Magnetic Putty, Cloud-Tank Magic and Petri Dish Planets

Special FX from Shanx FX and PBS Digital Studios

Special effects guy Joey Shanks does the experimentation for you in his series of videos, showing an array of techniques that are easy to re-create and adapt to your own work.


His most recent upload highlights the process behind cloud tanks; a method used by many-a blockbuster film team, to create what seems like supernatural sky and weather scenes.


A cloud tank consists of a bottom layer of salt water and a top layer of fresh water; clouds are produced when various forms of liquid are injected into the tank. The technique was the Hollywood standard for decades as Shanks shows us in his reel of examples in this video:



Another great video is Petri Dish Planets, where within the dish Shanks creates whole other worlds, or so it seems.



You can subscribe to his Youtube channel, follow him on Vimeo or go to to get more special FX tips.