Planning Visual Effects On Set

Tuesday September 30th, 2014.

When it comes to Visual Effects, there’s a lot more to think about than, let’s say, ‘’oh I want a Fireball in my video.’’ This Summer, for the first time, I included Visual Effects in one of my videos. Okay, maybe I got some things blurred in the past or a boom pole hidden, but I mean cool effects, something more or less complex. Or complex to me, since I don’t work in VFX.

I got talking with some people, emailing some companies and such. Of course this was for a promo so I had to keep the costs as close to $0 as possible. So I knew I wanted to go the simpler route to begin with. We’ll have the epic magic battle in the actual series once we have an actual budget.

So my fireball. I spoke to several people who gave me some good advice, saying the more you do ON SET, the better it is in order to save time and money in post-production. Not always possible to do everything on set but if you can manage certain simple things, it just enhances the end result.

The Frame! You want it simple? Have one shot, unmoving, subject unmoving. Getting the movement of creating the fireball-to-be was simple enough too. I was told that if you’re in battle, with several camera angles, several subjects, you need to calculate for each shot, each main movement, the position of each actor, distance from the camera, distance from each other, wanted trajectory of the fireball if it’s thrown. (Oh là là!) So we’ll have that later. For now, we went for simple.

The Light! You create a fireball. Well, fire creates light. (Okay, Binky, tell us something we don’t know). Well, if you create a fireball, you want to cast a light on the subject’s face at the moment that the fireball is created, at the right angle, and at that, the right kind of light. That part is easy. We had someone hold a spotlight, that had an orange filter on it. It happened to be a spotlight that has a warm and cold setting. Usually I turn on both warm and cold, but for this we used only warm. And my friend who was holding the light, made it ‘’flicker’’ a bit to make it look more authentic.

Sound! Now that all that was done on set, the clip sent to the VFX guy who added the fireball, I needed Sound Effects. I had 2 choices. Either A: Go to my sound guy or B: Foley it myself so it wouldn’t cost anything. I like foley, it’s fun. And I had a BRILLIANT idea (See what I did just there!). The only question was whether it would actually give a good result or not. What was my idea? The Barbecue. I had my husband ignite the barbecue, while I held the shotgun mic, set to directional, angled downwards, less than a foot above the grills. We made a few tries. Then I went downstairs to listen to the result. It gave the wanted effect. So I added that to my video and boom (or more like vwoosh!). We had a fireball with proper light and proper SFX.

Here’s an image of the fireball. You can see the orangey light that shines on my face at the appropriate angle. If you click on the image, it will direct you to the actual video if you wish to see and hear the fireball in action. Feel free to leave comments about it or about any other part of the promo below the video.



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