Simon Jones

Simon Jones

I’m a writer and filmmaker based in Norwich, England.

I write a lot and work at FXHOME. Check out my projects on my blog: or find me on Twitter

Location Norwich, UK


  • The course will remain available to everybody who has already signed up. :)

  • Glad you got up and running! Sorry for the fiddlyness.

  • The circle button to the left of any property turns keyframing on and off for that property. If you already have keyframes, they will be removed. If you actually want to add a new keyframe to your current frame (assuming you have keyframing turned on) you have two options:

    1. Make a change to the property's value. eg, move the mask. This will add a new...

  • Thanks go to all of you for showing up to follow this course! It was a blast putting it together with Saint, MPC and FutureLearn and it's been great fun following all of your progress.

  • See you on the forums! :)

  • That's illustrious company you're putting us in there! Thanks for following the course.

  • We'd love to do a follow-up! :)

    HitFilm was designed from the start to have very transferable skills. We wanted to make sure that the time people put into learning how to use it would also serve them well in other software such as AE.

  • Excellent! :)

  • Great to hear, thanks Martin!

  • mocha HitFilm does indeed include the camera solver for creating a camera track. mocha's approach is slightly different to traditional 'point cloud' camera trackers, though. You won't necessarily get a cloud of points representing the scene in 3D space like in this project. Instead, mocha tends to work more relatively, and relies on your specifying which parts...

  • We discuss the Mac and PC question in this week's YouTube episode, as it happens:

    These days, unless you're doing extensive 3D animation and modelling, it doesn't really matter which platform you're on, so it's more about which one you happen to prefer.

  • Really glad that you've enjoyed the course! Thanks.

  • I don't quite understand your question, sorry - what do you mean by intermediate path and path items?

  • We'd all love to do a follow-up! Really glad you've enjoyed the course.

  • Thanks for the feedback, John. Apologies if I wasn't clear in some places!

    The pro version of HitFilm recently had a major overhaul to its general 3D navigation controls, which you might find more familiar coming from a 3D animation background. These changes will hopefully make it into the free version at some point in the future.

  • Terry - aha! That's fixed it and the camera move is far more convincing now. The interesting thing about the camera track in this project and the various points in 3D space is that they show you the position of key locations in the general foreground, but you don't have precise data for where anything should be in Z-space once you're behind the warehouse. You...

  • Seems like spaceships are popular around here. ;) If you're interested in that kind of stuff, you might be interested in a (non-FutureLearn) tutorial we put on our YouTube channel recently:

  • There's never enough time in the day! Glad you're enjoying using HitFilm.

  • Nice edit! We designed each of the tutorial weeks so that they'd look conceptually similar, as if from the same project, so it was fun to see them put together like that. :)

  • As Terra says, feathering specifically softens the edge of a matte. This is very useful but you have to be careful when you use it so that you don't end up with a smudgy composite.

  • Thanks, Jay! You've gone for a grade and a sky background which really work to bind the whole shot together. Nice job.

  • I wasn't expecting the dog. :)

  • Nice job, Terry. One thing I'd take a closer look at is the building on the right of frame, as it doesn't appear to be moving correctly in parallax with the rest of the shot. Note that it reveals more of itself as the camera moves down, when it should actually become more obscured. Check its distance from the camera - it might not be far enough back.

  • Love the addition of the spaceship!

  • Check which tool you have selected in the Viewer. If you don't have the Select tool active (the arrow), then layer controls won't show up even if you have the layer selected on the timeline.

  • Not having a TV must result in lots of extra time to be productive!

    Personally I would highly recommend having a modern Windows system online and fully up-to-date. Not installing fixes and updates leaves your machine at greater risk, especially if you ever do install software or put files on it from other sources (eg, transferred via a USB stick or...

  • When you try to activate on the computer you'll be given full instructions. HitFilm will give you a website address which you'll need to copy down and visit on the internet-connected machine. You'll then need to download an activation key from that website, which you can then use on your disconnected machine to activate.

    Sorry, it is a little bit fiddly!...

  • Natural elements like waving trees, or footprints appearing in sand/snow/etc can be a nightmare ith this kind of shot. :)

  • The actors do a phenomenal job of making it look effortless, despite all the technical complexity going on around them.

  • Thanks!

  • Great tip! For something like this, it can sometimes be more efficient to create a 'clean' plate in a dedicated image editor such as Photoshop, then import that still image and composite it inside HitFilm.

  • Fantastic show with really wonderful effects. There's a behind-the-scenes here:

    Conceptually this shot uses similar techniques to what we've been covering, they just take it to a REALLY high level. There's a lot of roto going on, and they've got the blue screen to make some of the comping easier (notably, it will have made it...

  • Glad you liked it!

  • It looks to me like you've added the day-for-night to the video layer, then added the effects on layers above. This means that the fire and lightning aren't receiving the same grading, which results in them standing out.

    Instead, try adding a new Grade layer on top of everything and adding the day-for-night to that. This will then apply the grading to all...

  • Exactly - the more you can get the impression of interaction into the shot, the more convincing it'll be. Viewers won't even think that it's a VFX shot. Of course, the more interaction there is, the more planning you have to do and the trickier the compositing, but it can be worth it!

