What are in-camera effects?
Dazzle with a dolly zoom.
Make a scene crackle with rack focus.
Distort perception with forced perspective.
Ever wonder how they made Will Ferrell look so big compared to Bob Newhart in Elf? Or how Gandalf could tower over the hobbits in The Lord of the Rings? The answer, most often, is forced perspective. This is a technique by which filmmakers take advantage of the two-dimensional nature of film cameras to produce an optical illusion. Because something far away appears smaller than something close up, if you want to make a character appear elfin compared to another character, just lower the aperture to minimize the depth of field and keep the camera low to the ground. Then place the first character farther away from the camera. Just how far away you should place them requires some math. If you have one subject ten feet from the camera and you want them to appear half the size of a second subject, cut those 10 feet in half to determine how far from the camera the second subject needs to be.
To pull off this effect, your props need to be positioned just right, and your actors need to look not at each other but at the point in space where the other actor seems to be from the perspective of the camera.
Another way to make a subject appear bigger or smaller than they are involves using a green screen and the Masking and Tracking tools in Premiere Pro. Simply shoot the subject in front of the green screen and then layer them over background footage.
Eliminate (or avoid) rolling shutter.
If you’re shooting with an iPhone or Android smartphone, you have other special effects at your disposal. Try the filters in Adobe Premiere Rush that give you the different looks of retro and vintage film.
Learn about using other special effects like light leaks, VHS effects, glitch effects, and speed lines in Adobe After Effects. The more tools you add to your videographer’s toolkit, the quicker and smarter you’ll be able to work.
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