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Need a title sequence on a budget? Try the milk effect!

If you need a great title sequence for your film, but have zero budget, then try this, which uses nothing more exotic than milk. You can create the entire effect for pennies and it can be combined with text in your video-editing programme of choice, ready to be used as a title animation.

The beauty of this technique is the white tails that every drop of milk draws behind it, creating interesting movement and behaviours. You can try it with a variety of other liquids, from juice to oil, but you won’t achieve the same effect as with milk.

What you will need

  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Clear glass container (jar, fish tank, glass) that doesn’t distort its contents too much visually, and has no visible scratches/stains
  • Glass of milk (you will use minimal amounts)
  • Water (it’s a good idea to work close to a tap)
  • A straw/empty pen shell or similar
  • Black drape (paper, fabric, or anything black/dark and not too shiny)
  • Lights (two strong LED flashlights from a 99 cent store or Pound Shop will do)

The set-up

1. Position your black backdrop against a wall (or lightstand) and the counter/table. Make sure everything is quite flat.
2. Fill your glass container with water and put it onto the black background. As you will be refilling it many times, it’s a good idea to mark its position so you don’t have to refocus your camera every time you move it.
3. Set up your camera in portrait (upright) orientation, close to the glass container. Zoom in so the container is bigger than the frame and you can’t see the edges of your water container.
4. Position two LED lights above the container, pointing downward. They will disperse light into the water and nowhere else: the glass has to be ‘invisible,’ which you mainly achieve by zooming in and hiding the edges. You can use any light source, but LED flashlights work particularly well.

The shoot

1. With your stage set, it’s time to shoot. It’s important to note that small milk drops will have a significant effect, so we have to find a way to disperse very small amounts of milk into the clear water. Use a straw/empty pipe and dip it a little into the milk glass. Close the pipe’s top end with your finger to trap the milk inside the pipe (thank you physics!) until you let go. By only releasing your finger a little you can control the size of droplets you let fall into the glass.
2. Position your hand with the straw above your container of water and press record on your camera. Relax, and let a milk droplet go. You will be able to follow the milk’s movement, evolving from thin streamers to the whole glass becoming milky.
3. Once the water is milky it is useless, so stop recording, empty the glass container, and rinse out any remaining residue. Refill the container and repeat the process multiple times until you have a wide range of ‘drop shots’ to choose from. In your editing programme you can choose the take that is most effective and use that one for your credit sequence.


  1. Experiment with a variety of fluids, lighting setups, lighting angles, and playback/recording speeds: adjusting any one of these can create an entirely different look.
  2. Stirring the water in the glass to create a vortex will draw the milk toward the centre.
  3. If you have time, try the same process with a white background and ink to add colour to the credits.

Creative Photography: 52 More Weekend Projects is Chris Gatcum’s sequel to his highly successful Creative Digital Photography: 52 Weekend Projects. From digital post-processing to experimental darkroom techniques; from creating your own studio equipment at a fraction of the cost to finding new ways to use old lenses, or even trying your hand at moviemaking – the 52 projects in this book will challenge and inspire you, expand your repertoire of techniques and, ultimately, increase your understanding of photography. You’ll never be stuck in a rut again!

Creative Photography: 52 More Weekend Projects, Chris GatcumCreative Photography: 52 More Weekend Projects
Chris Gatcum

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RRP for print edition: £14.99