Like the idea of making DIY films? While you’re welcome to try your hand at recreating Avatar using a VHS camcorder, your best mate and a bucket of blue paint, you’d do well to invest in some of this gear and software if you want to make a serious push for Oscar-worthy works. Oh, and check out our visit to SFX maestros Industrial Light & Magic in our current issue if you’re interested in how visual effects work.
Free, iTunes App Store
The work of filmmaker and Lost creator J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot production company, this iOS app lets you instantly add a range of special effects (four free examples are included, in-app purchases are required for others) to your iPhone-shot videos. Sounds tacky and silly, but shoot in the right way and the effects, such as a missile attack or car crash, look surprisingly effective.
Action Movie FX app
Formerly known as 3D Studio Max, Autodesk’s industry standard software lets you build and animate three-dimensional models and effects – ideal for use in your CGI films (or video games for that matter).
Motion capture has been a feature of gaming and movies since the maker of the original Prince of Persia filmed his little brother running around a field and translated those frames into the game – and now you can do the same using a Kinect plugin and iClone 5’s software. This turns your Kinect camera into a device able to capture your movements and transfer them instantly to a CGI character.
Autodesk 3DS Max
This Mac video-editing package lets you conjure up classy visual effects as well as cut a piece of footage to perfection. It may seem a little on the pricey side – but consider that its predecessor would have set you back around $15,000.
iClone 5 and Mocap Device plugin for Kinect
The world’s first handheld 4K camcorder, the GY-HMQ10 is surprisingly affordable – not to mention portable. It captures H.264 footage at a retina-slicingly sharp 3840 x 2160 resolution, as well as 8.3-megapixel stills, and there’s a 10x optical zoom lens with an F2.8 aperture and optical image stabiliser. Top notch audio can be output via balanced XLR connectors. If money is no object, you may want to consider other models: perhaps go for broke and drop US$42,000 on the upcoming RED Epic-M Monochrome, designed to record stonking 5K black and white video.
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