Behind The Scenes Of YouTube’s ASCII Prank from TechCrunch mentioned that YouTube adapted their player with Adobe’s Pixel Bender to convert the videos into ASCII with a 3D effect (via John Dowdell). The effect was available only April Fool's; see YouTube's post TEXTp saves YouTube bandwidth, money for more.
ASCIImeo, an ASCIIized version of Vimeo, is available though. There are a number of other resources to view and create ACSII movies, including some approaches for After Effects (not including particle effects):
- You can watch movies in ASCII art with VLC Player (most versions; background, Mac-oriented and Windows-oriented)
- You can view then save a QuickTime movie in ASCII in the OS X Terminal. Get the binary "ASCII Movie Player" from Apple's Developer Pages. After downloading, just make sure the file is either in a directory on your path, or run it from the download directory with a "./" in front, and type "ASCIIMoviePlayer movie_name.mov." There's additional detail at TUAW in Terminal Tip: ASCII-ify your Videos.
- There's an AE filter Prime (Mac-only) by Digital Trove
- A script for After Effects, rd_Characterize from Jess Almosol, "converts the video frame into rows and columns of characters (based on a defined set of characters or the grayscale amount for a character region). If based on the grayscale amount, it'll look like ASCII art, although not as precise if done by hand (but who wants to do that for video?!). The color of each character can be a solid or based on the color of the region. Use a bold, fixed-width (monospace) font for best results."
- Another approach for AE is More fun with sampleImage(): Ascii animation in After Effects from Creative Workflow Hacks
- There's a thread on Creative Cow with an expression by Dan Ebberts and comments and an After Effects project from others.