effects posts on CNET


Add special effects to your smartphone movies

In my youth, I wanted nothing more than to make movies. But the tools just weren't available -- not on my budget, anyway. And even if I'd had a movie camera, special effects were out of the question. UFO invasions, dinosaur attacks, bomb explosions -- these were the purview of Industrial Light & Magic, not little Ricky Broida.

Oh, to be a kid again. Armed with nothing more than a smartphone and the right apps, you can shoot in razor-sharp HD and add all kinds of startlingly good special effects.

You handle the storyboarding and final edits; I'… Read more

The Grid brings an Instagram-like feed to VSCO, but it needs more

VSCO Cam is an elegant photo effects app with a minimalist interface, which lets you create great-looking shots in only a few steps.

VSCO Cam has been available since mid-2013, but the latest release of the app adds a whole new social layer with a photo feed that's sort of similar to what you get on Instagram. Unlike Instagram, the news feed (called "The Grid") is curated by VSCO Cam and doesn't have nearly the user base of Instagram, nor does it have the same controls for "liking" or commenting on photos. But where … Read more

A feast of Hollywood's best visual effects (video)

Amid all the glitz and glam of the red carpet, the center of attention in Hollywood is always the big names. But great films are the sum of their parts, and behind the scenes, creative specialists work to make all those parts flow seamlessly.

Often overlooked among the celebrity fanfare, the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects showcases the masterful use of technology to bring stories to life, from scale models of the 1970s to the more advanced modern digital technologies of today.

Nelson Carvajal conceived and edited this compilation of visual effects, looking back at the films that have … Read more

Fragment lets you use prismlike effects on your photos

Fragment is a specialized photo tool that lets you add prismlike effects to your images, with an elegant interface layout that leads you through the process.

This isn't your run-of-the-mill retro photo filter app; Fragment superimposes complex geometric designs on your images and changes them with prism- and mirrorlike effects for truly unique results. In other words, it's perfect for artsier photo projects. If you're looking for a regular photo-editing app, you'll need to look elsewhere. But for something different from the normal fare, Fragment is in a league of its own.

Fragment your photos As … Read more

Get HitFilm 2 Express (Win/Mac) for free

In my next life, I want to make movies. ("Star Wars" movies, preferably.) I'd love to make them in this life, too, if only I had a little more time -- and the right tools.

Actually, amateur moviemaking is easier than ever thanks to dirt-cheap HD cameras (like the one in your smartphone), but you still need software to edit everything together and, more important, add explosions, lens flare, bloody spray, and other Hollywood-style effects that all great movies must have.

A good consumer-level video editor will cost you around $100, but most of the current offerings … Read more

Review: DJ Sound Effects and Ringtones offers an attractive soundboard

DJ Sound Effects and Ringtones is a fine soundboard app for songs, but it's missing actual sound effects. It's essentially just a collection of nice, if somewhat generic, songs you might hear in a club mixed with a healthy dose of advertisements. You can interact with the songs in several ways, though.

This app gives you approximately 50 tracks that sound like they were made for a steamy club or dance hall. You can listen to them one by one as well as turn them into a ringtone, notification tone, or alarm for your smartphone. You can even … Read more

For 'Star Trek' VFX team, Oscars are the final frontier

When "Star Trek Into Darkness" director J.J. Abrams and the visual effects experts at Industrial Light & Magic were deciding how to introduce the Enterprise to the audience for the first time, they knew technology could help them make a very big splash.

If you've seen the film -- which was nominated Thursday for an Oscar for best visual effects -- you probably remember the famous spaceship materializing suddenly out of the sea as Captain Kirk and McCoy run for their lives, chased by the white-faced natives of the red planet Nibiru. We see the ocean, … Read more

Review: Pencil Sketch Photo Effect isn't customizable, but it does a neat job

Pencil Sketch Photo Effect delivers you a hand-drawn photo, but you can't do much to edit or alter it once it's finished. There's no way to even change the depth of lines or darkness of the photo. If you don't mind an app that does all the work for you but doesn't let you change the product, this app will give you a fun picture, quickly.

This application takes any picture you give it and makes the lines look like they were drawn by hand. It transfers the photo quickly; it only took about a … Read more

A fresh approach to photography with our smartphones

Editors' note: This review was updated on December 5, 2013, with more detailed information we received about specific features from the developers of the app.

OKDoThis is the latest app to enter into the mobile photography space with a new twist for Instagram users. With a crowded market and new apps popping up almost daily, the fresh approach OKDoThis takes to chasing the success of Instagram is very appealing.

Setup The first thing you'll need to do after installing OKDoThis is set up an account. The account creation process is a breeze if you have either a Facebook or … Read more

ProCamera 7 gives you more control over your iPhone's camera, but has its fair share of issues

ProCamera 7 was formerly called ProCamera, but with the release of iOS 7 the development team redesigned the app and released the revamped version under a different name.

Within the current version is no shortage of tools seasoned photographers and beginners will find useful. The ability to edit and share photos is also built directly into the app, which aims to be the only camera app you use on your iPhone.

Ready when you are There's nothing special about installing and setting up ProCamera 7. Upon launching the app for the first time you're taken to a familiar … Read more