Recent VFX Articles

'Chromaticity' Video Is a Magical Flight of Practical and Digital Effects

I'll be the first to say it, smoke bombs are usually too Tumblr for my taste. Generally you see them with a moody girl looking off into the distance in some backyard forest. I never got the point of those images. But I found myself mesmerized by "Chromaticity"; the smoke bombs were alive, more like wayward spirits hovering above the big blue. I was so entranced it took me half of the video to realize they were attached to drones, and the drones were nowhere to be seen.

Macro Photographer Creates Amazing Organic Video FX Inspired by the Big Bang

There isn't a great deal of macro cinematography and after drinking in this video, you might wonder "Why not?" German photographer and filmmaker Roman De Giuli creates beautiful and complex scenes using simple ingredients on areas sometimes smaller than the surface of a coin.

How to Create a Hyperlapse Video Tutorial

A few years ago, simple timelapse videos were all the rage. To spice things up, videographers started to add small camera movements to their timelapses using motorized sliders. Those small camera movements have become far more complex today as some of these camera movements are miles in length. These are called "hyperlapse" videos.

Behind The Scenes Of The Chemical Brothers 'Wide Open' Music Video

The Chemical Brothers new music video with Beck for the song "Wide Open" is the best music video I've seen in a long time. The premise is so simple; the entire video is one take of a girl dancing around a warehouse. What makes this video so compelling is that over time she becomes a 3D printed version of herself.

Creating the Bullet-Time Effect with an iPhone and Some String in 'Centriphone' Video

The term "centripetal" refers to a force that makes a body follow a curved path, and in this case, an iPhone 6 is that body. "Centriphone" is a play on that term, as an orbiting iPhone shoots super slow-motion footage of a skier at the center of its path, as they cut their way down the side of a snowy slope. This clearly takes selfies to the next level.

MPC's Work on 'The Martian' Impresses In This VFX Breakdown

Big movies mean big budgets, which usually mean big visual effects. The Moving Picture Company (better known as MPC) recently released another one of those mesmerizing VFX breakdown videos for their most recent feature film, “The Martian.” The breakdown reveals some aspects of the film and of Matt Damon's performance that were both challenging and impressive, like the fact that the helmets worn in the film didn't feature physical windscreens. Those were added later with matching reflections to the scenery.

World's First Drone Light Painting Rings In the Holidays with Style

Leave it to a German drone company to create the world's first light painting by drone with a fully programmed flight path, all to create one fantastic holiday time-lapse of Santa Claus delivering presents. Perhaps the most unique part of the project isn't the world-first of programming a drone to complete a multi-colored light painting, but is instead the reimagining of Santa Claus' method of delivery, as something more similar to that of your neighborhood newspaper boy with perfect accuracy.

How To Create A Realistic Lightsaber In Photoshop

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last year or so, you probably have noticed that the force is awakening! After a wait that has spanned a generation, Star Wars fans are finally getting a sequel to the saga that started in the seventies! With the arrival of Star Wars come hordes of its most endearing fans dressing up as their favorite Jedi or Sith heroes! Which means an awful lot of opportunity for photoshoots, but there is one problem. Those dull, plastic, toy, lightsabers just don't have the same epic feel that will do the rest of the costume justice. Luckily creating a lightstaber blade in Photoshop using visual effects is quite easy!

Can't Get Enough Lens Flare? This See-Through Lens Adapter Lets Light in, On Purpose

Matt Allard from has been hopping around Inter BEE 2015, an NAB-like exhibition that takes place in Japan, reporting on new video gear from established, as well as developing companies. In this particular video, he gets to try out a different type of lens adapter– one that is built specifically to let light leak in from the sides and flare the image as it's recorded in-camera.

Behind-the-Scenes Video for the Amazing Squatty Potty Commercial

If you've been on Facebook or hopping around YouTube's popular videos lately, chances are you've seen the video advert for the "Squatty Potty," a step stool used to make, well, going poop much easier on your body. Sound like a tricky concept to sell? See how a team of creatives turned an ad about a dookie-easing product into an Internet sensation.

'HASHTAG NOFILTER' Plays on Instagram Clichés Just in Time for Halloween

South Africa native Matthew Rycroft creatively combined creepy music, a creepy-looking dude, and some dark, chiaroscuro lighting techniques to create a video that brilliantly mocks the cliché Instagram accounts with which we're all too familiar. The final result is a well thought-out piece that's short and sweet and definitely leaves room for more.

