Need some creepy visual effects for your alien flick, but don't want to spend a bunch of money? With some pretty basic materials, you can turn an empty aquarium into a "cloud tank," which can be used to create several different atmospheric effects. Before Hollywood started using CGI, cloud tanks were used for scenes in a lot of famous movies. Remember this one?
Besides Raiders of the Lost Ark, cloud tanks also helped make some wonderful non-CGI effects in Independence Day, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, The Neverending Story, and Poltergeist.
Making one is a lot easier than you'd thing. All you need is a big aquarium, some rock salt, water, and basic food coloring.
In this video, Joey Shanks shows how to set up your own cloud tank.
After boiling the rock salt in water (350mL for every 2 gallons) for 20 minutes, he fills the bottom 2/5 of the tank with the salt water. Then, after letting it settle for 4 hours, he very slowly fills the rest of the tank with fresh water, using a tarp to create two separate layers. That's it for the setup. To create the different effects, he uses a combination of food colorings, condensed milk, sprinkles, and glitter.
Here are just some of the effects that he was able to make:
If you want to create beautiful shots like above, make sure to watch the video for more details and to see some more of Joey's awesome shots—they effects are way cooler when moving, stills do not do them justice.
To see more of his work, check out his website.