If you have ever doubted the fact that sometimes the simplest solutions are the best, have a look at VFX-Artist Douglas Stahl’s Ocean preset. It is entirely created in After Effects with simple 2D layers. In fact, most of the stuff in there (minus the clouds which are image based), are generative – using multiple instances of the basic fractal noise effect.
The real challenge is to have the timing right and give them some sort of randomness
Douglas Stahl has made the After Effects file available for download, so you can go through it and see how it is all put together and be impressed with Douglas’ ingenuity with the simplest of After Effects tools.
Douglas Stahl talks about his ocean preset “Tried to make water in AE without using any 3rd Party Plugins or 3D fluid simulations. This is based just on 2d layers. Can be used for background stuff or fly overs.
The real challenge is to have the timing right and give them some sort of randomness. For this reason also check out this great video. It shares some good points and saved me from a lot of try and error.”