We take a look at the importance of special effects (SFX) and great post-production in the world of horror filmmaking
Let’s get one thing straight, right off the top. While SFX and post-production can serve important roles in creating an entertaining horror movie, you always need to remember the fundamentals first. Enlisting the best animation services to create your monster doesn’t mean much if you haven’t taken the time to create a tight story through the aid of your storyboard, and used your video editing skills to properly pace the action and complement the story.
But practical effects and a great story may not be able to create all that you want to convey in your work. That’s where post-production and special effects (SFX) complete the picture. These aspects of filmmaking can make already good effects look better, and render landscapes and situations that would be virtually impossible to create in the real world (or at least with YOUR budget). Let’s examine some of the important ways SFX and post-production can help put more bite into your horror production.
Making the good look great – digital enhancements
The use of digital effects in post-production can often be employed as a complement, not a replacement, for practical effects. Here’s a simple example. If your creature feature employs a realistic model that is manipulated by puppeteers, even high-quality modeling can be ruined by the presence of obvious strings or other manipulative tools in the finished product. Digital technology makes it easy to erase these flaws and create a much more convincing effect. It’s a great example of using post-production resources wisely.
Breaking the bounds of practical effects for creatures
A poorly-rendered creature created by a cut-rate animation service isn’t going to convince anyone. Audiences have seen so much good CGI by now that OK won’t cut it. Always consider primary use of practical effects for your creatures, and augment them with SFX in post-production. But there’s one exception to this wise rule. When you need to thing on a big scale – think city crushing monster – practical effects aren’t probably going to do it. After all, we’ve come a long way from a guy in rubber suit destroying Tokyo. When you need something that’s on a large scale, that’s the time to call in the CGI wizards.
Sound as a special effect
Is sound a special effect? It is in my book! Sound editors and Foley artists have an indispensable role in creating the mood of your movie through the use of effects. Thanks to online sound libraries many of the sound effects necessary for your film can often be bought off the shelf and deployed easily and quickly. With these libraries it’s easy to experiment with different sounds until you get the sound bed that best supports your story. For more specific sound effect needs, a Foley artist will call upon their experience and creativity to record exactly what’s necessary to heighten the action. Breaking bones? Break some celery right by a microphone. Stabbing a zombie? Stick a screwdriver into a melon.
Make “good” “great” with SFX and post-production
I said it at the beginning, and it’s still true. You need the fundamentals to make a great horror flick. But the hard work you’ve put in creating your storyboard and doing your video editing can be taken to the next level with the wise and judicious use of special effects and smart post-production. So put it all together, and you’ll have the audience squirming in their seats when the lights go down and the curtain rises.