This is the seventh of a semi-regular series of columns I’ll be presenting on how to do some basic special effects, for people who have little to no experience. We use these effects quite frequently in our Harry Potter-based web series The Spell Tutor.
This column was written in response to an earlier discussion in this forum, and will demonstrate how to overlay simple graphics onto your footage, which is suitable for:
- Simulating social media emoji effects as seen on Instagram, etc, which is what I’ll demonstrate today
- What’s commonly known as “lower thirds”, where information is displayed along the lower third of the screen, as seen on news channels for instance
- Adding on-screen indicators such as arrows or circles to highlight specific parts of footage
First, you’ll need one image and one clip.
For images, you want a transparency-supporting format. (I usually prefer PNG as it supports high resolution without large file sizes.) What this means is that the parts on the outside of the image are see-through as far as your editor is concerned.
For clips, you want either one that comes with an alpha-channel mask, or one with greenscreen you can process yourself. In today’s example I’ll use a free clip I found.
To start, just place your main footage in your editor’s timeline. Then place the image on top for a short segment, sized down appropriately.
At this point, all that will happen is the image will appear in one spot and disappear again, which is not very exciting, so let’s jazz that up a little. Over the timeline of the image, we set different keyframes, which will set the image’s position to different spots. I’ve created this simple set so that the image will zigzag up the screen.
Now when the image appears, it’s in motion and a little more interesting. For a final touch, we’ll throw in the explosion clip. The clip will go between the image and the main footage, and I’ll use chroma key to get rid of the background.
The final result is a little simplistic, but you can easily touch it up by adding more elements, or more keyframes for additional motion.