Blogs – FXhome Creative tools, made by you. en-US hourly 1 Blogs – FXhome 32 32 Our top 5 tips for motion graphics design Thu, 28 Jan 2021 16:26:00 +0000 Want to learn how to elevate your motion graphics? We're giving you the low-down on how to take your animations to the next level. With these tips and techniques, you'll be creating some awesome motion graphics in HitFilm in no time!

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Our resident MoGraph expert Javert Valbarr knows a thing or two about motion design. Today he’s sharing his top 5 tips for motion graphics, and they can all be done with free motion graphics software on the market. Whether you’re creating custom graphics for your YouTube channel, lower thirds, or a stylized endplate, these tips will help you get a professional finish!

Learn how to use the Set Matte effect

Example of Set Matte effect
Example of Set Matte effect

The Set Matte effect is a very simple yet powerful tool for motion designers. In both HitFilm Pro and Express, this effect allows you to use the data from one layer and apply it to another. 

The Set Matte effect has many use cases, such as allowing you to animate text sliding out from nowhere to even allowing you to put one design in another (such as footage into a piece of text) without having to draw numerous complicated masks.

A use case for the Set Matte effect in motion graphics
A use case for the Set Matte effect in motion graphics

Here are the steps to achieve the video within text effect :

  1. Apply the Set Matte effect to the layer you want to change (which in this case is the Footage layer)
  2. In the Sette Matte drop-down, set the Source Layer to the layer with the data you wish to use (the Text layer)
  3. Set the Matte Source to Alpha and the blend mode to Subtract
  4. Tick Invert

Add a ‘bounce’ to your animations

One of our favorite motion graphics tips is to add a ‘bounce’ to your animations, making them seem less abrupt and appear to move more naturally. This applies to whether you have animated the Position, Rotation, or Scale of your element.

How to keyframe element movement to achieve bounce effect
How to keyframe element movement to achieve bounce effect

To achieve the ‘bounce’ effect you need to:

  1. Animate your motion as normal
  2.  2 or 3 frames before the last keyframe, add a keyframe to slightly overshoot the Position/ Rotation/ Scale of the last keyframe 

 The result is an animation that goes past where you intended initially but quickly bounces back, giving it a smoother, more natural appearance

Learn the 4 different keyframe types 

HitFilm has 4 different types of keyframes: 

  • Linear – is the default type that allows an element to go from point A to B without smoothing.
  • Constant – allows an element to snap from one position to the other. 
  • Smooth /Smooth In/Smooth Out – adds a small curve to the animation, so it doesn’t stop suddenly.
  • Manual Bezier – allows you to adjust the curve of the Value Graph.

Choose the right fonts for your designs

effect of using a different font
effect of using a different font

A font makes a huge difference in the overall look, feel, and professionalism of a title. You want your fonts to work harmoniously for their intended purposes. Dafont is an excellent source for finding new fonts.

Level up on your design details 

Motion graphic references
Motion graphic references

Ideally, you want your motion designs to appear as one cohesive piece; you do not want your audience to be able to pick apart the elements of your design. To achieve this, you should aim to have more detailed designs with multiple things happening simultaneously to look like one cohesive unit. This skill comes with practice. If you’re struggling with finding ideas for your motion graphics, look at references on stock websites like CreatorVault for inspiration.

Free motion graphics software

HitFilm Express: free motion graphics software

HitFilm Express is a free motion graphics and video editing software that is favored by motion graphics artists, motion designers, and YouTubers looking to create their own visuals. Join over 4.8 million creatives today who are using HitFilm to add production value to their projects. Take it for a test drive.

Learn motion graphics for free with FXhome

We release new videos every week over on the FXhome YouTube channel to teach you everything from motion graphics to video editing, to visual effects and film theory. Check out the HitFilm Basics masterclass to get started. It even includes a dedicated intro to motion graphics for all you budding motion designers out there!

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How Film Riot gets perfect 3D tracking using CamTrackAR Fri, 22 Jan 2021 15:45:00 +0000 In Film Riot's latest YouTube video, Ryan Connolly gives us the low-down on his experiences with our free iOS app CamTrackAR. From tracking a scene to creating a full-fledged project, Ryan walks us through how he used the app to ease the process of adding a 3D drone to a tracked scene. Read on to find out more about the neat things Film Riot has created using the app.

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Our friends over at Film Riot featured our free iOS app CamTrackAR in their latest YouTube video.

CamTrackAR is the first app to allow you to capture video and 3D tracking data simultaneously using Apple’s state-of-the-art AR technology. It bridges the gap between production and post-production. 

In the video, Ryan Conolly breaks down a project he has created in After Effects. Using the app had eased the process of adding a 3D drone model, from TurboSquid, onto the tracked scene. Ryan then states why he is excited about CamTrackAR technology. As CamTrackAR continues to develop, it’ll lead to endless possibilities within the film industry.

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How to elevate your virtual meeting recordings Thu, 21 Jan 2021 16:00:00 +0000 Learn how to take your virtual meetings to the next level with high quality visuals, fine-tuned audio and a flawless edit. Whether you're using Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Discord, Skype, or any other video calling platform, we've got you covered!

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In these tutorials, we’ll guide you through how to elevate your virtual meeting recordings with polished webcam footage, a clean setup, optimized setting, and flawless editing. Whether you’re using Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Discord, Skype, or any other video calling platform- these techniques will help you master any virtual meeting.

It’s all about the angle

A camera’s position makes a huge difference in how a subject appears in the final image; your webcam is no exception to this. In a video call, you ideally want to position your laptop/webcam to a place that is eye level to prevent an unflattering angle. To improve your camera angle, you can use a pile of books, a laptop stand, or even a box lying around your house.

Create a sense of depth and contrast

Creating some depth between yourself and the background is aesthetically pleasing; it gives you more room to play around with lighting and further adds to your shot’s visual dynamics. However, you must not forget to tidy up your background to ensure that professionalism is maintained.

You can achieve contrast by lighting yourself with a desk lamp, facing a bright window, or even increasing your screen’s brightness. Another excellent way of creating a divide between yourself and your surroundings is by introducing a practical soft light into the background.

Fine-tune your audio

To prevent your video call from pickup up unwanted audio, try using a pair of earphones. Earphones are perfect as their mics are usually positioned very close to your mouth but be mindful, you don’t want your mic rubbing against your hair or clothing.

