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Five Inspirations for your Holiday Personal VFX Project

Five Inspirations for your Holiday Personal VFX Project

Get into the VFX spirit and start something fresh this Holiday Season!

As working creatives, it’s easy to let your craft be confined to your job. You put in the hours, and by the time you get home you’re so burnt out and tired from deadlines and tough projects, that the last thing you want to do is boot up your computer for even more software time. Sometimes, however, there’s nothing better to reaffirm your spirit for visual effects than a classic non-work project. 

Personal projects, as the name suggests, serve no purpose other than to try something fun and enjoyable on your own accord. Maybe you finish it, maybe you don’t. Maybe it’s something you take seriously, maybe it’s not. The point is personal projects are whatever you want them to be. The best place to start before you dive into something this holiday season is inspiration.

1. Educational Content

After several projects with local museums and institutes, one of the most exciting uses of visual effects in my own experience is for the purpose of education. It’s a true power, the ability to visualize things which do not exist otherwise. Take the above video from our friends at Corridor Digital for example. They understood a strength of CG software is scaleable precision and came up with new and exciting ways to visualize the scale of the universe for their viewers.

This principle is used on a much smaller scale by more simple science content creators such as Minute Physics. Though much of their work revolves around hand drawn animation and diagrams, there are several compositing and motion graphics tricks seamlessly integrated. You could even make educational VFX content… using VFX!

2. Abstract Instagrams

Among the constant pursuit of photorealism and extreme detail, one of the most intriguing and paradoxical uses of 3D software is in abstract art. Try these tags on Instagram and you’ll quickly see what I mean: procedural, generative, renderzone. Here, the rabbit hole begins and before you know it your Instagram bookmarks are filled with fascinating loops and simulations. 

One of my personal favorites in this realm is the artist Zolloc, who takes it to an entirely different level with pastel tones, uncomfortable creations, and a lot of gooey animation.
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A post shared by Hayden Zezula (@zolloc) on

3. SideFX Houdini

This item could also be named: try a new software, but there’s something really special about SideFX Houdini and the way it’s operated. Within just a few basic tutorials, you’ll have rudimentary systems for collisions, shatters, water simulations, rag dolls, and more committed to memory. 

From there, Houdini really starts to feel more like a video game than a piece of software. What if you drop a 50kg sphere into a tank of water? What if you make it twice as big? Twice as small? This node based procedural tool lets you tweak and play in a manner akin to sandbox experiences—it really is a blast. Learn enough and spit out some eye-catching renders, and you could start an Instagram like above. 

4. Memes

Hear me out… Some of the very best memes and gifs one can find online involve at least a bit of visual effects magic. You can track your family’s faces onto funny clips from movies, you can take your bosses old Facebook pictures and add sunglasses and explosions. Some of the very best gifs even incorporate anime style animations and simulations for a real jaw dropping look.

The best part about these quick gags is that they’re shareable, bite sized, and don’t take a lot to create. It’s the perfect personal project for when you have nothing to do and you’re all caught up on Netflix Originals. Got a couple hours to kill? Why not make a meme.

5. Stock Footage

The best part about stock footage is its extreme ratio of quality to resources spent. Both time and money are saved while still being able to achieve amazing results. For a personal project, this means even more time to get creative and have fun with a cool shot or effect you’re trying to accomplish. 

Consider a setting even as simple as your own house or apartment: you could turn any room into an apocalyptic hideout by flipping a couple chairs and adding some fog, smoke, and debris. Your roommates might not approve, but anything for the shot!

If you find yourself feeling uninspired or burnt out from visual effects this holiday season, try to flip your perspective. Consider a new approach, create something which has its own purpose and is free from deadlines or expectations. Most importantly, and as the final ingredient of a good personal project: have fun.

via Gfycat

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