Some ways you can use visual effects to recreate the four special effects shots listed above:
- Applying a rain effect to make it look like it’s raining in a scene.
- Adjusting the frame rate of your footage to make it slower or faster.
- Adding muzzle flashes in front of actors’ guns to make it look like they’re firing.
- Editing a computer-generated explosion into the background of a battle scene.
Rotoscope it out.
Visual effects don’t always have to be flashy. Often they’re used to hide things the director doesn’t want the audience to see, like pieces of film equipment or anachronistic details like an airplane flying over a scene set in the 1800s.
“Very often you hear the term ‘We can fix it in post.’ And this is what we’re referring to: rotoscoping. Going back in and painting things out, frame by frame,” Bernstein says. “All the things you can do with Photoshop, you can do with visual effects. Although it’s time consuming, it’s very effective.”
If you’re about to film in a location where you know you’ll have to rotoscope some things out later, position your camera to shoot footage of the empty background immediately before filming the scene. “If you’ve got that background shot and the camera hasn’t moved, it’s the easiest thing in the world to remove anything from that scene, because it’s like superimposition,” says Bernstein. “You just take the background and drop it over the thing that you don’t want.”
How special effects and visual effects work together.
Special effects and visual effects aren’t mutually exclusive. “There’s some overlap, because we have to prepare for visual effects on set, and very often special effects tie into visual effects. They work together to create the illusion, each serving the other,” explains Bernstein.