Level 3 : VFX

Challenge Details

For this project we would like you to create a VFX sequence (25fps @ 1080p) from a photograph you have taken. The shot can explore any stylistic avenue of your choosing but must have modifications. You may wish to add colour correction and montage several 2D assets into your base plate or create whole new 3D sections or extensions.

Shot length can be 6 – 10 seconds long. It is suggested that you may want to add some audio to enhance the effects or help with the dramatic mood of the shot (music).

The scene will have four stages and in each stage you are expected to demonstrate your skills and knowledge in the areas highlighted.


The VFX shot should appear realistic, have some atmospheric effects (e.g. smoke, fog, particulate), visual depth (eg. planar elements to simulate depth with a camera move), in order to make the audience feel like they are viewing actual footage. Grading and colour correction will be applied to the final stage.


Stage 1
Plate clean up & Rotoscoping

  • Turning your photograph into 4K multi-layered artwork
  • Initial scene creation in Compositing software at 1080p
  • Adding a camera move to simulate a live action shot.

Stage 2
3D Model/Particle Simulations/Compositing

  • Adding moving footage to your scene – live action and/or smoke
  • Importing a 3D model (fbx for Nuke or Fusion, cineware in After Effects)
  • Creating a particle system for particulate/dust for added atmosphere
  • Understanding different layering modes for compositing

Stage 3
Set Extension/ Sky replacement

  • Simple keying and masking techniques on background layers
  • Adding new sky (animating if possible)
  • Potentially adding footage to extend the environment

Stage 4
Final Grade and production

  • Colour correction/balance of all layers in project (using After Effects/Speedgrade/Resolve)
  • Add a final grade to your sequence and prepare for export
  • Export H.264 – 25p @ 1080p for online video host.


Project Assessment Criteria:



  • Initial statement of intent. Clear idea defined 10 %
  • Concept Mood board – Linked to initial statement (sketchbooks, pdf’s) 10 %
  • Reference acquisition (including copyright) – Listing of source materials used in the production 10 %
  • (Licenses for all used plug-ins, but the purpose here is not not use any plug-ins but only the stuff that comes with the standard software)
  • Commentary on production process (Blog-Vlog), techniques used, problems solved 20%
  • Final VFX sequence link to 1080p movie (Youtube, Vimeo etc) – 50%



Resources :


Youtube –

Arunz Creation have some great tutorials on their channel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZ_R5V5in-4&list=PL1gW9t4-0qhIzZVZzTIg8mc-mZAwiIZjI&index=5 (Parts 1 & 2)

VidMuze cover some of the aspects of creating layers and camera moves in After effects.


CG Bros have some great VFX breakdowns, a good way to look at the way shots are put together



The VFX house cover sky replacement here


Creative North have a piece on colour grading


Justin Odisho shows how to use Adobe Premiere to colour correct and grade


Video Copilot

Andrew Kramer’s website video copilot is full of great VFX shots and tutorials. Weve highlighted a few here.