Homemade Video Special Effects & Filming A High-Speed Car Chase: Film Riot Video Tutorials

Homemade Video Special Effects & Filming A High-Speed Car Chase: Film Riot Video Tutorials

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Your house is a veritable tool shed of special effects. These are special effects you can do in-camera, rather than trying to figure it out in After Effects. In Episode 127 of Film Riot, host Ryan Connolly shows you several things you can do with just a pressure washer and an iron. Sure, pressure washers are great for wiping out stains from hard surfaces, but did you know they could be used for blood-splattering mayhem? If it’s Film Riot, you can bet it’s good for blood-splattering mayhem, and probably more.

Using Household Items To Create Special Effects on The Cheap

Pouring a bunch of fake blood into the container/bottle attachment that comes with the pressure washer, we see nice little blood splatters, and also the effect that you might have seen in the wood chipper scene from the movie Fargo. But simple water can also be used for an effect, and here Connolly shows the water being sprayed out in such a way that it looks like steam from a train leaving a station, or hurricane effects, or simple rain. It all depends on how hard you want to spray the liquid.

The point of this is to show you easy effects, but also to get your imagination going. You can probably think of a bunch of other effects you can make with a pressure washer.

Ryan also shows the effect of a simple iron. He’s never been happy with the smoke effects he’s tried to use in post-production, so he uses the steam from an iron to make some awesome smoke during the muzzle flash of a gunshot. By using a black background in a dark room, Ryan back-lights the smoke from the iron so that it shows up on camera. After that, Ryan goes over a few After Effects steps to make it look as good as possible, then you have the ability to position it anywhere you want after that. But you know what? You don’t even have to do the effect on your own because the show provides it for you for a free download.

How To Film a High Speed Car Chase Without Breaking the Law

Here’s what Connolly does with the iron smoking effect:

Have you ever wanted to capture a high-speed chase in your video/film, but don’t have a closed course, professional drivers, insurance, a death wish, or the natural inclination to upset your local police officers by doing it on busy, unsuspecting streets? It turns out, with some camera trickery and editing, you can make a pretty awesome car chase scene without breaking the law.

The latter part of Episode 128 explains how to do this in four steps:

  • Move the camera around a lot. A stable shot while you’re driving slow is going to give people time to realize you’re not driving fast. Connolly warns also not to go too far with the movement. Some of you might call that the Paul Greengrass effect.
  • If you can get the camera low, do it. A camera sitting very close to the road turns a Sunday drive into something that seems a lot more dangerous. The examples here include an angle from the car itself and shooting towards the cars, so the low-angle works from both perspectives.
  • Get as many shots as possible. The more shots you can piece together for a car chase scene, the quicker you can make the scene look through editing. Multiple quick edits can provide the illusion of something fast, and the less time the viewer has to analyze the actual speed of the cars. Again Connolly praises the GoPro camera because you can attach this thing anywhere with a suction mount. So he has angles on the hood of the car, in the wheel well, and the rearview mirror.
  • Sound effects. Tires squealing. Motors churning. This sells the effect.

The Shift Effect – Make The Camera “Pass Through” A Window

Episode 128 also gives you info on how to do what Ryan calls the “shift” effect. This is where you have the camera on the outside of something impenetrable, usually a window, and still make a smooth transition to the inside of a house, or in this case, a car.

The first thing you need to do is map out the shot. You have to have an idea of what this is going to look like in your head before you shoot it. Ryan uses a monopod to mount his camera so he can lift the camera high in the air, but he says any tripod would do. The centerpiece of the sequence he shows is the camera moving from the back windshield of a car into the driver’s seat. This is done by taking the camera to the back of the windshield, then cutting. The car he uses happens to be a hatchback, so it’s easy for him to open the back of the car and then begin a new shot from the back of the car to the front. I’m pretty sure you can do this without a hatchback though. It’s just easier.

Ryan warns that if your angle from the outside of the car is on the left, then your angle from the inside of the car should also be on the left. That way the footage matches in editing and doesn’t look bad.

Now Connolly takes it into After Effects, where he edits the outside shot to the inside shot, then adds a fade transition to make it look smooth. Then he raves about Adobe’s “Work Stabilizer,” which admirably cuts out all the shaky cam you might have infused into your shot by running around with a camera. By the time Ryan adds blur effects, this looks like one seamless shot from overhead, to the back of the car, to inside of the car. And that’s awesome.

Film Riot plays Mondays and Thursdays on Revision3.

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