Stop, or I’ll Shoot! Have you ever wanted to have a gun in your film? What about a cool action scene with guns blazing, people running, dishes exploding and your lead female jumping into a garbage chute to avoid being blown to bits? Yes? Me too! But while I can’t help you with convincing your lead actress to jump down a garbage chute, I can help you with the blazing guns part.
Read the full article Making Realistic Muzzle Flashes.
Hey, what’s up? This is Paul Del Vecchio for Video Maker Magazine and today this is what we’re going to be doing.
So more specifically we’re going to be creating that gunshot, the muzzle flash from the gun. Now today’s actually a very special day. My company Tripe E Productions actually we entered the Diary of the Dead My Space DVD contest and we one grand price. So we just received the DVDs in the mail today and actually this footage that you’re watching right now is actually part of the film. So you guys get a nice little inside look on how we created some of the special effects here.
But anyway, let’s get started. So first off we need to find our footage. So here we have our footage right here and I’m just going to drag it into a new composition. So we just need to find our little section. So let’s go ahead and trim this. We’re going to hold alt and press the end bracket. That will move the end point over to our current time indicator. And then we’ll set our out point. We’ll just hold alt and hit end bracket. So that trims the clip. Now what we want to do is also press N on the keyboard so it shrinks our work area to just over the footage. And then you can hold shift while you move the play head and it will snap to the beginning of the cut or the beginning of the clip right here. So you press B on the keyboard and that will bring your work area to the beginning and to the end of the clip. And then to trim the entire composition down just right click and do trim comp to work area. So now we have a composition that’s the length of our footage.
Now let’s add the muzzle flash. So we want to position the play head to just before when the gun kicks back. So that would be this frame right here. You can put a little marker there by pressing the star on the keypad the number pad on the right. And so that’s where our muzzle flash is going to be. So now we can easily line that up.
So now we want to go through and find our muzzle flash. One thing you don’t want to do is you want to get the right perspective first of all. So if you can find muzzle flashes you can check out that site that I told you guys about before deadnationfilms.com and find out the muzzle flashes that they have here. But what you don’t want to do is get a muzzle flash like this for typical handgun because that doesn’t work. You know you want to match the muzzle flash to the particular gun. You can get away with a little bit here. Once again, you don’t want to take a side view. This is a three-fourths kind of perspective. So I think what we can do is go with something on the front view or maybe on the side. You know what; we’ll do a side view. That muzzle flash is the one I used in the film so we can just drag that out. These are pre-keyed muzzle flashes. What that means is that that black background is automatically keyed out. If it’s not, what you could do is click on the muzzle flash, hit F4 on your keyboard, put the mode, change the mode to screen. And I’m just going to keep it like that because I like what it does to the color.
So now you’ll see that this muzzle flash is kind of large and not really in the right perspective. Usually you want to get it in the right perspective but if you can’t then I’m going to show you a little trick, which sometimes works and sometimes it doesn’t depending on the footage. So you’ll have to test it out with your footage. But if you really, really want to make sure that the shot is, you know, that the special effect works then you want to get in the exact perspective or close enough to the perspective of your shot.
I’m just going to line this up and I’m going to shrink it down. And again, if you hold shift while you’re shrinking it down it scales it uniformly rather than warping the aspect ratio here. So I’m just going to change to maybe something like that. Okay. A way to get around the perspective, and again this may not work you’ll have to test it with your shot, is to change your gunfire layer or your muzzle flash layer to a 3D layer. And you do that by clicking on this box right here underneath the 3D box right here. And then you press W on the keyboard and you can rotate this on the Y-axis. And that will sort of change the perspective of it. Just line it up. And I guess you can kind of just eyeball it. That looks pretty good. I’ll just line it up right there. Okay. So that’s looking pretty good.
Now the next step is you want to change – you want to make sure that it matches the color of your shot. This shot looks a little too saturated in the fire so what we’ll do is select our muzzle flash layer and apply a hue saturation effect to it. And we’ll just decrease the saturation here. Bring it down till it about matches it. Somewhere around there, I would say maybe a little more. Yeah, somewhere around there, so negative 28 that about does it. All right. So that’s looking pretty good right now.
