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Muzzle flashes: Automatic weapons

Posted: Mon, 13th Jun 2005, 5:02pm

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Simon K Jones

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EffectsLab Tutorials: Muzzle flashes

Creating automatic weapon muzzle flashes

This tutorial will guide you through the process of creating automatic weapon muzzle flashes in EffectsLab. For automatic weapons, you don't always want to have to manually place every single muzzle flash, so EffectsLab can simplify the process for you. For the purposes of this tutorial you can use your own movie clip, or download this short example file from (Quicktime mpeg4)

For single, manual flashes, check out the Basic Muzzle Flash tutorial.

Getting started

Load EffectsLab and select New Video Project from the welcome screen.

Select the bare muzzle flash clip as your background plate, and check the settings:

Drag a muzzle flash effect from the effects browser onto the timeline to begin. The default muzzle flash will appear in the middle of the canvas.

Use the crop tool to alter the length of the effect as required. If you are using the example file, stretch the effect to the full length of the clip.


The first thing we want to do is import some more interesting textures. Hit the blue 'Import texture' button in the toolbox, then locate and select the smoke_1 and smoke_2 textures in the EffectsLab/textures/smoke/ folder and the blobby_glow_1 texture from the EffectsLab/textures/ folder.

The new textures will appear in the texture browser:

The muzzle flash is now much more exciting. The appearance of the muzzle flash is determined hugely by the textures. Different combinations can create wildly different results.


We're going to focus on the machine gun wielded by the marine on the right. You don't tend to see every single muzzle flash from a machine gun, so the best way of making the gunfire seem realistic is to randomise its appearances.

Change the Rate of Fire slider to 30:

This will result in a 30% chance of the muzzle flash appearing on each frame. If you use the arrow keys to advance through the frames, you will see that the flash only appears occasionally.

Dimensions and position

By default the muzzle flash points directly to the right. We'll align so that it is facing the correct direction. Advance through the frames until you get to the first appearance of the flash.

Set Angle X to -28.60 to point it slightly to the left.

Set Angle Y to 42.06 to point it upwards.

Drag the canvas handle onto the end of the barrel to position the flash correctly.

Increase the Barrel Gap to 0.15. This will separate the main core from the side ejection fingers (see below).

Get the size right

The length and height sliders determine the overall size of the flash.

Change the Length to 197.

Change the Height to 0.34.


The strobe light used in the example clip gave a blue light, whereas the default muzzle flash colour is orange. Although the autotmatic weapon's muzzle flashes will not appear specifically on the strobe frames, we still want to change the flash so it matches the lighting. Click the orange bar near the bottom of the toolbar to display the colour palette.

Select a light blue colour and click ok:

Adjust the Intensity of the Core Ejection (the higher slider in the toolbox) to 0.42.

Side ejections

For an automatic weapon, side ejections can often be appropriate. You have a great deal of control over side ejections, to match any kind of weapon.

Turn on side ejections by sliding the Side Ejection Number value to 3.

We want to get the side ejections to match the core, by altering their appearance:

Change the Scale Length to 0.58.

Change the Scale Height to 0.60.

Increase the Intensity of the Side Ejection (the lower slider in the toolbox) to 0.38.

There are many other sliders to customise the appearance if necessary, but your muzzle flash should now look very convincing. Feel free to experiment with the Taper sliders and the various Render options to adjust its appearance.

Remaining frames

All that is required is to check through the rest of clip, adjust the position and angle of the flash whenever necessary. This method makes automatic weapons far easier and faster to work with than if you had to place each muzzle flash manually.

On the final frame, change the Seed slider to a different position. The seed number is used to generate the shape of the flash, so this will ensure that each time the flash appears it looks slightly different – while retaining the same general attributes.

For single, manual flashes, check out the Basic Muzzle Flash tutorial.

Last edited Fri, 12th May 2006, 8:31am; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Mon, 13th Jun 2005, 5:18pm

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Force: 2120 | Joined: 16th Apr 2004 | Posts: 1585

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Ooh, yeah!
This is good!

What did you use to make tha light on stage?
Posted: Mon, 13th Jun 2005, 5:46pm

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Force: 18442 | Joined: 19th Aug 2002 | Posts: 2620

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I'm pretty sure he used a stroboscope. Anyway, good tutorial.