A Little Bit of Magic on my Showreel

There are loads of tutorials on how to create a floating object using After Effects (AE). It’s pretty simple: stick a video camera on a tripod and video yourself without your phone, but move your hands and stare at them as if doughnuts are sprouting out of your fingers. Then shoot some footage of your phone dangling from a piece of dental floss – just tape it on to your phone – in front of a green screen.

To put these two together on After Effects, you mask out the phone footage, insert it into the performer’s footage and make several key frames on the phone’s position and rotation (optional).

Having finished my first version, my dad remarked there was something missing – it lacked a payoff. He suggested having someone come into the room and grab the phone as it was hovering mid-air. This was going to be tricky!

So the next day, we re-shot the entire performance but this time my dad’s hand came into shot snatching at thin air. Somehow I had to put the phone in his hand using AE.

So how did I do that?

Well, let’s just say it took f***ing ages to figure that out. There were no tutorials on YouTube for that particular trick, so I had to play around with masking.


This is what I did: I masked the phone itself so that my dad’s hand overlapped the phone and looked as if it were grabbing it. It’s very similar to what you do in Photoshop. I imagine it’s not the most accurate method but luckily my dad moved his hand quite quickly so you couldn’t really spot my not-so-perfect masking.

Next thing: music. My dad suggested something ‘playful’. I found a royalty-free piece of music and cut it up to fit the action. And cos it’s a bit like a silent film, I made the video black and white… And voila, my 30 second video was ready to upload to Vimeo and YouTube.

When I showed the results to my dad, he laughed, really happy I’d pulled it off. We showed it to our neighbour who’s like 60 something and his eyes popped out of his head.

I had a lot of fun making that one, so I’m planning on making a few more VFX videos – they could be useful for when I finally get my paid internship.

Anyway, I hope the video brings a smile to your face. Please share!