Terrific special effects reel by 12-year-old

Kevin Lin, 12, is apparently a master at Adobe After Effects. (Thanks, Gabe Adiv!)


  1. But really, there’s nothing special here. The camera is still for all the shots, He’s not doing any layering ( all the effects are just super imposed over the original scene). Yeah, he’s twelve but these are all just canned effects. Nothing really special here, just a kid with a copy of after effects. I’ve done similar and more complicated effects within a couple weeks on opening Premier. Definitely wouldn’t call myself a master.

  2. I just find this clip worrying cause it makes me think that some people today have no life and sit inside and play with their imaginary friends and their computer all day. And I might be one of those people.

    Deathcapt, I hardly thought that was the point.. As far as I can see, the clip is funny cause he’s a poker faced little kid, and not because the effects are something you couldn’t do.. But well done, you, for learning Premier so quickly.

  3. That’s nice and all but what’s so special about this? These are all basic effects that anybody could do with a couple of days of practice or training. They’re all pretty much automatic effects that need guide markers. It’s time consuming but that’s all. It’s not really done with any finesse or skill I wouldn’t expect any 12 year old with a genuine interest to have anyway.

    I suppose I am impressed that a 12 year old actually stuck with a time consuming effort, though.

  4. Those all look like Particle Illusion effects to me.

    Anybody know if the red X is due to free trial watermarking?

  5. The hair dryer effect left me wanting a “Shoop Da Whoop! IMMA CHARGIN MAH LAZER” caption, or something.

  6. Wow… deathcapt… you have to compare yourself and get defensive about a 12 year old? Really?

    and scotrail… it is ok to be one of those people. You can turn out just fine. People who have tons of friends and play outside all the time can turn out effed up, too.

    If this kid keeps it up, he’ll be doing complex near-professional level effects before he graduates high school. Add some internships and/or formal education on top of that, and he’ll be on track for a killer job in the industry.

    Or maybe he will go on to do something totally different, and this was just for fun.

    Seemed pretty fun to me.

  7. Give the kid some respect. He’s 12, for crying out loud. What do you expect? I think his effects are pretty good. Even if they are some sort of standard effects that come with the program, he still had to implement them into his own footage.

    My daughter is 5 and she’s been experimenting with video. My favorite of hers is Harold the Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. No lightning or laser blasts in it though. You can see it from my link in my profile if you are interested.

  8. wowzers, I do motion graphics for a living, but after seeing this I think I should just hang it up.

  9. Awesome! That’s a twelve year-old with a good sense of humour. And an attention span long enough to actually set up a tripod and make the best of a bunch of otherwise cheesy effects. Geez, when I was twelve…well, okay, I didn’t have a computer, but I doubt I would have been that inventive if I did.

  10. The “phew” at 1:08 is cool.

    Well done him. I don’t know what you can do with this software, but he did it, and got on BB which is fine by me.

    #15: If you look closely, he CRUSHES it.

  11. Full of epic. Zachary @10 is right — some of you people need to loosen up. When I was twelve I was shooting out windows with a wrist rocket. Kid’s got me beat. A child that age taking the time to master the program and then act out various scenes is a force to be reckoned with.

    Still… Beware the Red X!

  12. The kid’s good, but surely there are international treaties prohibiting the use of that music in places where it might be heard by… well, anyone?

    Off to take an advil and mutter about those darn kids on the lawn.

  13. This is a great child-focused, interested, accomplished. His performance rules royally! I am disappointed to read, as usual, the kid haters peeing all over this.

  14. I guess it’s impressive. I’d be more impressed if it was a reel of practical effects – miniatures, stunts, that sort of thing. Those have always been more impressive than basic CGI.

  15. I’d love to hear that Kevin Lin is actually African-American and the Asian kid in the clip was also created in After Effects.

  16. Microsoft Subliminal/Viral Marketing at 2:11.

    I love his reaction after putting the hair dryer back in the drawer.

  17. @2:

    I know you’re a troll, one of these sad cases who sees something as cute and inventive as a kid using after effects to create special effects and has to whine about it. Something bad happened to you as a tot didn’t it? Maybe at about this age? Something that killed your sense of enjoyment for other people having fun?

