30s Visual Effects Trailer Assignment


  • Green Screen

+ 3 other visual effect techniques

  • Rotoscoping
  • Tracking
  • Digital Matte painting 
  • Particle effects 
  • 3D camera


From some research I have done, this website seems to be the most useful, and it suggests these 5 things to enhance the quality and precision of what needs to be in a good movie trailer. Although I should take into account all of these things, normal feature length film trailers are usually around the 2 minute mark, whereas our trailer assignment is only 30s in length.

  • 5. It should be humble. (Let the trailer speak for itself)
  • 4. It should set up the basic premise. (Don’t give away crucial plot points)
  • 3. Introduce some, but not all, of the main characters. (Only focus on 1-2 main characters)
  • 2. Use awesome music. (Successfully reflect the mood of the movie)
  • 1. Capture the mood of the movie. (Focus on emotion, rather than plot points)

30s Trailer Structures

Beginning – Middle – End

Set-Up, Development/Turning Points, Climax, Resolution

Lots of Cuts – Each Cut only 1-2s for fast paced effect


Idea Generation and Development

I remember seeing a short montage done by my friend about addiction and it involved the standard smoking/drugs/alcohol type of thing. I found the mood he created to be really interesting and wanted to do something similar, so that’s where my starting point began. In our first VFX lesson, we also had a look at other past student’s works and a lot of them incorporated something to do with super powers. I thought I could use this idea too, since our possible requirements included particle effects, which would link in with smoke particle effects from the cigarettes. This then made me think about the villain and what characteristics and circumstances he had and also the type/genre of film I wanted to create. I decided I wanted a trailer/film, based around the life of a villain with super powers as the main character, a exaggerated-fantastical composite style. In the beginning I want to display the villain that has the smoke powers, his attacks on people and some flashbacks of his usage of cigarettes explaining the source of his powers. I also want to foreshadow church scenes and his struggle within religion cos I feel like that’s an interesting topic. Repentance, signifying his struggle with moral choices. And then we get to see a quick scene that’s cut in bits essentially displaying him killing a woman and leaving a cross with her, signifying “repentance”. All this is supposed to connect and show that he’s an extremist in his religion.

Purpose/What its about

Main Character/Villain is empowered with smoke when he smokes cigarettes for a long period of time after inhaling.

What does he gain by killing random people?

  • Sent by god to leave signs for the unbelievers. Sign = cross necklace that is left behind when killed

Incorporating Structure

Original Idea:

Set-Up: Introduces Villain, single person introduced at the beginning smoking, which makes the audience question who is this person and why he’s smoking. Text + Cross shaped exhaling of smoke answers their question to a small degree.

Turning Point/Development(Set-Up): Villain will be chasing a female victim through to a dead end alleyway.(Close Up shots of running)


Kills her with smoke. (Distinctive Cuts) (Flashback/Cutaway Shots of Him opening smoke packet where he gains power from)


I decided to make the scenes into linear scenes instead of many flashback and cut-in shots like a montage since it would make my narrative a lot harder to understand as it is already confusing.

Changes #2: Reverted to original idea of interweaving different scenes since it needs to be a trailer rather than an almost linear narrative which would be pretty boring.



Man fades into smokes +  Exhaling of Smoke turns into a picture/cross


Possible Colour

Helpful Colour correcting link

  • Two colors on opposite sides of the color wheel make a complimentary pair. This is by far the most commonly used pairing. This pairs a warm color with a cool color and produces a high contrast and vibrant result. Saturation must be managed but a complimentary pair are often quite naturally pleasing to the eye.
  • High Contrast, de-saturated look like some stylistic montages.

Final colour decision, I decided to attempt a dark look with a slight blue colour overlay, much like the example above of Voldemort in Harry Potter.

On screen text

One man, supernatural gifts bestowed upon him,  But what may be considered a blessing, could be the end, who can stop him? TABU

Sound Effects

Cinematic and suspenseful sound effect in the background.

