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Trend Report: The Glitch Video Effect Is Back

Kevin Whipps April 17, 2024 · 5 min read

I’m old. There’s not a lot of getting around that fact at this point, but that does give me a benefit that people younger than me may not know: I’ve dealt with crappy TV connections for most of my life. Yes, I’ve struggled with bunny ears. I watched an unsubscribed-Cinemax feed at 5am trying to see through the blurs, and I’ve had to adjust the tracking on VHS tapes. It’s a hard life, folks, but I’ve been there. What does that have to do with anything? Well, today we’re going to talk about the glitch video effect: what it is, how it works, and why you’d want it in your design.

What is a glitch video effect?

OK, let’s break this down with a trip into the world of electronics. Today, if you want to watch something on a television (I know, how old-school), you need a way to deliver the signal to the screen. On most of today’s TVs, that’s going to be an HDMI cable, which digitally delivers the signal from the source – an Apple TV, Roku, or even your laptop – to the television. It’s a binary operation in that it either works or it doesn’t. Since it’s a digital connection, either the signal gets there or it doesn’t, there is no in between. But that’s not how it’s always been. When I was a teenager, RCA cables ruled the scene. These are analog cables that delivered certain portions of the signal to the television. Most of the time there were three cables: red, white, and yellow, which worked for the left audio channel, right audio channel, and video channels, respectively. If one of the cables was loose or not plugged in, the signal would be corrupted and might sound or look weird. Taken one step further, we’ve got analog antennas. We used these back when I was a kid to capture over-the-air signals. The antennae were attached to the TV by a coaxial cable, which was another analog connection. At each connection point is the potential for failure, and sometimes if things didn’t line up correctly, the colors or image would shift wildly. And it depended a lot on the type of signal coming in, but the point is, you got some crazy screens if things weren’t working right.

Neat. You’ve just confirmed that you’re ancient. So why would I want to use it?

Ha. You’re hilarious. There are quite a few reasons. First, you could want to age your designs. By putting a video glitch onto the photo, you’re placing it in a pre-digital age, and that could be the look you’re working toward. Second, you may desire a video look in general. Today, cameras are so great that it’s difficult to tell when something is an intentionally still image or a screenshot from a video. So if you add a glitch effect, you’re ensuring that the viewer knows what they’re looking at. Finally, it’s just cool looking. Anyone can throw a set of filters onto their photos, but adding a video glitch gives it a more unique look. And if you’re looking for a way to stand out on Instagram, this is an excellent option.

OK, you sold me. Got some examples?

Of course I do. Here we go.  

Digital Glitch Effect PSD Templates

Remember all that talk about how digital signals don’t glitch? Well, they don’t for the most part, but early versions of digital technology did have some issues, and if you buy crappy cables, sometimes the signal can get all screwed up. This template lets you skew, tweak, and color separate your images to an extreme degree or just subtly, whatever your taste desires.

VHS Effect Template

Remember VHS tapes? They were the first really accessible type of home movie, and I grew up with those things. Since they are a physical medium, they degraded over time and repeated viewings, so sometimes you had to adjust the tracking on the head to get them to look right. And if you didn’t? Well, the results were just like this effect. I tell ya what, this one takes me way back.

Glitch Overlay Effects

My parents had basic cable when I was young, but only for a few years. Once I discovered that the good stuff was on Cinemax after hours, I tuned in just to see what naked adults looked like. My parents put the kibosh on that one real quick, and soon I was relegated to tuning in to the channel and hoping I could see something – anything – through the static. What did I see most of the time? This effect.

Felix Glitch Duo Font

Wait – this is a font? Yeah, folks, if you’re going to do the glitch effect, there’s no reason not to go down the typeface route, too. This splits your type into two halves, top and bottom, and looks just like you’d see back in the day on older designs. Frankly, I think if you’re going to do something, go all-in.

Glitch Photoshop Action

Doing a glitch effect as an overlay is one thing, but as a non-destructive action? That’s cool. This means that you can change and shift your design however you like and still have the effect right there doing all your fun glitching. Frankly, this is a little slice of perfect in my book. (It’s also a part of this bundle if you’re interested.)

So should I use them in my designs?

In a word: yes! Why not, right? After all, it’s a trendy and fun way to spice up your designs. And if nothing else, it’s a way to stand out from the crowd. So should you do it? Heck yeah, you should. I know I will.

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About the Author
Kevin Whipps

Hi! My name is Kevin Whipps, and I'm a writer and editor based in Phoenix, Arizona. When I'm not working taking pictures of old cars and trucks, I'm either writing articles for Creative Market or hawking stickers at Whipps Sticker Co.

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