    Don’t take out your sadness on others. It’s a kid at play and that’s the very definition of a wonderful thing.

  18. @Deathcapt, etc.

    What’s so special?

    What’s special is that the kid can give you a laugh and keep you watching. What’s special is his clip has been viewed over 200,000 times on youtube in a very short time and has now been posted on boing boing.

    That’s talent. (Which you clearly lack).

  19. well just goes to show what most people consider “terrific” special effects I suppose, nothing more nothing less

  20. I think it’s pretty cool. Part of me is just amazed that effects that my friends and I spent hours trying to create can be done by a 12 year old now. Of course we were working with VCRs and Power Macs and had to walk 10 miles to school each day.

    The important thing here is that the kid is experimenting and playing with the ideas possible with the effects. Later (assuming he sticks with it) he will start to try and implement them to help tell a story. Making movies is a process that takes a long time to learn and perfect. The more movies he watches and reads about the better he will get at making his own.

    Pissing on this kid and his movie experimenting is liking pissing on a twelve year old who’s trying to write their own poetry or short story. Sure you as adult may be able it quicker or easier. I bet you can drive better then the kid too, but does that really take away from what he is doing?

  21. @13 WYLKYN:

    Tell you what. I’ll check your daughters video out when she adds lightning and laser blasts to that sandwich :)

    Seriously though, and more on topic. Hooray for child creativity.

  22. When I was 12, I was programming text adventures in BASIC on my Atari 800. Kids these days have it so easy.

  23. @#30 MYPALMIKE

    Hahaha, so true. I was making games at that age with stick figures and teeter-totters. They were crude to say the least. And BASIC…blech. Damn kids don’t know how good they have it with tool buttons and keyframes.

    Pretty good for 12. Not as uncommon as you might think though. My friend has a daughter that is 10 and making stop motion animation that is pretty silly.

  24. Very good, for a 12 year old.
    Someone should tell him that telling people to ignore the red ‘X’ makes it much harder to ignore the red ‘X’.
    I expect he’ll be working in Hollywood some day if this isn’t just a passing thing for him.
    Oh, and nice techno music. I wonder where he found it.

  25. Cute and creative kid… love the deadpan face. Keep it up, all the people I know who used to spend time making stuff like this as kids have gone on to creative jobs as adults.

  26. Hey I programmed text adventure in BASIC too! BASIC kids unite!

    This was too cute. Kevin Lin has some fine showmanship and if he keeps this up he will no doubt get into more complex things and then become the next (asian) Harryhausen. In fact, someone send this kid some Harryhausen work to look at. If he can master that he’s the KING, baby!

    (Okay maybe a little Bottin too…)

  27. He’s 12. After school I was watching Transformers, GI Joe, then Who’s the Boss, and ALF. I’m betting he’ll go further.

    The red X looks like the trial limitation of Trapcode’s 3D Stroke plug-In.

  28. I will not comment about the haters… I will not comment about the haters… I will not… damn.

    Way to go Kevin Lin! I really enjoyed the video, and so did my daughter.

  29. Jeez Louise! I can only hope that DEATHCAP and OXRS are also 12 (or younger). That’s about the only thing that would make their ‘tude forgivable.

    Reminds me of a joke:

    Guy is at the bakery. He sees a dog walk up to the display case. The dog goes up on his hind legs and take a number in his mouth. He waits till the number is called, goes to the counter and points to a baguette with his paw. He barks twice. The clerk gets two baguettes and puts them in a bag. The dog has a little pouch around his neck — he gets up on his hind legs so the clerk can remove $10 from the pouch, then waits for the clerk to come back with change. The dog grabs the bag in his mouth and walks out the door.

    The guy is fascinated, so he follows the dog: down the street, through alleys, waiting for the “walk” sign to cross, finally to a house. The dog goes up the walk, pauses, then scratches at the door. A woman opens the door and lets the dog in.

    The guy says, “Excuse me, but I can’t help but notice what a smart dog you have.”

    The lady says, “Eh, he ain’t so smart. This is the second time this week he forgot his keys.”