Hyperlapse Shows Thousands of Years of Color and Culture Still Present in Modern Iran

Stanislas Giroux gets it. All of his videos have a common thread of featuring fantastic soundtracks. This video, "Curves of Iran," celebrates modern Iran's rich visual textures and — you guessed it — curves. Fitted to great music, fun (but fitting) sound effects to every cut, and a great overall tempo, this video makes use of hyperlapse-like cuts, but spares your brain from the monotony of yet another time-lapse by letting the actual shots play in real time once you've "arrived" at your new destination. Truly imaginative. And at the Giroux's request, I'll remind you to listen with headphones.

Behind The Scenes: Filming a Plane Crash

I have mad respect for Swedish independent film outfit Crazy Pictures for their big-budget cinematography skills that are being utilized on a moderately small budget with rigs and labor that are within reach of almost any videographer. They've put together an incredibly informative behind-the-scenes video that covers in detail the massive amount of work that goes into such a short segment of film.

Planetary Motion: Photographer Creates 3D Motion From NASA's New Moon Photos

Canadian Designer, Photographer, and Cinematographer Tom Kucy doesn't sleep. Less than two days after we reported on NASA's huge release of over 10,000 never-before-seen photos from the Apollo space missions, Kucy decided to work them into a project that involves taking these almost half-century old two-dimensional film images and converting them into moving, stereoscopic 3D photographs.

'Star Wars: The New Republic Anthology' Shows What Fan Films Can Bring

“Star Wars” fans around the world are patiently awaiting the arrival of “Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens” on December 18. That being said, the hype train has been running full steam ahead since the initial trailer for “The Force Awakens” was released almost 10 months ago. Since the release of “A New Hope” in 1977, “Star Wars” has created a fanatical fan base, with an expansive universe and many stories to be told. Fan films have been a part of that universe for many decades now, and they have gotten so big that “Star Wars” has an entire section of their site with awards dedicated to them.

A Simple Technique for Creating the Effect of Punching Someone Across the Room

Ryan and Josh Connolly of Film Riot always brings us the coolest do-it-yourself filmmaking and special effects tutorials. In this "rewind" episode (read: old) they show us how to create the killer effect of throwing someone clear across the room. What's doubly cool is how easily this can be done with just a still camera and software that most of us already have (Photoshop and After Effects).

A Brief Look at What It Takes to Create a CGI Character

We see computer-generated effects every day of our lives, but very few of us fully appreciate the amount of time and talent they take to create. It's easy to believe that these effects and characters are "computer-generated," but in reality, very talented artists are the ones creating this photo-realistic content; computers are simply the tool.

Fire Blowers, Slow Motion, And Bullet Time = Epic Video

This amazing two-minute video was created using 48 DSLR cameras stacked side-by-side and a RED Epic camera shooting at 120 fps. The result is an amazing video that combines fire, slow motion, and bullet time into one amazing spectacle.

SteadXP Aims to Stabilize All of Your Shaky DSLR and GoPro Video Footage

With impressive looking example videos and a relatively inexpensive price tag when compared to a MoVi or Ronin, the Kickstarter for the SteadXP has already blown past its fundraising goal. I wasn't sure what all the hype was about until I watched their video with before and after examples.

ReelSteady Software Can Make Your Shaky Videos Look Amazing

Normally I don't promote software based on their promo video alone but this video was so compelling I had to share it. The ReelSteady plugin for After Effects appears to be made of pure magic, taking cheap looking footage and making it look like Hollywood CGI.

Benedict Cumberbatch's Impressive Motion Capture Performance For The Hobbit

I've never been too impressed with the job of an "actor." I guess I've always thought that most people are capable of acting (pretending), they've just never tried it. I just ran across Benedict Cumberbatch's motion capture performance for the Hobbit and I have to say I was impressed.

Watch as 3-year-old "Action Movie Kid" Fends Off a Shark Attack in His Living Room

If you're into video effects (and are half the Calvin and Hobbes fan that I am) then you're really going to dig this fun, lighthearted, imagination fueled video created by Dreamworks animator Daniel Hashimoto. As part of Daniel's absolutely amazing personal project, "Action Movie Kid", son James repels the vicious advances of a great white shark, in an effort to save younger sister Sophia. Daniel promises us a proper behind-the-scenes video in the future but in the mean time offers up a great side-by-side video showing the before-and-after.