But another thing that we can do actually is to make this a little more fiery. And we can add an effect to do that. So effect distort and we can apply the turbulent displace effect. And as you can see that kind of destroyed our muzzle flash a little bit so we want to bring the amount down to maybe 30 to kind of bring it back, maybe a little less, 25 maybe, 25. And the size way down to maybe, I don’t know, three. And the complexity up to maybe around six. So as you can see, maybe even more. Complexity let’s do 10. No, six will work and the size, you can just play with the size until you find something that works right. That’s a little too much so let’s bring it down to about 10 and maybe the amount to – as you can see as I scrub this you can see it’s kind of becoming more flame lie in a way. But that’s a little too drastic so I’m just going to bring it down to maybe, I don’t know let’s try around 20. So as I do the before and the after you can kind of see it looks a little more flame like. And you might want to reposition it if that’s not working correctly for you. So that looks pretty good.
So now we’ve matched it with color. We’ve added a little bit more of a fire characteristic to it. And I mean we can leave that as it is but we can also add some interactive lighting. So what we can do is add an adjustment layer here. And what an adjustment layer does is it affects the layers below it. So if you apply an effect to it like use saturation and we bring the saturation all the way down. As you can see it affected the footage and the flame. But if I were to move this adjustment layer to between the or below the muzzle flash but above the footage you can see that the footage is affected but not the muzzle flash because the muzzle flash is above the adjustment layer. So everything below the adjustment layer is what gets affected by it. So let’s just drop that back on top and we’ll delete this hue saturation.
Okay. So for interactive lighting you might want to take the pen tool and try to think in a 3D way. Like this part of his hand where his knuckles are is facing the flame and this part, I guess you could say, is somewhat facing the flame. So you might want to just maybe highlight maybe like this part of his hand. Let’s draw a mask around it. Around his knuckles and we’ll close it. And now if you bring the exposure up if we do effect, color correction exposure, and we bring it up probably one stop is going to be too much but let’s just see. Yeah, that’s too much, maybe .7 or .5. I mean it is daytime so it depends on your scene. If it’s shot at night you want to bring it up a lot more but since this is daytime I think we’ll go with .7. It might be a little bit too much but it’s just to show you what I’m doing. And maybe we’ll do the same, I don’t know, maybe a little bit on his jacket over here. We’ll just kind of rough something in here real quick.
Now keep in mind that the muzzle flash is only for one frame so you can kind of get away with a lot. And you also want to make sure that your interactive lighting only lasts for one frame and that’s the frame that the muzzle flash happens on. So you want to trim your adjustment layer to that frame only. And as you can see it gets brighter. Now of course you want to trim the layer so it’s only one frame long. As you can see it’s on and then off. Only, it’s only there for one frame. And of course it looks very fake as you can see. It looks like it just – you know it has a very hard edge. So what you want to do is you want to feather the mast. So, I don’t know, let’s feather it maybe 10 pixels. Same with this, 10-pixel feather. And you might even want to -- you could even do more, maybe 20 if you want. But let’s just go with 10. I think 10 was fine for this purpose. You know what, 15; the more I look at it the more I think it does need a softer edge. So okay, so now you can see that it sort of has some interactive lighting. It kind of blends better. I did notice that maybe, well down here maybe you could use some interactive lighting but maybe not. But this isn’t really 100 percent necessary. All that’s really necessary is the muzzle flash. But it does kind of help sell the effect. And like I said this is a little bit drastic but this is just to show you what I was doing. So I’m just actually go back and lower the exposure a little bit, so let’s bring it down to probably about .5. I think that’s good because it is daytime and so you’re not going to get, you know and the sun is kind of like shining right on him so you’re not going to get much of an illumination here because the sun is a lot brighter than the muzzle flash. In fact there might be any interactive lighting at all. But this is just for you know, just to show you guys some things you can do to make it a little bit more believable.
