How To Make Fantastic Titles With Milk – Tutorial

The Milk Effect - A Tutorial for creating real fluid animations in your bathroom

The Milk Effect - A Tutorial for creating real fluid animations in your bathroom

We developed this idea through the project Pontiac Firebird 1992 Commercial. You can watch the two different versions on youtube here and here.
Idea by Hiroki Kamada and Tobias Deml.
Tutorial and Photos by Tobias Deml.

Sometimes you just have to design cool titles, and you have some kind of effect in mind. This tutorial will show you how to create the cool, smoke-like effects from the video above with milk for free (unless you have no milk at home). These effects can be combined with Text in e.g. After Effects and used as a title animation.

Why Milk?

We tried to throw all kinds of liquids in a jar of water; oil, juice, sauces, powder solved in water etc. etc. – and all sucked in comparison to milk. It might be the enzymes in the milk, it might be the genetic manipulation of cow food or the motherly aspect of cow milk – but the effect that is unique is little particles that drag a white tail behind them and therefore result in an interesting behaviour.

How To Set It All Up

The basic setup: camera filming glass jar that is positioned on a black. Milk is being added with a straw in order to make the results more controllable.

The basic setup: camera filming glass jar that is positioned on a black. Milk is being added with a straw in order to make the results more controllable.

You need:

  • A Camera
  • A tripod or something where you can put/mount the camera on sideways
  • Clear glass container (jar, fish tank, glass – just make sure it doesn’t distort its content too much visually)
  • Glass of milk
  • Plenty of Water (do it close to a tab, or you’ll spend 3/4th of your time running to get new water
  • A straw/empty pen shell/something long and hollow
  • Black drape (paper, fabric, anything black and not too shiny
  • Lights ( Two LED Flashlights from the 99c-store will do)
  • Duct Tape, as usual
  • Table/Counter/Floor
  1. Tape the black backdrop onto the wall and a counter/table and make sure it’s quite flat.
  2. Fill the glass container with water and put it onto the black drape. Mark its spot, since you will be refilling it over and over again, and you don’t want to re-set your camera every time.
  3. Set up your camera sideways, close to the glass container and zoom in. By zooming in you can make sure that the frame will be smaller than the container itself – and therefore not showing the shape of your water container.
  4. Position two LED lights from above; they will disperse light into the water without lighting the black drape or the glass itself. The glass itself has to be “invisible”, which you mainly achieve by zooming in and hiding its shape. You can use any kind of light, but make sure it comes from somewhere above.

Executing the Milk

  1. Little milk drops will have major effects, so we have to find a way to disperse very little milk onto the clear water. Use the straw/empty pipe and hold it a little into the milk glass. Close the pipe’s top end with your finger – that will trap the milk inside the pipe (thank you, Physics) until you let go. By only letting go a little, you can drip a small amount of milk at a time.
  2. Position your hand with the straw right over the glass, press “RECORD” on the camera, relax – and let go. You will be able to follow the milk’s movement, evolving from thin streamers of Milk to the whole glass being milky.
  3. After the water is milky and unusable, stop recording, empty out the glass and wash off any remaining residues. Refill and start all over.

Experiments

Experiment with different fluids, different lighting setups, different angles and different playback/recording speeds.

The complete glass setup. In the background, the LED is giving us a major Lensflare.

The complete glass setup. In the background, the LED is giving us a major Lensflare.

The milk is slowly spreading in our cucumber jar while it is being lit from above with two 99c-LEDs.

The milk is slowly spreading in our cucumber jar while it is being lit from above with two 99c-LEDs.

About the Author

Tobias Deml is an Austrian Filmmaker and Visual Artist. 2012 Cinematography Reel: http://vimeo.com/53973421 Tobias Deml ist ein österreichischer Filmstudent und Möchtegernregisseur in Los Angeles. Er arbeitet derzeit als Kameramann in Los Angeles und popelt in seiner Nase.