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Are blank guns worth it?

Posted: Sat, 14th Oct 2006, 2:43pm

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alpha54

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G'day everone! smile

I've been looking around on the net, and there seems to be a huge range of blank-firing guns... from $100 Berettas to $500 Colt Commandos. Are blank guns actually worth buying? Some of them look really real (way to state the obvious) and it seems like not having to composite in the smoke and the shells ejecting could save you quite a bit of work.

What are your thoughts?

Cheers for the advice! wink
Posted: Sat, 14th Oct 2006, 3:53pm

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visualchaos

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It depends on how much you are willing to spend. Is your future film going to be sold for profit? Plus there is a safety hazzard too. I would suggest looking at purchasing airsoft guns specifically the electronic or gas kind (pistols). One of the neat things about VisonLab Pro or Effects Lab Pro is that compositing muzzle flashes and everything else thats associated to a gun is that its easy.
Posted: Sat, 14th Oct 2006, 4:21pm

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BackOfTheHearse

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Paying $100 for a Beretta seems TOO cheap. Be careful of what you're buying.

Airsoft is cheaper, and thus if it breaks during action-type sequences, no big deal. If a blank gun breaks, you have to take it to a gunsmith.

Plus, the muzzle flash on most modern blank guns comes out of the top. Since the barrel is plugged (permenantly), the flame escapes out of the shell ejection chamber.


If you're looking for realistic feel and sound, I'd look at www.modelguns.co.uk
Posted: Sat, 14th Oct 2006, 4:38pm

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TimmyD

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www.realistictoyguns.com

Buy a load of really really cheap plastic guns, take off or paint the orange cap, and there you go. That what I do...
Posted: Sun, 15th Oct 2006, 7:12pm

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ops101ex

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I knew a cinematographer who was working on a western movie, and there was a big gunfight scene, and they were using blanks. Apparently some debris had gotten in the barrel of one of the guns, and a piece of metal got shot out and gave the cinematographer a nasty cut on the leg. Blanks are a lot more dangerous. Adding muzzle flashes in post seems much more sensible to me.
Posted: Sun, 15th Oct 2006, 7:19pm

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MacnaDX

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There alot more realistic that just adding the muzzle flash but when you go to film at a location you need to get a permit first.
Posted: Sun, 15th Oct 2006, 9:49pm

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Lior

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dont forget insurence will charge u a hell of alot more to operate blanks. Do some research on it. Buying the gun is like buying a car. Sure it can be cheap but gas insurence and maintnence will cost way to much. A gun is the same.

I know of some telivision shows that even use airsoft. This is the way to go cutting costs on the gun and insurence. Even a movie i believe it was called "Living Dead" or something like that staring leguazamo dam i hope i spelled that right, was also filmed using airsoft.
Bottom line do some research. Remeber you also have to protect ur actors as well. Good day.
Posted: Sun, 15th Oct 2006, 10:23pm

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Serpent

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BackOfTheHearse wrote:

Paying $100 for a Beretta seems TOO cheap. Be careful of what you're buying.
I disagree completely. That sounds about right actually.
Posted: Sun, 15th Oct 2006, 10:41pm

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TimmyD

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The bottom line: Blank guns suck. Cheap plastic toys you can get for $5 are the way to go if you're just gonna be throwing them around on set anyway.
Posted: Sun, 15th Oct 2006, 11:36pm

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Gnome326

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^ indeed. Plus with visual effects from Elab and sfx you can find on the internet, or record yourself, its just as easy to create the same realism with an airsoft gun as it would be with the blank.
Posted: Mon, 16th Oct 2006, 12:43am

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Serpent

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TimmyD wrote:

The bottom line: Blank guns suck. Cheap plastic toys you can get for $5 are the way to go if you're just gonna be throwing them around on set anyway.
If you get a nice, solid, metal gun it will look much better, and have the ability to be thrown anywhere. You can get a nice airsoft beretta for under $100.

