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Squib Burst Effect Sans the Squib

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Kristopher Wile
Squib Burst Effect Sans the Squib
on Jul 2, 2010 at 3:38:14 am

Recently I've been asked by several individuals to composite bullet hits onto an actors body. This is simple enough with some keyed blood splatter footage. However, in production, no squibs were used to emulate the explosive force of the impact and its forceful passage through the body. This seems problematic to me because it leaves something missing in the composite.

In particular, I'm bothered by the fact that there is no visible exit area before or after the blood actually appears, where in reality, even if for just a split second, the bullet would physically rip through the clothing of the individual being shot. This would be visible, even after the initial blood splatter was missing.

So, my question is, how do I simulate this "ripping" effect when it wasn't created practically in production either by using a squib or some pressurized air device? I want to improve the realism of my bullet impacts.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Squib Burst Effect Sans the Squib
on Jul 2, 2010 at 1:25:23 pm

Have you looked at for some ideas? Andrew Kramer does a lot of stuff with explosions, muzzle flashes, bullet hits, etc. and he may have some tricks.

But as you point out, it would have been far better to do them as practical effects. I don't know of any good, fast ways to do what you want in AE, and do it convincingly.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA

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Michael Szalapski
Re: Squib Burst Effect Sans the Squib
on Jul 2, 2010 at 1:33:10 pm

First of all, thank you for a well-worded post. There seems to have been an inundation of "i can haz effect?" posts lately. A post like yours is a breath of fresh air. Now, I'm going to start with a piece of advice from Dave LaRonde that you probably already know, but just in case:
Dave's Stock Answer #2:

When you're out on a shoot, and you say, "we'll fix this in post" without knowing PRECISELY HOW you're going to fix it in post, don't shoot it! You'll only end up shooting it over again.

Since post typically costs three times the cost of production, fixing something in post is not a way to save money, but rather a way to spend more of it.

And, before you say "we'll fix it in post," always consider who's doing the work, especially if you're the one doing the editing.
It seems, you weren't there on the shoot, so you might want to pass this along to the special people who were. And I hope you are charging them accordingly. They need to learn from their mistake.

Now, to answer your question, there are several different ways you could go about it. It would all depend on what kind of look you needed. Are you being over-the-top Hollywood action movie with your picture or are you actually trying to be realistic? If you're trying for actual realism we will need to know things like what kind of gun are you using? At what range is it being used? What part of the body is being hit? Etc.

Although, the best thing to do would be to film some dummies in a similarly lit situation wearing the same or similar clothes and shooting them then composite the section with the bullet hit into your shot.

If you're just trying to make it look like people think it looks because they watch movies, then you can do lots of different things.
You can always add more layers to an effect to add realism, so I'll suggest a few and you can decide which ones are worth the time to do.
You would want to put a dark spot on them. This is to simulate the hole/impression made by the bullet. This could probably be done with a couple of solids and feathered masks. This will have to be motion tracked to your actor.
You will want to use some sort of distort effect around the bullet hit to simulate the fabric's movement as it gets pulled by the bullet (it will only be for a split second).
You will want some particulate matter like tiny shreds of cloth.
Possibly some blood mist.
Try to find a flag tutorial (or plugin) and use it on a very small scale to fake fabric pieces that got torn by the bullet. (Again, this will need to be motion tracked to the actor.)

Hopefully some of these suggestions are pointing you in the right direction and I'm sure others will have some suggestions too.

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.

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