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4 Blockbuster Effects To Start Creating With VFX Stock Footage

4 Blockbuster Effects To Start Creating With VFX Stock Footage

Replicating the VFX you watch in Hollywood-budget films and shows has never been more achievable.

For many of us, the VFX dream started with a simple proposition: take what we saw on the big screen and do it ourselves. In the modern era of independent filmmaking and internet content, this dream is more possible than ever. 

As technology advances, so too does the art, and we have quick, inexpensive, and flexible solutions to some of Hollywood's most common big-budget tropes. The following are just a few of many which can all be achieved with the help of quality stock footage!

A Ruined City

A city on fire with large smoke plumes rising above
One of the most challenging things to do on a large scale is altering the environment of a scene. Taken from the top down, this involves full CG replacements, intense tracking, and a whole lot of rotoscoping for your foreground elements. 

Flip the script and you can find a bottom-up approach instead. Take a ruined city for example and start with the details. We need some smoke, dust, and ash to fill the scene. Perhaps some fire out of a few windows. Throw in a sky replacement and a post-apocalyptic color grade and you’re off to the races. 

This building block approach is a strength of stock footage compositing. You can take a scene from zero to hero with a couple well-placed assets and some atmosphere over top. 

Tutorials to get you started:

Collections to get you started:


Explosions

Multiple large scale explosions
This is the true classic. When someone says VFX and stock footage, a common next step in the thought process is that big beautiful fireball. Explosions are great because of their versatility. Meteors, bombs, aliens, car crashes, you name it. All of these and more can feature an explosion in some way or another. 

Throw in a star actor with sunglasses not looking at the explosion and you’ve got yourself a blockbuster. We're only kidding! In all seriousness, there’s a level of depth and wow factor achievable through stock assets that was once locked behind pyrotechnic experience, cost, and most importantly safety concerns. 

Like all VFX, we recommend using this sparingly and letting the story guide your hand, unless you’re really going for that slapstick look, in which case ctrl+d to your heart's content. 

Tutorials to get you started: 

Collections to get you started:


Muzzle Flares / Gunfire

Two soldiers firing weapons with muzzle flash
Another action movie and stock footage classic, the muzzle flash is versatile like the explosions and something which pays dividends when you put the time in. A nice flash starts with the stock footage, but it’s the layering of sparks, smoke, and other hits that will really make your scene look pro. 

Again, this is a full Hollywood effect that’s achievable with pretty strong results through even a phone camera and some basic stock elements. Consider ways of building off of this capability as well. 

Finger guns, cardboard guns, tiny guns, some of our favorite VFX creators online have taken simple gun effects to new heights through creative storytelling and strong polish in post. 

Tutorials to get you started: 

Collections to get you started:


Sci-fi Blasts and Bursts

Man shooting a Star Wars blaster
The special thing about sci-fi blasts and bursts is not only do we have dedicated assets ready to go, but you can adapt any of the above to match. When you’re working with high quality stock assets, your flexibility is nearly limitless. 

Consider a composition with a billowy explosion, sparks underneath, and some lingering smoke to follow. If you hue shift toward purple, and add some distortion to the blast you’re left with an Alien grenade effect. 

Even easier is the use of blaster hits, spell hits, and lightning for these effects, which are all included in our free category. I find sci-fi effects to be one of the areas where one can get most creative. There are layers and layers (no pun intended) of particles, processing, and more you can add straight out of the box inside of any major compositors. With stock footage as a base, and this in mind, you can achieve a whole host of incredible looks. 

Tutorial to get you started:

Free Collections to get you started: 


These are just a few places to start with using stock footage to enhance your projects! There are so many more implementations which are quick, affordable, and simply look great. Get out there and start creating. 

First time here? ActionVFX creates the best pre-keyed stock footage for VFX and filmmaking. (We also have some great free stuff!)

From Fire and massive Explosions to Blood and Gore VFX, we have the largest VFX library in the world ready to be composited in your project. Check out over 3,400 VFX stock footage elements right here.

We've also just launched our new initiative: CreatorVault.com. CreatorVault contains curated collections of video editing assets for video creators.

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