VFX Help Cause I Know Nothing


Hey, I’m planning on making a sort of sci-fi/comedy short, nothing too complicated, but I do need to know how to make like rays of light and shapes (Like a keypad in midair) and stuff. I can’t find any tutorials on this. How were the effects at the end of this Rocketjump short made?



Hey! So I outsourced the VFX on the above short, but what would be the most useful would be to get a bit more detail on exactly what your VFX shots are - ideally either finding similar shots in other films, or loose storyboard sketches. That way we have a visual reference to break down what kind of techniques might get you the results you want.


Thanks, I see what you’re saying. So far in my planning, I could cheat and not use effects but that’s kinda lame. If it’s possible to do, I wanna make a shockwave go thru the city. I got a drone so I figured I’d use that for the shot. Would it be easier to just get a 3d city? Like the one video copilot sells? This picture isn’t quite it but it gives the basic idea I guess.

Also, there is sort of a flux capacitor type thing, it would be awesome if I can get it to glow. I’ll add LED’s but I’m thinking that awesome sci-fi thing.
I think this shot is from Dimension 404. I don’t know if it’s just cool lighting or it’s VFX.

Hahaha, I’m such a noob, all the staff at rocket jump is probably laughing at me. Just joking. Or am I?


So I’m not specialized in VFX, but at this point in the conversation I still think I can be of some use :stuck_out_tongue:

So the big consideration for the city shot is what if any camera movement is involved. If you’re stationary for the shot, or you’re panning around but the drone itself is stationary, that’s probably something you can handle in a program like After Effects (i.e. build the shot from 2D footage). What you’d probably end up doing would be rotoscoping/masking the shot into different layers, possibly using the 3D camera function in After Effects (it just lets you place flat, 2D assets on a 3D “z-axis”), which would let you have a “shockwave layer,” basically a ripple distortion, that you could have move through the layers, affecting them as it passes through them on the z-axis, if that makes any sense in concept. I’ve done a bit of After Effects work so that’s my first thought, though there may be a smarter way about it. This would probably be easiest if your photographic elements were essentially static (just freeze frames), and the shot itself was just digitally created off those assets, though you could do it with moving footage too.

If you’re envisioning a shot with an actual camera move, like having the drone dive or something, it’s still possible within After Effects using the footage as a plate, but you’ll be getting into more complicated motion tracking between each frame, which is outside of my personal experience, though it’s doable. The main thing to think about is maybe how you see the shockwave affecting the landscape - if it’s basically just a ripple distortion, you can probably do it with footage you just shoot, though the effect itself may be on the simpler side.

These are both likely much less time-consuming than doing a full 3D shot, which is a whole other can of worms if you’ve not had experience with it. I would suggest trying to find a way to do it with 2D footage you shoot yourself given your limited experience with VFX, since that’s a good “stepping stone,” and more likely achievable.

The Dimension 404 lens flare may be entirely in-camera (it’s just actually a lens flare), or it’s possibly enhanced in post with more lens flare, basically. This is quite simple, and an online search for adding “lens flares” should get you covered, technique-wise. You’ll basically be adding a glow or flare element in a layer, and then setting the transparency and maybe adding an edge glow, etc., until it achieves what you want. This is potentially something you can do in your video editing program directly if you have transparency settings available. If you have Photoshop experience, this is exactly the same concept as adding a glow layer in Photoshop, just on a video timeline.

If this was all gibberish, no problem, just let me know! :stuck_out_tongue: If you feel a bit uncomfortable with the basic concepts of VFX (not how you actually achieve it in-software, but just the basic ideas), then I’d recommend looking up VFX breakdowns for recent movies; there’s a lot of great stuff on YouTube that, while it doesn’t thoroughly explain the whole process, does often visualize how things are broken down into individual elements that combine together into a final shot. Having a loose familiarity with this is really helpful in my opinion. Basically, if this goes outside your comfort zone, that’s totally fine - it’s an approachable challenge if you have the interest and dedication. I recently went from basically zero VFX experience to cranking this out by myself. Granted, it took over a year to finish the VFX (odd hours of free time here-and-there), but you can definitely make it happen! And yes, that’s halfway a shameless self-plug, but I think it illustrates my point :stuck_out_tongue:


Thank you so much for the awesome reply. I am a little confused about “rotoscoping/masking the shot into different layers”, but I’m pretty sure I can do the rest. This is a huge help.



So this video’s a bit on the slow side (and dated, in terms of software version), but it encapsulates the idea. If you jump through it, I think it’ll at least show the gist of the idea:


I totally get what your saying now, that’s awesome! I’ll give it a shot