A Free Beginner's Guide on How to Learn VFX From Home

A Free Beginner's Guide on How to Learn VFX From Home

April 15, 2020
Luke Thompson

Take advantage of these free resources to help you learn VFX at home.

Updated October 17th, 2023

Have you ever wanted to learn about visual effects but haven’t had the time or resources to do so? Well, now is your chance to make it happen! Included inside of this article is everything you’ll need to know to begin dabbling inside of VFX for the very first time for absolutely free.

You’ll need 3 things to begin: (1) Compositing software, (2) some quick-start training videos for the specific software, and (3) some footage (plates and assets) to get you up and running.

Free VFX Software

Some of the best free VFX software you can get your hands on are HitFilm Express and DaVinci Resolve. Behind the software, the developers are just as awesome! Join millions of others and start your VFX journey with these two resources.

Option 1: Download HitFilm Express
Option 2: Download DaVinci Resolve

Training Option 1: HitFilm Express

If you chose the HitFilm Express route, check out this video from FXHome's Basics Masterclass:

Training Option 2: DaVinci Resolve

If you went the DaVinci Resolve route, here is a great beginner's tutorial from Kevin Stratvert:

VFX Footage (Background Plates and Assets)

Now that you have your software of choice downloaded and installed, you'll need to have some video footage to work with. For this, you can actually shoot some different things on your smartphone or a nearby camera. But if you don't have any of your own background plates to work with, here are some free background plates for you to practice your compositing on.

The ActionVFX Practice Footage Library

If you're looking for high-quality VFX practice footage, the ActionVFX Practice Footage Library is a great place to start. Containing over 500 free background plates from a wide variety of genres, the library includes clips that are perfect for learning VFX.

Download free background plates

A Note About Green Screen Keying

If you're downloading some green screen footage, that means it isn't keyed out yet and it doesn't include an alpha channel that contains the transparency. Don't worry! Now that you're getting started in VFX, green screen footage is generally pretty easy to work with. 

Below are some training links for keying a green screen in HitFilm Express and Davinci Resolve Fusion:
Additionally, this tutorial covers 5 tips on green screen keying in any software.

VFX Stock Footage

VFX stock footage is arguably one of the most important parts of compositing visual effects. If your footage is poorly shot and just all-around sucks, then you'll have to do a lot of work in post to clean it up and make it actually look like it fits your scene.

But on the other hand, if the footage is already filmed properly (and with VFX in mind), that will drastically reduce the time it will take you to composite, and can even make your end result look a lot better than if you'd tried to film something on your own.

Because these types of elements are so crucial to the process, we feel it's important to provide a wide variety of professional-grade free assets for our users to try out. And to be honest, these same free elements have been used time and time again in television, music videos, and Hollywood feature films. I guarantee you've seen them in action, even if you haven't noticed them!

We have 23 total Collections of free assets. If you want a complete overview of what free footage we offer, including specs and technical info, this blog is for you.
After you have those 3 things locked down, the rest is really up to you and your imagination. Inside the world of visual effects, there are many different ways to achieve a specific result.

Whether you're wanting to take on visual effects as a career or you're just dabbling around as a hobby, experimentation and practice will always be your best companion. Now, go make your dreams come true!

Are you looking for a place to learn more about VFX? Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, where we release content like tutorials, live demos, and even work from some of our featured artists!

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