How to create a glitching countdown timer UI
When we made our latest short, Renegade, we knew we wanted to include a Mission: Impossible-style timer. In this tutorial we’ll take a look at how to create one and add digital distortion in HitFilm. Download the footage to follow along, and let’s get started. Here is the original shot. You can see that I’ve made tracking markers using orange tape. The first thing we have to do is track the screen so that it moves along with the camera motion. I created a new Point layer, then added a Tracker to the footage layer from the Controls panel.
Because the camera doesn’t really rotate, I can get away with a Single Point track on the big plus in the middle. Once HitFilm has tracked the motion, apply it to the Point layer you created earlier. Switch back to the Viewer and highlight the Point, to check that it is moving correctly. The next step is to erase the tracking markers. You can do this by duplicating the footage and adding the Speed effect to the top layer. In the Controls panel, set the Speed to 0
To stop the video from playing. Now select the Freehand Mask tool and draw a shape in the bottom left, in a clear area without the markers. Using the Transform controls, I’ll increase the Scale of this gray area and position it over the markers. You might have to readjust the mask to fit. Once you’re done, parent the layer to the track. Now we can get started making the actual timer UI. Create a new Composite Shot, and make the size 1500 by 1080. Create a new Plane, and add the Grid effect. You can customize
The look of this however you like, but I’ll set the Point 2 Position to a lower number to make the squares smaller, then lower the Border Radius to 1 to make them thinner. Then drop on a Vignette and adjust so that the grid has faded out by the edges of the frame. Create a new Text layer and type your timecode. For this, I used a font called Liquid Crystal. For the text that said "Timer Failure" and the “Remote Detonation Required” I used a font called Kiona.
Now I’ll bring in the Plane from the Media panel, and use the Fill Color effect to make it red. Then I’ll use masks to create some lines around the UI, as well as a red box behind the words “Timer Failure”. Next up is the distortion. Bring down the Plane layer and add Fractal Noise. In the Controls, set the Interpolation to Block. Activate keyframes for the Seed property, skip to the end of the timeline, and change the number. This will make the texture move.
In order to make the timer appear on screen, come down to the Appearance section. Lower the Offset all the way to the left. Activate keyframes, move forward in time, and raise the number. Now create a new Grade layer and add the Block Displacement effect. In the Block settings, keyframe the Seed, similar to the Fractal Noise from earlier. To lessen the amount of distortion, lower the slider that says Displaced Blocks. Increase the Aspect Ratio to stretch the blocks horizontally. The last thing I did to this Grade was mask
It, because I wanted the bottom text to be readable for the entire shot. This way, the Block Displacement is only affecting the timer. Create another Grade layer and add the TV Damage effect. Search for "Enabled" in the bar up top. Checkmark Vertical Hold, Electrical Interference, and Vignette. I’ll increase the Frequency of the Vertical Hold to make sure that it will happen in the final shot. Under Electrical Interference, raise the Area Width and lower the actual Width. Lastly,
I’ll add Scan Lines onto this same Grade. Adjust the Frequency to fit your scene. Now return to the main composite and bring down the Timer UI comp. First I’ll add a few Glow effects to brighten it up. The Blend Mode for these Glows is set to Screen, so that the whites don’t get blown out. Drop on the Quad Warp effect. This effect puts one point in each corner of the layer that can be manipulated freely. I’ll drag those points to match up the UI with the screen
Of the bomb. The Quad Warp effect can also be used to place screens into TVs and cell phones. Right-click the Timer UI layer and set the Blend to Add or Screen to get rid of the black. I’ll lower the Opacity to make it less bright. Add some film grain and a small Blur effect to better blend it into the footage. Parent the layer to the Point track from before and turn on motion blur if needed.
Be sure to check out another tutorial from our Renegade masterclass here. Leave any questions down below, and I’ll see you in the next video.