  30. I’m not going to mention the sourpuss haters either, except to wonder if they’re cousins to the ‘I saw this already’ pinheads who like to be #1.

  31. Where can I sign up to be this kid’s fan? Oh, right, Youtube.

    Hooray for youngins with initiative and imagination!

  32. If I had a professional job doing AfterEffects (among other things) at 16, can I say that those were relatively lame canned effects? By the time he is 16 though, he could actually master it.

    It was a fun video though, that I do give him credit for.

  33. Yup, that red X is Trapcode’s 3D Stroke in demo mode. So he’s on a budget.

    My first thought was yeah, those are pretty basic, but he is only 12. If anything, this proves that yesterday’s cutting edge is common knowledge for kids today. Anyway, I didn’t learn how to do these effects in AFX till late in college (’96) onwards.

    When I was 12 I was making animations with Electronic Arts Movie Maker on my Atari 800XL, which probably was the best one could do at that time.

  34. Lesson of the day?
    Give a precocious Asian kid energy balls and you help him fight hordes of evil robots for a day – teach an Asian kid to make his own energy balls and he can fight hordes of evil robots forever.

  35. @trr – it’s not techno, it’s trance. I’m trying not to hold it against him.
    I agree with Zachary and others – give the kid props, he’s doing something constructive and it’s probaly been seen by a ~lot~ more people than most reels.
    and the look he gives the camera is priceless!

  36. Nice work, Kevin. But here’s a protip: change the caption to “Light Stroke 1 with Awesome Red X”

  37. This kid is funny. WYLKYN’s daughter’s “Harold the Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich” is tooth-achingly cute. Makes me want to have kids of my own just to see the creative things they come up with!

  38. Here’s what I think you all did NOT notice – he already knew what the After Effect was going to be, and then went and staged the behavior to prep for the After Effect – which was fucking AWESOME pre-planning and execution.

    As he figures out more effects or figures out his own effects, he is already speaking that language of implementation. That’s worth the props right there.


  39. I’ll throw another “lighten up” in the ring. While the effects are cheesy, he has the foundation of keyframing and motion capture down. There’s just so much he can build off that platform.

  40. @Wylkyn, #13 — Great clip by your daughter. Lots of drama! “Splat! ‘I meant to do that.'” Can’t wait until she adds some lightning effects for the sequel.

  41. Can we please please please make, “Ignore the red X” the next Internet meme?

    I’m not sure exactly how/why/when to use it, but it pleases me so.

    Maybe it’s the new slang term for when a politician or front man or whatever says something that is so completely at odds with reality.

    I’m thinking of the recent bb post on the Verizon opt-out privacy policy where the Verizon PR voice from beyond intones, “Your privacy is important to us.” So…

    “Your privacy is important to us. Ignore the red X.”

    PS: The kid is great. Hell, when I was 12 I was building plastic battleship models then blowing them up with cherry bombs. At least the little guy has something to show for his mania.

  42. Wait…..those were effects? Dam it I was about to track him down and ask to become his apprentice.

  43. @ TAKUAN

    what? I was busy, just got back here, is someone really slagging a twelve year old?

    Yes! Tune in tomorrow when they:

    – criticize a monkey for typing King Lear on a PC instead of a manual typewriter

    – make fun of a 12-year-old classical composer for using unoriginal cadences and variations (not to mention the “out of the box” black and white keys that shipped with the piano!)

    Use the space below for your own snappy answer. It’s fun!


  44. I know nothing about special effects, and I only made a picture of a turtle in my (can’t recall if it was-) Logo or Basic days. I enjoyed his scornful looks most of all.

    Wylkyn, please thank your daughter for that video. I didn’t know ants could be so noisy either!

  45. i think saying ‘professional’ effects discredits professionals that do this stuff daily and that’s probably why they’re being defensive.

    that said, he’s TWELVE this is amazing i can’t believe he did this at 12, he’s incredible.

