Creating an Iron Man HUD Effect using HitFilm

Iron Man HUD (Heads Up Display) effects are a staple of the VFX world. There are a lot of Tony Stark HUD style tutorials out there, but this series of HUD tutorials created by the talented people over at HitFilm seem to have nailed the effect.

What makes these HUD tutorials so good is that they take you through every step of the process to create realistic HUD effects, from tracking footage through to color correction techniques. As an extra bonus they even provide a free version of their software HitFilm Express, along with all the footage and graphics you’ll need to recreate the effect (download at the bottom of this post.)

Creating an Iron Man HUD (Heads Up Display) Effect using HitFilm – Part 1: Motion Tracking

In this first part of the Iron Man HUD effect tutorial, Simon from HitFilm explains the process of how to track footage in HitFilm Express. This is done so that as the head moves in the original footage the HUD elements move in a synchronised way to match the head movements, giving a much more realistic effect.

Simon then goes on to explain how to add and then composite the HUD graphics into the project. He first shows how to place the HUD graphics into 3D space and then attach them to the tracking data so that they follow the movement of the head in the footage.

Creating an Iron Man HUD Effect using HitFilm – Part 2: Color Grading

In this second part of the Iron Man HUD tutorial series, Simon gives a top tip for making your HUD effects look as good as those in the movies – color grading…

By skilfully applying HitFilm’s Glow and Color Temperature effects, the HUD graphics begin to look much more cinematic. Adding HitFilm’s Action Cam Lens Distort gives the HUD graphics a curvature that looks much more natural.

In order to composite the HUD graphics with Kirstie’s face better, he explains how to create a shadow fall off mask and then color match Kirstie’s face to the HUD elements using the Color Balance effect.

Creating an Iron Man HUD Effect using HitFilm – Part 3: Creating & Animating Iron Man HUD elements

In this final part of the Iron Man HUD tutorial series, Simon at HitFilm explains the process of how they created the HUD graphics. He then goes on to show how to arrange individual HUD elements in 3D space to give the effect of depth and make it much more visually dynamic. As an extra tip he shows how to parent all the HUD graphics to a point layer in HitFilm, to make it easy to create a pulsating animation, like those seen in the Iron Man movies.

You can download all the HUD project files here and download a free copy of HitFilm Express here.