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Pre-production for SFX shots

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  • Pre-production for SFX shots

    I'm not usually a thread starter, but I thought I'd toss in some advice about creating SFX and see what the response is.

    I often help out other filmmakers around LA and often find someone who has shot footage--and needs someone more skilled than they to finish the visual FX for the shot.

    Problem, often though, is that because they didn't know how the FX were going to be done, they didn't shoot their footage with any foreplanning. Not only that, but they often have little or no budget and expect the FX person to come in and work miracles at 2 cents an hour.

    In the Hollywood industry, special effects people are on hand to guide the director in acquiring footage that will facilitate the later adding of visual FX. They act as advisors as to how to shoot the live footage.

    For example: adding FX to a static shot is waaaaay easier than adding it to a moving camera shot. If your project is low budget, a static shot is the way to go.

    I'm doing pre-production on a short film of mine and I know I want to shoot all handheld to get that live, documentary feeling. I have a shot near the end where a car is blown up by a bomb. All FX will be added in post--no live fireworks.

    My plan is to shoot the parked car--at least 2 or 3 angles--with a static camera. After adding the fire, smoke, etc in post, THEN I'll add the camera wiggle to simulate a hand-held camera....not before.

    Hollywood films have huuu-uuge budgets so they can make almost anything happen on screen given enough time and money.

    But we small-time filmmakers need to prep beforehand and figure out how to accomplish something BEFORE we roll camera.

    We've all heard the term: "We'll fix it in post." This isn't really a viable working method. It's really an on-set joke...not to be taken seriously. This is something to say on set--then we all laugh--and then get busy fixing whatever we need to fix before we leave the, lighting, etc.

    I've been playing around with practical effects and visual effects for over 30 years -- and it's amazing what I can do with After Effects in half an hour.....something that took me two days in the past.

    Have an FX shot you want to accomplish? Post the idea here and we here at the forum can help you figure out the how-tos before you shoot.

    Kurt Hathaway
    VikingDream7 Productions
    Video Production & Editing