Stock Special Effects Footage For The Low-Budget Film Maker  

by Matt Hawkins, 01/11/2010
Categories : Special FX

If you are making a film you want some visual FX. You may not need them but chances are you reading this for fun and special effects are part of that fun.

Although it's nice to create your own effects sometimes you need a helping hand by using a pre-created visual effect to enhance your footage. You might chose to do this to save time or to create effects you haven't got the resources or skills to create yourself safely.

Living in the UK it's a bit risky these days for me to be blowing up or torching stuff myself so I prefer doing it within the safety of my PC.

These sort of "risky" effects often include explosions, fire or smoke FX.

If you are making a low-budget film it is highly likely the effects you are thinking about are going to fall into one of the following categories :

- Blood & Bullet Wounds
- Bullet Hits
- Clouds
- Debris & Dust
- Dirt & Dust Explosions
- Explosions
- Fire & Flames
- Fog & Smoke
- Glass
- Guns & Muzzle Flashes
- Military Vehicle Explosions
- Sparks & Embers
- Snow, Rain & Water

You can create many of these "in-camera" but digitally adding them (compositing) after filming is often your only choice.

So how can you get these effects for free or with a limited budget?

The answer is the following list of sites. With a budget of $0 to $200 you can incorporate most of these sort of effects into your scenes.

Detonation Films
Detonation Films offer lots of effects many of which are free. These effects were created to support their own film projects and vary in quality.

Detonation Films - Unit K
Detonation Films created a new generation of effects knowns as their "Unit K" collection. These effects keep getting better and better.

Detonation Films HD
Detonation Films offer some collections of HD effects for sale. They are reasonably priced although not quite as good value as the VideoCopilot "Action Essentials" collection.

Mac Mave Studios
A small collection of quality effects including a hyperspace animation.

VideoCopilot produce various products for creating visual effects. One product that is worth a look is their "Action Essentials" collection. It is a collection of pre-keyed footage including all the cool stuff you need for next action film. It comes in two resolutions but the 720p version is only $99 which is good value for money given the use you could make from these elements. VideoCopilot also do some excellent, free tutorials on creating FX in Adobe After Effects. They are worth a look.

NoControl Cinema
A good collections of effects organised by category. They sell all the effects in "The Awesome Pack" for $120.

For a low-budget or no-budget film maker it's not practical to buy all these effects but I think that you could get good value for your money with a small collection made up from the effects available.

Personally the "Actions Essentials" or "The Awesome Pack" collections are good value for $100-120. You could use these effects again and again in multiple projects.
Given you could spend $20 creating just one of the effects yourself they start to look like an essential purchase.

If you are making a costume drama then that value may be more debatable ... but for everyone else making action-sci-fi-horror-gun-blood-and-explosion-fests they are a useful resource to have in your library.

Author : Matt Hawkins  Last Edit By : Matt Hawkins
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