ARD518 Visual Effects


I was tasked with a presentation to pitch a 10-second film idea, as well as creating the 10-second film and a written reflection. The film had to demonstrate at least three visual effects using Black Magic’s Fusion and any additional applications if required.


I have only used Adobe software, making Fusion 9 a new experience. I found that the unfamiliarity made it a challenge to follow the workshops seamlessly. It was difficult to see the small icons, outputs on nodes and text in Fusion, however, once I began to become more familiar I learned where some of the basic tools were and felt more comfortable using the software. I think that it is better suited for keying out backgrounds and creating more advanced visual effects than After Effects, therefore I am pleased that I have had the opportunity to use this software and will continue to develop my skills for future use. The negative to Fusion 9 is that it does not have a large variety of tutorials available online, especially compared to Adobe products. Fortunately, tutorials are uploaded to Moodle, allowing me to recap on particular effects and basic uses of the application.


When creating ideas for a 10-second film, demonstrating visual effects I began to research artists and styles that have an influence on my work and that could be applied to the film. I reviewed old work to gather an understanding of themes or styles I regularly use. For example, I discovered that I try to create an atmosphere and mood in my pieces. I especially use lighting and colours to create the certain atmospheres. I also focus on texture, creating textured backgrounds or using subjects with a bold or distinct appearance or feeling, such as water and flames.

In order to plan the technical elements and aesthetics of the short film, I created a mood board. On the left and bottom of the mood board are the location settings I would like to create. The character will be sitting in a gothic architectural building and through the window will show a forest location. I then have decided that I would like to include fire as one of the visual effects. I have included images of fire in people’s hands as this is where I would like it to appear. In the center of the mood board are lighting ideas. I will use a low key lighting setup in order to create atmosphere and mood to the scene. I have included images from Harry Potter as this is a similar atmosphere to what I would like to produce.

VE Moodboard

Figure 1


To better understand what equipment I will need and how I will shoot the main scene for the film, I have produced a floor plan. I have included the placement of the camera, character, green screen and lighting. I have decided to use a key light to the left of the model, slightly above her head in order to create shadows on her face which will aid in the creation of atmosphere. By placing the light above her head it will create a more natural and interesting lighting effect. This lighting setup is often used in cinema, giving a cinematic style to the mise-en-scene, However, I want to add a fill light to brighten the overall scene. With the window behind her in the shot with a background that presents daylight, it would appear more realistic if the scene was not too dark. Although the fill light will have a low output to ensure that shadows are still created. 



Figure 2

I have created a simple rough sketch of part of the scene. I wanted to make a visual idea of how the window would appear with the green screen behind it. I intend to use the window at my house as it suits the gothic architectural structure in my idea. This is the rough drawing that I have produced and have included a forest background behind the window, which will be inserted after keying out the green screen. I find that created visual ideas or representations of my plans help me to understand how it will work together and appear. This then also aids in further idea developments.


Figure 3

I took a picture of my own hand and using a still from the flame I intend to use for the film I then proceeded to create the effect that I was holding fire. I did this to visualise how the flame would look and the lighting it would cast on the hand. I felt that this visual plan gave me a better insight into how the colour pallet could appear and makes the planning process easier to develop than just written notes.

CD2A1644 flame

Figure 4


I have researched various videos that have inspired my film idea. The Game Of Thrones Trailer in Figure 5 has many aspects that I would like to use as the influence for my future projects. The style of the trailer is something that I would like to create in my own work. I found the use of close-ups to build up the scene and atmosphere very effective. For example, the shadows and candles at the start of the trailer create atmosphere and then leads to the character in the background. This is visually pleasing as it slowly builds up the scene and keeps the audience in suspense whilst they wait for the characters to be properly introduced. The smaller details add depth and creates an interesting scene.

Figure 5 Game Of Thrones Season  7

I found this video in Figure 6 to be a very interesting advertisement for the new Green and Black’s chocolate. It has become increasingly popular to create advertisements in a cinematic style, this captivates the audience and produces a rememberable and impacting statement on the product from the visuals. This advert took the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale and used a twist that she had a relationship with the wolves, instead of being hunted by the. `It began intense with dramatic, eerie music that had related lyrics to the Riding Hood theme. I am interested in the fantasy theme and wanted to incorporate this into my short film. The use of fast clips that was emphasized with the music creating tension and atmosphere. I wanted to use music in a way that increases the atmosphere of my video similar to this advertisement.

Figure 6 Green and Blacks Velvet Edition

In Figure 7, I have selected a trailer from Harry Potter. Rather than the trailer being the main inspiration for my video, it is the whole concept and Universe of Harry Potter. I am interested in the fantasy genre and wanted to create a video that has the similar theme to Harry Potter, such as the use of magic and witches. I have been influenced by the films set design and the use of modern clothing. Many films that revolve around watches takes a medieval or Victorian time period, however, Harry Potter uses modern clothing with ‘ordinary’ appearing characters.

