How to Turn Any Footage Into a Snow Scene With VFX

Learn how to create a winter scene from everyday footage with some simple mattes, 3D camera tracking, and the Particle Simulator. Follow along for free in HitFilm Express or take it to the next level with HitFilm Pro. This tutorial was inspired by Ignace Aleya’s original tutorial on YouTube but follows a slightly different technique to get the end result.

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Step 1: Get a hold of some footage

We got hold of some foggy overcast stock footage for this particular tutorial but that doesn’t mean you can’t shoot something yourself. Just make sure there’s a good range of contrast in the shot – highlights and brighter areas will later become the snow and the darker areas will become what the snow sits on, so keep this in mind when you’re filming.

Step 2: Create a HitFilm composite shot

Import the footage into the HitFilm Media panel and use it to create a Composite Shot, then duplicate the layer. The bottom layer in the Composite Shot is going to remain the same, we named ours “Original Ground” to differentiate it. The duplicate layer is what we’re going to turn into the snow – we’ll call it “Main snow”.

Step 3: Isolate the snowy areas

Next, we need to start isolating the areas of the footage where we want the snow to be. Note that how this is achieved may vary depending on the shot you’re working with (but you should usually be able to use most of the same techniques we have).

We’re using the brighter areas of our shot which – fortunately – lines up nicely with how snowfall would naturally rest. This is why mid-day or overcast conditions work best for this effect as the light comes directly from above.

Add the Tint effect to the ‘Main snow’ layer, make sure the effect is set to black and white, and move the strength slider all the way up. This ensures that there is no unwanted color on the layer and that our snow stays white.

Next, we want to make sure that all of our dark areas stay dark. To do this we can set the blending mode of the ‘Main snow’ layer to ‘Lighten’. This allows us to only show pixels that are lighter than the corresponding pixel in the layer underneath. HitFilm has a total of 20 blending modes to achieve different effects when compositing.

Finally, we want to make sure that our effect is only including the areas that we want to appear snowy. For this, we can use a curves effect. The nature of how you achieve this will depend entirely on the footage you’re using. Make broad adjustments first, then tweak to achieve the desired look. This is more art than science, so see what works best for you.

Step 4: Handling the sky

In the footage we’re using, the sky is already quite bright. Because we’ve boosted the exposure on our ‘Main snow’ layer this causes our trees in the background to look a bit weird and ‘blown out’. There’s an easy fix however – just mask out the top of the footage and then create an additional layer with this mask inverted to handle the top half of the image separately. Then just tweak your settings on the new

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