Beat Reactor to generate audio-driven visual effects. This will work with any audio, by the way.

Trapcode Sound Keys

Trapcode Sound Keys is another well-established plug-in for audio-driven motion graphics. It’s available on its own or as part of the Trapcode Suite.

Now it’s easy to synchronize motion and sound in After Effects. With Trapcode Sound Keys, your audio-intensive animations no longer require extensive keyframing. Visually select parts of an audio track and convert them into keyframes, syncing footage with audio using amplitude or frequency ranges. Sound Keys is applied as a regular VFX effect, so you can save its settings with your project, generate keyframes into output parameters, and link keyframes to expressions. The possibilities are huge, just like the beat.

Music Visualization with Trapcode Suite

This is a classic tutorial from Harry Frank. Although the video is several years old, not much has changed in the software.