Homemade Special Effects

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Bring a new element to your films.

Transforming your labor of love into a veritable mini-Hollywood blockbuster is easy if you know how to utilize some homemade special effects. Though you won't be creating explosions straight out of Will Smith movies or lending your characters the sudden ability to fly on broomsticks, you can add a bit of moxie to your project with just a few simple tricks of the amateur trade.

The Options are Endless

What can you do? The question should be what can't you do? Okay, so technically there are a number of things you simply can't do in your backyard or hometown thanks to a little thing called the law, but you can still add plenty of impressive special effects to your homemade film. If you thought your options were limited, think again. There are a variety of fascinating, project-enhancing effects available to you that will easily bring new life to your work.

Effects range from simple to complex, but nothing is impossible to achieve. In fact, these special effects are ideal for homemade films. You might require the helping hand of a friend (make sure his name appears in the thank you notes in the credits!), which means you'll be required to conduct some manual labor in order to pull some of these effects off. More commonly, though, the effects can be created electronically with video-editing software. A bit of tech savvy will go a long way in helping you create a more interesting project.

Get Started with Homemade Special Effects

No matter what type of film you're editing, it can be easily boosted with some special effects. In order to achieve computerized effects, you'll need a decent video-editing software package. It's likely that, as a filmmaker, you already own this. If not, be sure to visit our section on free movie editing software to get you started on what's available and what each program offers.

Get started with some of these ideas, both manual and electronic. They're ideal for enhancing your project and bringing it a professional, polished touch.

Slow Mo

Who knew slow motion would ever come in so handy? The next time your film calls for a dangerous stunt scene or simply something your actors can't realistically film (such as a very hard punch in the face), direct them to perform the move slowly. That's right--slowly. Later, when you're editing the footage, speed it up and watch how real and authentic it looks.

Reverse It

Another option for giving those daring scenes a realistic touch is to have your talent perform the actions slowly--and backwards. When you're editing, reverse the scene to move forward and speed it up as you did with the slow motion effect. The result is something much more genuine than you would expect.

Sound Effects

Clearly, the Internet is a minefield of information, so it's really no surprise that amateur filmmakers can even download appropriate sound effects for their projects. Sounds that simulate violence (such as punches and slaps) are available, as are animal, weapon and machinery noises, among other things. Download these effects and you'll instantly give your film a new element.

Fake Blood

It's not enough to just smear some ketchup on a guy's shirt and call it a day. For truly authentic fake blood, blend corn syrup and red food coloring together (feel free to add a drop of purple to give it a darker tinge). Many filmmakers recommend mixing in some milk to give it a more viscous quality. The blood should be dark to allow it to really show up on camera.

Vanished!

A trick so simple even a complete novice could master it, making your actors vanish is a snap. Make sure you have a tripod for your camera, since a shaky hand won't make this look realistic. In order to make your actor "disappear," shoot a scene with the actor in it, stop the camera and have the actor move away and then restart the camera. When you play it back, you'll see great results.

Other Effects

Of course, these are only the tip of the iceberg as far as homemade special effects are concerned. A savvy computer user can easily transform something very basic into a high-tech work of art, while beginners can take a simple home movie and make it more involved. Either way, the end result will be something so much more memorable.

Homemade Special Effects