If you make a serious film with a plastic gun you might as well hire 10-year-old actors.
Posted: Mon, 16th Oct 2006, 12:48am

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Axeman

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TimmyD wrote:

The bottom line: Blank guns suck. Cheap plastic toys you can get for $5 are the way to go if you're just gonna be throwing them around on set anyway.
Actually, blank guns will be more realistic and superior in every way, other than being more expensive, and you have to take greater safety precautions.

The smoke you get from blanks never looks right when done digitally. At least, not with a budget under $100,000. Also, what Serpent said.
Posted: Mon, 16th Oct 2006, 12:51am

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TimmyD

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I highly doubt the majority of users on this site (of which many are under 18) have the ability to get their hands on a blank firing gun. With this in mind, my statement makes sense. You're not talking to a bunch of adults with $100,000 budgets and pretty cameras.
Posted: Mon, 16th Oct 2006, 1:16am

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Hybrid-Halo

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Blank Firing guns are an extra danger on set and although they save on some post work, they are effectively too much hassle to consider using when filming on an Amateur or low budget professional level.

Software like EffectsLab was designed specifically with this type of scenario in mind and can achieve excellent and believable effects with absolutely no danger and so of course it has to be the route I recommend.

Your money is better spent on items which will create realistic bullet hits rather than muzzleflashes as they are comparatively far more difficult to achieve effectively in post. During Project One's shooting we fired dustballs out of a paintball gun over pre-designated areas to simulate bullet hits on brick walls and I think you'll agree that when combined with the MuzzleFlash effect and some smoke stock footage are totally believable.

BB Guns will more than suffice for 90% of any firearm related filming scenario as props. You can even get electric/gas blowback pistols and rifles which I can imagine would be absolutely authentic looking when combined with the post effects.

-Hybrid.
Posted: Mon, 16th Oct 2006, 2:01am

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Lior

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I better get some major force for this crap lol jk. (would be nice) lol.
I did some research all over the net and acualy found something realy cool. I didint belive the price so i checked on ebay and hello and behold even a video that shows stuff. U want relaistic without so much of a danger and cheap going at 50bux (with shipping included), Look no further my freinds. http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=230034483760&ssPageName=MERC_VI_RSCC_Pr4_PcY_BIN_Stores_IT&refitem=230037063823&itemcount=4&refwidgetloc=active_view_item&usedrule1=StoreCatToStoreCat&refwidgettype=cross_promot_widget
Posted: Mon, 16th Oct 2006, 2:54am

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Dancamfx

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Ive always wanted to use blanks but for me its just cheaper and easier to use airsoft guns. If I were you I would just try the blank guns in a quick test video and compare it to FXlab and see which one you prefer. I would check ebay, Im sure they have some blank firing handguns for sale and for cheap!
Posted: Mon, 16th Oct 2006, 2:56am

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Hybrid-Halo

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Dancamfx wrote:

Ive always wanted to use blanks.
I know that feeling, there's just that macho bravado attraction to loud noises and the smell of gunpowder. smile
Posted: Mon, 16th Oct 2006, 6:18am

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ben3308

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Even if it's not too noticeable, on Cover's Story we used a real, just-loaded gun (my friend had to take the rounds out before he brought it to the store we were shooting at), and it commanded a higher power and had such a greater onscreen and real life presence than any permanent-marked-tip, clunky black plastic toy gun would ever have had. I recommend getting at least ONE good, real/blank/nonworking model gun and using it in scenes interweaved with shots of toy guns.
Posted: Mon, 16th Oct 2006, 7:19am

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Bryce007

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Previously, 3 guns I've used in films were Either blank firing or Real. It definitely adds the weight and feel so the actor can get into it more.
Posted: Mon, 16th Oct 2006, 7:24am

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Axeman

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TimmyD wrote:

I highly doubt the majority of users on this site (of which many are under 1cool have the ability to get their hands on a blank firing gun. With this in mind, my statement makes sense. You're not talking to a bunch of adults with $100,000 budgets and pretty cameras.
All good points. I didn't mean to suggest that everyone should use blank-firing guns, although I now realize my previous post may have come across that way. What I meant was that, for those who have the ability and know-how to use blanks, the results on film will look better.

