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Best way to set someone on fire using after effects?

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Joe Bigornia
Best way to set someone on fire using after effects?
on Dec 18, 2010 at 7:30:33 am

I was playing with SOny Vegas Pro 10 and it turned out pretty decent but want to set someone on fire in one of our films using after effects. Was told by a adobe after effects veteran to use FumeFX for 3DS max but I don't think I would be able to do that. Can someone lead me into some tutorials on this? I am shooting about 10 seconds of him burning and getting paid really good for this and don't want to miss this opportunity. Thank you
Note: The script shows the person pouring fluid on himself , pulls a lighter out and lights himself on fire.
Green Screen? any tips would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

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Graham Macfarlane
Re: Best way to set someone on fire using after effects?
on Dec 18, 2010 at 10:08:57 am

Hi Joe
There are a few options in AE for this.
You will need to Key (if shot with green screen) or roto the footage to define the actor. Then I would animate a number of null objects (the more the better) to follow points of interest on the actor which will be areas of fire emission.

You can then use CC particle world or better: Trapcode particular (if you have it) to generate a flame who's emitter follows a null (repeat for each null)

If using CC particle world you will probably find best results with the bubble particle shape in combination with a CC vector blur and a little extra vertical blur however I find this result only marginally acceptable. You can augment this with an Alpha track matted precomp (with particle effect above) containing a few multiplied layers of animated fractal noise. Add a bit of CC toner and you could end up with something half decent with some tweaking.

Trapcode particular will be capable of a much more convincing fire effect with added ability to have the flames avoid a user defined spherical field which you might be able to use to make it look like the particles are rolling around arms/legs etc...

FumeFX or any 3D package based particle/fluid software will do a much better job however you will need to create some sort of 3D character for the particles to react to which also has to be animated to copy the movement of the actor.
Personally I would try a quick Trapcode particular test to see the quality of the result and if not satisfactory I would move over to Particleflow and Afterburn in 3D studio Max or use the new PhoenixFD simulator.

Graham Macfarlane
3D animator and VFX specialist
London UK

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Dave LaRonde
Re: Best way to set someone on fire using after effects?
on Dec 18, 2010 at 9:21:58 pm

I presume this guy on fire might move from time to time.... running, flailing arms, changing perspective... you get the idea. The flames would also get blown around.

There is a reason why people hire stunt artists: there are many effects that are best done as practical effects. Like people on fire.

No budget for something like that? I say you can't afford NOT to do it that way. In the long run, it will be a lot cheaper than doing it in after effects. Oh, I suppose it can be done without breaking the budget if you volunteer your time, and have oodles of it. Got a week or so for that seconds-long shot?

If you go with a practical effect the look will be photorealistic, because it will be... well, real. Photorealistic flames in AE are often a crap shoot, especially those whose source you have to motion track, that change perspective, that get blown by the wind, that move around in 3D space... you get the idea.

It may not be the answer you wanted to read, but it's the best answer...

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

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Chris Buttacoli
Re: Best way to set someone on fire using after effects?
on Dec 19, 2010 at 4:31:10 pm

Colorama can transform the colors of the keyed actor to only yellows and oranges.
Detonation films website has some great free fire footage - (or you should film your own).
You can then composite the fire on top of your graded actor.

Check out you tube for Human Torch Effect.

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Paul Roper
Re: Best way to set someone on fire using after effects?
on Dec 20, 2010 at 2:09:53 am

Get a MacBook Pro. Set up a really long, complex composition rendering in After Effects. Get someone to hold the MacBook Pro. It will get so hot, they will probably burst into flames. Film them in their agony, and voilĂ ! There's your finished piece!


How about I just say "Merry Christmas" instead!

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