    THAT said, even a 12 year old should know to choose less-annoying audio! :)

  46. I chuckled over the video on the t.v. showing him doing some FX with the Windows Vista caption… FX inside of FX…

  47. Wylkyn, your daughter’s vid is very creative and ultra-cute. Brava.

    I enjoyed Kevin Lin’s very much…what I saw of it. Unfortunately I couldn’t keep my eyes off the red X, and the next thing I remember I was standing on a table at the Cuban restaurant across the street singing ‘Lydia the Tattooed Lady’ to a family of Belgian tourists. Keep your eyes off the red X!

  48. Technology now allows kids to tell almost any story in video. My son made these a year ago, at age 12:

    • – “A Friendly Game”, What happens when two brothers escalate a one-point tennis match beyond “a friendly game”. (A Seattle Times 3-Minute Masterpiece.)

    • – Chapter 6 of “009”, a spy comedy. I love the shoot out 48 seconds in.

    • (More at http://slugco.com/ including the trailer for Ben’s new film “Murder at the Pharaoh’s Grave”, a mystery set in the Egypt of 1897.

    Next month, Seattle hosts NFFTY, http://nffty.org, a great film festival for youth filmmakers. The youngest filmmaker will be 7.

    – Carl

    Carl Kadie
    Bellevue, WA

  49. Like some other people on here, I too have used AfterEffects. It’s easy to use. As you can see a 12 year old used it. The problem is that in order to get the REAL version you have to pay something close to $1,000. I used to play with it in college & I miss that program. Sooooo much fun. I still loved the video though.

  50. I am so glad that this fellow is making visual effects. I would have loved to have access to the tools he has now when I was his age.

    Yes, he was working with basic plugins and doing simple a over b compositing, but he is 12 years old, has a great deadpan face, and pretty darn good delivery and timing.

    If he keeps playing with the software and pushing himself to see what he can do with it, I’m sure he’ll be able to find work in VFX. I’d be happy to see his demo reel in 10-12 years when he is ready to go professional, although to be fair, when viewing reels, we normally mute the audio.

  51. I wish I had stuff like this when I was 12. Lucky. I made lots of flipbooks, and crappy stop motion with a horrible camcorder. Hopefully he ends up better than I did too (yesterday, drinking an entire bottle of vodka while playing TF2 and throwing up and passing out)

  52. Awesome vid. Particularly liked the energy ball, and his look after he snapped it up :D Hilarious.

  53. Gosh but there are some grumpy, niggardly, miserablist posts here! He’s 12, he made a cool video that must’ve taken some smarts and quite a lot of gumption, and he’s got a funny deadpan. Give the kid a break ffs.

  54. My mum was amazed by raytracing on my Amiga, but that was probably because I wasn’t playing trance really really loud while I did it. There should be a warning on this video.

  55. I loved this. Talented kid.

    My favourite comment has to be Deathcapt, which I can only assume is an expert troll or an drunk amoeba with a very very tiny keyboard and a very tiny (but still proportionally quite large) chip on his/her shoulder.

    “I’ve done similar and more complicated effects within a couple weeks on opening Premier. Definitely wouldn’t call myself a master.”

    And this is what wins the prize. You’ve done similar and more complicated effects in Premiere? Orly?

    Now I’ve only used Premiere and After Effects for very menial and quite probably very basic things. But as far as I understand it, doesn’t AE have all the fancy custom effects and Premiere just brings more general editing to the party? I’m happy to be corrected, I’m no “expert” after all.

    Yay for the amusing and generally encouraging other bb commenters.

  56. @80

    You’re right, Premiere is basically editing and AE is basically effects. Doing these things in AE is pretty simple (check creativecow for tutorials of all the effects in the vid) but doing them in Premiere to that level would take rather more skill as the effects would have to be built up from scratch for the most part and not just use off the shelf stuff. So in conclusion, Deathcapt is probably talking poo and Master Lin hasn’t done anything utterly amazing, but has certainly archived a lot more at age 12 than a great many animators who send me their showreels. Good on the lad.

  57. The best part are his looks at the camera. “Yeah, I just shot lightning bolts out of my hands. What’s up? Yeah, I thought so *walks away*”

  58. I think what’s impressive is not just the special effects, but his execution of them, his editing, and his on-screen presence. Anyone can hold up a hair dryer and pretend to blast someone with it… but he did it with panache. I think that’s pretty awesome.

