Post Production: How To Create Fire Effects

If you want to create fire in a video, then this can be done using after effects. Basically there was no fire in the actual shot but you want to insert it into the clip in post production. Creating fire is difficult because of the many light variations that fire produces. Most software will have a fire effect which takes into account the different light variations. The effects algorithm and code take into account the flickering of flames, shadow and light variations that occur with fire. In most cases fire requires several different layers within the clip.

Step 1. Import the Image

It is necessary to first import the different images desired for the flame picture. Normally the fire is actually an additional clip of real fire. There will be a background image and the fire image. You can film your own fire clip or use a stock clip from any effects libraries. Once you have all of the images in your computer and loaded into your software it is possible to piece together the fire effect.

Step 2. Layers

The fire is placed onto the scene by using different layers. The fire itself is on a layer while the rest of the image is on its own separate layer. Since the fire is being added to a clip it is necessary to add the layer to the section of the timeline that requires a fire. The flames will flicker within the necessary frames.

Step 3. Adding Flares

Besides imposing the fire clip onto the new layer many video editing programs will have their own fire effect. Some may call this flares and others will label it as fire. It is possible to add the flares and flames in layers. When adding flares it may be necessary to soften the edges of the flames to seamlessly incorporate it into the clip. This softening will depend on how naturally the flames fit into the clip.

Step 4. The Glow

Fire is more than just flames so a glow will need to be added to your flames. The glow is added in yet another layer. This is normally easy to do by dragging and dropping the glow effect, though this will depend on your software packaged. It is possible to choose the glow colors, glow threshold, intensity, radius and operation.

Step 5. Downward Flames

Flames and fire do not just go up but the flames go all around. As with the above instructions it is necessary to create flames that go down as well. Follow the above instructions on another layer but change the position and radius of the flames. Most times it will be necessary to change the preset animation conditions for the flames to go down.

Step 6. Unrealistic Flames

If your fire does not look overly realistic then adjustments will need to be made. Many times a very small adjustment can make a very large difference on screen. If it is the first time adding a fire effect then it can take a long time to get the setting correct. However, when a good fire has been achieved you can use these set points for future fire effects.