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Visual Storytelling with VFX Practice

One of the biggest challenges of being a writer/director is learning how to write visual effects into your screenplay and learning to write visually. One of the things I've found helps me get through a sticking point, keeps me motivated, and helps me develop well-rounded skills is to take a side-step during the writing process to create a "practice shot" of the material I'm writing. It's a fun way to clear my head and helps keep me motivated by realizing my vision as I'm writing it!


THE SCENE:

This is a sample of the opening scene for a new short that I'm writing, HOME:


OVER BLACK

The SOUND of a short burst of electricity. Organic, but unnatural.


FADE IN


EXT. SUBURBAN HOME - NIGHT

A top, aerial view of 3 suburban homes. An older, dated home sits centered in between the other two, surrounded by trees.

Deafening silence.


TITLE CARD: HOME


FADE OUT


OVER BLACK

The electrical SOUND returns, breaking the silence.


FADE IN


EXT. SUBURBAN HOME - NIGHT

Float down toward the house. The dead branches of the trees flank the sides, appearing to form a circle around the home.

The SOUND of electricity again, paired with a bright flash blue light emanating from an upper level window and casting an eerie glow on the grounds below.

Continued float, now CLOSER to the home. Once again, the SOUND of electricity fills the air, paired with the bright flash of blue.


FADE OUT


THE CHALLENGE:

I was trying to figure out how I would pull off the light emanating from the upper floor window and knew that I was going to have to figure out how to pull off the SFX of the light flashes.


From there, I wanted to figure out how the float down would work, since it is night, you can't really see the movement well between the trees, so I wanted to test a few things out.


WHAT I FILMED:

In the image below, you're looking at a drone (Air 2S) shot from directly above my house. I took about three shots with the drone - one still, one float down and then another float down with a twist. The shot was in the early evening, so I could get a decent exposure with minimal light. This was simply a 5-8 minute flight!




THE RESULT:

The editing and post-production software I use is Davinci Resolve 17 and after editing, applying the VFX & Titles and adding sound, here is the end result:



I think this turned out sufficiently creepy! The next shots take you through the home and you'll get to see a bit more of the blue light and what is causing it, but that will be saved for another post or the actual short, itself.


Hope you liked the peek into the process and, if you did, feel free to hit the "heart" and/or scroll on down to leave a comment. Would love to hear your feedback on how you think I did!


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