Use external accessories to enhance the quality

To improve your camera quality:

  • External webcams are an easy USB plug-in option that now comes in up to 4k resolution. 
  • Apps like Epoccam allow you to use your phone as a webcam 
  • Cam link adapters enable you to use your DSLR as a webcam 

To enhance your audio quality external mics such as a Blue Yeti mic can be used.

In this tutorial, We’ll guide you through how to set up and optimize your Zoom settings so that you can record your calls in the best possible quality. We’ll also cover how to edit your Zoom recordings in HitFilm.

Optimizing your Zoom settings

Adding Key Frames

Once you have opened Zoom on your device, to access the settings select the gear icon. In Settings>Recording, you can choose the file path that you want your recording to go; it is also here that you can tick the following settings to optimize your recordings:

  • Record a separate audio file for each participant who speaks” -to make it easier to cut out unwanted audio
  • Optimize for 3rd party video editor
  • Record video during screen sharing” – to allow those that are reviewing the call to view what is shared on-screen
  • Keep temporary recording files” – to ensure that your files save even if you encounter connection issues

Recording your Zoom call

starting a recording

If you’re the host of your zoom call, you can record the meeting either using the Alt + R shortcut or by pressing the record button in the bottom right of the screen.

Changing responsibilities

If you want someone else to take on the recording responsibilities, in the Participants panel, right-click over the assigned person’s name and select “Allow Record” 

recording settings

Once the recording commences, your recording settings will appear in the top left corner of your screen, where the Pause or Stop recording options appear. We’d advise you to select Active Speaker View in your Display setting to make the editing process more straightforward. 

Once you’ve finished recording, you can select the Stop option in the recording settings and end the meeting. Now zoom will create your mp4 files, which you can locate using the Zoom home page under the Recorded section.

Editing you recording

In HitFilm, we first want to open up a New Project. For ease, we can stick with the default. To import your footage, in the Media panel, either select the Import icon and go to the file location, or alternatively, you can open the file window and simply drag in your files to the Media Panel. 

HitFilm settings

Once imported, drag your footage into the editor timeline. A prompt will then appear informing you that your settings are different from the footage. To remove this for the future, Enable “Remember my choice and do not show this again” and select “Yes”. You must also remember to bring in and align all your audio files.

The trimming tool can be used to remove the unwanted moments at the start of the clip. Once you have used this tool, be sure to then drag the clip to the beginning of the timeline. 

Alternatively, for unwanted moments that are taking place in the center of the recording, we can use the slice tool. To do so, with the slice tool selected, click on either side of the moment and then hit delete on the keyboard. Then switch back to the Selection tool and drag the footage on the gap’s right towards the left to close the gap.

adding key frames

To remove unwanted audio from specific channels, we can keyframe the audio to dip quieter for that time. To add the keyframes, holding Ctrl, hover your mouse over the start of the moment and left-click. Repeat this at the end of the moment. Then, drag the line between the keyframes down to lower the audio level. 

Exporting your audio

With the recording cleaned up, it’s time to export your project. Select the Export tab and head over to Add to Que. This will bring up the export window. In this tab, we can set the file format in the Preset drop-down menu. Then hit Start Exporting.

There you go, you have now successfully created a great virtual meeting recording with flawless visuals and fine-tuned audio!

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How to create a WandaVision Reality Glitch Transition Fri, 15 Jan 2021 10:40:28 +0000 Learn how to create a reality-warping transition, perfect for switching between scenes or tearing a hole in reality, as seen in WandaVision, using mattes, distortions, and glows!

This tutorial will be using HitFilm Pro but you can follow along in HitFilm Express if you have the VFX: Distortion pack, VFX: Retro 2 pack, and the VFX: Neon Lights pack.

The post How to create a WandaVision Reality Glitch Transition appeared first on FXhome.


Step 1: Prepare your plates

Bring the two shots you’re going to be transitioning between into a new composite shot, aligning the second shot to the point we want the transition to take place.

If we were to want to swap the clips out, or perhaps have some alternate effects, it could cause some trouble. To make things easier, we’re going to create individual composite shots for each of the clips. Name one ‘Plate 1’ and the other ‘Plate 2’.

By setting up our plates like this, we can make as many alterations to the plates as needed, without affecting the transition.

Step 2: Making the mattes

We’re going to need three separate mattes for this effect so let’s focus on creating those, as they’re the foundation of the whole effect.

Go to + New Layer and create a Plane, set it to white, name it Matte Reveal, and hit OK.

We’re going to be using masks to create the transition reveal. With the layer we just created selected, double-click the Rectangle Mask tool to the left of the Viewer panel. By double-clicking the icon, you automatically mask the whole layer.

Go to Controls > Masks > Transform and head down to Path. We’re going to animate the Path property to create the iconic tear.

Switch to the Pen tool (also found to the left of the Viewer panel), shrink the mask down on the X-axis, and place a keyframe.

Jump to about 2-seconds into the shot and expand the mask once again. Before we move on, we’ll duplicate this layer, naming it Edges, and use the duplicate for our edges later.

Turn off the visibility of the Matte Reveal and Edges layers and create another white Plane layer. Name it Circle Reveal.

Ellipse Mask path animation

This is going to be a matte reveal, but this time with the Ellipse Mask. Click and hold over the Mask icon to bring up the options, and select Ellipse. Double-click to set the mask.

Go to Controls > Masks > Transform > Path, shrink the mask on the X-axis at the start, and set a keyframe. Skip to 30 frames in and open the mask up, revealing the whole screen. Dial-up the feathering for a smoother transition.

Now we have all the foundational elements of the transition in place, we can turn each layer into individual composite shots. Right-click, keep the original name and move the mask properties with your layer before jumping back into the Main Composite shot.

Step 3: Setting up the basic transition

Now it’s time to create the basic transition by connecting the Matte Reveal we’ve created to Plate 1.

First, we’ll move the transition mattes to alight with our second plate and move them under all our footage for now.

Plate 2 is the one revealing itself in this project, so we’re going to be applying the effects to that layer. Select the layer, go to the Effects Panel and search for “Set Matte”. You can also find it under Keying > Matte Enhancements.

