How 2 Create Special Effects

You don't have to be making the next Star Wars to need special effects and you don't need a huge budget to create some amazing effects with digital equipment. OK CGI (computer generated imagery) takes time and great skill but there are loads of special effects that you can do with a digital camera and a reasonably powerful computer with the right software on it.

We'll add more examples to this page as we go, but a classic for now is compositing using a blue or green screen. This simply involves placing the actors in front of a blue or green backdrop that fills the frame behind them. They act in front of it then the footage goes off to be played with. It is possible to completely remove one specific color from digital images so you can remove the green or blue screen's color from behind the actors then add them over a new background.

While it's a difficult job to light a blue or green screen evenly enough and not to get any of the color reflecting onto the actor, you can get some amazing effects.

But why rely on computers? Special effects have been done the old fashioned way for years and often involve the same sort of mis-direction and sleight of hand used in magic tricks.

Study your favorite films that use special effects and try to work out how things were done.

This road safety ad is a brilliant example of very clever editing and the use of a pigeon as a distraction. Don't worry, the kid is real to start with but swapped with a dummy at the crucial moment!

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