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How to Recreate Visual Effects from The Dr. Strange Movie [Best Software Picked]

May 30,2019• Proven solutions

All movies inspired by Marvel’s comics feature mind-bending effects that leave the audiences speechless. Dr. Strange, is no exception, as the motion picture tells a tale of a recovering surgeon who discovers a way to open portals to other dimensions. The visual effects that were used to depict the portals Dr. Strange opens seem so realistic and natural in the movie. So, if you are the fan of this movie, you’ve come to the right place because in this article we are going to show you how you can recreate these effects in HitFilm Pro and Adobe After Effects.

Replicating the Visual from The Dr. Strange Movie with HitFilm Pro

Becoming proficient at creating visual effects requires years of training, but before you set yourself on that path you must first choose a software that provides you with all the tools you need in order to produce impressive visual effects. HitFilm Pro is a video editing software that has more than 800 built-in VFX as well as powerful animation features.

Recreating the shield and the portal from Dr. Strange requires near-professional VFX skills because you have to know how to create composite shots, planes, layers or adjust the settings of the visual effects HitFilm Pro offers.

Prepare for the process of replicating the shield and the portal effects by finding the source footage online you’re going to use as a guideline and then create a new project in HitFilm Pro. Furthermore, you’re going to need an image of a zodiac circle to make the process of making the shield a bit faster. You should keep in mind that you have to invert the image’s colors and remove all the symbols you don’t need from the image before you can use it in your project.

Start making the shield by creating a new composite shot in HitFilm Pro, and then click on the New Layer icon and select the Plane option. Make sure to set the plane’s color to white and then proceed to create a circle mask, by selecting the Circle tool. Place the circle you’ve created at the center of the plane, and when done head over to the controls panel to duplicate the circle mask. Change the Blend mode to Subtract and slightly increase the Expansion value in the Shape menu to improve the visibility of the circle you’re creating. Use the Feather option to make the masks softer and resize them so that they resemble the circles in the source image. Position the image of a Zodiac circle over the masks you created and then apply the Demult effect to turn its background transparent.

Use the Rectangle Mask tool to create rectangular elements of the shield and position them within the circle masks you’ve already created. Place a plane with the Radio Waves effect applied to it at the very center of the shield and change its shape to hexagon and adjust its Curvature and Pitch settings. The duration of the effect you’re creating determines which values you are going to assign to the Wave Start and Wave End options. Animate the squares and the zodiac circle by keyframing the rotation feature and then apply Energy Distortion effect to a new layer. Increase the effect’s Distortion, Scale and Diffusion Strenght settings, and reduce the Diffusion Bias value from the Effect Controls panel.

Once you complete the shield effect, you should create a new composite shot to start working on the portal effect. Click on the New Layer icon and select the Point option, then go to the Transform menu in the Effect Controls panel and assign a -400 value to the Anchor Point option. Add keyframes to the Rotation setting in order to determine how many times the Point you created should spin. Make two copies of the Point layer and then set Rotation keyframes for each new Point you created. Add the Particle Simulator effect to the timeline and attach it to the first Point you created from the Shape submenu that is located in the Emitter menu. Change the effect’s Trajectory to Cone, adjust Rotation (Z) and Radius options and alter the Particles Per Second value. Go to the Appearance menu and select the Rain Streak option from the list of built-in texture sources. Enable the Align to Motion option by clicking on it and adjust the Life, Scale and Speed settings in the Movement menu. Apply the same settings to all three Points and add the Glow effect to the portal. Fine-tune its options in order to add color to your portal and you’re done.

Recreating the Visual Effects from the Dr. Strange Movie in Adobe After Effects

Like the vast majority Adobe’s software products, After Effects is not aimed at newcomers to the world of animation and visual effects. Mastering the program can take years of hard work, which is why it is important to be patient and dedicated to the goal of developing your VFX skills. Recreating the shield effect for Dr.Strange movie in Adobe After Effects isn’t much different than in HitFIlm Pro, so let’s take a look at what you need to do in order to recreate this effect.

Keep in mind that you are going to need a picture of the shield effect that you can use as a reference in order to make this process quicker and easier. Start drawing the circular and rectangular shapes using the Ellipse, Rectangle and Star Tools. Afterward, you should use the Text tool to add text to your composition, but keep in mind that you are going to need a particular font that can create the exact same symbols like those you can see on the shield Dr. Strange creates in the movie. Once you’ve created a text layer you should use the Ellipse tool to create a circle and then change the layer’s Path Option to Mask 1.

Set the Rotation keyframes for all shapes you’ve created to animate the shield, proceed to pre-compose the shapes, then create a new solid and apply the Fractal Noise and Motion Blur effects to it. Pre-compose your layers once more, add it to the footage to which you are applying the effect and use the software’s Motion Tracking features to connect the shield to the character’s hand movement. Optionally, you can add sparkles to your shield to sell the effect better, but if you want to do this you must install the Particle Builder plug-in.

What’s more, you won’t be able to create the portal effect in After Effects if you don’t have the Particle Builder plug-in. This plug-in is free and you can quickly download it from the Internet, so once you install it, you should simulate a circular movement of the particles in order to recreate the portal effect. In case you don’t have the time or you find the process of creating this effect too complicated you can download the Fire Glyph Logo effect from the Videoblocks platform.


Recreating the portal and shield effects from the Dr. Strange movie is a highly complex task that can take a lot of time to complete. What’s more, finding the right context in which you can use these two visual effects can prove to be an even more difficult job because the Dr. Strange movie takes place in a universe in which magic portals and shield make sense. Creating such a universe in your video is anything but easy, and you must find a perfect motivation to use these effects. Was this article helpful? Leave a comment and share your opinions with us.

Liza Brown
Liza Brown is a writer and a lover of all things video.