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  1. Member dzsoul's Avatar
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    I heard Maya, adobe premiere pro, after effects, sony vegas, and particle illusions but i have not used any of them.

    Which of them is the best, or the top 10 programs that are excellent in special effects/visual effects?

    I also need them not to very very very complicated too.
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  2. Always Watching guns1inger's Avatar
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    Adobe Premiere is an editor that supports plugins, but is not a special effects tool. It is no better or worse than Vegas, FCP or Media Studio Pro.

    After Effects is a motion graphics and compositing tool that is very powerful. It is mostly 2D, although it has a powerful pseudo 3D tool set that can do great things in the hands of someone who knows it well. Competition includes Autodesk Combustion, Eyeon's Digital Fusion, Apple's Shake or Digital Domain's Nuke, amongst others.

    Maya is 3D modeling application. It's competition includes IXS and Houdini, and to a lesser degree 3D Studio Max.

    All of these are complicated. It is the nature of the beast. None of them have a "Make Special Effects" button. All of them are aimed at different areas of the process, and may be used in combination, but none does it all (Houdini comes close with it's built in compositor and incredible particle engine).

    Each will take weeks or months of dedicated effort to simply become proficient in the basics.

    A better start to your quest would be to say what it is you need to achieve, and seek advice on the best way to go about it.
    Read my blog here.
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  3. Member dzsoul's Avatar
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    seen a lot of youtube videos of superpower effects, like fire(alot of human torch) and lightning, cool effect on the eyes to make it red or something like that.

    this is very cool: ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hNRV773d9Y i like the lightning effects and he cited Apple Shake, Adobe After Effects, Photoshop, Silhouette Roto, and Imagineer's Motor, Monet and Mokey.

    What programs should i use? i think there's alot to do and i cannot just focus on one program right?
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  4. Always Watching guns1inger's Avatar
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    That is a demo reel of someone trying to get a start in the industry, and honestly, it is not impressive. Why ? because every effect in that shot is based on simple tutorials found on the net, followed slavishly, and shows no originality of thought, process or design. I suspect if you gave him anything original to do he would fail, and fail badly.

    Everything he did there could be done in After Effects, without any extra plugins.

    The other thing that clip tells me is that he spends a lot of time downloading pirate versions of software so he can play along with the tutorials.

    Although there is the occasion clip of interest on youtube, the vast majority are cheap, cheesy, and/or cliched because they are just like that one - slavish copies of someone else's tutorial.

    If you are serious, pick one package and learn it. I have no problems with online tutorials as a resource. Some, like Andrew Kramer's Video Co-Pilot, are essential. But they need to be used to learn techniques that are then applied in an original manner, not to simply replicate as your own work.

    But if you want to do this, you have to be realistic. Trying to master any single one of this is a full-time exercise, so don't bite off more than you can chew.
    Read my blog here.
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  5. Member dzsoul's Avatar
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    actually what we are going to do is we are going to make a film as highschool students and we are going to present it at school and then one of the groups (each group = one film) will be chosen for regional film competition.
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  6. Always Watching guns1inger's Avatar
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    Start at the beginning. Story first, then how to tell it.

    What software do you have available to you ?

    You are putting the cart before the horse by looking at software without having a point to it. You need to have a reason before you can design the effect.
    Read my blog here.
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    Listen to guns1inger: STORY FIRST! The content is more important than effects. Think about the types of movies -- long or short -- that made you want to watch them again and again. What was it about those movies that pulled you in? I doubt it was the effects. Make sure your content is good, and then look for ways to best illustrate the story.

    Sometimes, what the audience DOESN'T see can have more of an impact. When Steven Spielberg made "Jaws," he had a problem with the robotics of the shark, but time and money constraints forced him to keep filming while the robot shark was being repaired. And so, for more than half the movie, he devised a way to effectively portray the shark attacks without showing the shark itself.

    Effects don't make the movie. And even if you need certain effects, there are sometimes good alternatives to expensive digital software. The effective use of wire, rubber bands, mirrors, and clever framing can be used to create all kinds of visual effects in-camera.

    Effects software should be thought of as just another tool to help advance a specific story.