In the Set Matte effect, change the Source Layer to our Matte Reveal layer. Then set the Source to Luminance, and make sure the Blend mode is set to Replace. If you play this back on the timeline, you’ll now see the plate being revealed thanks to the animated masks.

Step 4: Matte Distortions

Now it’s time to add some glitchy effects to the transition! Jump into the main Matte Reveal and let’s get to work.

We’ll start by warping the edges of the masked area and applying a few different distortion effects to get the look we want.

Go to Effects > Distortion and add Smoke Distortion. You’ll instantly be able to see how it affects the edges of the matte. Adjust the settings as you like, increasing or decreasing the scale and distortion amount. Then add in a few other distortion effects to make it really chaotic! In our example, we used Energy and Block Displacement to get the effect we were looking for.

Once you’ve added Block Displacement, go to Block Displacement > Block Settings and increase the Aspect Ratio.

We want to make the edges really rough but with a bit of a TV, technical problem look so added in a Heat Distortion at this point.

Next, head into the Edges composite. The animation is the same as our other Matte Reveal, but we can make it look really different. For the distortion effects, we added Smoke and Energy. We lowered the Scale and increased the Distortion so that we see a high-frequency ripple effect.

Once we’re happy with the look of the mask, Duplicate it and apply the Fill Color effect from Effects > Gradients & Fills. Set the Fill Color to black. Because we only want this to appear right at the edge of the tear, select the layer, rename it to Inner Edge, and position it back just a few frames on the timeline.

Creating the glitch using Gradients and Fills

Head to Options and switch to the checkerboard background. This allows you to see that our white areas are revealed but the center is solid. Next, we need to remove the black, to do this, go to + New Layer > Grade Layer and add the Demult effect from your Effects panel.

Taking a look at the effect now, it would be good to make the edges even more subtle. We could readjust the timing, but there’s not too much room to play when it comes to frames per second. Instead, go to the Matte Enhancement folder and apply the Erode White effect.

To add more distortion and glitchiness to the edges, add another Block Displacement effect and, as we’ve done before, scale down the properties, and increase the aspect ratio width. You can even throw on another Heat Distortion effect to make it less uniform.

Step 5: TV Distortions

The matte distortions are now in place. Jump back into the Main Composite to bring everything together.

To create the TV signal effect that’s seen in the show, we’re going to use the VGHS DeRez effect. Create a new Grade Layer (+ New Layer > Grade Layer) and position it beneath the 2nd plate. Go to Effects > Distort Effects > DeRez and add this to the layer.

In our example, we just wanted to keep the Wavy Lines from this effect, so switch the View property to Wavy Lines and set the Mask to our Circle Reveal. By doing it this way, the DeRez effect will be seen followed by the glitching tear.

Apply DeRez and Curves to create the TV distortion effect

Go to the Line dropdown menu and play with the settings to get something unique. Go into the Color settings to match the reference, moving the mid-tones and shadows towards blue and the highlight towards red. Then change the layer’s Blend mode to Add or Screen. You can add a Curves effect and bring down the mid-tones if it comes across as too intense. We also added the Chromatic Aberration effect in HitFilm Pro.

Now we want to match it to our Matte Reveals by adding the Set Matte effect to the top of the Effect list. Set the Source Layer to Matte Reveal, the Source to Luminance, and the Blend mode to Replace with ‘Invert’ enabled.

To make this effect stand out, we’ll create a larger displacement when the transition happens.

Apply Lens Distort to a new Grade layer

Create a new Grade Layer and place it above the wavy lines we’ve just created. Search for Lens Distort in the Effects panel and apply it to the new Grade layer. We’re going to keyframe this effect over a few seconds to help highlight the tearing effect. Start with the Distortion Amount at 0, setting a keyframe, and decrease it to around -0.8 after a few frames.  Apply another Set Matte effect, setting the Source Layer to the Circle Reveal, the Source set to Luminance, the Blend set to Subtract, and ‘Invert’ enabled. You’ll only be able to see the area within the mask, so set the Blend mode of this Grade Layer to something subtle like Screen or Lighten.

Step 6: Adding the glow and finishing touches

We’ve been using our Matte Layers with the visibility off, but now we’re going to be using our Edges as an actual layer. Enable visibility on the Edges layer and position it at the top of all the other layers. We ended up applying another Energy Distortion to break up some of the blocks.

In order to have the tearing and glitching happen outside of the area, we’re going to use the Pixel Sort effect. This effect allows you to take color information from one image and use another image to offset and distort it.

Apply the Pixel Sort effect and begin by setting the Order From property to Plate 1 and the Grouping to Plate 2. The way this effect appears will depend on the footage you’re using but to see what we’re doing, rotate the Direction 90 degrees. Go to the Reveal Mode and switch it to Flow Over (Bright), then enable Sort Transparent. To sort the chaos we’ve created, alter the Brightness and Thresholds settings.

To change this into red energy, we’ll use the Lightsword Ultra Glow effect, and use the Red preset, lowering the inner and outer glow until we find something that works.

Soften all the effects with a Diffuse and change the Edges layer’s Blend mode to Add. For more glow and detail, duplicate the layer, go to the Pixel Sort effect, and change the direction to the opposite side. This will add a little more chaos.

And that’s how you alter reality without the infinity stone.

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What does a video editor do? Tue, 12 Jan 2021 14:28:48 +0000 A career in video editing might seem exciting and alluring, but what is it exactly and what does take to become one? In this article we examine the role as defined by the film and video industry, with insights into the ideal software for developing such skills.

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The language of video and film is learned so early and instinctively that we take it largely for granted. Watch any commercial sequence, maybe a movie, music videos, or advertising commercials – all follow certain conventions we understand implicitly.

Many of those “rules” in video storytelling are achieved with editing. A process of refinement; to edit in any medium is to hone and shape, optimize and enhance work. In film terms, it exists in every selected shot, hold, cut, and much more.

Finishing Touch

Traditionally a post-production job, video editing tends to begin when potentially extensive footage capture has wrapped. Hollywood directors and producers often consider the sometimes lengthy editing process where the movies are truly made.

Editor and FXhome friend mzak landed an HBO gig for his video on editing empathy into the drama series Big Little Lies – a fabulous essay on its effectiveness. Concepts and techniques that can all be learned online and used by all.  