Figure 7 Harry Potter Deathly Hallows

In Figure 8, I have features a music video that s a song cover of the Game Of Thrones song Light Of The Seven. This music is slow but builds up to a dramatic and impacting piece. I found that it would suit the fantasy style video I wanted to create and included it in my final video. I also used inspiration from the candles that changed from being in focus and out of focus with bokeh. I have applied this to the video in cutaways at the beginning and end of the piece. I think this is more stylistic and created more depth to the video and atmosphere.

Figure 8 Light Of The Seven

Lunaesque Productions

Lunaesque Productions are two photographers who often create fantasy themed images that are influenced by folklore and literature. They focus on costume, lighting, and location in order to make the fantasy element appear as realistic as possible. I have taken inspiration from this company and have taken the idea of a mythical world for my film idea.

In Figure 9 the atmosphere is dark and eerie. They photograph in all hours of the day depending on the type of style of their theme. For this image, they chose to take the images during the night. Using portable flash for additional light on the model. The use of candles and costume against the old architectural structure has created an interesting image that creates a dramatic impact and the feeling of a story behind the character. The characters are positioned in purposeful poses, for this image she appears elegant but vulnerable from the curves of her hand and body posture.


Figure 9

However, in Figure 10 a  different atmosphere has been created. Instead, this character appears again with a darker fantasy theme but as though they have a stronger characteristic. The low angle combined with her bold and extravagant posture produces a more dominant and bold statement from the character. The landscape, costume and smoke add to the emotion and dramatic atmosphere of this piece.


Figure 10


I have been interested in the effect simple, quick cutaways can have with scenes. I think that they can be vital in creating impact and interesting ways of producing atmosphere and aiding in storytelling. In figure 11 the use of panning and blur with the candle cutaways produce a striking and visually appeal effect. I then decided to create my own test of short clips with similar effects that can be used in the same manner. I have filmed various closeup shots of candles, that I then added blur and camera movement in post. The pans are slow and build up a mood. I would like to use these shots for the beginning of the main idea for my short film. The main scene would then follow, showcasing the visual effects.

Figure 11

I wanted to use fire in my film, therefore, I began to research tutorials on how to do this in After Effects. I decided that I wanted the flame to appear in the character’s hand and found a suitable tutorial, using the stock footage provided I created a test. This was successful and confirmed that I would be using fire as an effect and will be making it appear on the character’s finger as they are trying to cast it. For the main film, I will be adding more realism and detail to the animation and appearance than the test shot.

Figure 12

I wanted to experiment with other effects that could lead to a different film. This gave me a second option in case the main film idea did not work successfully. I filmed Ruby, shown in Figure 13 on a green screen. This was my first test using a green screen, which was beneficial to know how to light it and the difficulty level of keying it out in Fusion. I used a green cloth as it was easily accessible and would still work appropriately when hung on the backdrop stand at my home.

I gave Ruby a wand to move around and I added particles in After Effects that I textured to a sparkle effect. I also was able to test the tracking further with this experiment and found that I should make the shutter faster so that the area that is tracked is not as blurry when moving fast. The tracking motion effect finds it difficult to track heavy motion blur, which means I have to tack it manually.

Figure 13

Work Flow Screenshots



Figure 14


The final film idea is set in a fantasy world, where a witch is learning how to cast fire. I used many smaller types of effects in order to create as realistic of a scene as possible. I used Fusion 9 to key out the green screen and masked out some unwanted items in the background that were used to hold the green screen. I then exported the video as a tiff sequence to preserve the transparent background. I then imported the stills as a video sequence where I then began to add effects. I used an image that I had taken at a castle for the background and added a light so that the character blended with the scene.

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 23.45.49.png

After I tracked the finger and parented it with the flame, the flame had to be remapped so that it lasted the same duration as the video and I also added a mask around the flame to make it appear as though it is casting a light. Using a formula I created a flicker to the masks around all the flames and applied a glow effect to the flames. Another technique that I used to make the fire appear more realistic was to animate a bend in the flame when the character moved, using the bender tool. I then adjusted the hue and saturation so that the flame was not as orange. A light was applied in After Effects over all the layers so that it blended the character with the background and produced more shadows that enhance the atmospheric aesthetic. 

Screen Shot 2018-01-13 at 15.35.46.png

10 sec film

I did not use a vast amount of equipment for the filming process in order to make it easier and achievable in the short time frame. I placed the Canon 5D DSLR on a tripod to ensure that it was stable. Pans and blurs were added in post-production, this was because I could have better control and freedom over the effects. Two lights were used, one placed over the model as the key light and second as the fill, directed towards the green screen. The green screen was a simple green cloth that was clipped onto a backdrop stand. The location for the film was at my own home, which made the process easier to organise and film within.

Emotional Response

When starting this task I was unsure where to start and did not have initial ideas. I began to worry that ideas would have to be forced, losing the creativity in the work. However, after taking ideas to paper I began to become comfortable with the task and designed ideas that could be incorporated into the ten-second film.