  • Entirely up to you - we're not 'marking' any of your creations, but if you'd like to share your work or get some constructive criticism then go right ahead. :)

  • Excellent job.

  • Correct - it's a trade-off between being easy to distribute for the course while still performing acceptably. Proxying the clips or converting in advance to a more optimised format is often a good idea.

  • That's pretty cool! As I'm sure you discovered very quickly, the biggest challenge here is the shadows. By shooting at that time of day you have very long shadows, which then get cropped by the various masks. Shooting with the sun higher in the sky so that you had shorter shadows, or rotating your shot around so that no shadow crossed over into the other takes...

  • You can install to a machine without the internet. You'll need to download the installer first, of course, and then transfer it over to the other computer. Activation is normally done online, but if the computer isn't connected to the internet you'll be provided with an offline method. You'll still need access to the internet on a separate device (another...

  • Nigel - in that case, it should still b able to activate on the Mac. It'll simply deactivate on the PC in that case.

    Carolyn - will take a look now, sorry!

  • Old school!

  • Order of effects is often very important, as Dave says.

  • Have you tried clicking the 'HD' button on the video player to make sure it plays in high def? That way you should be able to see everything in clear detail.

  • Absolutely, Daniel - in terms of fundamentals you can learn them relatively quickly. I hope by the end of this course everyone will feel quite comfortable and familiar with compositing in general. From that point, it's then about the specifics of each shot, and experimenting with different combinations of effects and layers. - but the core concepts remain the...

  • As Hussein says, what specification is your computer?

  • We await your questions! :)

  • That sounds about right. If you upload to YouTube we can take a closer look. Was it the relative movement that looked wrong?

  • We don't specifically endorse these sites as we're not connected with them, but take a look at and

  • Thanks for sharing those links, Rob.

    If you follow Rob's second link to the main tutorials page, focus on the left column, 'Start here'. Running through those tutorials more-or-less in order will teach you a ton of extra information we don't have time to get into here on the course.

    Chris - glad to help! It's exciting to interact with everyone taking...

  • It does look rather high contrast now, but the layers do blend together better.

    Crush blacks & whites is a bit of a brute force effect. You can do subtler adjustments using the Levels Histogram effect. What you're aiming for is to match the black points of both clips, without drastically increasing the overall contrast. Levels lets you do this by moving the...

  • Thanks for sharing those links, Jonathan.

  • In terms of matching those layers together, the relative contrast between the two is off, which is what's giving it away as being two elements. The blacks in the background are very deep and solid, while the foreground is more washed out. If you apply the Levels Histogram effect to both layers you can compare the composition of the layers and contrast.

  • Thanks for the clarification on that one, David.

  • As a preview, check out this tutorial (which isn't part of the course, but might be useful):

  • If you're after invisibility, the displacement effect is a good one to play around with.

  • We have a real mixture of users. Some use HitFilm for everything and others mix it into their existing workflow, using it as a compositor alongside Premiere, or Vegas, or Final Cut Pro. Some even already have an alternative compositor like After Effects, but switch between that and HitFilm depending on the needs of the specific task.

  • It's hard to tell just from watching the video, but it looks like there must be something amiss on those specific frames. Try examining those frames closely in the program, and taking a look at what the animation keyframes do. That might reveal what's going on.

  • Yes, markers on the green screen would work well in this case.

  • If you guys have specific questions please do ask here in the comments and I'll try to respond!

  • It sounds like you might have changed the blend mode of the layer itself (in Layer properties). You want to leave that as 'Normal', and instead change the blend mode of the Light wrap effect, which you'll find in the layer's effects section.

  • That's a good result.

    The particle simulator is a HitFilm 4 Pro feature, although you can add it to Express as an add-on. You can find out more about particles in general here:

    Even without generated particles you could still use stock footage of falling snow.

  • Nice work! The main area to look into is matching the look of the two layers. Note how the blacks in the background are very deep and dark, where the foreground looks more washed out. This difference in contrast reveals them to be two separate layers. For a fast and simple fix, try applying the 'crush blacks & whites' effect to the foreground and tweaking the...

  • @Adam - do you know what graphics card you have? That's probably the single main factor with HitFilm performance.

  • Simon Jones replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    Shooting at a high shutter speed will definitely help with automated tracking. That said, it will also give your footage a very different look and feel which might not be suitable for the story you're trying to tell. With VFX you're always having to balance all those different requirements. Modern tracking technology is actually pretty good at dealing with...

  • Hana - glad to help!

    Michael - roto is a universal term for manually copying movement across multiple frames. This has all kinds of applications, from manually masking around a moving object to applying a lightsaber effect to a prop sword. Roto is a skill which requires extreme patience as it is often frame-by-frame work, although some tools do exist to...

  • Correct - although you don't need to splice them back together, as they can exist quite happily as separate layers on the timeline. When played back, the audience won't see any discernible change as it goes from one layer to the other.

    Dave's technique is very valid, and is especially useful if you want a mask to come and go several times during a shot.

  • Yes, the techniques also apply to AE.

  • Go for it!