Found on by clubsound


Using this ink drop effect

Filming Day

Props needed:

  • Cigarette
  • Lighter
  • Hookah cigarette
  • Cross Necklace

Equipment needed:

  • Tripod
  • Lighting Kit
  • Camera

Take note of:

  • 3 Point Lighting.
  • Lighting of Greenscreen, backlight, foreground lighting etc. Evenly lit.
  • Minimise spill. Stand away from greenscreen, don’t wear green, don’t have reflective clothing/items on you while shooting. Light green screen separately from actors/objects
  • Direction of lighting to fit according to the scene.

Post Production Requirements 

Colour Grading/Colour Correction

Matte Painting – Cathedral, Alley

Smoke Particle Effects

3D Camera – slight movement in alley

  • Church Scene
  • Smoke Scene
  • Alley Scene

Changes in Animatic and Final

The 2D animatic I made for assignment 1 looked and felt good in 2D, but when transitioned to 3D, the shots felt extremely fast and I felt like the audience wouldn’t have time to process what was appearing on screen. Therefore I took out some shots that I felt were the least important.

Changes I would have made for next time

  1. When shooting in greenscreen etc. The camera had a little shake and wasn’t still for the shots that couldn’t use tripod for, which makes the footage slightly shake, which doesn’t make sense and is extremely unbelievable when a background is added.
  2. Find the background/Matte Paintings that will be used or at least a rough of what will be used before shooting for a better idea of the scene and angles etc.
  3. Lighting, need to consider the mood etc. and what will be where in the scene with what kind of lighting and know all that clearly, before I go shoot. Otherwise it creates unnecessary noise/underexposure.
  4. Made a mistake shooting a roto on white background, thinking I could just roto brush them out, however, this created many problems with taking out the background, and a lot of white is left around the edges of the character.

Work In Progress – Screenshots


2D Animatic

Explored different pacing speeds etc. As well as added audio and transitional effects such as dip to black and exponential fades.

Greenscreen Filming + Live Filming

Greenscreen – The lighting was too bright even though I put them as far apart from the actor as possible given the boundaries of the room, however it still cast harsh highlights and made shadows that I didn’t want. I attempted to fix this by putting pieces of paper over the top to lessen the harshness of the lighting, however it did not do much. Also, shots had lots of grain and “noise” in them which I did not notice until I finished the shoot and my actor was no longer available. I need to be careful of this next time and adjust my camera and lighting settings accordingly.

Live Action – Again, need to be more careful of grain and noise in the footage. Originally the lighting was good and background/foreground were separated cleanly, however, the clouds moved and I didn’t notice the lighting changed etc.

WIP Animatic – Integrated the unedited filming sessions into animatic

Replaced the live footage and greenscreen footage onto the animatic and edited the title sequence and put it at the end of the trailer.

Keying out greenscreen – Keylight

Using keylight to key out the greenscreen. Adjusted the clip black/white accordingly as well as screen shrink/grow and softness.

Shaky Footage – Warp Stabilizer

Used the Warp Satbilizer tool to make my footage still, as I had to hold the camera to get the low angle shot and it had slight movements in the footage, and looked weird after keying out the green.

Photoshop background manipulation and Matte Painting –


A few examples of the matte paintings in progress screenshots as well as just colour correcting and moving, adding and subtracting objects from the images.

Blurring of backgrounds – Applied a blur effect to the background to attempt to make the image more 3D and fit in with the footage



Lighting in After Effects – makes images make more sense in terms of narrative and direction of light as well as aesthetically looking better and above all sets the mood of the film.

Applying shadow to greenscreen footage


First I duplicated the video footage, then used used the transform tool to flip the footage and applied a fill effect. I also controlled the opacity and feathering to make it look more realistic and tie in with the background.

Position/Angle of image


Adjusted the position/angle of the background images/textures I used to create the background by using basic 3d and adjusting the tilt and swivel of the image.

Colour Grading – Used various editing tools including, brightness and contrast, colour balance, channel mixer and fast colour corrector as well as lighting effects to adjust the mood of the shots. Applied a slightly dark blue adjustment layer over the top of my footage to create a “dark and scary ” mood.


Smoke Effects – Overlayed smoke effects into the scene, with varying shapes/sizes and opacity and moving the layers around so it looks like the smoke is coming from all sides as well as behind the actor.