Making a Doctor Who animated series/movie and need help.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. BTW I use Hitfilm 4 Express.

Particularly towards these questions (quite a big list, be patient and not snappy):

All answers for HF4 Exp please.

1) Any 2D animation software that has a quick, easy learning curve, but can still produce good quality results?

2) How would I create the time-tunnel intro effect in Express, with the TARDIS rotating around in it and all?  Any vortex style (9, 10, 11) is appreciated, particularly the War Doctor's vortex in Day of the Doctor, considering he's the guy my animated gig is about.

3) I plan on transitioning from the Vortex titles with the TARDIS flying out to a battlefield with Dalek and Time Lord spaceships in space, how could I do this?

4) How would I make the 3D text effect they use for introducing names? (Optional)

5) Is there any way to give my effects i.e. Dalek extermination lasers, a more animated look?

6) How would I create the extermination effect where when someone gets shot, their skeletons get highlighted in green?

7) How would you accomplish the style change they used in Day Of The Doctor? The one where it's like a scene frozen in a sculpture style (not freeze frame, the art style), but then it changes into a real scene. I'm doing a round shot, where it's got a painting style of sorts as it circles round the back of his head, and when it reaches the front, it changes to the animated style the movie/series has. Would like to know how this could be accomplished in Express (could you do it with grades (if so, how) or is there another way?).

Thanks for being patient, and I hope I don't receive any answers that say the effect would be difficult for a beginner/intermediate like me. I'm adamant on doing this, and so I would like to know!

Look forward to your answers,



  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    1) I've never used it myself, but I'll throw you right to SynFig studio, since that's free. Starting with a free, open-source alternative is never a bad idea. If it does what you want, you're set. If not, at least you didn't spend money!

    2) I'll put some thought into this. It's really the sort of thing that would be very easy to do in Pro with the particle sim, but in Express it's quite difficult. Especially if you're aiming for a "3D" construct that you can rotate around in all directions. You might have to settle for a less dynamic look than you're hoping for (your tunnel might have to be straight).

    Now the War Doctor's vortex might be easier to translate into Express than some of the others--it's basically a flaming wall of sparks and doesn't have the same shapes as the 9/10 tunnels or the cloudy look of the 11 tunnel. I have an idea involving the environment map viewer--if it works you'll have something you can spin around in, but you will have a straight line tunnel. Twists are really going to be hard in Express....

    3) Not really answerable at the moment. There are several different approaches to this, but, ultimately it's going to depend on how your tunnel is built. It could be as simple as a crossfade. It could be as simple as plopping the battle down behind the tunnel layer and letting the tunnel animation run out. It could be a simple animated mask. Or, it could be something annoying and complex.

    4) Spend money on the Starter Pack add-on for the 3D extrusion effect. Or spend money on the BCC 3D objects effect. Or, create the text render in an outside program then import to Hitfilm for compositing.

    5) Many. How are you making your lasers to begin with?

    6) Again, a lot of "it depends" here. Make your life easier and shoot your actor on a blue/green screen. Otherwise, you get the joys of rotoscoping your actor from the background.

    The actor layer can have any one of a number of color effects to make it bright, green and glowy. It's not an exaggeration to say there are dozens of ways to get there. I'd probably use Hue/Saturation to reduce the actor layerto black and white, then invert the layer, then use either a second instance of Hue/Saturaton or Gamma to add green tint (I guess the Tint effect works, too). After that, some glow. But that's my first idea, and there are others.

    For the skeleton layer, you're just going to have to download skeleton images from online--ideally as close to the right pose as you can get. Then you'll have to either use a paint program or multiple masked layers in Hitfilm to "paper doll" the skeleton and hand-animate it to match the actor. The Hitfilm University tutorial rendering for upload right now is timely for you. The techniques in it are some of what you'll need to know.

    7) I'm not visualizing the exact shot you're thinking of. You have a specific scene to look at that's close to what you want?

    In general, the painting scenes in DotD were shot with a combination of on-set props (Like a certain exploding Dalek) with the actors frozen on set then moving on cue with full 3D models and background matte painting. I don't know for certain if the camera moves were motion controlled on-set (in which case the camera data could be directly passed to the compositors and animators), or if the camera was tracked in post.

    I bring this up because if you're adding elements to this circle-round shot that weren't actually on set, then you're probably going to have to track your camera in post. If you don't want to spend the money on Mocha, then I suggest Autodesk Matchmover 2014 (it's free), where you'd have to export the camera solves in *.ma format to import into Hitfilm, or by using Blender where you'll still export your camera solves in *.ma format to import into Hitfilm.

