Special Effects from the Matrix

Sophisticated special effects can give your video a real boost! When used correctly, you will see genuine engagement, more shares, and increased sales leads. Learn more about the techniques you can use to make your videos stand out from the crowd with our simple guide.

1. Hotspots

One of the hottest video trends around, interactive hotspots allow you to direct viewers within and even outside the video. You can point them towards another section of the video, allow them to replay a section, embed links to other videos, or launch a website in a new window.

2. Split the Screen

Split the screen to tell two stories at once. This special effect is particularly effective when you need to highlight similarities between characters, or perhaps demonstrate differences between products.

3. Steadycam Smoothee

Think of those famous scenes in The Shining where the camera glides through the corridors, and you’ll understand what the Steadycam will achieve for your video. Strictly speaking, this is a piece of equipment, but the effect it creates is notable. Invest in the Steadycam Smoothee and spend some time walking with it – this might sound silly, but it will take some practice to get the technique right. iMovie also built an effective tool that will stabilize motion.

4. The Distressed Look

Check out Rowbyte Software’s Data Glitch 2 – this clever plugin makes your footage look broken. When everyone else is trying to achieve that perfect look, the distressed effect will make your video really stand out.

5. Annotations

The more information you can share with viewers, the better. The trick is to share it in different ways, and that’s where annotations come in. This special effect enriches the experience by adding labels, pop-up speech bubbles, and spotlights that highlight areas for the viewer.

6. Filters

If you’re using Instagram or Vine, give the pre-loaded filters a go. They will enhance the colors and give your video a polished effect. We recommend previewing each filter before committing to see which one looks best. There are also plugins for different editing programs available that mimic these popular filters.

7. The Comic Book Effect

If you want to add an element of fun to your video, consider looking into the comic book style – the energy and action will really bring your project to life. Think animated puffs of smoke, bolts of electricity, or flying arcs and you’ll understand what Comic Pop is all about. Each animation is hand-drawn, which lends a professional appearance to the video. You can demo Comic Pop through FxFactory and buy from Final Cut Pro X’s own site.

8. Tilt Shift

This technique is popular with photographers, but it can be used by video makers too. The shot is manipulated so it appears as if it is a miniature-scale model.

A word of warning – not everything works with this effect. Anything that would work as a small-scale model is suitable: transport, buildings, or a cityscape. People don’t make great subjects for this technique (if they are present, ensure they’re smaller than everything else in the scene). It’s easy to create this effect with TiltShift Video – Miniature effect for movies and photos By Fidel Lainez from iTunes.

9. Green Screens

Although they seem pretty advanced, green screens are actually not that hard to use. The trick is to ensure the green background is one consistent color, with no bright spots or shadows to make sure it’s easy to key out the background during the editing process. If you decide to go this route, check out our in-depth guide to using green screens in your next shoot.

Knowing when and where to use special effects is key. To avoid over-using these features, it’s important to measure viewers’ responses. By using SproutVideo’s analytics tools, you can easily assess the impact of your efforts on viewers. The right effects will encourage engagement rather than function as a distraction. Dig deeper to find out when they stop watching, and which sections they connect with.

If you know of a special effect that’s got viewers talking, let us know! We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Written by Laci Texter

SproutVideo blog contributor. You can follow her on Twitter and Google+.

Posted May 31, 2016

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