Film Riot Video Special Effects Tutorial: Harry Potter & Lightsaber Effects

Film Riot Video Special Effects Tutorial: Harry Potter & Lightsaber Effects

Internet TV provider Revision3 is a geek paradise filled with tech-savvy shows. If you want reviews and previews of all the latest gadgets, or how to give common electronics cool modifications, or how to make foods that would scare your mom, Revision3 has a show pretty much for anything in the nerd universe.

One of these shows is Film Riot, hosted by the excited, hyper-fast-talking Ryan Connolly. The show, with currently over 100 episodes in its library, is a simple, but entertaining film school for wannabe filmmakers and video enthusiasts, offering tutorials for practical video special effects. Picking up on Episodes 113 (which aired July 21) and 114 (July 25), Film Riot takes a look at how to make your very own Harry Potter effects.

It should be noted, again, that Ryan Connolly talks in a manner that is just below what one might know from legal disclaimers at the end of radio commercials. So when he gives the viewer all these tips and tricks, anyone who might want to attempt them should probably have a good background in the vocabulary of Adobe After Effects or similar program before trying to consume the content. It's either that, or backing up the video a few times to get all the information.

Film Riot Episode 113: Harry Potter Wand Effects

In Episode 113, the main focus is on the Harry Potter wand effects. Even though the info is coming at the viewer in a rapid fashion, the show tells you how difficult the effect is and everything you will need to complete the effect. They set up a skit where a mischievous little girl runs away from a guy looking to brain her with wand projectiles. While the effect obviously takes some time to map out frame-by-frame, it ends up looking pretty good after Ryan adds several assets to the simple effect, making it look more real.

This is where Film Riot does a good job in most episodes, telling its audience how to sell the effect. It's not enough to have a stream of fire just coming at the screen and considering it a job well done. The show adds layers to the effect, like adding a flare, and some smoke, and reminding viewers that good planning before and during the shoot will help make the effect easier to sell in post-production.

Film Riot Episode 114: Improved Harry Potter Effects

At the end of Episode 113, Ryan and Josh try to emulate the transporting Harry Potter effect. It's a simple shot of "how a magician gets his mail." They do a simple little trick that completes the transport in a substandard manner. A viewer calls them out on it on Twitter, so Episode 114 is dedicated to making the effect look better. It's actually one of the best aspects of the show that the producers never pretend that their work is the absolute best you can ever hope to accomplish. Many times you will hear Connolly say, "This is what we did, but you guys can try to make it look a lot better.”

In Episode 114, Connolly adds some bending effects, replicates them, adds a shadow on the ground, and suddenly, the transport effect looks a lot more dynamic. This episode of Film Riot was going to be all about how to shoot camera angles, but they decided to resolve the nagging poor quality of the effect from the previous episode. These guys are definitely dedicated to their craft.

Where It All Began - Film Riot Episode 1: Lightsaber & Phaser Effects

Let's quickly take a look at where it all began, with the very first episode of Film Riot, which aired May 27, 2009, around the time the new Star Trek movie came out. It's titled, "Star Trek vs. Star Wars: The Great Lightsaber-Phaser Battle," and its aim is to teach how to do the Star Wars light saber effect and the Star Trek phaser blast effect.

There may not be a more attempted effect than the light saber in all of DIY film-making history. This episode shows you how to do it really cheaply. Since the skit that unfolds is saber vs. phaser, Connolly shows how to make the little phaser bursts, and then shows how to make those bursts deflect off the light saber.

Film Riot is a great place to find information about how to make videos, and those interested in submitting their own work to YouTube and the like have an invaluable resource to make their videos pop a little more than they might otherwise. Film Riot's enthusiasm for all things video, providing information and downloads, makes them extremely user-friendly in that regard. Now, if only Ryan Connolly could slow down a bit...

Film Riot plays Mondays and Thursdays on Revision3.

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About the Author -
Chris Atkinson joined ReelSEO in 2011. He is a longtime film and television reviewer, and has almost two decades of experience in the theater industry. He also writes on his personal blog - http://nymoviereviews.com. View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100361750022323 Video Leads Online

    Fun stuff... any friends that make video, should know about this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=700369382 Shady Naqiyyullah

    God bless them for sharing the magic's tricks. now I can view in peace.