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Recently, Shutterstock announced Elements, a series of visual effects elements purpose-shot for filmmakers to add to their projects.

One of the cool things as part of that release was a series of behind the scenes videos showing how the elements were captured with practical effects techniques; things like explosions, gun shots, smoke and shattering glass.


A number of these videos are embedded below, amongst an interview I was able to do about Elements with Kyle Trotter, director of creative video content at Shutterstock.

b&a: With Elements, how did you start researching/collating ideas for what could or should be included in the footage? What was your criteria for this?

Kyle Trotter: Our Elements packs aim to provide video effects that help filmmakers bring their projects to life with cinema-grade quality, without a movie studio budget. With that in mind, we wanted to create assets that could be used for a variety of projects, anything from a YouTube video tutorial to an action film with fire and explosions.

Our criteria was to create and capture assets of the highest possible technical quality while allowing for the widest use case and situation variety. We wanted to be specific about what we created without limiting what the creative community could produce with the assets. We started by trying to solve problems we had in production, and framed our criteria by thinking about our own limitations. By solving our own creative production limitations we were able to project forward those solutions onto the rest of the creative community.

The Elements packs are meant to serve as building blocks. What the creative community does with them is what we are most excited to see. The use cases and end results are sure to exceed our wildest imaginations.

b&a: Can you take me through one of the packages and talk about how elements were filmed, what the setups were, what equipment was used etc?

Kyle Trotter: It was a lot of fun to work with the special effects experts to create the practical visual effects. All of the packs were filmed on location with specialists using multiple camera setups.

In the case of Detonate, part of it was filmed at a fire training facility. One camera was placed on the roof to get a high angle view of the explosions while another was placed at ground level. The frame was set up to capture the full height of the explosion so that nothing would be cut out. We typically filmed at higher frame rates to give the most diverse range of options. It also led to a number of memorable scenarios, particularly for the detonate pack. After a long week of filming this pack, I was stopped by airport security sensory machines and taken into questioning. I was asked if I had been around explosions, my response was a wide-eyed “yes,” to which the security officer gave me a puzzled stare.

b&a: How do you think filmmakers/content makers will be able to specifically use some of these elements? Who do you think they’re most suitable for?

Kyle Trotter: Our Elements packs offer something for everyone. Some popular packs include “Yum,” which is tailored for food vloggers and “How-to’s” which includes lower thirds, transitions, animated characters, and loopable backgrounds, making it perfect for YouTubers looking to bump up the quality of their content. For those creators looking to recreate blockbuster action scenes, we have explosions as tall as 250 feet that were filmed on location with specialists.

With every marketer today using video to engage with audiences, the competition for attention is fierce, and the pressure to produce high-quality content quickly and at scale has never been greater. Content producers are interested in telling their story on smaller budgets, without compromising quality. Elements allows you to give your project that “secret sauce” and sizzle to standout in a crowded arena.

Additionally, the VFX industry is always up against hard deadlines. They are always chasing authenticity, and have always used stock to facilitate their productions. This is another product that we are happy to offer the community enabling them to dream bigger and create more for less without sacrificing on quality.

b&a: Anything on your wish list that you couldn’t get as an element, or that you’d like to still acquire?

Kyle Trotter: Our entire Elements collection was created in house and is wholly owned, making the content exclusive. We started with the areas we thought would be most needed, but the list is always growing. There are so many things we could create. What we are most excited to see is how the community uses these assets. Shutterstock’s goal is to empower storytellers and this new offering does exactly that.

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