How to Add Special FX to Instagram Videos
Skimming through your Instagram feed, you expect the usual crop of selfies, cats, lunches and babies. You don’t expect are exploding refrigerators.
… Unless you follow our pal, Okay Samurai.
He uses Adobe After Effects to add special effects to his Instagram videos.
Okay Samurai (aka Dave) put together a guide so that you too can use After Effects to make a fridge explode.
It requires a few more steps than editing on the phone, but it turns out it’s simpler than you’d think!
With Dave’s step by step guidance and a free 30-day trial of AE up for grabs, now is the perfect time to pick up a new skill and spice up your Instagram feed.
- Camera or phone that can shoot video
- Adobe After Effects (30-day free trial here)
- A phone or tablet with Instagram
STEP 1: ACT OUT THE EXPLOSION
Record yourself opening the door and recoiling back to the ground from the imaginary blast.
Try at least 3-5 takes; screaming/yelping is encouraged.
Import the footage to your computer.
STEP 2: FIRING UP AFTER EFFECTS
The framerate should be whatever you shot with (if you’re not sure, google the type of camera or phone you’re using and the word framerate).
The duration should be 15 seconds (for now; we can shorten it later).
Note: You can click on any of the images in this tutorial to get a closer look. :)
STEP 3: ADD YOUR FOOTAGE
Find your footage and click Open to add it to the project.
STEP 4: MAKE IT SQUARE
Shift-drag the corners to resize it. Position it so you can see the action (press the spacebar for playback).
STEP 5: FIND AN EXPLOSION
Search for “free explosion matte” online (or just use these ones from Detonation Films).
Mattes are short videos on a neutral background, that give you a clean element you can layer on top of your video.
Download as many cool ones as you want, preferably on a black background, and import them into your project tab.
STEP 6: BLENDING IN
In the timeline below, find the mode area (if you don’t see it, click “Toggle Switches / Modes”).
Set this to “Add,” which will remove the black background and blend with your video.
STEP 7: ADJUSTING THE BLAST
While the layer is selected, press P to adjust position, R to adjust rotation, or S to adjust scale.
Make it look like the explosion is blasting towards you (we’ll find a way to put it behind the door later).
STEP 8: DUPLICATE
Move this new layer above the explosion and double-click the duplicate layer.
STEP 9: YOUR SECRET WEAPON – THE ROTOBRUSH
AE will put a purple border around your painted area and attempt to follow it through the rest of the video.
We usually move frame-by-frame and make adjustments by painting more or removing unwanted areas (option + drag on Mac / alt + drag on Windows).
What you’re essentially trying to do is isolate this door as a foreground object, so the explosion will feel like it’s happening behind the door.
STEP 10: PREVIEW THE FACE-MELTING ACTION
You may need to double-click the rotobrushed clip again to make more fine-tuned adjustments.
STEP 11: LIGHT AS A FEATHER
This will blur the edges of your fridge door so it feels a little less abrupt.
STEP 12: LOUD NOISES!
Search for “free explosion wav” online (we used freesound.org) and import a sound file you like into your timeline.
Move it to begin right around the start of the explosion.
In the file menu, go to Composition > Preview > RAM Preview, wait for a quick render, and watch your video play back at full speed with sound.
STEP 13: THE FINAL EDIT
Ideally you’ll start right as you’re entering the scene and end a couple of seconds after the blast.
STEP 14: SAVE YOUR VID
Rendering is saving, in video speak.
Click the Render button on the right, which will then take a minute to dish out your final piece.
Your video might be pretty huge. If you want to export it to a smaller size, use Quicktime. Open your vid, then File > Export > 720p should do the trick.
STEP 15: SHOW OFF YOUR WORK!
Add the clip to a new Instagram video and you’re done!
Take it Further
- You can use these basic techniques to create all sorts of crazy and fun scenarios. The best special FX Instagrams are unexpected – just take an ordinary situation and have something ridiculous happen.
- Watch Okay Samurai’s video above for more editing inspiration. Or, follow him on Instagram, @okaysamurai.
- Use your new found skills (and free AE trial) to join in on your favorite music video.