Muzzle flash behind object

AlbusViaFilms Newcastle, UKPosts: 39 Just Starting Out*

Hey - I'm trying to find a reference online of a video of a real muzzle flash - but ha ha ironically searching muzzle flash now just gives you either stock footage against black or green backgrounds or VFX tutorials, rather than a video of a pistol actually firing!

Basically, what would it look like if there was an object between the flash and the camera - so either someone fires a weapon behind someone, or the camera is in an OSS view of the firer - so that the firearm itself is actually in front of the flash. 

Would I mask around the object, and then feather it to allow the flash to bleed around, would the flash still engulf the object (like a flare)? What would it actually look like ha ha!


Cheers guys! 


  • Aladdin4d
    Aladdin4d Posts: 2,481 Enthusiast

    Well a real muzzle flash isn't all that dramatic and if realism is what you're after I wouldn't bother doing much. Now if you want it to look good that's another story. I would probably mask and feather. Anyway here's a good comparison video:

  • Stargazer54
    Stargazer54 Posts: 3,799 Ambassador
  • AlbusViaFilms
    AlbusViaFilms Newcastle, UKPosts: 39 Just Starting Out*

    Yeah - My muzzle flashes weren't going to be dramatic anyway, but unlike the real and fictional flashes above, mine are in low light, so while small, would still be flashes. And I wasn't sure what the light would do with an object infront. I'll try mask with feather and see how that turns out

  • BobDiMarzio
    BobDiMarzio Posts: 630 Just Starting Out

    If you would like a cross section of real muzzle flashes, watch a few you tube video featuring IDPA, USPSA, and steel challenge competitions. Watch a few videos by Jerry  Miculek.  You will notice that real muzzle flashes outdoors are virtually nonexistent unless filmed in slow motion using powder that has a large flash component.   Another interesting tidbit is that high quality ammunition has been configured to produce the lowest amount of  flash as to not blind  law enforcement during a low light encounters.   I spent many years as a shooting sports competitor and any attempt I made to capture a real life muzzle flash has been disappointing .  the closest I got to a movie type muzzle flash was with a .357 magnum using cheap ammo.  However a "live"  flash is still significantly shorter in time than a "hollywood" flash.       I have read in one of my digital compositing  VFX books that there is a thing called  "Expected Movie Reality" which differs from reality but is now expected from all viewers.    Kind of like when you see a large battle explosion that's apparently a considerable distance away but you hear the BOOM immediately.  Or that all car accidents are accompanied by a large explosion.  Soooooo. To make you flashes to appear "Real"  to your audience, watch several of the shows and movies that have obligatory weekly gun fights and use a similar muzzle flash.  

  • BobDiMarzio
    BobDiMarzio Posts: 630 Just Starting Out

    After a little digging around I found the files I shot in August/2016

    Here is an unlisted YouTube video that I did last August.  It is ungraded Nikon 7100 shot @ 720P 60 FPS and slowed down to 40%  using GoPro Studio software I know It's soft and Ungraded.  But it does illustrate a live outdoors muzzle flash.


  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,694 Ambassador
    edited January 2017

    Note Bob's video shows how poorly cameras capture real muzzle flashes. Five shots, one tiny flash. 

    You probably want a pretty hard mask on objects occluding the flash, with only a couple of pixels of feathering. In a low light scene there would be spill light, but not huge bleed like a flare--also, this would limit spill to the actual flash area, where light spill would be wider. 

    For spill light, you pop a grade layer on top, add soft masks around  the areas where spill happens, use your color correction/grading filters of choice to brighten (and warm?) the masked areas and keyframe opacity. 

    This tutorial covers both stock media muzzle flashes and the particle muzzle flashes in Hitfilm Pro or the Destruction Pack add-on for Express. 

    This Ae tutorial covers making custom muzzle flashes with fractal noise in Ae. It directly translates to Hitfilm. 

    In fact, here's my test comparing a muzzle flash built in Hitfilm following the above tutorial with a Hitfilm particle flash.