My first VFX Heavy action short film - Danger Close (+ VFX BTS)

FormulatedFilmsFormulatedFilms Website User Posts: 49
edited August 2015 in Practical Filmmaking

Hey everyone,

Just thought I would share my first ever attempt at VFX in my action short film: Danger Close

All of the editing and VFX was completed entirely in Hitfilm Pro 3 with only the sound being made in a different software.

I've been working on this for the past 6 months or so in my spare time and learning hitfilm from scratch. Am currently working on a behind the scenes too in which I explain how I did some of the explosion effects.

I hope you enjoy and please share, like and subscribe etc.

Would obviously love your feedback too.

P.S. it feels like a home/local project as I live pretty much a 5 minute walk from Hitfilm's Head office in Norwich :)


  • KirstieTKirstieT Staff Administrator, Moderator, Website User Posts: 1,058 Staff
    edited June 2015

    This was your first attempt at VFX?!? Nice work! The muzzle flashes were right on point and the tracking on some of those blood sprays on the wall were great! The barrel exploding and the grenade duck outside the window was awesome too.

    Where did you film this? We're constantly looking for cool new spots to explore and if you only live a few minutes walk from us, I assume that one was close? Loved the contradiction of the standard, boring insurance driven intro at the start with the dramatic army induction - that was really clever! One thing I would say is that the first intro lasted just a few seconds too long - I almost clicked off of it because I thought it was almost a promo for paintballing or something. The audio on the scene is very crisp as well (when the first instructor is talking) - am I right in thinking you recorded the speech separately to the scene? It was a little too detached and distracted me slightly from the actual scene. 
    I'd also tone down the grading a little bit - or at least show a very noticeable difference between the 'real' events and the 'action' by adding the letterbox/film look as they move into the gunfight. 

    However the exercise itself and the movement of the team around the area taking out enemies was great.  For a first try - I'm very impressed! You deserve a slow clap *slow claps*

  • StormyKnightStormyKnight Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,726 Ambassador
    edited June 2015

    Great job! I like the contrast of simulation to real life situations in the story. Cleverly done. The FX looked great too. Can't wait for a 'behind the scenes'- would like to see how you put this together.

  • H3rm4n_Studi05_OldH3rm4n_Studi05_Old Website User Posts: 99
  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,307 Ambassador

    Very nicely done. Well shot, well staged (some of those longer tracking shots with 10-12 actors moving along with the camera were very complex indeed). well paced, great location!

    Most of the VFX were solid--my eye thinks it picked up a little minor fringing on a couple of muzzle flash elements, but not a big deal.

    Looking forward to the BTS and for your next short! Be proud of this one!

  • FormulatedFilmsFormulatedFilms Website User Posts: 49

    Thanks everyone for the great feedback. We have had an overwhelming response to this already (550 views in 24 hours) which is more than we have received on other videos over several months!

    @KirstieT - We filmed this at an airsoft facility in Beccles (within Ellough Park). The company were called Danger Close Airsoft (hence the title) however I believe they have now moved to another site near to Norwich. If you do any filming near to Norwich I would love to come along and watch/help if possible?

    I couldn't agree more with your comments about the first scene being longer and the colour grade. Unfortunately we had to over compensate with the colour grade as the footage was very over-exposed in places (still learning) so needed to make it darker. You are right, the audio with the officer at the start is ADR and in fact about 95% of the audio was re-recorded away from site. This was because there's a local go-kart track so there's so much unwanted background noise that we couldn't get rid of without distorting the voices. Despite that, I thought we blended it ok for the majority of it. All sound effects and foley were also recorded at home.

    @Triem23 - yeah for some reason I had a bit of a struggle with some of the muzzle flashes and blending them nicely into the scene. I think after the 100th muzzle flash I just got a bit bored and lazy haha.

    The complex movement of camera and actors had been completely planned via shotlister and checking it the night before. Think it only took 2 or 3 takes!

    Again, thanks for the feedback. I will update you with my behind the scenes video soon. Should hopefully only take another week or so to finish whilst I continue working on my other VFX project. 


  • orangepeelorangepeel Website User Posts: 87

    good job! some awesome vfx compositing and overall great cinematography! one thing I did notice is that the stock footages such as the explosions were a little low res, but since the whole thing is so fast paced you barley even notice it

  • KirstieTKirstieT Staff Administrator, Moderator, Website User Posts: 1,058 Staff

    @FormulatedFilms - ah, that's great! Definitely like to see the behind the scenes soon. We haven't got much filming planned anytime soon, but tips for local places are always appreciated as we typically have great difficulty finding things (usually at short notice).
    Also - please do upload it to the movie wall so that we can feature it :)

  • FormulatedFilmsFormulatedFilms Website User Posts: 49

    @KirstieT - Yeah I will update whenever I look to use a location or find something which would be great to film in. I have tried to use the Sainsbury Centre that was used for the Avengers head quarters in Age of Ultron, but they are pretty strict about filming around there.

    I have already uploaded it to the movie wall but I think it's hidden. Is that because it hasn't been featured?

    Thanks for the support, it's much appreciated.

