Contact FutureLearn for Support
Skip main navigation
We use cookies to give you a better experience, if that’s ok you can close this message and carry on browsing. For more info read our cookies policy.
We use cookies to give you a better experience. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or read our cookies policy for more information.

Skip to 0 minutes and 12 secondsVisual effects always throws you something in that's kind of, you know. People always talk about movie magic and the things that go-- everybody has this Hollywood ideal. I mean, for me, I think the best one of my favourite stories of things not going according to plan was we had to do a big horse motion capture shoot for Exodus. And we were shooting-- I think we had like six or seven horses, guys riding them. We had chariots being pulled along. The whole works going off. And they would say, don't work with kids and animals. So obviously, we'd try and attach markers to these horses with pieces of material to help keep it nice and snug.

Skip to 0 minutes and 47 secondsAnd of course, the horses-- as horses would do-- they're not particularly impressed at wearing that for three hours at a time. So, happily tearing the material up and throwing it around so badly. The morning of the second shoot, most of the horse suits are pretty trashed. So what do you do, right? Where do you buy a horse mocap suit

Skip to 1 minute and 4 secondsfrom at 7:00 AM in the middle of the countryside?

Skip to 1 minute and 6 secondsSo we end up jumping in the car in about 7:00 AM in the morning, driving to the nearest supermarket, where you end up buying gaffer tape, super glue, and women suspenders and underwear to try and strap stuff together. I mean, I can tell you straight, if you go to the check-out with that in your basket, four blokes,

Skip to 1 minute and 23 secondsabout 8:00 o'clock, you get some pretty strange looks.

MPC: Always have a Plan B

We’re now moving from luma key- that technique that is as old as cinema itself- to the present day industry. However, the story that we share here can apply to us all. There’s always an element of unpredictability in any shoot, and even giants like MPC often have to think on their feet.

There’s an assumption that the bigger the budget the more things go to plan because you can spend your way out of trouble.

However the truth is whatever your budget, things don’t always go to plan and you need to be resilient and creative when things change unexpectedly. Adam Davis, Head of Crowds and Motion Capture at MPC, has an amusing story of a challenging time when he was working on a motion-capture shoot with horses for Ridley Scott’s Exodus (2015).

If you’ve got stories of a ‘Plan B’ you’ve been involved in - where something went wrong and you needed to adapt- tell us all, especially if you think it’s a common issue that others may one day encounter. We heard how HaZ had to use a grey wall to pull a key on when his director of photography forgot the portable green screen, for instance.

For me, it’d be the time I had to roto the back of an actor from a previous days filming when the actor fell ill. Rather than postponing the shoot we were able to ‘imply’ the actors presence in shots through careful camera angles and a little roto. Phew!

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Visual Effects for Guerrilla Filmmakers

Norwich University of the Arts (NUA)

Course highlights Get a taste of this course before you join:

  • Storyboards are only one way to communicate. Lets look at some VFX definitions.
    Visual effects or special effects?

    Like any creative subject it helps to share definitions about what things mean -this can be confusing for newcomers; it'll help us communicate better.

  • Tracking and layers: a gentle start
    Tracking and layers: a gentle start

    HitFilm guru Simon Jones shows us how to build a dramatic shot in HitFilm using layers of stock footage we provide on the course. Enjoy your 'comping'

  • The Blaine Brothers guide to using VFX
    The Blaine Brothers guide to using VFX

    The Blaine Brothers have a positive can-do attitude to VFX, and see it as a tool that should be used in the service of a story, not as decoration.

  • Still from Georges Méliès' "India Rubber Head" (1901)
    A short history of keying

    Keying isnt just a digital invention. From the early days of cinema in the 19th century film makers had used 'mattes' to amaze their audiences.

  • Insider tips on shooting green screen
    Insider tips on shooting green screen

    Justin Hunt, our long suffering director of photography for our HitFilm footage has years of experience of green screen to share with you here.

  • Cab Calloway (1932) Minnie the Moocher
    What is Rotoscoping?

    Rotoscoping is probably the most time-consuming of VFX techniques. It's often a last resort when you can't pull a key. Let's find out more about it.