    Mabuhay.
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  8. Member JimJohnD's Avatar
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    I agree with guns1inger, start with the script. Then find what tools you need to tell the story. I just got the old TV series Space:1999 on DVD. I haven't seen it since it originally was on TV in 1975. I was expecting it to be really 'hokie' but was really surprised that the story holds up and the 'special' effects were very well done for what they had to work with.

    I'm using Adobe CS4 because it has everything in one work-flow. Any software is going to take time to learn. In short, a good story well told with minimal effects will almost always be better than a poor script with great effects.
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  9. Video Restorer lordsmurf's Avatar
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    I watched the original Terminator last night -- I was surprised at how much was NOT shown on screen, just alluded to. And the effects that were shown often looked stilted.
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  10. Always Watching guns1inger's Avatar
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    Much of the original Terminator was stop motion and rear projection, and it hasn't held up too well. Some of Stan Winston's work is very good, but in the 80's you really couldn't do sustained close ups on prosthetic heads and get away with it.
    Read my blog here.
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  11. Member dzsoul's Avatar
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    thanks a lot for your great help guys! I am thinking of a story about an alien orb that falls to earth and triggered random people to have superpowers such as the ability to control fire, can stop time, electricity, etc.

    I was also pondering about how should make the person with the ability to control time to stop everything around him and make him move around.

    I am really feeling ambitious right now, but I want to do the best as I can and not make the movie cheesy as much as possible. I want to make it cool. If our movie will be chosen in our school it will be to compete to others and will be showing in a theater.


    actually this is the 2nd time we are having this (once every school year for 4th yr highschool students). I am an incoming 4th yr student. The previous batch of students in our school are composed of about 5-6 persons each group.

    Originally Posted by guns1inger
    Start at the beginning. Story first, then how to tell it.

    What software do you have available to you ?

    You are putting the cart before the horse by looking at software without having a point to it. You need to have a reason before you can design the effect.
    actually any software will do for me, that's why i am making a thread to look for a software that is good in visual/special effects. currently, i only have particle illusions.
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  12. Always Watching guns1inger's Avatar
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    Take away the orb and you just have Heroes or X-Men. It all sounds pretty cliched and 'seen it', but each to their own. It is also something that will take a lot of time and effort to make look anything other cheesy.

    You need to know well in advance exactly what effects you are going to create, and how you are going to create them. You then need to plan all your shooting to make sure you can create them.

    Whenever possible, do it practically. If that means having people standing still and hanging things from fishing line, do it. It will look far better than anything you will do on the PC without 5 year experience in each package.

    The key to all of this is planning in advance what you are going to do, so you make sure you have all the material you need. You are not going to learn how to model and animate a convincing virtual human in a few weeks. All of ILM couldn't do it for episode two of Star Wars, and Sony couldn't do it for the first Spiderman, either. So make sure you story board, and know what you need for your effects.

    Make sure you have a good quality still camera on set, and take lots of stills. You never know when you will need an emergency background plate or foreground mask.

    Frankly, I would limit it to one or two 'powers' that you can do well, than five or six that look like crap.
    Read my blog here.
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  13. Member Snakebyte1's Avatar
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    Your enthusiasm for your project is commendable, but you must limit your scope to what is realistically feasible given 1) your overall experience, 2) your available time 3) your available equipment and 4) your budget.

    I've seen over zealous people plunge into making a project that has a storyline that would rival War and Peace. Trying to get your "vision" on video is no easy task and most people under-estimate just how much work it takes just to get the simple shots, let alone any scenes that require effects. For every minute of actual filming you do there is likely 20-30+ minutes of planning that came before it.

    Something to consider for scenes where you plan to use effects, have a non-effect backup scene available. For example, if you have a scene where someone is shot and their head explodes, have a backup plan in case you can't pull of the shot, such as cutting away, hearing the gun shot and then splatter some blood against the wall.

    If you have the ability to storyboard I would highly recommend that. It doesn't have to be comic book quality graphics, simple stick figures will work. You'll want to know where you want wide angles, close ups, establishing shots and all that well before you actually start to film. You don't want to be wasting time thinking about that when you are filming. You might also consider shooting some demo scenes and doing a quick and dirty edit to see what kind of results you get and to get your expectations in line.

    And follow all the advise listed earlier!
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  14. Member edDV's Avatar
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    You could limit your project to one scene of your storyboard and illude to the background story. Then end with the "stay tuned for the next episode".

