Josh Davies, founder of the British software company FXHome, has a very specific mission: to bring Hollywood-style visual effects to the masses. Why should that technology be limited to the J.J. Abramses and George Lucases of the world? To that end, Davies’ company has released a free suite of visual and editing software called HitFilm 4 Express, designed expressly for beginning filmmakers and aspiring YouTubers who want to give their amateur productions a bit of professional sheen “with a minimum of time, money, and skill.” Daniel Cooper writes about Davies and his software in an article for Engadget that could serve as a rallying cry for the next generation of homegrown auteurs.
Having once struggled to animate convincing lightsabers for his own Star Wars fan films, Davies says he now feels a “moral obligation” to the next generation of nerds. And so, in addition to making a free-of-charge beginner’s version of his software available to the public, Davies makes tutorial videos showing users how to copy popular effects from movies and television. In one such tutorial, he explains how the double exposure effect from the opening credits of True Detective was achieved.
HitFilm is meant, in Davies’ words, to be “the place where everybody starts.” The software is designed to be simple, intuitive, and easily compatible with other programs. There’s a paid version of the suite, too, “whose users effectively subsidize the amateurs.” The software has been used in professional productions, like The Hangover Part II and Salt, but Davies and FXHome want HitFilm to reach the most people possible and not just be limited to a few visual effects nerds. Cooper writes of their efforts to avoid becoming “part of a larger corporate machine.” In that spirit, the company has turned down some lucrative buyout attempts along the way. Effectively, they’ve created what amounts to a free film school online, and no one’s managed to ruin it yet. Have at it, kids.