So video editing is important, and video editors are coveted, perhaps more than ever. But what does anyone need to begin working as a video editor? What ability or education would a wide-eyed hopeful require, and how do you gain experience?

An Editing Overview

According to most definitions, the typical responsibilities of a film or video editor are in readying content for distribution. By threading together scenes, sounds, graphics, animation, and effects, the editor assembles raw production material into a coherent final product.

video editing timeline
The editor in HitFilm

This could be for broadcasting, recorded screening, on-demand streaming, or indeed all of the previous. YouTube videos right up to commercial adverts, TV shows, and feature films all qualify – with studios, production houses, and media companies among possible employers.

Often working on a freelance basis, the role is not “entry-level” with professional posts varying by training and experience. Assistant editors might expect to earn a salary of $24-34K on average, while more senior jobs can command $47-$95K dependant on the production budget. Hours can be long and shift-based, operating within edit suite environments and closely collaborating with the director or videographer.

The Job Description

Just like the actors, film and video editors will follow a script of sorts. An initial brief should provide basic project information, perhaps expanding to offer a creative editorial template for what’s expected. Scene and shot lists, storyboards, and a copy of any screenplay might add extra guidance.


Predominantly digital, the modern editor will likely work in digital formats rather than film. Cutting and splicing reels of celluloid film might be a rarified occasion, but the digital transfer of stock could be necessary during footage assembly.

Preparing daily rushes, creating rough cuts, and managing the versioning of stored files would be important tasks here too. Some editors may also be asked to select music or get involved with writing services – all add to the basic art of sequencing the action.

Skills to pay the bills

Becoming a film and video editor demands a variety of skills beyond technical ability. A patient and critical eye for detail is vital, with an appreciation of film theory desirable. 

When freelancing, one key skill is having the motivation to meet tight deadlines and manage time effectively, even while working alone. Conversely, great editors should be team players open to effective discussion and taking direction.

While not always dependant on academic training, some formal qualifications could also be desirable. A degree or diploma in communication or media studies, graphic design, or the visual arts are often recognized as relevant subjects.

Diploma courses on filmmaking, including video editing and film post-production, could also provide a useful foundation.

Learn with HitFilm 

Training can also cover gaining experience with editing tools, the most crucial being software. Many film and video editing job postings will expect a working knowledge of certain suites such as Avid Media Composer and Apple’s Final Cut Pro.

Many of these have been synonymous with the film and video business for years but can be expensive to learn. Costly courses or buying premium software are particularly prohibitive for beginners or students, so thankfully, more accessible solutions exist.

HitFilm Pro for filmmaking
HitFilm Pro

Available as a totally free download for Windows and Mac, HitFilm Express is an all-in-one video editing and VFX software supported by online learning resources. Every bit as equipped to master essential techniques, users of all levels can hone skills rapidly with FXhome’s YouTube channel.

Essential Features

HitFilm Express is particularly unique here because it adds powerful visual effects capabilities. While not central to a video editor’s remit, recognizing how animation, 3D modeling, and VFX fit the post-production workflow is undoubtedly useful.

As an editing environment, Express boasts a non-linear approach with a timeline unlimited by video and audio tracks. Work simultaneously on scenes to achieve complicated composite shots and make quicker, sharper cuts with the dedicated editing trimmer.

Timeline clips can even be adaptively re-trimmed on the fly before adding instant dissolves or fades between shots. Such stock-in-trade techniques are then supplemented by built-in audio mixing, color correction, grading, and more.

HitFilm Pro Interface
Using the viewer in HitFilm Pro

A Better Understanding

Hopefully, those looking to discover film and video editing, or pursue employment in the field, will better understand the role.

Those hoping to explore the art across personal projects or vlogs can still produce like the best with HitFilm, while would-be pros seek work. YouTube is furtive ground for awesome editing from the likes of This Guy Edits, with it all eminently achievable in Express. Novices can learn a skill, put it into practice, and share the results.  

For career seekers, it’s also a great final tip to think about using such software to showcase core skills. A company or client is more likely to find and hire you when they can view evidence of talent. Like artists or designers might have a portfolio, hopeful video editors should assemble an engaging showreel. 

No matter your aims or wherever they take you – have fun becoming the best editor you can be!

The post What does a video editor do? appeared first on FXhome.

How to make a short film by yourself Tue, 12 Jan 2021 12:02:07 +0000 The idea of making your own short films or movies need not be a pipe dream. Don’t let a lack of budget or limited resources hold production back by getting creative with the shoot and discovering great software along the way.

The post How to make a short film by yourself appeared first on FXhome.

For any beginner filmmaker, the challenge of producing a first short film can be daunting, to say the least. You might be a cinematography student or just an amateur enthusiast – either way, it’s unlikely to be an easy shoot.

However, this certainly shouldn’t deter you, not one bit. Small to zero budget and a lack of crew, actors, locations, and equipment are all limitations, sure, but not prohibitive to success. Some of the best artistic works get made when there’s a passion for telling a good story out of creative difficulty.

If you are big on ideas but small on help, take heart in the knowledge that the most celebrated filmmakers all started somewhere!

Defining your vision

Any project in any medium begins with a vision. What is the aim, what is the concept for what I’m trying to achieve? Are vital questions to answer at the start and stick to throughout.

Think carefully about how restrictions on resources might inform the work itself. Keep in mind that this is a short film, not a feature. Biting off more than you can chew in terms of scope and duration is risky, so settling on how long a short should be is important.

The New York Film Academy says 10-15 minutes is an ideal time reference, but there are no hard and fast rules, so stay modest! Keeping your film short will not only mean less production work but make it easier to share too.

Pre-production Work  

If filmmaking can be broken into 3 stages, then the first is pre-production. For a first short film, you will find that the effort you give here will save struggle later. In formalizing the design of the film, assets like a script and storyboards will be invaluable from day one. 

What’s great is that this bit often benefits from being a solo effort. Writing a script or screenplay tends to be done alone, with a typewriter or computer – even a pen and paper if necessary! Here you’ll develop story, narrative, dialogue, and each scene for yourself primarily, but particularly for anyone you may involve. 

Storyboarding is more about sketching shots and how the camera will be shooting sequences. Some of the best are done by hand, but free software such as Storyboarder can be faster and more versatile.