    Isn't this what Lucas did and still does?
    Recommends: Kiva.org - Loans that change lives.
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  15. Member edDV's Avatar
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    Maybe that could be the frozen room with the actor walking behind and in front of frozen actors and objects while describing the past and foretelling the future.

    This would all be done with green screen, masks and simple compositing.
    Recommends: Kiva.org - Loans that change lives.
    http://www.kiva.org/about
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  16. Member dzsoul's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Snakebyte1
    Your enthusiasm for your project is commendable, but you must limit your scope to what is realistically feasible given 1) your overall experience, 2) your available time 3) your available equipment and 4) your budget.

    I've seen over zealous people plunge into making a project that has a storyline that would rival War and Peace. Trying to get your "vision" on video is no easy task and most people under-estimate just how much work it takes just to get the simple shots, let alone any scenes that require effects. For every minute of actual filming you do there is likely 20-30+ minutes of planning that came before it.

    Something to consider for scenes where you plan to use effects, have a non-effect backup scene available. For example, if you have a scene where someone is shot and their head explodes, have a backup plan in case you can't pull of the shot, such as cutting away, hearing the gun shot and then splatter some blood against the wall.

    If you have the ability to storyboard I would highly recommend that. It doesn't have to be comic book quality graphics, simple stick figures will work. You'll want to know where you want wide angles, close ups, establishing shots and all that well before you actually start to film. You don't want to be wasting time thinking about that when you are filming. You might also consider shooting some demo scenes and doing a quick and dirty edit to see what kind of results you get and to get your expectations in line.

    And follow all the advise listed earlier!
    i was being too ambitious, and i don't even have a whole year of making the film and i don't have experience. The movie is just going to be a short film, about 30 mins.
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  17. Always Watching guns1inger's Avatar
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    30 minutes is a lot of time to fill with interesting scenes and hold a viewer's interest.

    Do you have a script yet ? The single most important part of the exercise, before anything else happens, is to have a story, and then a script, that will keep your audience interest for the duration, whatever that ends up being. If you don't have that, no-one will care if your effects are good or not.
    Read my blog here.
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  18. Member dzsoul's Avatar
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    guys i've been thinking about a thriller...i don't know what's the correct genre but it's gonna be about main characters trying to solve the problem with confusing evidences while they have powers (yah yah i know...it's just gonna be minimal if i can't make it).

    i think im gonna start thinking about what really the story is gonna be...im currently busy.

    i heard a lot from you guys....so what editing software is the best? i have particle illusions, but it's mainly on special effects not for editing clips. I need something like windows movie maker, but far better than that, i need some more transitions and other features.
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  19. Member edDV's Avatar
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    Software comes after the storyboard. Pick the tools for the job.
    Recommends: Kiva.org - Loans that change lives.
    http://www.kiva.org/about
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  20. Member Snakebyte1's Avatar
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    Here's a bit of an outline that we've followed in the past. I'm not saying you should follow it, only that I've used it and it seems to work for us.

    1. Determine who will participate in the project

    2. Determine a genre (and make sure you take into account the interests of the people you will be working with).

    3. Write a short, high-level outline or synopsis of your story (2-3 pages). Present it to your group. Get their input. Make them feel included, but ensure everyone knows you are in charge of developing the storyline.

    4. Create a more detailed outline based on the feedback you got from your crew. Keep in mind the skill sets of your team members. Present your detailed outline and make sure everyone is OK with it

    5. Based on your detailed outline begin to put together a storyboard. Go through various drafts, each one getting more detailed. Identify where any type of effect, either digital or in-camera, will be. Identify what types of transitions you want and where.

    6. For your identified effects determine what you need to do them and then run some tests and demos. Document what works so you can replicate for real. If something doesn't work, go back and edit your storyboard.

    7. Complete your script and film (as you've gone through this entire process up to this point you should have a really clear idea of how to set things up)

    8. Edit


    As for what software to use, that gets determined in Step 6. As an non-linear editor there are all kinds ranging from free to hundreds of dollars. Naturally the free WAX editor offers less transitions than, for example, the pricey Adobe Premiere. What is your budget? Do you plan on doing a lot more editing in the future or only occasionally? It can be an investment or it can be a waste.