  59. @1 SE7A7N7 – Not goose, duck. “If she… weighs the same as a duck… she’s made of wood…” “And therefore?” “…….. A WITCH!”

    I’m no video pro, so… what was with the jittery camera work anytime there was an effect onscreen? Surely not intentional?

  60. Thanks to those who saw my daughter’s vid and offered their kind comments. I apologize for pimping it in the comments…an undeniable parent impulse, I guess. And I certainly didn’t mean to try to steal thunder from Kevin Lin.

    I think what makes me proudest of her, and this carries over to Kevin for those of you who have been trashing him, is that they both conceived of a project and saw it through to the end. My daughter’s video took all day to work on, and even though I tried to give her an out near the end when she was obviously flagging, she wanted to keep going until it was finished. I can only imagine that Kevin’s story is similar.

    So bravo to Kevin, and “ppppbbbbbtt!” to all the haters.

  61. While I watched this I audibly stated COOL COOL COOL ASS kid! Wow, this is so cool, what a neat kid. And then I saw the Windows Vista plug and it made me start to doubt everything, did he do this or did his mother, dad, older sis/bro do it? Am I really in a coma with cable plugged into the back of my neck thinking I am watching this? I mean my 10 yo spins some pretty mean computer animation (then again he’s got some serious aspie goin on), but I just started to get paranoid (as I am wont to do).

    TO calm myself, I thought that yeah he did it, and who can begrudge him some college monies. Had he linked to a paypal I mighta given him a buck, but I suppose MS gives him like $5 for every time its watched. Just one question, BOINGBOING-did you know that advert was there?

  62. *adjusts monocle*

    “Green laser from a common hairdryer? Oh how banal…”

    *nibbles at cucumber sandwich*

  63. i really can’t believe some of the posts here – those of the know-nothing haters, shame on you all!

    those may be preset effects, but things such as the lightning he’ll have had to hand track the end and start points to match up with the palm of his hands. And when your running 25/24fps that ads up to a lot of work for even a few seconds.

    He’s been clever enough to add camera shake when the effects take place – that takes a little fore-thought tons of people would miss.

    he’s put in real effort with this.

    and yes, after effects can be easy if you just want to scratch the surface and mess around. But to produce something subtle and deep then you can make it as difficult as you like.

    well done wee man! keep it up, you’ll be running weta by the time your 25 : )

  64. @ 52, maybe Anthem Trance but I’d prefer to think of it as euro house on ‘roids. I won’t hold it against him either, though. The effect of the music and his expressions is funny.
    I want to hire Mr. Lin to create a video resume for me, basically of me walking around, but with effects MUAHHHAHAHAHAHHAA… yes.
    Mad props for the Hair Dryer. His sense of comedic timing fills my heart with joy.

  65. @ 52, maybe Anthem Trance but I’d prefer to think of it as euro house on ‘roids. I won’t hold it against him either, though. The effect of the music and his expressions is funny.
    I want to hire Mr. Lin to create a video resume for me, basically of me walking around, but with effects MUAHHHAHAHAHAHHAA… yes.
    Mad props for the Hair Dryer. His sense of comedic timing fills my heart with joy.

  66. This young man clearly has a lot going on upstairs, both intellectually and creatively. That’s great to see.

  67. The hair dryer bit is the best, both as an effect, and for Kevin’s acting!

    Don’t underestimate 12 year olds. When I was 12, I was creating custom levels for early 3D games and modifying their scripts. My cousin was doing stuff similar to Kevin’s.
    This boy is having the time of his life!

  68. Red ‘X’ = Kid hasn’t grasped software piracy yet. Which is nice, I guess. I like him.

    Also, when I get my HoloProjector implant in my hand so’s I can use it to show people amusing videos of cats on YouTube, that is exactly the flourish I am going to use when I switch it off.

  69. Feh. Get your hands on a copy of “The Wizard of Speed and Time”, and see what can be done without computers, or a budget.

  70. Hot damn. Reminds me of that story I heard about that 9 year-old who programmed a game for his little sisters on the iPhone.

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