How to make a short film by yourself - pre-production and planning (storyboarding)

Restricted Resources

Moving on from the writing stage, where it can be easy to let the project stall when working alone, the production bit is calling. This is where limitations on the crew, actors, props, costumes, locations, etc., may hit home.

An important first tip here is to use reality as much as possible. Think about how real places, real settings or environments, and even sequences can be used, manipulated, or blended with any staged dramatic action.

Secondly, during filming, be sure to get basics like lighting right the first time and shoot more footage than you need.

How to make a short film by yourself

People and places

Many short films either star the maker exclusively, their family, or willing volunteers. For his debut movie Clerks (1994), director Kevin Smith used the convenience store, where he worked, as a set. His onscreen role as Silent Bob was a unique way to make a non-speaking cameo among a cast of friends and local acting hopefuls. 

Much of the “action” was predominantly people talking, with the amateur performances and cheap black-and-white camerawork deemed stylish. Follow-up effort Mallrats (1995) added polish but again showed how real locations could drive a simple narrative when the Universal backlot is unavailable!

Clerks (1994) - Budget filmmaking
Clerks (1994)

Camera considerations

Unless you are planning a Pixar-style animated short, you’ll be needing a camera of some kind. Two issues exist here; what device to use on a budget and how to operate it if you are both director and star!

Which camera to use for filmmaking by yourself

Thanks to modern smartphones, the recording of high-quality video footage has never been more accessible. At the top end, for example, the iPhone 12 shoots 720p, 1080p, 4K, and even HDR at rates up to 60fps. Features like auto-focus, cinematic video stabilization and time-lapse, etc., also help greatly to automate filming.

More modest or older Apple or Android phones will still perform brilliantly here, so the trick is experimenting. Test shoot and look at how the results appear on bigger screens. 

Unless you want MTV-style, hand-held camerawork, you will need a tripod or clamp and an external microphone for capturing better sound.

Software solutions

Software can be like a virtual crew when working alone. A free mobile app like CamTrackAR for iOS can assist during filming by capturing 3D camera motion tracking data alongside the video. Putting post-production power into your phone, CamTrackAR is a godsend when compositing 3D models, graphics, or animation into scenes.

Use CamTrackAR 3D tracking app to make a short film by yourself
CamTrackAR for iOS

With enough footage collected and shooting complete, you’ll then need an editing suite. None are more affordable and easy to learn than HitFilm Express, free to download for Windows and macOS.

HitFilm on Hand  

Essential for finalizing any video project, HitFilm provides many hands for not only editing your short film but also as free VFX software. Regardless of how ambitious the project is, the suite can sprinkle blockbuster stardust onto a low-budget, solo shoot.

HitFilm Pro - software for filmmakers
HitFilm Pro

Five hot HitFilm features most pertinent to short success:

  1. Adaptive Trimmer – Shorten times with the ability to trim shots and re-trim clips already added to the timeline.
  2. Color correction & grading – Correct unbalanced footage in terms of exposure or white levels, contrast, and color. Grading applies a cinematic tone or style, with presets ensuring consistency across clips.
  3. Keying & extraction – Using green screening, location limitation is no more thanks to broadcast quality chroma keying. Put what actors you have anywhere! 
  4. Built-in audio recorder – Add voiceovers or story narration from within the editor before fine-tuning all sounds and adding effects with the mixer.
  5. Animation import – Use a mixture of media by bringing in and compositing animated elements, effects, and Blender models across leading 3D formats.

Far from an exhaustive list of tools you’ll use, HitFilm also includes important options such as text and titling. The ability to start and end with slick intro and credit sequences can’t be understated, along with extras including jittery footage repair and adjustments for GoPro 360-degree video.

Ready for Release?

With HitFilm harnessed to edit a short into shape, your film will be ready to share in no time. Thankfully, getting any creative content to an audience is equally easy and affordable for budget blockbusters.  

Showing your film on a platform like YouTube is especially cool because viewers can post comments, feedback, and tips. Rub shoulders with inspiring channels like Film Riot and Corridor Digital that stream epic short films made on limited budgets. 

Independent Filmmakers Corridor Digital - Mad Max: Roadkill BBQ
Mad Max: Roadkill BBQ (Corridor Digital)

Reddit communities like r/filmmakers or r/hitfilm and filmmaking blogs can similarly provide support or technical advice to lonesome producers. 

How to make a short film by yourself

Making a short film might seem like a challenge, but don’t let it put you off. Follow these steps and you’ll be the next Scorsese in no time at all. Just you wait!

  1. Come up with a great concept

  2. Take your time to plan

  3. Get creative with your restrictions

  4. Ask friends or family to star or help out

  5. Invest in a tripod and a decent microphone

  6. Use free software as a ‘virtual crew’

  7. Learn from and collaborate with others in the filmmaking community

  8. Share your film on free platforms like YouTube or Reddit

And remember – icons of modern independent cinema all had their formative years. With some vision and resourcefulness, you never know, you really could be the new Steven Soderbergh or Sofia Coppola!

Learn more about filmmaking on the FXhome YouTube channel, or check out our top 11 tips for filmmaking on a budget.

The post How to make a short film by yourself appeared first on FXhome.

How to Create Scarlet Witch’s Magic Effects Fri, 08 Jan 2021 16:00:00 +0000 Learn how to create Scarlet Witch's dazzling magic effects using some simple grades, the Particle Simulator, and interactive lighting! Follow along for free in HitFilm Express or take it to the next level with HitFilm Pro.

The post How to Create Scarlet Witch’s Magic Effects appeared first on FXhome.

Join our special guest – Zach Alan – in this action-packed Marvel tutorial to learn how to create Scarlet Witch’s magic effects, as seen in Avenger’s Infinity War. This tutorial was inspired by the upcoming release of WandaVision; you can follow along in HitFilm Pro or in HitFilm Express with the “3D: Particles” and “Motion: Audio Visual” Add-ons.

Step 1: Create a HitFilm composite shot 

Import your footage into the HitFilm Media panel and use it to create a Composite Shot, then duplicate the layer.

Step 2: Isolate the hand

Add a Difference Key effect to the duplicate layer, selecting the original footage layer as the source, then on the timeline, shift the duplicate layer by two frames – the Difference Key effect is used to show any differences between the two layers which in this case is the position of the hand as the camera isn’t moving. Hiding the original footage layer will allow you to better see the effect.

