Steel Wool on Fire: DIY Video Effects from the Pros

Craft & Design Photography & Video Science
Steel Wool on Fire: DIY Video Effects from the Pros


Eli Stonberg and Jeff Greco are Fourclops, an interactive video directorial team. Their video for Au Revoir Simone’s “Knight of Wands” was nominated for “Most Innovative Music Video” in MTV’s O Music Awards. Their work has been featured on the Creators Project, the Los Angeles Times, ESPN TV, and Mashable, and their clients include Coca Cola, Blu Dot, Smirnoff, Passion Pit, and Tune Yards. While they’ve got an impressive body of work, it’s inspiring to know that some of their special effects were created using everyday household ingredients like milk, food coloring, water, and steel wool. The special effects are really kids’ chemistry experiments that anyone can do.

Milk + food coloring + liquid detergent = Wow!

Watch Fourclop’s music video below to see what a little home-brewed chemistry can do. The trippy fluid shots in the opening were made by combining milk, food coloring, and soap. The sparkly shots were created by burning steel wool. The bubbles came from homemade lava lamps made with water, cooking oil, and food coloring. The “tornado” effect is just a water vortex spinning inside a plastic bottle.

If you want to reproduce these experiments yourself, check out the following video tutorials. If you’d like to try your hand at filming the experiments and you know Final Cut Pro, Eli suggests shooting against a black background and layering the footage on top of other clips and using the “composite mode” screen to remove black from the shots. Have fun!

Milk Magic

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Steel Wool on Fire

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Homemade Lava Lamp

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Tornado in a Bottle

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Stett Holbrook is editor of the Bohemian, an alternative weekly in Santa Rosa, California. He is a former senior editor at Maker Media.

He is also the co-creator of Food Forward, a documentary TV series for PBS about the innovators and pioneers changing our food system.

View more articles by Stett Holbrook


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