    Look to the left and go to the TOOLS section and look at the Video Editors. That should provide you with a good list. Research each one, does it do what your project needs? Can you afford it?
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  21. Member dzsoul's Avatar
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    i need help about developing the story.

    i know i haven't reached editing yet, but since you guys helped me a lot and suggested i should write a story first, i need some tips.

    anyway, our instructor told us we would not be allowed to make love stories or pure comedy because he said we are making a movie to so we will be able to use after effects, adobe premiere, and sound editing. So most likely i am going to use some effects and should master them.

    What's in my mind is action (few characters will have superpowers) thriller. and i think i am not going to use a lot of effects coz the result might be sick.
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  22. Always Watching guns1inger's Avatar
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    I can't see any reason not to make a love story, comedy, or any other genre. You can incorporate effects into anything if you think it through.

    Example 1. Mouse Hunt. Comedy that hangs almost entirely on the believability of the central rodent character, which is mostly CGI.

    Example 2. Speed Racer. This is an almost entirely green screen affair, however look at the scene early on where Speed and Trixie meet for the first time, and look at the way the scenery changes around them, especially the lens blurs. All effects work.

    Example 3. One of my favorite effects is in Fight Club during the initial introduction of Edward Norton's character by himself. He walks through his apartment which becomes a live catalogue as he moves. It uses tracking, depth and several other tricks, and is brilliant for it's subtley and overall impact.
    Read my blog here.
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  23. Member Snakebyte1's Avatar
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    The steps I listed should pretty much guide you through the development of a story from high-level concept through to a script.

    Your instructor has all ready provided you with some boundaries, so get your group together and brainstorm. Be the leader and keep discussions high-level and on track because if you don't you'll spend the entire day listening to some wild and impossible ideas.

    It sounds to me that you all ready have some parts of your basic concept down. You want to have some characters with superpowers. OK, now decide on how many. This depends on 1) how many people you have in your group and 2) how much time you have available to complete your project. Next, decide what powers these characters will have.

    Then decide what you want to do with these characters. Let's say you decide on 2. Come up with some basic concepts. For example one guy is good and the other evil, or maybe they are both evil and its up to the regular humans to stop them. Maybe they are just discovering their powers and trying to learn how to control them. Perhaps they are being hunted because of their powers etc. These may not be considered original concepts by any means, but you can add some plot twists. Surely you can come up with a half dozen concepts, then present them to your group and see which ones get the most reaction and feedback.

    Once you get the overall concept established, create a short synposis, a page or maybe two of the story, which basically tells the story from start to end. Break it down into the Introduction, the Body and the Conclusion. Present it to your group. You revise and expand this with comments and feedback from your group.
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  24. Member dzsoul's Avatar
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    actually we are 9 in our group, but our instructor suggests not all of us is going to be in the movie and only at least 2 or 3 in our group could be in the movie and we must find who will play the roles.

    one thing that made our instructor to not making love stories or comedies because we are just high school students and not all of us are complete nerds, and you know, there's a lot of "in-love" students and a lot like romance movies which would result to only pure romance movies.

    ok thanks a lot. i am thinking about legend or sci-fi that will cause the characters to have powers.
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  25. Always Watching guns1inger's Avatar
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    Norse mythology

    - Thor gives you lightning effects, force blast effects etc.
    - Odin gives you morphing into animals
    - Heimdall could hear grass growing and see to ends of the earth, so you have macro shots and snap zooms

    You could even go for a 5 minute Ragnarok (end of days/ultimate war) if you felt really crazy.
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  26. Member Snakebyte1's Avatar
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    With 9 people you have lots of options for secondary characters. As your instructor suggests, have your 2 or 3 main characters, and then have the other 6 or 7 people have small bit parts and extras - poor victims killed off quickly or things like that, one scene only.
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  27. Member fitch.j's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Snakebyte1
    For every minute of actual filming you do there is likely 20-30+ minutes of planning that came before it.
    Thats a bit of an understatement to be honest. I make a lot of shorts (shorts generally means under 12 minutes, although some still see it as under 10. I'd never call 20 or 30 mins a short) and by your estimate its 5 hours planning. I'll spend at least 3 weeks in Pre-Production spending usually 4-5 days a week on it. Couple this with a lot of special effects shots like is being suggeted and your talking so much longer. With your effects shots you want to be able to do several test shots before-hand so you know what different filming techniques do when it come to your final composite. Each of these shots needs planning, filming and compositing.