If anyone is using blank-firing guns, they should make sure to have a gun-wrangler on set at all times, whose sole responsibility is to ensure that the guns are handled safely and never putting any of the cast or crew in danger.
Posted: Mon, 16th Oct 2006, 12:58pm

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RusSEAL

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I've been doing Armoury work in film now for 15 years...

For low budget, being what it is, AirSoft gets used quite a bit in production- usually for background actors as well as stunts and when the devise is being slung over the Principle actors' shoulders.

Quite frankly- I agree with Hybrid that for the amature or 'starting' production designer/director/producer the look and feel of a decent quality set of AirSoft gear will suffice. I have "real steel", airsoft, resin cast, rubber cast and Italian custom built weaponry in my magazine and unless you're in the company of weapon afficianodoes, police or military, the layman watching a film will never know the difference from one to the next.

The FXHome brand of software lends itself incredibly well to post production muzzle flash [something that doesn't exist in real-world weaponry] I was a true believer when I got Er-No's Project One in my mailbox a while back! My producer friend was astonished at teh quality work a [basically] "No Budget" film was able to achieve FX-wise.

"Real Steel" [or could we say "reel Steel"?] has it's place, certainly. Starting out though, it's better all the way around if one uses plastic first and builds up to such things.

I've constantly noted, that on-set where "plastics" are used, the set time to shoot is dramatically faster than the set time for "live" weapons- especially when we have to take choreography, camera placement and muzzle direction into account. Safety is always paramount- so the time starts to add up with real weapons on-set.

There's pros and cons to either side of the debate- truly, the feel of a Desert Eagle 44 thundering a few rounds is far more impressive and "meaty" on-set than it's equivilent gas operated counterpart- but with the right FX and sound- honestly, the ausience would be just as spellbound...
Posted: Mon, 16th Oct 2006, 1:01pm

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CurtinParloe

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Axeman wrote:

What I meant was that, for those who have the ability and know-how to use blanks, the results on film will look better.
I was very surprised when I found out that the Church gunfight in Once Upon a Time in Mexico was entirely done with rubber guns. It shows how important postproduction really is.

Axeman wrote:

If anyone is using blank-firing guns, they should make sure to have a gun-wrangler on set at all times, whose sole responsibility is to ensure that the guns are handled safely and never putting any of the cast or crew in danger.
Amen.
Posted: Fri, 20th Oct 2006, 3:27pm

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alpha54

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Thanks for the replies everyboday - you guys are helpful as always! smile

I have one more question though: do you think it would work to use one blank-firing gun during production, and use airsoft guns for the rest? I'm asking because I have a couple of fairly good-looking airsoft guns which look perfect for long and medium shots, but I would really like to give the main character a blank gun to use for close-ups.

So basically, sound like a good idea? Will the blank and the airsofts (one post effects have been added) work well together?

Cheers for your help!
Posted: Fri, 20th Oct 2006, 6:13pm

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NitroBob

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Take a look at the guns used in the "Matrix" trilogy. Every shot in which you can clearly see the bottom of a gun, you will see that telltale little hole (the gas fill port which indicates an Airsoft gun.)

"Full metal" airsoft guns are not that expensive and definitely look and feel awesome.

Go here:
http://www.dentrinityshop.com/den_search.jsp

and enter "full metal" in the search box -- very cool stuff turns up. A little work in post and you've got a very safe, very effective firearm prop.

BTW, the product "Goof Off" (available in the household section of supermarkets and hardware stores) removes that orange muzzle paint white easily. Just don't wave the weapon around in public afterward.
Posted: Fri, 20th Oct 2006, 7:14pm

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Hybrid-Halo

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alpha54 wrote:

I have one more question though: do you think it would work to use one blank-firing gun during production, and use airsoft guns for the rest?
We did this for one shot in Project One and found that you can't reliably capture muzzleflashes on most cameras due to their speed. As a result of this experience, I'd have to say that in the name of creative control it's probably better and easier to simply do all the MuzzleFlashes in post.

-Hybrid.
Posted: Fri, 20th Oct 2006, 8:02pm

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Kid

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Real life muzzle flashes are way smaller then film ones plus you can't record the sound propery so in the end you will just end up adding the effects anyway.