I felt that by planning through images and sketches it became easier to visualize and understand my idea. I could then plan in more detail and find influences to aid in the pre-production process.

Applying at least three visual effects was a concern because I was unsure how difficult some effects could be and how much I could show in ten seconds. I became more assured after conducting tests. This gave me confidence and finalised the effects that I wanted to create, knowing that it was achievable.

I was nervous about the presentational pitch for my idea. This is not a comfort area, but by practising aloud with my slides I began to be familiar with what I would discuss and found that when starting the presentation I did not feel nervous anymore. I will continue to rehearse speeches aloud before any presentations for future projects as this is the most beneficial way to sound more confident and understand the points that I will be discussing.

The most concerning issue through the production was my shoulder injury. Tearing two muscles in my arm and shoulder made in uncomfortable to film and edit. I found it most painful to edit, therefore I did the whole production in one day to minimise long-term damage. Although this resulted in rushing the edit so that it reduced the discomfort. I then edited the characters hair to make it appear less hard around the edges. However, this was a long period of time after the edit, this made it more challenging to get into the mindset of the video and editing. This could have been improved by planning times to edit that allowed enough space between editing sessions for my shoulder to recover but within a suitable time frame.


A positive from the final piece was the duration time of filming and editing. Due to the planning and initial aim to produce an interesting, but the simple scene I was able to film and edit the footage within a single day. This allowed me to reflect upon the piece and ensure that I had a large period of time to make any adjustments and receive feedback. I began filming two days after pitching my idea. I found this fast development approach to have benefits that have reduced last-minute stress and the possibility of not meeting the deadline. However, as mentioned previously allocating more than one day would ensure I do not rush the edit to get it complete but still remaining in a fast time frame.

I found the atmosphere that I envisioned was achieved. The background was an image that I had taken in a castle cellar. This became very useful in this piece and suited the darker, fantasy theme of the scene. In reflection, more thought could have been put into the background during pre-production, as it took various attempts to find the one that matched the scene that I intended to create.

A negative with the film is that the keying could be improved. From feedback it became clear that the edges of the model are too harsh, creating an obvious sign of greenscreen. This can be improved by softening and blurring the edges of the model in Fusion. Receiving feedback enables to find mistakes that were not initially noticed and improve the work further from other people’s perspectives.



Another improvement could have been more movement in the video. Although it is a short amount of time to work with, I think that applying parallax effects to the layers with additional camera movement could add more depth and interest to the scene. The movement would only be subtle to ensure that it does not take away attention from the model but still adding more points of interest.


During the editing process, I had difficulties with the laptop I was using for the project. It would slow down and the applications I was using, including Fusion and After Effects would freeze, resulting in a slow start to the post-production process. An alternative would have been to use the university computers, although I did not want to be restricted to only being able to work in the university. The laptop does not contain much internal memory which was nearly full, therefore I cleared everything on the machine except for the applications themselves. This resulted in a improved performance and minimized further issues.  In reflection, I should have ensured that the machine I intended to work on was organised and fit for purpose  

Another hindrance during the production was the unfamiliarity with Fusion. I believe that it is beneficial to learn the application Fusion as it more widely accepted in the visual effects industry than After Effects. Although the new interface design and node system took time to understand and I am still new to the software. This made the editing process slower and discouraged me to experiment or try more challenging effects because I was unsure of how to so them and concerned that I would not complete the video in time. I used After Effects alongside Fusion to compensate and made it easier to complete some of the effects. Although this affected the working process I am still pleased that I was able to work with Fusion for this project and was introduced to the application.

An issue that I found in my video design was that I created a slow pace piece. For the very short time limit of the video, this made it increasingly difficult to produce a video that contains enough footage and effects with impacting audio in a slow pace. This resulted in shortening clips more than I think they should be and being over ambitious with how much I could present in the short time. In reflection, I should have reviewed the film ideas and compare them to the time limit of the video. Further tests would have aided in improving the final idea.


This project has enabled me to learn and use a new application for visual effects and has allowed me to experience compositing and effects that I have created previously. For example, I was able to understand particle effects in more detail and created my own tests that I found to be enjoyable and introduced me to new effects and terminology in the application.

I found the overall experience to be challenging but beneficial. In reflection, I should have conducted more detailed plans and created more tests. More ideas would have enabled me to understand which effects and narratives worked best and I would have been able to demonstrate and experiment with a larger variety of effects and editing styles.

I achieved the overall criteria for creating a 10-second film that demonstrated at least three visual effects. For future projects, I will take more time through the whole process of the project to ensure that the research is conducted thoroughly and the effects are the best of my capability.

First Edit

Final Film

There are only slight alterations between the first edit and final for the film. However, I believe that the small adjustments has improved the quality of the film. I have softened the edges around the characters hair, making it appear less unrealistic and I have made the light from the flame on the hand more intense to make it more dramatic.

I have also lengthened the film After receiving confirmation that this was acceptable. This has allowed me to make the clips longer so that they feel more natural and less cut short.


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