Burn Someone with Lasers (After Effects Tutorial)

Learn how to After Effects Edit a laser beam and burn someone away using VC Saber, plus 2 other effects from our Social Distance VFX film in this tutorial video.

Copy Cat Tuesday?

Last week you probably saw our video about ‘how to social distance‘. Here we did some crazy experiment with lasers and blew people to ash. Then we also did two other effects a ultra sonic sound waves and last we created a force field. But we didn’t explain how we did it.

And that’s because we tried something new, a new video format. We thought, let’s do something exciting with Copy Cat Friday. And the result is a extended sketch with multiple effects, which we are going to explain in the next video. And this is the next video, so in the video of today we are going to show you the 3 awesome effects and how to make them.

After Effects: Creating VFX

If we look at Hollywood and their special effects, we are often blown away how good they look. And after seeing a movie, I always get the urge to create those effects myself. But how do they do it? Well first it all starts with the software you use. After effects is a industry standard and specially made for creating special effects. But you probably also know Nuke, another industry standard and maybe even more popular in Hollywood then After Effects.

Okay, we have our software, but how do we start with creating an effect? Well I often start by researching. In current times and with the internet, we can say that almost everything you can imagine is already made. So why not profit from that? I’m not telling you to steal their ideas, but learn from them. Maybe even combine ideas and make them in your own style. But mostly I look at the physics of their effect and try to learn form that.

Physics in Special Effects

Personally I find this one of the hardest things to create, physics of and object or elements. You can easily create a force field with some effects from after effects, but the hard part is how does it react with the surroundings. If you touch it, does it ripple or maybe become denser? Or another example, if you super punch a person, does he explode or just fly away? And how does he fly away? Well these question are all reduced to the physics of a certain effect.

But what can you do to get those physics realistic? Well it sounds stupid, but learn from real life. I know you can’t really summon a force field, but there are things that come close to a force field. Like for instance non-Newtonian fluid, if you punch that fluid it will bunch your hand back. Something a force field would also do. And that’s what I meant by learning from other effects. You can learn from special effects other people made, but also from real life effects. Nature is an extended library full of awesome physics.

Punching Non-Newtonian Fluid
Punching Non-Newtonian Fluid

Compositing in special effects

Another thing I want to talk about, is probably the most important aspect of making Special Effects, Compositing. To explain it simple, compositing is combining visual elements from separate sources into a single image. So for example our laser shooting effect, to start with we only have our own footage of Jordy pretending to shoot a laser. Then afterwards we added a laser beam with the Saber plugin from Video Copilot. This is already compositing. But you can really go far with this, you add extra glow, a lens flare, an explosion and so on. You are creating a new image by using multiple images. And that’s the foundation of creating Special effects.

Compositing Breakdown 'The discovery of Fire'
Compositing Breakdown ‘The discovery of Fire’

Storyblocks Video

This video was sponsored by Storyblocks. It’s an enormous online library full of high quality HD and 4K stock clips, After Effects templates, collections and much more. We use the library on a weekly base to download overlay effects, like smoke, dust particles, flares,… You can download an unlimited amount of clips for only one price per year so it’s super useful to have.

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