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Using the BCC Turbulence Filter in After Effects

Let's generate a new composition in After Effects with 2 second duration. Into the project window we'll import the Artbeats clip, which is of a fish swimming alongside some coral. PTR to familiarize yourself with the clip. We're going to add a little animated distortion to this clip to help make the scene appear as though the viewer is under water with the fish.

Next we'll add the BCC Turbulence filter to the clip. What we notice immediately is that the image appears to now have some displacement map style distortion applied. What we are going to do next is to enable the view texture button at the top of the filter so that we can actually see the procedural texture that is being generated by the filter. Click on the View Texture button. Observe the texture that is displayed. Make a Preview to RAM and you will see that this texture is static and does not change over time. Let's select one of the more interesting presets from the preset pop-up menu. Click on the preset loader and select the Heavy Oil with Wave setting. Now PTR and observe that the texture is self animating and that it has a natural looking flow. For this image I think we need a different scale so we're going to set the Scale parameter to a value of 250. Notice how the bubble texture is now larger. Now click again on the View Texture checkbox to turn off the Texture View and view the composite result. Set the Intensity parameter to a value of 80 to soften the effect and PTR to preview the result. This what were looking for - an organic shimmer to the image, adding the effect or appearance of movement in the water.

While I have applied this filter to a clip to simulate movement in a body of water, it can also be used to simulate a heat wave or as a simple stylistic element for many scenes.