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Old August 30th, 2010, 02:38 AM   #1
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Realistic Fire effect


I have a scene I am going to shoot where our protagonist creates a 20 foot trail of gas ending at a car. He flicks a match into a pool of gas, a flame ignites the trail, it eventually reaches the car, and the automobile explodes.

My question is what is the best way to do this to make it look realistic. I find much of the fire/explosion effects look cheesy/fake and tend to take you out of the scene.

I could do the actual explosion off screen, but I really need to see that trail of fire that leads to the car.

You see this effect in movies all the time and I am assume why it looks so good is because they actually light the thing on fire.

Thanks for you help
Joe Riggs is offline   Reply With Quote
Old August 31st, 2010, 04:08 PM   #2
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Unfortunately, Mythbusters have proven that the car doesn't actually explode in real life. Not unless you take it to the Mythbuster extreme ... of which they are very good at.

In short, the fire brigade will be your new friends if you wish to do this in a "realistic" way. :-)

Andrew Smith is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 3rd, 2010, 12:26 PM   #3
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The most realistic way is to shoot real fire. However, this can get really expensive since there are rules and precautions you must follow when dealing with pyrotechnics. It can be a lot more complicated than it looks. It can also be dangerous. There's an interesting bit on the Terminator: Salvation DVD/Blu-Ray where they discuss making a scene with a huge explosion. You'll see the pyrotechnic guy is covered with scratches and some bandages. I can't remember if they show it or not, but there is a large safety crew sitting nearby just in case something goes wrong.

The other option is to do it all digitally. If you have the patience and the know-how, you can really pull off something believable and cool to watch. There is a company called DigiEffects that has a fire/flame plugin for After Effects. I've used it on a couple of projects a couple years ago, and while it's not the greatest looking fire, it's the cheapest option and it is possible to build up a believable inferno if you spend some time with it and combine it with a good particle system. Red Giant Software also has a plugin called "Trapcode: Particular" that has some decent flames and smoke. The other option is to go the 3D route. It is possible to make amazing flames, fireballs, and explosions in programs like 3ds max or Maya or Softimage, but they are by far the most time intensive and have the steepest learning curves.

If you're going to go the digital route, you first need to have an understanding of how fire behaves, or at least study some real flames and note how they act in the real world. The other big key is know how to composite those flames into the frame. You could have the greatest and most physically accurate fire in the world, but if the composite sucks, it won't matter.
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Shawn McCalip is offline   Reply With Quote
Old September 3rd, 2010, 05:41 PM   #4
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Hi Joe. Detonation Films might be exactly what you are looking for - stock fire footage including some running flames.
Gregory Gesch is offline   Reply

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