14-Year SNL Director of Photography, Alex Buono, on His Beginnings, Working for Free, and Advice for Film Students

When someone asks if you’ll be able to meet with a DP that has worked with NBC’s Saturday Night Live over the last decade and a half, you don’t exactly say, “No, thanks.” You’re simply guaranteed to get something great. Even coming from USC’s film school, it takes a lot to get that position. But, by his own admission, Alex Buono would be hard pressed to disagree that all it takes is attitude, persistence, and a little free work at the start.
Learn How to Collapse Time: 20 Minutes of Kite Flying Compiled into a 1 Minute Video

"The San Diego Studies", a series of short videos that collapse time to reveal otherwise unobservable rhythms and movement in the city is the product of filmmaker/photographer Cy Kuckenbaker. Shot in Tijuana Slough, San Diego County, this series showcases some impressive imagery/effects that Cy has been gracious enough to share with us. To see how this was done be sure to check out his "Making of Notes" video.

This Video Just Changed My Mind About CG Visual Effects In Movies

I've always been one to complain about poorly rendered computer graphics in modern movies. I thought I could easily pick out what was real and what was rendered on a computer. This video makes a compelling argument that there is such a thing is "good" CGI.

Check Out This Incredible Timelapse Footage Of Washington DC

I "met" Dan Dawley on craiglist over 5 years ago when Patrick and I were looking for an animator for our brand new website idea (Fstoppers). At the time, he was just getting into animation and none of us knew that Dan would become one of the top motion graphics animators in the country. Now, he's getting into video.

Behind The Scenes Of Tom Cruise's Mission Impossible Stunts

I'm a big fan of sci-fi and action movies but cheesy looking special effects have been destroying scenes more and more these days. Tom Cruise has become known for his incredible, self performed stunts; especially in the Mission Impossible series. This video covers all of Tom's most impressive and dangerous scenes in each of the MI movies.

How They Made That 'Game of Thrones' Scene So Darn Cool

"What the heck just happened?" I remember saying to a friend as we finished Season 5, Episode 8, "Hardhome" of Game of Thrones a few weeks ago. I was in a crowded bar with many other GoT fans as we all just sat in silence as the credits rolled. This was no "Red Wedding" but I still had that "Oh S***" feeling you get when everything hits the fan.

Los Angeles Filmmakers Show Us What 'Grand Theft Auto' Would Look Like in Real Life

In the growing wake of low-budget, special effect action minis whose audience has become larger and larger on YouTube, Sam and Niko's "Real GTA" steps the game up once more with a perfect assimilation of the popular "Grand Theft Auto" video game into real, Los Angeles life. Complete with sound effects recreated as similarly as possible within the actual game, the same Los Angeles street scenes, and smashing special effects (like the famous wads of cash exploding out of recently killed bystanders), "Real GTA" reminds us both how ridiculous and subsequently fun it is.

Create Realistic Lighting Effects Using Knoll Light Factory

Flare has become a huge part of modern photography for how it can add both depth and excitement to an image. Many of us have resorted to manually creating lighting effects using Photoshop or by layering pre-made textures above our photos. Red Giant, however, looks to replace and augment this rather tedious process with Knoll Light Factory.

'The Pavement' - an Interview with Director Taylor Engel

South Carolina-based Taylor Engel's short, "The Pavement" — which got him into the top 10 for HBO's Project Greenlight — had me enthralled the moment it began. Through its rhythmic delivery, simple visual nature, and dark aesthetic, it pulls us through a sinister human story that gets at our primal nature. Its simplicity is partly attributed to the needs of the story, and partly to the time frame in which it was created. Engel and his team planned and finished the film in just one month, all while working around their day jobs.

BTS Video Describes Process of Creating the Human-Like 'Ava' Robot In 'Ex Machina'

Hollywood's latest A.I. thriller, "Ex Machina," promised to take viewers on a fascinating and thrilling philosophical, ethical, and human journey. The Turing test, man's domination over machine, artifically intelligent machines' potential and perhaps inevitable self-awareness and domination over man, and an eccentric Silicon Valley-like billionaire-type leading the helm... how could this not be a great film? More on that later, but to make all of this happen, director Alex Garland and VFX supervisor Andrew Whitehurst had to create a robot that would connect so well with audiences that we would treat it as any other human character.

BTS Video Discusses Sound Design in 'Avengers: Age of Ultron'

As we all know, even the most stunning visuals require an equally amazing and unique soundtrack to bring the audience's emotions to their full potential. Supervising Sound Editor and Sound Designer Christopher Boyles from Skywalker Sound discusses his work and the burden of creating original sounds for "Avengers: Age of Ultron" that will stand the test of time.

