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.
4.18
Green leotard protesters
2014 Academy Awards demonstration to raise awareness of the VFX industry

Inspiration and Perspiration

Inspiration and Perspiration: you need both to succeed so they say. So we thought we’d assemble a list of our favourite guerrilla-style VFX shorts to inspire you, and a list of some amazing guerrilla filmmaking learning resources for those of you who want more brain stretching tutorials. We’re putting these under the headings of Inspiration and Perspiration for you to choose from.

INSPIRATION

Here’s a list of guerrilla-style, low budget videos that really inspired us.

Alex Roman’s amazing “The Third and the Seventh” (2009). When it first emerged out of nowhere over six years ago many refused to believe it was CGI. However the most startling thing about this reflective and meditative piece about photography and architecture is it points to a new direction for VFX to explore metaphorical and allegorical spaces.

“Bertie the Elephant” (2016) is a final year student film created by Chris Turner and Zak Boxall at the University of Hertfordshire, UK. It follows the story of a baby elephant returning a lost toy to its owner in the city at night. A few years ago this type of work was only possible in big VFX houses. We include it here as a sign of what’s possible for guerrilla filmmakers these days.

“Uncanny Valley” (2015) by Frederico Heller combines social commentary with VFX to paint a picture of the slums of the future, where virtual reality junkies satisfy their violent impulses in online entertainment.

For sheer madcap fun Michael Shanks’ “Time Trap” (2014) takes some beating. A hyperactive space traveller goes to great lengths to get spare parts for his strange ship.

Bruce Branit’s “World Builder” (2009) is a more gentle film in which a mysterious man uses holographic tools to create a world for the woman he loves.

It’s really nice to see VFX used with humour, especially if it pokes fun at one of it’s biggest users in cinema- Michael Bay. Edwin Lais’s very short piece imagines “What would a nature documentary be like if the animals were armed with our favorite weapons?” It’s like Michael Bay meets David Attenborough.

No list of inspirational VFX would be complete without David Sandberg’s ridiculously well observed tribute to 80s pop culture “Kung Fury” (2015) which was originally successfully crowdfunded.

Corridor Digital started out as some of the earliest users of HitFilm back in the early 2000s when they were barely into their teens. They now have over 3.5 million subscribers and work with companies like Ubisoft to make great action-VFX extravaganzas. Oh, and every video has extensive behind-the-scenes clips to learn from.

OK, we bent the rules a bit here, to allow one commercial project into our list, but it still has a guerrilla attitude to the way it was created. Mill+ Directors Bif designed and directed a fittingly striking Opening Title Sequence for this year’s OFFF Porto, a festival of what they call Post-Digital Creation Culture.

We could go on, but we thought you might also want to contribute your favourite inspiring short films. We’ve tried to limit our selection to guerrilla style shorts, rather than well funded studio creations. Share any inspirational shorts with us!

PERSPIRATION

Here’s a list of great learning resources to stretch your VFX muscles!

There’s no better source for filmmaking advice than Film Riot, where you’ll find over five years of amazing videos ranging from scriptwriting to cinematography and, yes, visual effects. Every week they also recommend a short film to check out, so it’s a great show for finding inspiration.

Our very own Simon Jones is part of a weekly YouTube show which alternates between practical filmmaking tips and HitFilm tutorials. There’s also four years of archived videos waiting to be discovered. If you’ve enjoyed using HitFilm Express, this is the place to go deeper!

We’ve covered a lot of film history as part of this course, all the way back to Méliès. if you want more of that good stuff, be sure to check out FilmmakerIQ. They’ve even got a superb video all about green screen.

Here’s a great collaboration between Pixar Animation Studios and Khan Academy. Sponsored by Disney. Want to know more about how a modern animation company works? This is the place.

We mustn’t forget Andrew Kramer’s Video Copilot; a collaborative resource for training, design tools and artists. It shows you how effects can be created so that you can apply these techniques on your own creative adventures.

What are your favourite places to go for free VFX tips or tutorials? Share them with us!

Share this article:

This article 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?
    article

    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
    video

    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
    video

    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
    article

    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
    video

    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?
    article

    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.