The First and Golden rule of special effects in film is this "If it doesn’t advance the story then leave it out of the story."
Got it? If you don’t get it then read the previous sentence back to yourself. Keep doing that until you get what I am trying to say! The better film that usees special effects is one where you don’t realize that they are used. By all means have a car or a building blow up, but if its not tied into the story the audience will wonder what happened to get to that point.
If you know what effect you are looking for then watch a few films that have done it before. Learn about the effect and the creation technique behind it, a blue screen, explosives, CGI and a combination of the three have there own separate techniques all behind them and the more you know about them the better you can film it.
I’ll start with blue screen first. A very nice effect when used to its full effect, but also can give the people on you film a major headache. First Why a blue and on lesser occasion green screen, why not a red screen or an aqua screen, the reason is two fold. The first reason why you hardly ever see a RED screen is this. Look at your hand. More specifically the COLOUR of the skin on your hand. There is more of the base red colour in the pigmentation of our skin than the other 2 colours. So imagine yourself in front of a red screen. When all the red has been removed from the scene you may be left with same gaping holes in your body! And that’s something which is never good! The second reason is red is videos worst colour. It has a tendency to bleed over the other colours thus destroying the image or person you are tying to cut out! So a blue or green screen is best.
Ok so you have you object or actor in front of the blue screen, and you think you are all ready to shoot. WRONG! Check that the screen is lit evenly! Make sure there is no colour hotspots. Then make sure that the talent is not casting any shadow on the screen, usually the talent is far away from the screen to make sure that he cant make any change on the screen. Don’t move any of the lights that are on the screen, any change at all can make it harder for your special effects guru to create the effect
Always take a shot using the camera of the blue screen without anyone in front of it. You may need a back plat without anyone in front of if for the program to tell what it dose need to keep and what it doesn’t. But it is a good habit to get in anyway
If you do all the above to make sure the integrity of the screen is kept constant you shouldn’t have any problems. Apart from the actors that is!
Things that go BOOM can bring extra production value to your film, but also can be very dangerous, make sure you know what you are doing, if not bring in someone who does. As with any practical effect, go though countless dry runs before you do the actual take. Go though all contingency plans and it’s a good idea to have a first aid people standing by. You never know what can go wrong. But if you do it right and keep a eye on the safety of your crew it can defiantly add some WOW factor!
CGI is the most used type effect now, and doing it on location is a challenge to say the least. Whoever you are getting to do your effects get them on set during shooting any scene that requires cgi. What you are filming is the backing plate which the CGI tech will work with to add what extra elements you want. Same thing applies here make sure you do a few dry runs. Take notes on camera aperture, lighting conditions even angle of the shoot can help your CGI person here. Don’t leave anything out of the notes that you give him
Combining some or all of these elements can make a effect even better!
That’s it for this series. If you have any questions Comment other wise keep a lookout for the next one from yours truly!
Big Badda Boom!