Can Color Grading Affect Whether a Big-Budget Movie Like Superman Is a Success?

We've covered the pros and cons of color grading many times before on Fstoppers, though when it comes to big-budget movies like "Man of Steel" do you think its overall tone can decide whether it's a financial success? The guys at VideoLab have created a side-by-side comparison of what the latest Superman would look like if it was done the original way, in full saturated color rather than the darker, more gritty version we know today.

The Incredible VFX Work Behind the 'Game of Thrones' Season 4 Wight Ambush Scene

If you’re a fan of both the “Game of Thrones” series and filmmaking, then today’s your lucky day as HBO has uploaded to the Internet behind-the-scenes footage from the Season 4 finale, “The Children.” This featurette from the Blu-ray boxset shows how the visual effects team came up with the wight’s design for the ambush scene and how they implemented a blend of CGI and live-action to get everything looking right for showtime.

Funny BTS Video of 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' Brings Playing Pretend to a Whole New Level

With the worldwide release of "Avengers: Age of Ultron" just a few weeks away, we are being spoiled with an onslaught of new footage and behind-the-scenes photos of the upcoming superhero blockbuster. In this BTS video you can see just how much acting is needed to create the glorious action scenes we know and love in the Marvel cinematic universe.

Adobe's New Morph Cut In Premiere Pro CC Is Almost Like Magic

If you are a videographer or a photographer dabbling in video you know how much of a pain in the ass it can be cutting interview footage with just one camera angle. The feared "jump cut" in an interview can completely ruin the overall production and professionalism of your entire video project. Luckily, Adobe has recently debuted their new Morph Cut tool in Premiere Pro CC to help filmmakers fix this sometimes unavoidable problem.

How ‘Furious 7’ Created a CGI Version of Paul Walker For His Unfinished Scenes

With the untimely passing of Paul Walker midway through the production of Furious 7, now in theaters, it was questioned for months how they would replace the unfinished shots needed with the star. Many stories were circulated including the complete scrapping of the film, but with the help of CGI and Paul's brothers Cody and Caleb Walker they were able to finish the movie and fill in the gaps that Paul had not yet finished.

Yes, 'Fast and Furious 7' Actually Dropped Cars out of a C-130

Remember watching the trailer for "Fast and Furious 7" and chuckling to yourself about how unrealistic, improbable, and over-the-top it was to be air-dropping sports cars from a cargo aircraft thousands of feet above the ground? Me too. Just 24 hours after the release of the trailer, the filmmakers put out this featurette to prove us wrong.

'Watchtower Of Turkey' - Quite Possibly The Most Compelling Film You See This Year

How are you getting people to look at and engage with your work? This is something we all have to think about constantly in today’s visually saturated market place. It’s why it’s all the more important to look at – and learn from – those producing stunning and engaging work. Let me introduce you to Leonardo Dalessandri, and his latest project “Watchtower Of Turkey”, a video that he worked on over the course of a year and quite possibly some of the best visual media you’ll see in 2015.

Stunning and Mesmerizing Dubai "Flow Motion" Time-lapse by Rob Whitworth Takes Us for a Ride

Rob Whitworth builds upon his previous experience from his innovative Barcelona "flow motion" time-lapse with this new production covering the business oasis, Dubai. In his latest piece, Whitworth makes it apparent that he has perfected his craft to create the most fascinating time-lapse we've seen so far. We asked him to comment on his process. And while we got some behind-the-scenes footage and images, Whitworth simply told us, "It's always fun to keep people guessing." So by all means, let's guess.

CGI-Filled Jurassic World Super Bowl Spot Creates Whole New Look for the Franchise

Whether you're a fan of the Jurassic Park franchise or not, it's going to continue to be pushed in hopes of reaching the status of the original blockbuster by Steven Spielberg. A tall order indeed, but with the first trailer slightly sparking my interest, it was the newest CGI-filled update during the Super Bowl that really brought me back to that first movie's excitement and unpredictability.

Behind the Scenes of a Snickers Commercial Made for Super Bowl XLIX

Super Bowl XLIX is just two days away and most of us are looking forward to the commercials as much - if not more - than the actual game. This year will feature a Snickers’ commercial that is bound to be the talk of the work place come Monday.

The commercial follows the familiar “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign – only this time, it takes place within an episode of The Brady Bunch.