Retro Music Video Effect

Welcome, in this tutorial I will show you how to create a retro music video effect in After Effects.

Step 1; First import your footage and duplicate it. Name the top layer “matte” and turn off the bottom layer’s visibility for now. Next check to see if there are any areas you can remove by creating a mask.

After Effects comp setup

After Effects green screen

By creating a mask we can remove troublesome areas to key out and save a lot of hassle in the long run. Just make sure your actor doesn’t get cut off by the mask area.

green screen mask

Step 2; Now with your footage selected go to Effect / Keying / Keylight. By default the Screen Colour is black which has no effect on the image so far.

After Effects Keylight

Click on the eye dropper and select a portion of the green screen to key out.

green screen shoulder

Step 3; You’ll notice the green screen turns transparent.

Green Screen keyed out

But to make sure we keyed out all of the green screen let’s look at the alpha channel of your footage.

After Effects alpha channel

Step 4; If you notice that there are any random gray spots or holes in your footage you will need to fix those in order to properly composite your image.

green screen holes

Step 5; In Keylight adjust the Clip Black and the Clip White options until all of the gray areas are removed and replaced with a pure black and white image.

matte clipping settings

green screen final matte

Step 6; if you notice a green spill or outline around your actor you can remove it by adding Effect – Color Correction – Hue / Saturation. Then change the color channel to green and drag the saturation slider all the way down.

Hue and Saturation settings

Step 7; Ok now let’s create our retro background by creating two solid layers and creating a feathered mask for the top layer.


These are the settings I used for the two solid layers:

red solid color settings

blue solid color settings

Step 8; Ok now we’re going to create the “Retro” look to our actress by going to Effects / Color Correction / and Tritone effect. The Tritone effect remaps the bright, dark, and mid-tones of an image using the colors you select. You can create the image below using the following color settings.

After Effects tritone settings

After Effects tritone settings

After Effects tritone settings

After Effects tritone settings

After Effects tritone settings

Step 9; Alright now we need to create the outline around the actress to complete our final “retro effect.”

So duplicate the layer with the actress on it. Then select the bottom layer and go to Effects / Matte – and attach a Simple Choker. Adjust the Choke Matte value to -20 to create an outline around your character.

Tritone Stroke Effect

Step 10; Now we need our outline to stand out more. At the moment it’s taking on the orangish tint that we created from the Tritone effect.

Select the Tritone effect in the bottom layer and change the highlights color to a brighter color.

Stroke outline settings

Step 11; Now add an Effect / Color Correction / Curves effect. And make the following adjustments:

After Effects curves

Now the outline and highlights should look more brighter.

Stroke effect brighter

Step 12; Now for organizational purposes select to two actor/actress layers and precomp them together into one comp by going to Layer / and selecting Pre-Compose.

After Effects Precomp

Step 13; Ok now create a 3D camera in After Effects and make sure the 3D switch is on for the actor/actress precomp.

Duplicate the singer precomp layer several times moving each one back in the Z and X position. You’re final effect should look like this.

After Effects 3D music video

Step 14; Ok now create a new solid layer and set the color to black. Next add an Effect / Generate / Grid effect to the layer and make sure the grid color is white.

Then change the color mode to “Screen” this way only the white grid lines will show through.

You can also add a glow effect to the singer layers to make them pop a little more.

After Effects grid effect

Step 15; Next add some text to your comp. Turn on the stroke for the text and turn off the fill so that the center of the text is hollow.

After Effects text

Step 16; Change the stroke color to a bright purple. Then duplicate the text layer several times moving each one back on the z axis. Change the colors of each text’s stroke to the primary colors to make it vibrant and retro.

Text Color After Effects

Step 17; Now we’re going to add a camera shake to our scene. Create a Null layer by going to Layer / New / Null Object. Then hit “P” on the keyboard to bring up the position values for the Null Object. Select the position value and go up to the top menu and select Animation / Add Expression.

Now type in the following expression “wiggle(6,10).”

After Effects null settings

After Effects null settings

Parent the camera to the Null Object to make it shake.

Step 18; With your camera selected hit “A” twice on your keyboard to bring up the attributes. Change the defocus value to make your foreground objects sharp and the background objects blurred.

After Effects camera settings

Step 19; Now add some more objects and shapes to your scene to get the final effect.

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