A thunderstorm and an email. How are they connected? And how do they save you money?

Two things happened overnight that on the surface are not connected but look a bit deeper and they are.

First off, we had a very impressive thunderstorm and lightning display for over half an hour at about 10 o’ clock that sent Dougie Doggie scampering to hide under the nearest table as is his wont.

And later I got an email telling me my subscription to one of the many, many stock footage websites had expired, and did I want to continue?

Now I dunno about you, but at the height of the pandemic, with little else to do at the time, I decided to dig into all the things I had subscribed to and flush out what I didn’t use, was indulgent or just plain pointless.

Frankly I was horrified at how much monthly was slipping through my fingers with little or nothing to show for it. Subscriptions to Netflix (which I hadn’t used for over 18 months), an emergency warning system for my GPS in case of an accident, the aforementioned stock site(s) an SFX site, a few newsletters I never read and more esoteric dross I have forgotten why I even subscribed to were duly unsubscribed and deleted.

All in all I pulled back about $150 a month.

“What has this got to do with a thunderstorm”, I hear you yawn?

Well, most times I had subscribed to a stock or VFX website was when I needed a one-off image or visual effect.  This was usually because I was just too lazy (I kidded myself I was too busy at the time probably) to spend the time and make the effect I wanted using the tools I already had.

And then of course, promptly forgot to unsubscribe before the pay period kicked in after the freebie 10 days or whatever.

Take lightning as an example. You could go and buy an VFX pack for After Effects (assuming you have After Effects) such as those from BorisFX to generate all sorts of light and flare effects and this will serve you very well indeed (we swear by Red Giant modules here by the way).

But if you don’t have that sort of coin and / or don’t have After Effects, you could instead go to www.fxhome.com and download the free HitFilm Express and use its native lightning effect as shown in this tutorial.

My point is that there are lots of ways of creating effects yourself by using freely available resources that cost nothing or at worst, very little.

There are other benefits to this too. Apart from saving money, you get a huge satisfaction in using something you created yourself and additionally, you increase your working knowledge of video making that will be valuable in the future for other projects.

Google’s search engine becomes your very best friend, to use and old cliché!


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