  • CraigSnedekerCraigSnedeker Website User Posts: 70

    I loved it! I thought the VFX was great. 

    I do think the grenade was a little slow for a grenade though, perhaps a faster and brighter bang! would have been more appropriate. 

    Either way, good job! :)

  • FormulatedFilmsFormulatedFilms Website User Posts: 49

    Hey everyone,

    My first behind the scenes for the short film is now online. This BTS looks at the shooting day and doesn't really delve into the VFX (that will be in part 2) but might be interesting for some of you. Let me know your thoughts.

    I will update you all again with the second BTS that will have some detailed breakdowns of how I achieved some of the explosion VFX soon.

  • StormyKnightStormyKnight Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,726 Ambassador

    Neat to see how the coordination goes with some of the complex movements by characters you have going on in the movie. Can't wait for the second one though!

    What did you use for the simulated explosion?

  • PhilWessonPhilWesson Website User Posts: 241 Enthusiast

    what cam/lens did you choose to film this? the image is really really crisp!

  • Andy001zAndy001z Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,883 Ambassador

    This is a really solid attempt at a movie. The scenes when the squad make there first moves, moving from one hut to another was very well shot, your camera work and positioning really worked, and I liked the use of continuous shot from one scene to the next (well thought out!). The VFX was good too, the grenade shot was slightly off in grading but the extra camera shake worked well. I think the pace was a little slow in the middle, it felt that the guy with the ball should of been taken out quicker, but I think you were going for the leader not sure what to do look? At this point I felt it was at its weakest and not until the end did the video pull back and I thought the back to reality scene at the end was perfect. All in all, good job.

  • FormulatedFilmsFormulatedFilms Website User Posts: 49

    Thanks again for the great feedback.

    @StormyKnight - the explosion was just a series of layers from action essentials 2. The fence breaking up was a masked fence layer that had the shatter effect applied (with my own custom shatter map) and tracked to the shot. Quite simple yet very effective I thought.

    @PhilWesson thanks. The camera was a Canon 70D with a 24-105mm F4.0 L series lens. I then applied a sharpen effect within the colour grade.

    @Andy001z - Thanks for the great feedback. Yeah the emphasis of the video was for the woman who had supposedly never played before, to take charge and become the leader when the guy screws up. I agree we probably dragged this out more than we should have in that middle section. Did you think it was still weak from when she advances and her squad gets taken down up to the end? Or is it just that section when the alarm goes off up to them advancing?

  • Andy001zAndy001z Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,883 Ambassador

    I think its just the section from the alarm. Maybe given what you said about the women being the strong silent leader, you should have played more on this in the first scene (i.e. 

    Opening scene: Inside hut

    Closeup shot on girl whispering to her friend "Never done anything like this before, I don't think I am very good with guns." 

    Male leader type (Macho like) leans between two friends and says "Your be fine, stick close to me"

    Scene moves to on as you paced it. But this time we are more surprised by the sudden take charge of the female lead.

    Just a thought?

  • FormulatedFilmsFormulatedFilms Website User Posts: 49

    @Andy001z Unfortunately what you have described is pretty much the exact script we wrote from the start. The original script had a completely different beginning where there was dialogue between the girl and the guy before and after the transition into fantasy. It made the short make a lot more sense.

    Unfortunately as you will see in my first BTS video, we only had 4 people turn up (when 17 signed up to help), the layout of the site was different to when I first visited a few weeks earlier and we ran out of daylight so unfortunately had to scrap a lot of ideas. We were lucky to get what we wanted filmed in the end.

    Lesson from this ... allow more time than you think and get people you can rely on. 

  • Andy001zAndy001z Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,883 Ambassador

    Arrrh that makes sense, sorry not looked at the BTS footage yet. Yes certainly something you hear from the #Filmriot crew is time is always against you. Still pretty dam good given the situation you describe above. So what's next?

  • FormulatedFilmsFormulatedFilms Website User Posts: 49

    Yeah tell me about it. Thanks, I really appreciate the feedback.

    Next up we have a thriller we are filming soon, however in the mean time though I am making a cool trailer for a project that we are no longer doing, but I get to showcase some cool VFX. One particular shot I have one of my actors being force pushed through a brick wall and it looks pretty neat!

    Want to dabble in some 3D models soon too and utilise mocha (as I haven't used it much yet as the hitfilm tracker was sufficient) so might do some sort of city under attack thing.

  • FormulatedFilmsFormulatedFilms Website User Posts: 49

    Hey everyone,

    Finally got round to finishing Part 2 of the behind the scenes that goes into detail as to how I created the VFX and also some info on the sound creation too. Be sure to check it out and let me know what you think etc :)

  • StormyKnightStormyKnight Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,726 Ambassador

    Fantastic stuff! Thank you for putting out both behind the scenes vids! I have gleaned a lot of info and appreciate Danger Close even more!

  • FormulatedFilmsFormulatedFilms Website User Posts: 49

    @StormyKnight Thanks very much for the feedback. I quite like the behind the scenes videos as they show how much extra work goes into these short action films apart from the standard muzzle flares and explosions. Glad you liked them 

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