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Old September 11th, 2003, 06:05 PM   #1
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Creating small SFX explosion

Hey guys--I'm trying to safely create a small explosion for a commercial I'm doing. We're talking small here, and honestly the cheasier it looks the better. What I'm going for is a little puff of smoke coming out of a computer (a G4), like it just "blew up". Obviously it will be fake--for comedic effect. I'm thinking here of something in the ilk of the work of the directing collective Traktor, for those of you who are familiar. For those of you who aren't, do yourself a favor and go here:

www.traktor.com

Thanks,

Peter
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Old September 11th, 2003, 06:26 PM   #2
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Wow, that Miller Lite - Evil Beaver commercial is amazing! Do you know who the directors/production company is that does these commercials?

As far as getting a puff of smoke: We use to make custom smoke bombs by taking apart bottle rockets (the ones with the hard plastic shell) and dumping the contents onto a piece of a paper towel and then tapeing the top with a fuse sticking out, it makes a pretty good puff of smoke, use more for more smoke

. . | <- Fuse
. _|_ <-Taped Top
./ . . \
| . . . | <- paper towel
.\___/

(my first text art!) *dots added to format properly

Cheers,
Huey
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Old September 11th, 2003, 06:36 PM   #3
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Thanks Brian. Do you think that's safe to use in close proximity to a computer? I'd rather not leave any burn marks, for obvious reasons.

As far as the commercials go, they are all done by the directing collective Traktor. This is a group of Swedish filmmakers who work out of Los Angeles. They regularly clean up at Clio Awards etc. The really cool thing is that when you hire Traktor, you don't know which director or directors you will get. And I think they always work in pairs. You just hire Traktor--pretty hilarious. But obviously nearly everything they do is awesome. Be sure to watch the Siemens commercial if you haven't already. A friend of mine works for them and I think, after watching those spots, I may try to work there too.

Peter
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Old September 11th, 2003, 06:44 PM   #4
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Yeah the Siemens one was great also! I'm going through them all right now.

I think you'd be ok having it within 6" or so of the computer, but it's been awhile since I've done this. Definitely practice with different amounts outside to see what sort of effect you'll get before sticking it next to the computer.

Cheers,
Huey
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Old September 11th, 2003, 07:56 PM   #5
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Peter...

The paper towel bomb will create quite a mess, with a lot of little burning fragments. Quite a fire hazard.

Also fireworks are made with potassium nitrate or potassium chlorate, and the residue is very corrosive, like salt.

One option to fill a closed container (about a cubic foot) with smoke. Then use a large diameter flexible tube (4-inch flex hose like the type used for clothes dryer ducts) to direct the smoke from behind the computer. A small smoke machine might be able to produce the smoke you need.

On the other end of the box or container is another large diameter tube connected to a large paper sack or something that can act like a bellows. To create the explosion effect, fill the box with smoke, then collapse the paper sack to blow out the smoke in a brief puffed cloud. Add some sort of flash effect behind the computer, either with an incandescent bulb or a mixture of incandescent bulb and gelled strobe.

If the area next to the G4 is clear, then perhaps leave the access door slightly ajar, then have a fine monofilament line pop the door open on cue?

Dean Sensui
Base Two Productions
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Old September 11th, 2003, 08:06 PM   #6
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That sounds like a pretty good plan Dean. What is a monofilament line and where would I get one? Thanks!

Peter
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Old September 11th, 2003, 08:22 PM   #7
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Peter- I take it you don't fish? Monofiliment is fishing line. It's also probably a good thing you are doing this, and not me. I would gladly nuke a Mac... PAYBACK!

If you insist on keeping it in one piece, you might consider this- Put it on a raised platform, like a table with the sides closed. Run a piece of pvc pipe through the table into the machine. You could then hide someone underneath, with a cigar, cigarette, whatever your personal choice. Then just blow the smoke -somewhat gently- to get a nice poof effect.
Good luck.
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Old September 12th, 2003, 09:08 AM   #8
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Many eons ago when I was in high school we did a production of "Get Smart". The bomb in the piece was nothing more than paper towel cardboard tubes taped together. The tube was filled with a piece (or two) of flash paper. We then cut a hole in a table and connected the bomb there. Under the table (and concealed by a table cloth) was a guy with a lighter. When the time was right, he lit off the flash paper, and we ended up with a nice flash of light and a puff of smoke.

Might want to check that route, although the tube with smoke sounds safer and more controlable.

Last year I shot a project for the Division of Emergency Management. In it we had to simulate a toxic spill. The industrial barrel was propped up with a tube running underneath it to where the liquid pooring out was hitting the floor. We pumped smoke through the tube to simulate the toxicity. In the end it looked really cool.

If you are interested in getting a smoke machine, now is the best time to do it. With Halloween quickly approaching, stores like Target and Ghetto-Target (aka Walmart), sell those cheesy smoke machines. I picked one up a couple of years ago and it works great. No problems with residue or respitory problems (unlike a smoke machine I used several years ago where the talent had an ahsma attack).

Finally, does this effect need to be in camera? Could you not composite a puff of smoke in during post? I've keyed lots of smoke recently (Smoke machine in front of a greenscreen), and have had great results. That might be a final option if everything else fails.
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Old September 12th, 2003, 12:02 PM   #9
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Wow. Traktor kicks a**!
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