    From there, once again there are multiple ways to do things. If all you're doing is a "Style change" where the entire image is changing it's look, then, yes, it's possible that Grade Layers and a little masking/roto work will do it.

  • Good tips @Triem23

    I was thinking of doing a Doctor Who fan film sometime as well, so these tips could also be useful for me... 

  • Thanks @Triem23!

    Handy and friendly as ever!

    Also how would I do the starfield face? Like the ones they did for Tom Baker and Colin Baker in their opening?

    As for the painting scene, it's more like the shot with the three Doctors in the painting where they attack the Dalek.

  • @Triem23 As for the Vortex for the War Doctor, what is the exact procedure for it, or can you provide any tutorials/screenshots of the process? Also another way to make things easier if you can't twist or turn anything, just do a still version, like the Series 7 part 2 red vortex. But I would still very much like to know how it's done with all the twists and turns. And how would I add the TARDIS in if 3D models don't work in express? I mean, I could just shoot a physical model of the TARDIS in front of a green/blue screen (something I sadly don't have YET), but I need to know how I could accomplish this digitally.


  • Or actually, leave out the still version. BUT I GOTTA KNOW! 

    Tardis in WD's vortex. That is all.

  • And also how to make War Doctor Vortex.

  • Not sure about the vortex @Fulcrum2016, but until you get the green screen and Tardis model you could use free green screen Tardis videos from YouTube such as this one:

    I have seen this used many times, but it can be used in express if you just key out the green...


  • I have the Model. The issue is that this video has the St John sticker. But never mind, I have my own GS Vid. But I need to make custom rotations and maneuvers, so that's why I asked. Oh wait, I can animate that.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator
    edited April 2017

    Fulcrum, I haven't had a chance to play with my idea yet, so no idea if it will work. I don't really have computer time till Sunday or Monday. 

    The basic idea was to try some noise planes or very tight fractal noise moving "down" with the glows to look like embers and the top edge masked out (leaving black) in an embedded composite shot then slapping an Environment Map effect on it and rotating the Environment Map 90 (or -90) on the X-axis. 

    @ZCC_PRODUCTIONS brings up a good point about possible stock footage. I recommend looking at which is a stock site specializing in assets for Doctor Who fan films. Tons of vortex and TARDIS animations, and the site is a partnership between the very talented Xander Hugh and the very talented @NxVisualStudio (Tony Cee). So if you pick anything up from them, You're helping one of our own. 

    Those guys also do request and commission work at times, and they might do a War Doctor vortex. 

    ZCC Neon Visual sells Tony's TARDIS which was built and optimized especially for Hitfilm. It will give better results than other TARDIS models online because it's already textured and optimized for Hitfilm. 

    Looks like this.

    Oh, Tony also did this fun shot of the TARDIS landing in front of the FXHOME offices.

  • Still working out some of the character animation keyframes @Triem23, take your time!

    But unfortunately, no 3D models yet in HF4 Express.

  • I checked out Neonvisual, unfortunately, no free packs available. Any other free sources you'd recommend?

  • I gotta ask you what these mean; 

    -What is a noise plane/fractal noise

    -What do you mean by top edge


  • And how would I create the glow?

  • While this isn't what I need to know (it's got nothing to do with the War Doctor vortex), I do have an alternate idea for the 9/10 vortex.

    Just add the background layer that'll change colour, then have a plain black plane. Use the mask tool to create rings that show the colour. Split the clip to make separate mask adjustments or have multiple masks have a timed appearance. And if IIRC, Axel did a tutorial on animated masks a while back, so use that to change the size as the rings get closer.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    A (fractal) noise plane would just be a plane with noise or fractal noise effects. 

    By top edge I literally mean the top edge of the plane. 

    Glows are added with glow effects. 

    Rather than animating masks, why not duplicate the plane several times, make them 3D, fly them past the camera, then quickly back to the starting point? 

  • Yeah, that's a good idea for the RTD one.

    As for the War Doctor, do you have any glowing dot templates?

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Nope. I'm not gonna make you one, either. :-) 

    Watch these. Not all apply to Vorticies, but they apply to space, so this is stuff you'll need to know. In there are ways to make points with glows.

    These should also teach masking and fractal noise. 

  • Didn't ask for you to make one Triem. I asked if you knew any places that had them.

  • Actually, the picture to 3D one is handy! And I thought the first one was handy, until it started talking about atomic particles (those particle simulators )

  • @Triem23 GOT THE HANG OF THE VORTEX TRIEM! The only problem is, how do I make my spark image longer and moving to make it seem more like a tunnel, and how do I adjust the circular mask(which I'm using as the central hole in the Vortex)'s position to make it seem like it's traveling down a turning tunnel?

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