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Special Effects: Day-for-night, Fake Rainstorm, Sped-up Background

We show you how to pull off three simple special effects using just the camera and the subject's reaction to sell the illusion. Learn how to make realistic looking rain for your video shoots, speed up the background of your videos and how to shoot during the day and make it look like the night.

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Video Transcript

This time we’re gonna take a look at some of the more simple special effects that don’t require a great amount of time to be spent in post-production. The first thing we’re gonna be taking a look at is how to create rain that looks very realistic without having to do it in a non-linear editor.

After that we’re gonna take a look at how to speed up your background and after that we’re gonna take a look at DFN or shooting during the day to create a very night-time look. I’m Tom Skowronski and this is Simple Special FX.

Now in order to pull off realistic-looking rain you’re gonna need the right materials. First off you’re gonna need a bucket, poke some holes in there, make sure that when you get the water inside of it, it’s gonna be able to leak and look very realistic. Also you’re gonna need the use of a garden hose and a sprinkler head. Lastly you’re gonna need a ladder or step stool.

Now some simple tips when trying to pull off this effect; number one, make sure that your ladder stands at a distance away from your subject. Otherwise, on camera, you might get some shadowing from that ladder or step stool.

Another thing you need to pay a close attention to is the amount of distance between the bucket and where the water is landing and where the subject is standing with the umbrella. Another tip that you’re gonna need to pay close attention to is you’re gonna need a ladder or step stool that’s tall enough so that when you stand the rain has enough time to fall down naturally. If it doesn’t fall down naturally it’s not gonna look correct.

Now in terms of framing you want to make sure you composite your shot with a medium, and the reason for that is because once the bucket is emptying out all the water it’s not gonna look natural if it’s hitting a subject only in this direction while you have all this empty space with no water coming down. You want to make sure that you seal off that area so only your effect is captured.

Now the next step in this process is you need to make sure that you sell the effect. What does that mean? That means you need an umbrella, you need to wear a thick, thick jacket, and you need to make sure you have the right attire for dealing with the rain.

So whether it’s hot outside or cold outside you need to make sure you’re dressed accordingly to pull off this effect.

Now the last part in this process is to add some Foley and get the sound of your rain. You want to make sure you have the most accurate tone to pull it off. Now for most of you that means going to the Internet and finding those sounds but if you want to get creative and have some fun a good way to do this is just to grab a bag of pinto beans, empty it inside of a PVC pipe, seal off both ends and slowly move that PVC pipe back and forth. That’s gonna give you the sound of rain and it’s gonna sound perfect.

Now another way to go about this is to grab your garden hose and shoot the water directly into the air. This is gonna give the water enough time to fall naturally. As you can see this effect looks a lot more realistic.

Now next up we’re gonna take a look at a very simple special effect that’s actually very, very popular nowadays and that’s the sped-up background effect. Now first off the materials you’re gonna need is simply gonna be a sturdy tripod and your camera. You’re gonna need to make sure that you sell this one all in front of the camera.

Now the first step in pulling off this simple special effect is going to be to grab a shot of your subject reacting with the background. Now how does this work? This works by, first, having the subject react as if he or she is in slow motion while the background stays at its standard speed.

Now the last step to pulling off this effect is putting it into your non-linear editor and simply raising the speed of your overall clip. Since your subject worked in slow motion it’s gonna look like he’s at normal speed while the background is gonna seem extremely sped up.

Now there is another way to go about this simple special effect. It involves grabbing two separate shots and cropping them together in your non-linear editor. Now for example what we did is grabbed a shot of one subject downtown in an area that didn’t have a lot of background activity.

Then we grabbed a separate but identical shot of a background that did have a lot of activity. In our non-linear editor we then composited them together by cropping them and slowed down the shot of our subject while at the same time speeding up the secondary shot of our background. When these were put together we had the same sped-up background effect.

Lastly before trying this effect for yourself make sure you watch out for a few specific details. Number one, make sure that the wind is not gonna effect your clothing or your hair, otherwise, this will break the illusion.

Also if the subject is doing something that has other motion attached to it such as smoking a cigarette it’ll also break the emotion. These are things you want to avoid. Now the last simple special effect that we’re gonna be taking a look at is DFN or Day For Night, and this is where you can use your camera to make it look like, even though you’re shooting during the day, that you’ve actually shot at night time.

The first step to this process is you need to eliminate the skyline from the frame of your shot. The reason for this is you don’t want to see the sun in the background because it’s gonna break the illusion. The next thing you want to do is find some shade. You’re gonna shoot under the shade because this eliminates the shadows that are gonna be provided by the sun.

Also you’re gonna want to make sure that your actors on-screen make sure that they sell the effect properly. This means reacting to things in front of them that they’re not gonna be able to see. Also, it tends to be a little bit colder at night, so they need to dress accordingly.

The next step in this process is gonna involve your camera. You’re gonna need to, first, white balance your camera to something that is orange. This is gonna be a warmer color such as a manila envelope which is a great example of something to use because that will result in your camera thinking that it’s night time.

It’s gonna essentially trick your camera into having a cooler white balance. Next up you’re gonna want to make sure that you lower your exposure one or two stops lower than it normally is when you’re shooting during the day.

So for us we went down from F8 to F11, check that and then we went back down to F16. Now what we essentially just did is tricked our camera to match the conditions of an average nighttime environment.

You don’t necessarily need a huge emphasis on post-production techniques to pull off some simple special effects.

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dellwovideo's picture

radsonpro - The grain you are talking about is video noise. This is usually caused by your gain/ISO settings trying to automatically compensate for the low light. Make sure you set your gain/ISO to manual and use your lowest setting such as 100 ISO or 0 db gain. Otherwise it will try to compensate for what you're doing in the lens which results in that grain/video noise. If you can't set your camera gain/ISO to manual, then you're stuck shooting a bit brighter and then darkening the video in post. Play with the brightness and contrast till you find a look you like. Just be careful to apply the effect evenly across all your video so each shot matches up well.