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This Simple Trick makes your VFX 90% Better

Published on

Cinematography tips

Cinematography, Lighting, Tips and Tricks

Learn how use lighting to instantly improve your VFX with these 5 simple tips and tricks.

It’s no mystery that without light, we’d all be staring into the void of a pitch-black screen. But did you know that you could create mesmerizing visual effects by harnessing the power of light?

Today, we’ll venture into the magical realm of cinematic lighting and show you how to transform your scenes with some easy and fun tricks. So buckle up, and let’s dive into the action!

Light: Your VFX’s Best Friend

We all love those ominous, atmospheric car shots, don’t we? Well, it’s easier to create them than you might think. The trick is simple: keep the car stationary and move the lights. Experiment with various camera angles, swing your light source past the car, and voil√†, you’ve got a dramatic car shot. You can also add some movement to the car or use additional light sources to simulate passing vehicles for that extra pizazz.

Creating a Hologram VFX with Lights
Creating a Hologram VFX with Lights

Whether it’s a gunshot or a hologram, any effect that emits light needs its real-world counterpart. Forget about painting light during post-production, that’s just not the real deal. Instead, use real, tangible light to create your effects.

To illustrate, if you’re simulating a muzzle flash, just flicker with a real light. When creating a hologram, place a light within the frame and add your hologram during post-production. You’ll be stunned by the authenticity that real light adds to your visual effects.

Creating Water VFX with Lights
Creating Water VFX with Lights

Just like with caustic reflections. Almost impossible to recreate in post production. Do you remember the captivating caustic reflections at the Wallace headquarters in “Blade Runner 2049”? Well they are done practical with bouncing light of water. But you can also recreate them easily with a piece of aluminum foil and a light source. Simply attach the foil to a frame, shine your light onto it, and gently move the foil. No water required!

Now another effect easily created by insinuating. Simulate fire, like a burning room! Introduce a warm, fiery orange light to your scene, adding flickering for realism. Even if you don’t physically showcase the fire, the viewers’ imagination fills in the gaps, creating a thrilling experience.

Creating Fire VFX with Lights
Creating Fire VFX with Lights

Lastly, consider using your light as a practical element, not just as a background fixture. For example, hide a light inside a trunk or suitcase. When you open the case, the light spills out, creating a delightful effect. It’s your scene; let your imagination run wild!


Big thanks to Rotolight for sponsoring this video. If you’re looking to purchase your first light kit, the NEO-III Pro and AEOS-II Pro are the best place to start. Inspired by their high-end Titans, these share the same quality and functionality in a more portable formfactor and at a much lower price.