Visual effects can be a powerful tool if you know how to use them.
Let's all take a moment and collectively appreciate the amount of educational filmmaking content out there that's free. Yes, there's always going to be that sponsored post, or a filmmaker who is asked to use a certain product to create a project. But you still get to learn from it. You still get to advance your skills as a creator simply by reading an article or watching a video.
Which is why it's not always worth it to troll a comment section. YouTube creators and online publications are just part of the community. We are all trying our best to learn from one another. Sometimes we can be wrong, and you don't have to agree with everything, other times you find the exact answer you're looking for. Generally, we're here for you – the filmmakers – so you don't have to spend time in a classroom. Even Roger Deakins is getting into the act.
Film Riot has been one of the most educational YouTube channels out there. Ryan Connolly and the channel have a wealth of knowledge and continue to churn out binge-worthy content. They recently released a video about the most overlooked visual effects tips. All 5 suggestions are absolute gems that every filmmaker should know. Check it out below.
To quickly recap, using practical lighting that will match the visual effects will help ground a scene. Connolly points out that lighting interactions is a great way to do that. If you think of how the light will act in a scene, the visual effects will have something to build off that is practical.
Another way to improve your visual effects is through physical interaction. It's when a character is interacting with an object in a scene that can be later built upon in post. It can be simply a tennis ball on the end of a pole or in the case of Game of Thrones, riding a mechanical dragon. Physical objects can help tie together frame lines and eyelines when it comes to creating visual effects. Other physical interactions include elements that interact with a character, like wind, fire, or light sources. While somewhat easier today, water can be one of the hardest elements to create using visual effects. If you can bring that element to set, it's going to help your visual effects workflow.
There's a skill when it comes to compositing and matching your footage is a crucial part of creating believable visual effects. If the effects don't look like the practical footage, it can take the audience out of the story. That's unless it's an artistic choice. Adding digital lights, shadows, and matching the space in terms of scale and overall color are all things that need to be considered in the final image.
When incorporating stock footage for effects like fire or magic be sure to explore the different blending modes on the layer. Changing it to one more or another can improve the look of the footage.
The last tip is to get into the habit of organizing and naming your layers. As your career progresses, or you start collaborating with other artists, it will speed up the workflow and communication. The same can be said for editors. The more you are organized, the better off the project will be.
What are some of your favorite visual effects tips? Tell us in the comments below.