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How to Make an 8-Bit Effect

8-Bit is back! You’ve probably noticed the growing popularity of this retro style. We’ve seen it in titles and openers, logo animations, indie games, VFX Shorts and many more. Let’s take a look at how to achieve this style. We’ll be using After Effects but if you’re a Hitfilm User you can find an awesome tutorial here.

We’ll show you how to make this 8-Bit style in AE, but you can also download the preset here

For our effect we chose this aerial explosion from the popular Anime and Toon Category to give it that 8-Bit look.

cartoon explosion assets

Import your clip or effect into After Effects.

A popular technique in AE for achieving the 8-Bit look is by using the Mosaic Effect, but we find it far too difficult to achieve the perfect squares and pixelation needed to pull this effect off. Instead, we’re going to use CC Block Load.

 

Drag CC Block Load onto your footage. Set the Completion to 0. We set our Scans to 3. For the number of scans, use to your discretion. Uncheck the Start Cleared selection.

Classic 8-Bit games were limited in what colors were available. While our explosion doesn’t appear to have too many colors, we can still limit the variation and add some color degradation with the Posterize Effect.

 

Add the Posterize Effect to your layer. You will instantly notice some color degradation. Play with the level. Depending on your footage you can find the right look for you. We suggest adding these effects to individual layers but staying consistent with the CC Block Load scan number for pixel consistency.

One additional item you can change is your composition’s framerate. We are going to change our comp’s from 29.97fps to 15fps. To do this you can go to Composition>Settings or just hit Control K (Command K for Mac) and change your framerate there.

learn to make an 8 bit explosion

For the final step we want to get rid of those semi-transparent pixels. This can be done quickly with the Levels effect. Drop the levels effect onto your layer, and select the Alpha option from the drop-down.

 

Select the Alpha Input White number (32768) and type /2 for (32768/2) and deselect. Now your number will read half of that, or 16384. Copy that number and paste it into your Input Black. Now you have crunched out those semi-transparent pixels!

Now you have your 8-Bit style. Mess around with the Anime FX and see what works best for you.

8BIT AFTER EFFECTS

 

Want to keep learning? Check out this Bouncey Text Tutorial in After Effects