Burning Question: What is Datamoshing?

Burning Question: What is Datamoshing?

In the mid to late 2000’s, datamoshing, or glitch art, was commonly seen in music videos, in VJ sets or even on public access channels. Here’s an overview of the effect, some examples of what it looks like, a few tutorials and some tools to help you get started datamoshing.


Introduction: What is Datamoshing?

Datamoshing, or databending, is a complex technique where the movement in one layer of video is applied to another layer of footage, using lossy compression and removed frames to create a glitchy, psychedelic result. Think of what it looks like when your Netflix stream is dragging and creates a ghost image transition. KnowYourMeme did a nice overview on the topic.

It may be difficult to picture but there are plenty of examples below. Let me say that it’s a trippy effect but not the most watchable. It gives a person a bit of a headache to watch too long and should not be over used. You won’t likely ever have much of a use for the effect but it’s a fun one to know.

There are a few artists who are known for Datamoshing, but it was Eddy Bergman, a Facebook friend, who posted his tutorial and test video to the AE Portal on Facebook recently, and reminded me of this effect which I knew by sight, but didn’t know there was a name for it. His post and tutorial, in effect, spawned this article. Check out DATA-MOSHING TUTORIAL for PC and he uses AviDemux, which is freeware software for Windows.

Great Examples of Datamosh

Takeshi Murata – Monster Movie (2005)

This guy started the trend with his art piece, Monster Movie. The song is by the band Plate Tectonics.

Chairlift – Evident Utensil 

David O’Reilly is an award-winning filmmaker and artist and known for innovative projects, including datamosh effects in videos. Check out his site because there is a lot of interesting work there, as well as some freebies for Maya.

Kanye West – Welcome to Heartbreak feat. Kid Kudi (2009)

Nabil Elderkin directed this video for Kanye West a few years ago and used the datamosh look.


Kneel before Zod! Here’s a clip from Superman from Warner Bros.

oneseconds: having a different kind of facial

The song is Zero Life by Kap Bambino. Oneseconds, is a multimedia collective in Utrecht, NL, used the Datamosh plug-in for Quartz Composer to create this piece.

DATA TRPPN – Data Mosh

Datamosh mini tape 00001

Tools for Datamosh and Glitch Effects

There are very few real plug-ins for datamoshing because the effect is so complex, but here are some tools you may like.

  • Datamosh – Real time datamosh/compression-artifacting plugin for Quartz Composer. (Discontinued)
  • Datamosh for After Effects – Break your videos and find the pixel wonderland. The only way to true Datamosh inside of After Effects.

Here are some tools used in Datamoshing.

Now, just because there are no plug-ins for the effect, you can create your own how brewed effect. Here are a list of plug-ins that can create digital noise, artifacting, compression effects and grungy transitions so you can concoct your own datamosh effect.

Now let me say, I have not figured this out on my own, but according to some tutorials and posts on forums about data moshing, you’ll need motion vectors to create the effect and there are a couple of things you could use for that.

  1. Motion Vectors
  2. Displacement and motion tracking. Shots with a bright foreground and dark background work best. Motion vector pass.
  3. Other tools you’ll likely need
    • A displacement map filter
    • Motion tracking
    • A time echo effect

If you’re looking for just feedback or glitch effects, here are a few you can try.

  • Rowbyte Data Glitch – Data Glitch is a native After Effects plugin that creates awesome realistic digital image glitches with total ease. Something you would see during a satellite transmission or a cable broadcast or from a damaged disk.
  • Luca Visual FX Impackt – Create digital and analog glitches, dramatic wipes, customizable spin, tear, bleed, split, prismatic fx and a lot more…One pack of visual fx a world of solutions! With over 30 stylish transitions providing a wide range of dynamic and striking solutions, Impackt will no doubt give a solid and stylish touch to your edit. FCP 7/X.
  • Tangent FX Glitcher – Drag and drop the digital disruption on to your video. With 7 different glitch operators, Glitcher allows for a multitude of data glitch visual effects, including color data glitching, noise, brightness flickering, pixelation, distortion and more. This product comes with both a glitch transition and a glitch effect. FCP 7/X.
  • Video Copilot Twitch – Video Copilot Twitch is a plug-in for Adobe After Effects that lets you create stylistic video effects by synchronizing random operators including a blur operator, color operator, light operator, scale operator, slide operator, and a time operator. With these 6 built-in operators you can give your video projects edgy effects that let you “control the chaos!”. AE/PPRO.
  • Boris FX Sapphire – S_Feedback, S_TimeAverage, S_Trail are all plug-ins that you can try to create the effect.
  • Glitch 7in1– 7 stackable glitch plugins for After Effects.
  • PremiumVFX Glitch for FCPX – Glitch is a mega pack that includes 39 unique glitch effects, with beautiful animations, made frame-by-frame for your films.
  • Luca Visual FX Dual Glitch for FCPX – Create a tremendous range of distortion effects featuring 2 modes. Dual Glitch can be used as an effect or transition, and includes templates that allow for total control of every aspect of the distortion, so you can add amazing glitch effects by just tweaking a few parameters.

Datamoshing Tutorials

Eddy Bergman pointed me to Datamoshing.com, for step by step instructions.

How to Datamosh: Part 1

This is a very weird video that has a link to The One-Stop Datamosh Kit that you can download for FFmpegX. It includes some presets. Even if you’re not interested in the free kit, just watch a bit of the video for the examples.

How to Datamosh: Part 2

How to Datamosh: Part 3


Datamoshing in After Effects

Noel Powell from Creation Effects put together a tutorial on this transition which alluded him for so long. He is using presets that he is selling but he uses a combination of a displacement map, motion tracking, and the echo effect.

Adobe After Effects – Glitch Tutorial from Georgiiou

Particle Man Tutorial

Peder Norrby from Trapcode uses Trapcode Particular and RE:Vision Effects Twixtor to create a sort of Datamosh effect. He walks viewers through creating a Vector Map with Twixtor.

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Posted by Michele Yamazaki