Top Five Low Budget Video Special Effects

Top Five Low Budget Video Special Effects

Being the typical poor college student, it can be hard to get all the equipment or have a big budget while trying to produce a video. I found some easy “do it yourself” special effects for video production that can help you save money and come close to the special effects the video production pros use to spice up your video:

video-production-dolly1. Cart Dolly

One effect that I use often is dolly shots because they bring more depth and create interesting angles that can make a video more interesting. Instead of spending an obscene amount of money on a dolly, I normally will secure a tripod using rope or bungee cords onto a cart or rolling chair. These are items you can easily find in your home or business. You get the same effect a dolly would without spending any money at all in some cases.  If you are going to go this route, make sure that you are using a very smooth rolling chair – preferably with a completely flat surface to secure your camera to.

Gels-for-video-production2. Craft Store Gels

Lighting gels really brings a new level to video production. They can help emphasize the emotion that the director is trying to portray. However, the problem that people can run into is that lighting gels can be very expensive. Lighting gels are simply transparent paper, which you can easily pick up at any craft store. You can also take clear transparent paper and put a thin coat of paint on. This can transform the paper into any color gel you would need for $5.00 or less, depending on how many you need.

Throwing-Knife-video-effect3. Throwing Knife Effect

Adding an action scene to a movie can always spice it up. One special effect you may enjoy is learning how to stage a knife throw. The trick is to have the thrower and the victim not be in the same frame and it’s normally better to pick up a fake knife at your local costume shop or dollar store. You would first shoot the person throwing the knife. Then you would have the victim hold the knife where they will be hit and fall. The trick is to line these shots closely together. As soon as the knife leaves the throwers hand cut to the scene of the victim holding the knife. This will make it seem realistic and give your action video what it needs.


4. Time Warp Effect

For you sci-fi fanatics, this next effect will really bring what you need to make your space adventure video legit. All you need is steel wool, an old fan, and a chain. You connect the steel wool to a chain, using the twistable connectors, then connect the chain to the fan, best kind would be a metal fan. Set up a tight shot and for safety precautions I would advise using safety glasses. The safest place to do this is outside because sparks will be flying everywhere. Light the steel wool on fire (ideally using a propane torch). When you turn the fan on, the steel wool will create a time warp effect.

Crane-shot-video-effect-tool5. Crane Shots

One easy way to create a crane shot would be using a telescope painter’s pole. They range from $5 to $90 and can be found at any hardware store or online shopping site. If you want to create a flying effect you can also brush your camera against true branches to get a breezy look.

Check out Shanks FX tutorial on doing the crane shot here:

If you’re ready to get serious and have the video production pros do it for you with professional grade equipment and years of experience, get ahold of us here.




Picture credits:

Cart dolly:

Craft store gels:

Time warp:

Knife throw:

Crane shot: