VFX – Final Project (part 1)

Gary has set us off to think about what we’d like to do for our final projects. The goal is to come up with 5 – 10 seconds of footage that we’ve digitally altered, using the skills we’ve developed since the start of our VFX course. We could also incorporate elements of self-learning, following tutorials or looking online on how to progress an idea we might have. The goal is to come up with a piece that is good enough to fool a normal audience, regardless of whether the content is fantastical or not, much like how films will seamlessly integrate their effects with live footage.

To me, the hardest part of this whole venture is coming up with an idea. I spent the rest of the class just looking through all sorts of videos and tutorials to come up with some solid idea. I now have a few, but in class next week we’ll be looking at doing Jedi effects (such as a Force push) as well as magic. I was already leaning towards doing something with the latter, so I might hold off on picking a single idea until I’ve learned a little more.

Despite that, we still have some goals to work towards once I’ve settled on an idea:

  • Write a synopsis (what’s going to happen in the clip)
  • Create a storyboard (make your mistakes now!)
  • Use correct shots and terminology (I’ll mention this further below)
  • Think about what VFX you’ll use
  • Find reference material – videos, images, etc.

There are a number of shots used during filming, but some of the ones we’ll likely reference in our storyboard could be:

  • Long shot – this is sometimes called a full shot or a wide shot – it will show the “entire object or human figure and is usually intended to place it in relation to its surroundings”
    • Wide shot (WS) – subject is comfortably in the frame
    • Very wide shot (VWS) – subject is just visible in the location
    • Extreme wide shot (EWS) – shot is so far the subject is no longer visible
    • Establishing shot (ES) – used to display the location and is usually the first shot of a new scene
    • Master shot (MS) – similar to ES, but all relevant characters are in frame (usually for the duration of the scene)


  • Medium shot – this is usually used when there is dialogue in the scene or a smaller group of people as the focus – gives a partial view of the background, but focuses on the actors, their expressions and body language, etc.
    • Singles – this medium shot would be waist-high of one actor
    • Group shots – would consist of three or more actors
    • Over-the-shoulders – taken from the perspective of the shoulder of a person in the scene, with the back of the head and shoulder still visible in frame
    • Two-shots – this would feature two people; a good example of this would be an on-air interview with the two people facing one another sitting in chairs


  • Close-up shot – this will tightly frame a person or object and show the most detail, but don’t show the broader scene – the subject shouldn’t actually be in the exact middle of the frame, but rather use the “law of golden section” to be placed
    • Medium close-up (MCU) – halfway between a mid-shot and a close-up, including the subject’s head and shoulders
    • Close-up (CU) – a certain part of the subject (such as a person’s head) takes up the entirety of the frame
    • Extreme close-up (ECU or XCU) – a very tight shot that focuses on an extreme detail of the subject (such as a person’s eyes)


We also were told about some other techniques/terminology that would be important:

  • Panning – this is when the camera is rotating or pivoting horizontally from a fixed position – it’s actually short for panorama, which would mean it’s an expansive view that goes beyond the viewer’s gaze and they would have to turn their head to take it all in
    • this shouldn’t be confused with tracking, where the camera pivots as well as follows the subject, so it’s physically moved in relation to the subject’s position
  • Tilting – very similar to panning, except the camera is moved vertically from a fixed position


  • Zoom in/out – this is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s when a camera lens is used to magnify or de-magnify the center of the shot – it could make the subject more or less prominent in the frame
    • the camera doesn’t move during this; if the camera itself physically moves closer or further away from the subject, it’s called dollying
  • 180-degree rule – this is a very important guideline that determines the “on-screen spatial relationship between a character and another character or object within a scene”


This rule shows an imaginary line (called the axis) that connects the two subjects and the camera should always be kept on one side of the axis for every shot in the scene.

One character is always frame right of the other character, who is always frame left of the first. This allows the viewer to visually establish the relationship of the characters and connect with any unseen movement going on around or behind the subjects.

Going past the line is called “jumping the line” or “crossing the line” – breaking the rule by shooting on all sides is known as “shooting in the round”.

After all of that, as I mentioned, I started looking at some videos, images, and other peoples’ work for inspiration. Some of the videos that I’d like to keep for reference are the following, which show effects that I think look realistic and I could follow along to recreate in footage that I take.

There were also a number of tutorials on Production Crate that will be well worth looking into and following, even beyond doing this project.  I’m really looking forward to starting up, as soon as I can figure out the finer details of what I want to do!



Posted in VFX

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