Bigfoot Found Footage

Concept , Planning , Filming

The project concept was to create found Bigfoot footage, inspired by the infamous Patterson-Gimlin video from the 60’s. My footage was to look like it was filmed in 1990 and recorded to a VHS tape, and thus the footage would show the appropriate wear and tear with the aim of appearing as authentic as possible.

I located a Gorilla costume, and scouted a nearby forest-like area that suited the desired look, and which was unpopulated and safe to film in. 

I filmed the footage hand-held, so that it would be slightly shaky and move in an organic ‘found footage’ style. 

The original, unedited footage is shown below. 

Post Production

I wanted to create all of the post-production effects myself, rather than using existing overlays or ready-made project files.

The first step was to crop the footage into a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is the frame ratio VHS tapes play in instead of widescreen 16:9. I then scaled the footage to match, allowing me to cut off the path at the bottom of the frame which makes it seems more like it was filmed in deep woods, and not just off a dirt walking track.

On my first adjustment layer, I added some noise, blur, and an unsharp mask. The noise and blur I kept very minimal, and on their own appear not make much difference. However, the unsharp mask instantly gives the footage and older look.

Original Footage - 16:9
Changed to 4:3 and scaled
Noise, Blur and an Unsharp Mask added

Next I colour graded the clip. A VHS typically shows low colour vibrancy, high contrast, is slightly faded, and in general looks washed out. The goal of my colour grade was to make the footage match a typical VHS display as much as possible.

A VHS tape will typically not show clean straight lines on its borders, and will also have some colour distortion/bleeding at the edges. I roughened the edges of my frame and gave the sides a slight blue uneven shadow.

Colour graded
Roughened edge with blue shadow bleeding through

To create the typical VHS tracking noise/glitches I added a fractal noise effect, then animated it using Expressions.

I added ‘time*1000’ to Evolution, and [value[0]+time*-20000,value[1]] to Offset Turbulence. This made my glitches move randomly and quickly around the screen.

This was my first time using Expressions in After Effects, and although the ones I used were only basic, it was a good learning experience.

I used this effect to get a small, sharp white/grey glitch popping in and out in certain areas of the clip, then duplicated the effect and modified it slightly to get larger uncoloured glitches that appear as distortions. The former plays consistently but is significantly muted, and the latter appears infrequently but is much more noticeable. Together they produce the desired damaged VHS look.

Later, I duplicated this effect again and condensed it to create the constant tracking fuzz that shows at the bottom of the frame throughout the clip.

The tracking glitch effect before it's applied to the footage

The next step was adding in effects that occur only briefly, rather than effecting the whole clip.

The first effect was a bar of displacement that would appear and move through the screen. This is a common visual irregularity that occurs on aged VHS tapes. I created an adjustment layer, and narrowed it into a bar the filled the screen horizontally, but was very short vertically. I added a strong displacement map, then animated the bar to move quickly down from the top of the screen. I used this displacement bar 3 times throughout the clip, modifying it to appear and move differently.

Next was a screen tearing glitch. This was to be the most blatant and distracting effect, but it would only be brief. This effect was to show a point of significant damage to the cassette tape. I then followed it with a moving ‘frame displacement’ effect, to make it look like the frame was jumping as the tape skipped over the damage and recovered its tracking.

The final step was adding ‘Time’ and ‘Date’ text. I downloaded a font that matches the standard VHS font, added a date and the time counter. I made the time start a few minutes in to make it look like this footage had been cut from a larger clip. I added some slight displacement to the text so it wasn’t perfectly sharp or straight, and faded the colour so it wasn’t a perfect white.

Displacement bar
Screen tear
Frame jump
Date and Time