vc008: Wand Battle

#8 of #100videoclips. At the request of my son, a wizard wand battle, with a few special effects thrown in.

The Inspiration

Since this was my son’s choice, I suppose the inspiration was a boy wizard named Harry.

What I Did

  • Make a stable shot (such as from a tripod).
  • Film the subject on one side then the other, with comparable timing on each side. (I just counted out loud and shouted directions.)
    • I also moved the camera after the main shot and took a closeup on each side for a little more variety.
  • In the editing program, split the two sides, layer one on top of the other, and crop the one on top.
  • Throw in a little lightning. That would seem like an AfterEffects sort of thing, which it can certainly do, but this particular effect is built in to PremierePro. You specify the beginning and ending points and play around with the other parameters until you get something you like.
  • The tricky part is making sure the ends of the lightning match the ends of the wands as the wands move around. AfterEffects will, in fact, track moving objects very nicely if you set up the shot correctly. However, for something this short, I just keyframed every shot:
    • At the first frame with the lightning, turn on keyframing (the little stopwatch next to the parameter you want to control in the Effects Control window) for the beginning and end points.
    • Move forward one frame, and adjust the position of the end points to match the wands. That will automatically set another keyframe.
    • Keep adjusting the positions one frame at a time until the lightning stops.
  • The last part I added was a rapidly expanding Lens Flare effect for a little explosion action. That was also keyframed to match the moving lightning bolt.
  • At the very end, I “disappeared” the actors, replacing the shot they were in with a shot that had only the woods.

What I Learned

As always, be aware of lighting. The clouds had shifted a little between the right-side shot and the one on the left, so it made the matching a little more difficult.

Also pay attention to continuity. This is key for big-budget directors that shoot one scene over multiple days: Did the shirt have one button unbuttoned at the top or two? Was the hat cocked to the left or to the right? (Of course, fans and critics alike love to find and point out these little gaffes.)

In this case, there wasn’t much to mess up, although my son decided to be hooded on one side and hoodless on the other, and when we did the closeups, we got it wrong on one of the sides. Luckily my son remembered so we could re-do the take. Phew! Disaster averted….