There is never a better time to make a horror film than October. Inspiration flows as Halloween approaches.
We all know that the foundation for any good film, especially horror, comes from its story, art direction, cinematography, and lighting. But to add that additional bone-chilling touch to take your film to the next level, your story will require a bit of magic in post production.
Color grading will only take you so far, so we've found some great workflows using DaVinci Resolve that will add some extra spice to your project. From editing technique to VFX, it's never been easier to learn how to elevate your films all within Resolve.
Let's dive in.
Mixing Blender and DaVinci Fusion
The lads of Error Unknown Studios put together a simple short that brought a crazy-looking monster to life using Fusion and Blender.
First, the team used Blender to build, light, and motion track their 3D model, before bringing it into the Fusion tab within DaVinci Resolve. While you can use Fusion to track and light, use whatever software makes you feel comfortable before jumping into Resolve.
When in Fusion, the Error Unknown team used four techniques to blend their creation into the live-action plate that they shot on BMPCC 6K.
First, Divide Multiply was used to protect the edges of the model during color correction. Following that, color and gamma were corrected right within the Fusion tab to make the monster on the live-action plate. Once this was done, lens distortion was added. While this could be done in Blender, we recommend staying with Fusion to stay consistent with your workflow.
Finally, we get to masking, specifically focusing on anything in your foreground, which completes the compositing. All you need from here on out is some overall color grading and grain to taste, all done (mostly) within DaVinci Resolve!
Zombify with Fusion
Okay, no more cheating, we promise. This next VFX element was done by DatumSpeed Studios completely within DaVinci Resolve using the Fusion tab. Miles Laroche and Jesse Whiting created a Zombie transformation by first focusing on one important element.
To get this creepy look, the team used a huge amount of merge nodes to mask, track, sharpen, and relight the character's eyes to start the transformation.
We won't go into the whole breakdown here, as it's a bit intensive, but what piqued our interest about this workflow, is how much freedom it gives you to dial in the look you want.
Since Resolve is known for color grading, the masking and tracking tools feel like a hidden gem within the suite. While Laroche and Whiting used them to create a horror effect, they go a long way to elevate your color grade for any other project you may have—horror or not.
Three For the Price of One
Finally, we get to Josh Hanes, who focuses more on editing techniques to get you thinking about jump scares over VFX.
The first effect Hanes went into was inspired by none other than David F. Sandberg and his short Lights Out. In the short film, the lights turn off to reveal a monster in the dark. This was done simply by shooting two live-action plates with the camera on a tripod and then using masks to line up the shot as needed.
To really make the composition seamless, Hanes added a camera shake effect to make the whole sequence feel handheld.
The second effect is super simple but can be impactful if used correctly. Hanes followed the same technique as before, recording a clean plate and then a flying toy ghost that he masked to remove himself from the frame. Then a bit of reduced opacity makes the ghost see through!
While Hanes recommends recording enough of a clean plate to maintain consistent camera noise, you are free to use a still frame as a clean plate. The trick to making your shots match is to use noise reduction on both elements, then add in some grain for your final step to add in some of that sensor noise.
The last tip that Hanes had is also a bit of a cheat because while he edited in DaVinci Resolve, all the heavy lifting was done with art direction, lighting, and wardrobe. We still managed to keep our promise because this one is all Hanes.
However, what you can do with that footage, is elevate it in post by adding some effects to the eyes, and really pushing the color grade to emphasize the terror of the scene.
So, now that you have a few extra tools in your kit, what will you make next?