Isolating the hand using the Difference Key

On the duplicate layer adjust the key settings to better isolate the hand, then use an animated mask to make sure that nothing else is visible.

Step 3: Create the subtle flowing energy effect

Add a Fill Color effect to make the duplicate layer white, a Blur effect to soften the result, and expand it. To brighten up the effect, you can use a Crush Blacks And Whites effect. 

To make the layer appear more energy like, add an Atomic Particles effect, in the Number of Particles dropdown menu:

  • Increase the X and Y Resolution to the max
  • Increase the size slightly
  • Reduce the Random settings.

To distort the shapes within the Fractal settings:

  • Increase the Displace Strength
  • Decrease the Wavelength
  • Increase the Iterations and the Speed setting.

To reduce the appearance of the individual particles, add a small Blur effect. To make the energy effect appear sharper again, add a subtle Displacement effect. To add even more detail and motion to the effect add a Heat Distortion effect.

To add a pop of color, use the Color Vibrance effect. If you’re using Express you can replace this with another effect such as Gamma or Curves to do so. Adding multiple Glow effects whilst consecutively increasing the Radius each time will make the Glow falloff look more realistic.

Setting the blend mode of the flowing energy effect

Lastly, unhide the original footage layer, and set the duplicate layer’s Blend Mode to Add.

Step 4: Create the intense flowing energy effect

Use HitFilm’s tracking tools to track the motion of the actor’s palm. Then, drag a Particle Simulator onto the timeline and in the Emitter settings, attach it to the tracked Point layer.

Trim the start of the Particle layer so it starts when the energy build-up will begin. In the Particle System Movement settings, increase the Speed and decrease the Life so the particles move quickly and disappear before getting too far away from the hand.

Under Appearance, select the Aurora Borealis texture and enable Align to Motion, so the particles angle towards the direction they are moving in. Next, set the Blend Mode to Add, and increase the Particles Per Second to 500 at the start, animate this value to increase over a second, tripling the Particles Per Second to make it seem like the energy is building up over time. Lastly, enable Motion Blur.

With the Particle System selected, open up the Lifetime panel and the Alpha parameter. Set the Type to Gradient, and add a black point at the start and end of the gradient. You should also lower the brightness of the middle point until the particles are no longer too bright. To make the particles appear less uniform, under the Movement Variation dropdown menu alter the Life, Scale, and Speed to your preference, then, set the layer’s Blend Mode to Add.

To introduce some more interesting movement to the particles, copy and paste the Displacement, Heat Distortion, Color Vibrance, and Glow effects from before and adjust the settings making sure you reduce the intensity of the Glows and add a Diffuse effect to soften it.

Step 5: Add some interactive lighting

Create a new black Plane and add the Custom Light Flares effect using the tracked Point layer as the Hotspot Position. Then open up the Options dialogue. Select the Anamorphic Spiked preset and adjusted some of its colors to be red to match the energy. Animate the Intensity of the flare to increase when the particles start emitting, and to increase again closer to the end of the shot. You can also add some flicker to the light flare by adding more keyframes to the Intensity or Scale, or by adding a Flicker effect.

To help the bright energy effects fit into the scene better, add some interactive lighting – ideally, this would be done on set while filming using a red light, but it can also be done using VFX. To create this effect, duplicate the footage layer and make it red using a Luminance Key effect and a Tint effect. Mask this new layer to show up where the energy would be casting light, such as the actor’s face, and set the layer’s Blend Mode to Add.
Adding a slight flicker effect to this plane allows the flare to match the quickly changing energy. You should also animate the Opacity of this layer to increase as the energy’s brightness increases.

To fine-tune the shot, add a new Grade layer and use the Curves effects to create the final color grade making the dark areas of the image bluer, and the bright areas warmer and redder. You can also use various lighting effects to enhance the bright energy such as Glow, Lens Dirt, and Anamorphic Lens Flare.

Step 6: Add an energy beam

If you are using HitFilm Pro, or have the “VFX: Neon Lights” Add-On for Express, create two Point layers tracked to the hand position and the target position. On a black Plane, add the Lightsword Ultra (2 Point Auto) effect, setting the Hilt and Tip positions to the corresponding Point layers. Decrease the Width settings to create a thin beam, keeping the end closer to the camera slightly wider. Increase the Distortion on the Core and adjust the Distortion settings to make a fast-moving energy beam that looks like lightning. Set the Glow Color to white, and add some fast-moving Distortion to it as well. Then, duplicate this layer multiple times, changing the seed for the Distortion’s noise, and changing the overall width.

To create the effect of energy particles firing along the beam, duplicate the effect again, removing the Glow effect, increase the Distortion amount, change the Noise Type, and increase the Animation Speed. Once again, duplicate this effect and change the seed to fill out the beam more.

 To make the ends of the energy beam appear to emit from and target their Point layers, add Bulge effects tracked to the Points to pinch the beam at each end. Finally, give this energy beam the same treatment as the other energy effects, adding color, Glows, Heat Distortion, Light Flares, and interactive lighting.

The final Scarlet Witch effect!

And there you have it! You’ve successfully created your own Scarlet Witch magic effect in HitFilm! Had fun with this effect? Check out some of the other tutorials over on the FXhome YouTube channel

The post How to Create Scarlet Witch’s Magic Effects appeared first on FXhome.

FXhome’s New Year’s Wrap-Up Thu, 31 Dec 2020 14:25:00 +0000 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone, so we wanted to end it on a high note with a video featuring our amazing community! Together, we've accomplished an huge amount this year. Read on to find out about the lovely things that have happened within our community!

The post FXhome’s New Year’s Wrap-Up appeared first on FXhome.

For our very last video of the year, we wanted to collaborate with our amazing community! 2020 has been a very challenging year for everyone, yet together, we’ve accomplished an incredible amount. To end things on a high note, we got to hear about the wonderful things our community has been able to do and create in the midst of it all.

