Have you ever wondered how to make your text look like it is under water for a video project you were working on? It has been something I have been interested in lately. In this post, I will show you how to create this effect in Sony Vegas Pro 8.0.

If you do not have Sony Vegas Pro 8.0, here is the link to download the trial version at http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/vegaspro. This is a great product for the money if you cannot afford the Adobe suite.

Let’s first start a new project in Sony by clicking on the new project icon in the top-left corner below File (Figure A).

Figure A
I have a water background already looping, and you can do this with any water clip you have, even if it is real stock footage (Figure B).

Figure B
This effect was accomplished using the different compositing modes in Sony Vegas. When you have multiple layers in Vegas and you are looking for a different appearance, this is a great tool. In each layer when you drag your footage onto the timeline, a default toolbar shows at the far left side, which includes compositing modes (Figure C).

Figure C

These compositing modes allow you to achieve looks like you see on CSI: Miami. It is almost a digital colored lens for your camera in post production.

The default for all footage is called Source Alpha and shows you the footage in its raw state prior to effects. (Source Alpha is a topic for another day.) With these different settings, you will get different looks to your footage without any preset effects from the effects menu (Figure D).

Figure D
Once you have decided what background you will use, insert it into the timeline. Underneath that layer, right-click on the existing track and select Insert Video Track (Figure E) or the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+Q. Next, right-click on the new track to add some text (Figure F).

Figure E

Figure F
Now, it is important to get these two tracks in the correct order. Your water needs to be on the bottom and your text on top. Once you have done this, go back to the side toolbar and link the two layers together. This is the same as parenting one layer to another like in After Effects (Figure G).

Figure G
Now, the “Compositing Child” needs to have the compositing mode “Custom” selected. Once we are in the custom control window, we need to pay attention to a few things. First, a new window with Plug-ins will pop up. Choose the Sony Displacement Map and then select add (Figure H).

Figure H
Note: It is important that your settings for your Horizontal and Vertical are at .019 and that the edge pixel handling is set to Wrap Pixels Around (Figure I).

Figure I

Once that is completed, navigate to your water layer and open the compositing mode. Next, select 3D source alpha, and you now have a water font. This could prove useful as opening credits to a movie about underwater adventures with Aqua Man or something else. Use your imagination.

Let’s get back to fractal noise and how it fits in the big picture. Let’s just say you do not have any stock video footage of water. No problem, we can make our own. Let me explain.

First, navigate to your project media window and locate the tabs along the bottom. The fourth tab is labeled Media Generators.

Proceed by choosing Noise Texture from the list (Figure J). Now select the soft clouds preset and drag it into your timeline. Your settings window will pop up, and the magic will begin to happen. At the bottom you will see Progress (in degrees) and you will see your key frame timeline for the footage (Figure K).

Figure J

Figure K
If you want to make your footage longer, go to the top of this settings window and select on the length field and type in what you want. I am setting it at 30 sec. Remember that the longer the clip, the further apart your key frames will be. Keep in mind that this dictates the speed of the rotation (Figure L).

Figure L
Now, go back to your key frame timeline and click at the end to create a new key frame. Once you have created your new key frame, increase the progress slider to the desired frequency (Figure M).

Figure M

Repeat all the steps mentioned before, and it will give you the feeling of being under water. Don’t be afraid to experiment with this and come up with various ways of accomplishing the same results. This will, in the end, broaden your knowledge of the software.