Make Your Own Planet Using Practical Special Effects

Have you ever seen a science fiction classic and asked yourself, how did they create amazing planetary special effects without using CGI? Or is it still possible to do so today?

Joey Shanks, a special effects artist living in North Carolina, creates his own planetary special effects in his garage using petri dishes, glass jars, milk, soap, food coloring, eye droppers and syringes.

If you explore Shanks FX’s YouTube channel, you’ll find another tutorial on how to remove the edges from the petri dish in After Effects. This will give your painted planet a spherical realism.

Some of you maybe thinking,Tony it doesn’t look cool enough to be in my “spectacular idea” of a short film. You probably are thinking of making a planet in After Effects from a tutorial you saw on YouTube. Look I understand, you want to be able to get the best looking effect in the cheapest way possible, and not having to spend so much time on it. However, I would keep an open mind to all your options when trying to create special or visual effects. Especially, if you want those special effects to pop and mesmerize your friends because they’ve never seen petri dish planets before.

As some of you know the NASA space probe Juno entered Jupiter’s orbit this Fourth of July. This got Shanks thinking of doing another planetary special effect that looks and feels more physical.  when I saw this next tutorial I was super excited. Now you can also make a planet in a glass jar!

Wasn’t that awesome? Once the mouth of the jar is rotoscoped out in After Effects, and with the right touch of color correcting and color grading it looks like a living planet rotating in space. I can’t wait to see someone take a crack at these tutorials and make super cool science fiction short films.

What are your thoughts on Shanks FX? If you liked what you saw, and you want to learn more on how to make more cosmos special effects please visit his YouTube channel and subscribe!

You can further support Shanks FX in his quest to showing his “Jupiter in a Jar” video to NASA by sharing it onto to Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or any other social media platform. 

If you know of other methods of creating planetary and cosmos special effects then please leave those instructions or video links in the comments below.

Always remember guys it takes a lot of hard work and patience to recreate these effects so don’t give up. Having convincing special and visual effects aren’t the only ingredients to telling a good story, but having passion and a clear vision are. Remember to subscribe to our blog for more Cinema Spice news and cool articles.

Photo above is a frame from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey

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About the author

Tony is a Brigham Young University-Idaho graduate with a Bachelors Degree in Communication. He has experience in journalism and video production. One of his favorite movies is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. His favorite superhero is Spider-Man. He lives in Rexburg, Idaho with his lovely wife.

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