So now let’s just do a RAM preview here by hitting zero on the keypad. Okay that’s looking a little bit strange to me and I’m thinking that maybe the muzzle flash could be just a bit larger. All right. So I think that works. Let’s do another RAM preview and check it out. Okay. All right, so that looks pretty good. Maybe the turbulent displace is a little bit too much so I’m just going to bring that down a little bit. It also might be a little sharp too. The footage might be a little too sharp so you might want to add a blur to it. So let’s just add a blur to this here. We can do blur and sharp and fast blur. And add just a little bit of blur so that the muzzle flash matches the footage a little bit better because this was shot on standard definition DVX 100A so, you know, it does kind of have somewhat of a soft image. So, I don’t know, let’s see maybe 10. That’s a little too much so let’s just bring it down just a tad. We can – let’s see, five, five is still too much so maybe three. Still a little bit too much let’s bring it down to two. Okay. That works for me.
So let’s do a RAM preview and check it out. Okay. So that’s looking pretty good. You might also want to bring the exposure down on the actual muzzle flash. So let’s just add another exposure. Filter a few and we’ll bring it before all the color and all that stuff because this is post processing and light is pretty much the first thing that you want to kind of process. So maybe we’ll just bring this down a little bit. All right, let’s check that out. Let’s do a RAM preview. Okay, so that’s looking pretty good.
So, you know, the last think you might want to do is do some color correction on your footage just to make it match a little bit better. So we can just apply a new adjustment layer. And let’s go into our grading application so magic bullet looks. And this is the trial that’s why there’s that big X over the footage. But, you know, maybe bring in your lift --gamma gain and do some post processing here and put some saturation in here, and bring another one. Okay. So what I did when I graded the film was I actually did cool shadows. So I brought the cool shadow, I put some cool shadow in there and then I warmed up the highlights. Around there looks good and then I warmed up the entire image to the mid tones. Well that’s a little more red right there. Yeah, that looks good. And you want to bring down the blacks a little bit. And maybe bring down some of the highlights. Then bring up the mid tones just a tad and bring that haze a little bit. Right there. Right there looks good to me. All right, so that looks pretty good.
The saturation might need a little adjusting so let’s just tweak that a little bit. That’s too much. Too much desaturation. All right so that pretty much makes the shot match. And if you want you can kind of target a certain skin tone here somewhere in the orange range and maybe you can bring that up a little bit. It’s up to you depending on what you want to do here. Just keep in mind that it does kind of bring up the – because most of the image, the image overall is kind of very orange and red to begin with so you want to just make sure that you’re not kind of making it too red here. So I’ll just, yeah, somewhere around there looks good. Let me go back to the lift gamma gain and tweak these a little bit more. Maybe a little less here, bring this down just a tad. Bring the blacks down a little bit. Maybe bring the mid tones up a little bit more. Great. So that looks pretty good.
Now you can see that the color grading process almost kind of makes it blend a little bit better. I mean if you take a look at the before and the after you can kind of see that it helps it blend a little bit better. So I like this look so we’re going to press okay and there we go. That looks good. So let’s just do a preview real quick. Looks good to me. Let’s see. I know there’s this big red X over the entire thing. But if you guys don’t know magic bullet looks is a great color grading application. You can find that at redgiantsoftware.com. It’s made by Stu Maschwitz at the orphanage. And that’s a great little color grading application right there for after effects. And it renders extremely, extremely quickly. And so that’s another product that you guys might want to purchase or look into. So that looks good.
Okay. Well, thanks for watching. This is Paul Del Vecchio for Video Maker Magazine and remember that this footage is from the film The Final Day, which is actually on the Diary of the Dead DVD, George Romero’s new film. So go and check that out, distributed by the Weinstein Company so yeah, you might want to check that out. It’s a good little film and there are a lot of other films on there, which are great. And they have some special effects on there too so if you want to check that out you can maybe learn a little bit on some of the special features and some of the other films that are on there too.
So, thank you for watching. This is Paul Del Vecchio for Video Maker Magazine and Triple E Productions. And you can check me out at www.triple-e-productions.net. And thanks again for watching guys. All right.
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