    Add to this the time it's going to take for you to simply learn the software. What your describing sounds like AE is a very strong option, but its not as simple as getting the software and pulling out an effect, you'll need to learn a lot about the software before you can even start work on your effects.

    As everyone else has said, really focus on the story and the film itself. Any effects you put hard time and effort into will be wasted on a bad film otherwise.

    You cant make a good film from a bad script.
    You cant make a good film from bad footage.
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  28. Member Snakebyte1's Avatar
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    Yes, I agree my estimate of the planning time would be quite low, but I was basing it on the fact that this was a high school project, and not a semi-pro attempt at making a film for a film festival. It is what it is, a high school project. That said, I'm not sure what kind of class it is. If its a Hollywood Production 101 class then the students should have been taught the pre-production requirements and would be marked on how they follow it. If its just some drama type class then that's something else.

    Back in the day, when we made a video for a HS class project we spent about a week (10 hours) developing the plan for our 20 min "movie". (Which is about 30 min planning per 1 minute of video). This was before digital where the coolest thing we had was a VHS camcorder with flying erase heads, a fade to black button and an audio dubbing/audio mixing feature. All our transitions and effects were in-camera and thus had to be planned in advance.

    If memory serves me, we took about 3 weeks, including off school time and weekends, to then get all the footage shot (this also included tests shots which I fully agree that you need to make). Another 2 weeks to edit it. So for a class project of 20min took us 6 weeks in total (month and a half). (We came in 3rd out of 8 - the group that got the highest mark did a documentary about a local river and it was very well done despite the fact they were all jerks - ah bad memories from high school coming back ).

    Editing time will be influenced greatly by the number and complexity of the digital effects they plan to use or attempt. Hopefully they will limit that.
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  29. Member fitch.j's Avatar
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    I'm confused. I didnt get the impression it was a quick high school film, as who would consider purchasing AE for that? Also the complexity of some of the shots being suggested made me feel this was something aiming higher.

    When you made your film recording to VHS camera you were working in a much simpler age, as you said it was all done in camera. and the things being suggested here were never an option.

    The title of the thread is about visual effects software, not editing software. The OP is looking for the effects, not just the editing. Because of this your comparison to in camera editing on VHS really doesnt compare. Even if it is just a high school project, the OP has chosen to make a complex film with a lot of semi-pro elements in it. This simply can't be done without the time investment that goes along with these kind of effects and elements.
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  30. Member Snakebyte1's Avatar
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    The OP indicated in their May 19th comment that they are High School.

    You can't judge a book by its cover and you can't judge a forum posting by its title either! The posting's title indicates how they were focused in on effects at the start with dreams of FX glory, but everyone who commented here were trying to get them to be realistic. I figure a couple of effects here and there will be about the extent of what would be reasonable giving their circumstances.

    As for purchasing AE perhaps they have access to it at school, perhaps dropping a grand is no big deal for them, maybe they get it from Guido down at the corner...

    I'm not so sure the in camera vs digital analogy I used is completely invalid - in this case. We didn't have to worry about explosions, lasers or time warp effects. But you had to plan for the simple things more. For example, a simple transition from one scene to another. Digitally you don't even have to think about it. During editing you can add any kind of transition - dissolve, wipe, whatever is in your editor's transition effect folder - drag and drop and its done, don't like it? Try another. Old school, you had to know if you wanted a whip pan to the right , if you wanted a fade to black or whatever, because you had to set it up and film it. If you didn't do it right when you came to edit it, your transition failed. Same for basic effects - you want fire, you find a clip of fire on the internet and composite it in. Old way, you had to actually light a fire and know exactly how to set up that shot. If they had AE, for example, there are loads of tutorials out there that they could basically clone for their use if they so wanted. Old way you basically had to figure it out on your own.

    Obviously how WELL the effect turns out depends completely on the level of planning, testing and effort put into it. A month of planning will give better end results than a week. But if the teachers says you've got X number of weeks, then that's what you got!
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