Through the ups and downs of 2020, our team has been working very hard to bring out some awesome releases such as HitFilm 16 and our first-ever iOS app CamTrackAR. We’ve also updated Imerge and Ignite, seen your fantastic entries from the ‘Inside the Box’ and ‘SCARE US! In 20 seconds’ competitions. Our community has been reignited with an update to our forums and has expanded to a whopping size of over 5.8 million users! With your help through Pay-What-You-Want, we have raised over $210,000 for good causes and charities such as WWF, Doctors Without Borders, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and the Australian wildfires, just to name a few. 

To find out more about the amazing things our community has been up to, our hopes and wishes for 2021, and more, click here

The post FXhome’s New Year’s Wrap-Up appeared first on FXhome.

How to Turn Any Footage Into a Snow Scene With VFX Thu, 24 Dec 2020 16:32:00 +0000 Learn how to create a winter scene from everyday footage with some simple mattes, 3D camera tracking, and the Particle Simulator. Follow along for free in HitFilm Express or take it to the next level with HitFilm Pro.

The post How to Turn Any Footage Into a Snow Scene With VFX appeared first on FXhome.

Learn how to create a winter scene from everyday footage with some simple mattes, 3D camera tracking, and the Particle Simulator. Follow along for free in HitFilm Express or take it to the next level with HitFilm Pro. This tutorial was inspired by Ignace Aleya’s original tutorial on YouTube but follows a slightly different technique to get the end result.

Step 1: Get a hold of some footage

We got hold of some foggy overcast stock footage for this particular tutorial but that doesn’t mean you can’t shoot something yourself. Just make sure there’s a good range of contrast in the shot – highlights and brighter areas will later become the snow and the darker areas will become what the snow sits on, so keep this in mind when you’re filming.

Step 2: Create a HitFilm composite shot


Import the footage into the HitFilm Media panel and use it to create a Composite Shot, then duplicate the layer. The bottom layer in the Composite Shot is going to remain the same, we named ours “Original Ground” to differentiate it. The duplicate layer is what we’re going to turn into the snow – we’ll call it “Main snow”.

Step 3: Isolate the snowy areas

Next, we need to start isolating the areas of the footage where we want the snow to be. Note that how this is achieved may vary depending on the shot you’re working with (but you should usually be able to use most of the same techniques we have).

We’re using the brighter areas of our shot which – fortunately – lines up nicely with how snowfall would naturally rest. This is why mid-day or overcast conditions work best for this effect as the light comes directly from above.

Add the Tint effect to the ‘Main snow’ layer, make sure the effect is set to black and white, and move the strength slider all the way up. This ensures that there is no unwanted color on the layer and that our snow stays white.

Choosing the blend mode

Next, we want to make sure that all of our dark areas stay dark. To do this we can set the blending mode of the ‘Main snow’ layer to ‘Lighten’. This allows us to only show pixels that are lighter than the corresponding pixel in the layer underneath. HitFilm has a total of 20 blending modes to achieve different effects when compositing.

Finally, we want to make sure that our effect is only including the areas that we want to appear snowy. For this, we can use a curves effect. The nature of how you achieve this will depend entirely on the footage you’re using. Make broad adjustments first, then tweak to achieve the desired look. This is more art than science, so see what works best for you.

Step 4: Handling the sky

Masking the sky

In the footage we’re using, the sky is already quite bright. Because we’ve boosted the exposure on our ‘Main snow’ layer this causes our trees in the background to look a bit weird and ‘blown out’. There’s an easy fix however – just mask out the top of the footage and then create an additional layer with this mask inverted to handle the top half of the image separately. Then just tweak your settings on the new layer until it looks right.

Step 5: Tracking the scene

Tracking the scene using the Camera Tracker

Adding snow to the ground and the trees is one thing, but how about some falling snow? To achieve this part of the effect you will need the Particle Simulator and the 3D Camera Tracker which are both included with HitFilm Pro.

Go to your original ground layer and apply the Camera Tracker effect and hit ‘Track Features’ to start tracking the camera movement in your scene. This will tell HitFilm where to place the snow as our camera operator moves around. Once that’s complete, click ‘Solve Scene’ to give you the final track.

Now we want to select a ground plane to tell the tracker where the ground is and how to track the scene. To do this, simply select a few tracking points that are on the ground, and then go to the Camera Tracker menu at the bottom-left of the viewer panel, ‘Ground Plane’ > ‘Set to Selected’.

Step 6: Creating the snow particles

Now we can add our particle simulator effect to the composite to generate our falling snow. We obviously want the snow to look like it’s coming from everywhere (and from above), rather than a single point on the ground, so we’ll go to ‘Emitters’ > ‘Emitter’ and adjust the ‘Width’ and ‘Height’ settings to cover the entire scene and adjust the Y position (the second value in the ‘Position’ settings) so that our emitter is above our entire scene too.

Next we want to change the texture of our particles from a boring white dot to something that looks a bit more like snow. Luckily HitFilm has some built-in snow textures under ‘Particle Systems’ > ‘Particle System’ > ‘Appearance’ > ‘Texture Source’ > ‘Built-In’.

Step 7: Making the snow fall naturally

To make our snow look like actual snow, we want to make sure it moves in the same way that real snow would. To achieve this, the first thing we want to do is set the ‘Speed’ under ‘Particle Systems’ > ‘Particle System’ > ‘Movement’ to zero. This will ensure our snowflakes look like they’re only falling through the air, rather than being launched through it.

Now it’s time to make some gravity! We can do this by going to ‘Forces’ and clicking the green ‘+’ button to add a new force and set the strength to 5% so it looks like our snow is quite light and falling on Earth rather than somewhere like Jupiter (did you know it rains diamonds on Jupiter because of the intense pressure? You’ll definitely need more than an umbrella to protect yourself from that!)

Adding turbulence as a force in the particle simulator

Now our snow is falling, but it still doesn’t look quite right, and that’s because it’s falling directly downwards. Where there’s snow, there’s usually at least a bit of wind that sends it scattering all over the place, so we’ll need to introduce another force to simulate that wind. Add a second force to the particle simulator and change the type from ‘Direction’ to ‘Turbulence’. Tweaking the settings of this force will give different effects, depending on if you’re going for a nice snowy day or a full-on blizzard. You can also add additional directional forces or adjust the direction of your gravity force to simulate wind blowing the snow in a particular direction.

Step 8: Fine-tuning your particle simulation

Once you’ve got your tracking, appearance, and behavior sorted, it’s much easier to make adjustments to your snowfall to fit the scene.

