While I was designing images for the Project Blue Book opening titles, I used Photoshop’s built-in Tilt-Shift Blur tool a lot. I had never used it before, and I thought it was super useful to get just the look I was going for. I enjoyed the relatively intuitive interface of the tool and found it satisfying to use.
Unfortunately, it also has some drawbacks that I found a little frustrating. Namely that the effect is destructive and cannot be edited later on, and also that it needs to be applied layer-by-layer and does not work as a top-level adjustment layer. Since I usually want most of my elements on their own layers for animation purposes, it would be annoying and time-consuming to apply the effect to all of my layers one by one.
Since I still wanted that Tilt-Shift look, I figured a better bet would be to apply it in AE. So I explored my options in After Effects but found them lacking. In the past I’ve used Camera Lens Blur plus a gradient in AE to simulate a simple Tilt-Shift blur look, but once I had gotten used to the Photoshop tool, that seemed like a shitty substitute.
For example, in Photoshop it’s easy to rotate the entire blur area, as well as widen and/or contract the blur falloff from both sides or the middle, but in AE that would be a big pain in the butt. Possible, but annoying. And since I wanted to potentially change the blur level, rotation and falloff for each shot of the sequence, VERY annoying.
I thought about buying the Red Giant Shrink Ray plugin, but I’m cheap and instead I thought “I can probably just make my own version”.
So yeah, I did that, and it actually worked out pretty well.
I wound up using it for the whole project and in the end I thought … maybe this could be useful for other people? I’m 100% positive that someone should make a plugin or script that handles this in After Effects, but if you need something right now give this a shot.
To download the project, and for further instructions on how to use it, GO HERE.