August 22, 2015

Tutorial: Achieve the 'Forrest Gump Effect' in Just 8 Steps

One of the most entertaining scenes in ' Oscar-winning film Forrest Gump is the one in which Tom Hanks moons Lyndon Johnson.

In fact, the scenes in which good ol' Forrest finds himself haphazardly in the middle of some of history's most important moments are all incredibly entertaining. If you're interested in finding out how it was done, as well as learning how to do it in your own films, this simple tutorial breaks it down in just 8 steps:

The Special Effects Supervisor on Forrest Gump, Ken Ralston, goes into detail about how he and his team approached adding Tom Hanks into archival footage. Unfortunately the video can't be embedded, but you can watch it here. (The bit about the technique starts at about 6:30.)

Probably the most important thing about combining two different pieces of video, whether it's archival or otherwise, is matching the color, lighting, and grain to the original. So, make sure you take note of what your archival footage looks like and try to determine how it was lit, angles used, if it was handheld, and quality of the image. If the archival footage you're using is old and you're using a newer camera to shoot your portion, you're going to have to degrade your image in post quite a bit to sell the effect. (There are plenty of film grain plugins you can use to do this -- FilmConvert is a great one.)     

Your Comment

5 Comments

Cool idea, but the samples presented don't match the look of the original footage very well. ( both lighting and tonal range are way off from the original )

August 22, 2015 at 7:49PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
31262

You are correct, this is what is called a demonstration.

August 23, 2015 at 1:03AM

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cee dee
323

When somebody posts a tutorial on how to do something I generally expect them to post some successful examples of their technique.

...Imagine that I wrote this great tutorial on how to color correct your footage, but you notice that the color is absolutely horrible in of the samples that I present with my article.

August 23, 2015 at 9:50AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
31262

I think his thought process was good, u can tweak the results as u want to get a decently realistic effect (never perfect, even in Forest Gump it wasn't perfect). He still did a pretty good job imo.

August 24, 2015 at 9:35AM

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Andy Tokarski
Director, Editor, Colorist
1448

Agreed, although if the lighting matched better the tones could be accepted more, obviously, the guy didn't have the space available to properly match the lighting while also pulling a good key, and attempted to meet it halfway.

August 29, 2015 at 12:42PM

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