You’ll want to adjust the ‘Life’ of the particles under ‘Particle Systems’ > ‘Particle System’ > ‘Movement’ so that the particles die out once they hit the ground. Rather than just trying to do this by eye, it’s possible to switch to another view mode (top left of the viewer panel) to see where they should disappear in reference to our existing ground plane.

Going into the ‘Lifetime’ panel, we can also set the ‘Alpha’ of the particles (their transparency) to a gradient. This means that the particles will fade out over time so they don’t disappear abruptly at the end.

And there you have it! You’ve successfully changed the weather (and you didn’t even have to do a rain dance). Had fun with this effect? Check out some of the other tutorials over on the FXhome YouTube channel.

The post How to Turn Any Footage Into a Snow Scene With VFX appeared first on FXhome.

How to create a Cyberpunk 2077 scene Wed, 23 Dec 2020 11:15:34 +0000 Transport yourself into the neon-lit, futuristic world of Cyberpunk 2077 using Unreal Engine 4, HitFilm, and our free iOS app CamTrackAR.

The post How to create a Cyberpunk 2077 scene appeared first on FXhome.

Learn how to transport yourself into the neon-lit, futuristic world of Cyberpunk 2077! Using Unreal Engine 4, HitFilm, and a live-action greenscreen plate filmed using CamTrackAR (our free iOS app), Javert shows us how it’s done.

Step 1: Recording your footage with CamTrackAR

We used our free iOS app, CamTrackAR, to capture our scene. CamTrackAR records both video and camera tracking data at the same time using Apple’s ARKit. This means that you can film a subject against a green screen whilst simultaneously retrieving the tracking data. However, it must be noted that any parts of your subject that are not in front of your green screen will need to be rotoscoped.

Step 2: Using Unreal Engine 4 to create your environment

For textures, we used Quixel Bridge for its large library of photo-real Megascans.

Within Unreal Engine 4, to automatically generate the hills and dips on the surface we used a landscape and an alpha brush. Additionally, vertex painting was used for more control for elements such as the street and how the textures looked (as it allows you to directly paint textures onto your mesh). 

Vertex painting does not work directly on landscapes, so we had to use an exported plane mesh created using Blender. Once scaled up whilst in the edit mode (activated using the Tab key), we right-clicked on the plane and pressed subdivide; this action was repeated twice for more vertices. Once completed, this plane was exported out of Blender as an FBX and imported into Unreal.

Quixel Bridge was used to create the asphalt street and concrete textures before being imported into the Unreal project. Once the textures were selected in Unreal, you can select Create Material Blend, using the Megascans plugin button, to combine all of the materials into one. Once done, you can go into mode, select Mesh Paint, and adjust the brush size. Using the different channels, you can paint the materials onto the scene. Within master materials, you have further control of how the materials appear, such as how they blend using height maps, resulting in a more realistic blend. 

Megascan meshes were also used for the street curbs and sidewalks.

Step 3: Using decals for grungy detail

Decals work like stickers which you can add on top of your meshes, they work best on smoother textures. In this project they were used for the road lines and debris around the trashcans.

Step 4: Using Brushify Urban Buildings Pack for an urban cityscape

Brushify – Urban Buildings pack (found on the Epic Games Market place) was used to create a realistic street setting, ready to import our CamTrackAR footage.

Step 5: Adding 3D Sketchfab models

Sketchfab glTF 3D models were used for the motorbikes, neon signs, and road lights. To import the models, you’ll first need to enable them inside the plugin section. If the model imports itself in multiple pieces, you can drag them all inside your scene or create a blueprint to combine them into one layer.

Step 6: Adding Lighting

A couple of different lights were utilized to bring the scene to life. A keyframed directional light helped create the illusion of lightning in the scene while the neon lights that filled the scene were created using rectangle lights because their height and width can be easily adjusted to help integrate them into the shot.

Step 7: Adding atmosphere with  Exponential Height Fog

Exponential Height Fog was utilised to create a haze throughout the scene. Using fog within the scene not only helps create a level of realism but allows you to create a sense of depth.

The Unreal Engine lights interact nicely with the fog too. Checkmark Volumetric Fog to allow them to defuse realistically in the haze, and use the Volumetric Scattering Intensity slider to customize the defusion to your liking.

Step 8: Importing CamTrackAR data

Import the .hfcs that comes from the CamTrackAR export into Blender and then export the camera data as an FBX following these steps:

  • Delete the default camera and cube.
  • File > Import HitFilm AR Tracking Data (you’ll need our HitFilm Exporter to do this)
  • Export the camera as an FBX (File > Export FBX), and in the Bake Animation dropdown, be sure to set the Simplify to 0. This prevents it from smoothing out the tracking data. 
  • In Unreal Engine, go up to Cinematics, Add Level Sequence. This will create a timeline inside of Sequencer, which is how you edit the video.
  • Go to the Actions dropdown, select Import, then choose your FBX file. On the pop-up menu, ensure that only the Create Cameras tickbox is checked.
  • Set the Sequence to 60fps using the dropdown menu above the Sequence timeline, and you’ll notice that the camera now moves as it did in the real world.
  • If you’d like to adjust the camera’s position but not mess up the tracking data. Create an Empty Actor within the scene under Place Actors > Basic > Empty Actor and attach the actor to it.
  • Move the Empty Actor to get the camera in the correct position.
  • Finally, adjust the Camera sensor width and height to be 16×9, matching the shot’s final aspect ratio.

Step 9: Exporting from Unreal to HitFilm

Once you’re happy with how to shot looks in Unreal Engine, you’ll need to export it by clicking Render As Movie, leaving it as a 4k AVI file. Leaving it as 4k (even if your scene in HitFilm will only be 1080p) gives you a lot more detail.

Inside HitFilm, import the greenscreen footage and the background shot we just exported from Unreal Engine.

The final step is to composite the actor into the scene by masking out any props or areas of the shot we don’t want to see, adding the Chroma Key effect to the background, and finally, color-match the two plates using Curves, Hue, Saturation & Lightness, and other stylizing effects like Bleach Bypass, Chromatic Aberration, and a Vignette.

The full tutorial can be found below or at the top of this blog if you’d like to follow along.

The post How to create a Cyberpunk 2077 scene appeared first on FXhome.