The only advantage I can see is that it gives some feedback to the actors which I guess is more important for amateurs. Half of that is the weight though which you can get from heavy bb guns.

Also, they are pretty expensive not just to buy but for the ammo too. In the end it may go against you because you might keep a bad shot because you dont want to waste it where you might have reshot if it was free.
Posted: Fri, 20th Oct 2006, 8:24pm

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visualchaos

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NitroBob wrote:

Take a look at the guns used in the "Matrix" trilogy. Every shot in which you can clearly see the bottom of a gun, you will see that telltale little hole (the gas fill port which indicates an Airsoft gun.)
For real?? I didn't know that. I thought they used blank firing guns? Thats cool though that they used Airsoft guns.
Posted: Fri, 20th Oct 2006, 9:40pm

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BackOfTheHearse

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visualchaos wrote:

NitroBob wrote:

Take a look at the guns used in the "Matrix" trilogy. Every shot in which you can clearly see the bottom of a gun, you will see that telltale little hole (the gas fill port which indicates an Airsoft gun.)
For real?? I didn't know that. I thought they used blank firing guns? Thats cool though that they used Airsoft guns.
I know for a fact that NitroBob is incorrect. And I have one picture to prove it:




You can see that the ejected shell is crimped on the end... indicative of it being a blank round.
Posted: Fri, 20th Oct 2006, 9:48pm

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Hybrid-Halo

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Strange, the pistol is ejecting an unfired blank round yet has live/prop rounds in the magazine/chamber.
Posted: Fri, 20th Oct 2006, 10:16pm

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BackOfTheHearse

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Hybrid-Halo wrote:

Strange, the pistol is ejecting an unfired blank round yet has live/prop rounds in the magazine/chamber.
No, it's been fired. The casing blew open the crimping, but the marks from it are still there. An unfired blank appears as such:



Posted: Fri, 20th Oct 2006, 10:28pm

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Hybrid-Halo

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Ah I see, I only have a little experience with pistol blanks and remember the cartridges being more obviously fired.

It's still more than likely that The Matrix only used blanks for few specific slow motion shots where catridge ejections were focused on.

-Hybrid.
Posted: Fri, 20th Oct 2006, 11:10pm

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BackOfTheHearse

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I know of some false shots in the film... For example, in the lobby scene you see shells falling to the ground in slow motion (for dramatic effect). They obviously aren't blank shell casings. But they are also not the correct shells which that particular gun would actually fire, haha.
Posted: Fri, 20th Oct 2006, 11:11pm

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alpha54

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The way I'm thinking about using the gun for the close-ups, it doesn't really matter whether I can catch the muzzle flash, or smoke, on film or not. Its mainly about the fact that the slide moves realistically, and a shell is actually seen being ejected from the chamber. In this regard, one blank gun for close-ups should be quite useful, or? smile
Posted: Fri, 20th Oct 2006, 11:14pm

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Hybrid-Halo

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BackOfTheHearse wrote:

But they are also not the correct shells which that particular gun would actually fire, haha.
Bah, neo could make any bullet fit any gun. wink
Posted: Fri, 20th Oct 2006, 11:16pm

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BackOfTheHearse

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Hybrid-Halo wrote:

BackOfTheHearse wrote:

But they are also not the correct shells which that particular gun would actually fire, haha.
Bah, neo could make any bullet fit any gun. wink
Not at that point. He basically was still in "Bill and Ted mode" at that point in the movie, haha.
Posted: Fri, 20th Oct 2006, 11:53pm

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Hybrid-Halo

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Totally Bogus.
Posted: Sat, 21st Oct 2006, 2:23am

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NitroBob

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Not incorrect -- I said where you can see the BOTTOM of the gun. You're looking at the top. Which is, obviously, a blank being fired for that particular scene. Never said they didn't use a few blanks -- but the majority of the guns used were airsoft.

In fact, if you look at the "Batman Begins" scene where that scared thug is blasting an SMG all over the shipping containers -- you'll see that airsoft fill valve on the bottom of his MP5 magazine.

I was just doing some effects work on a low-budget film where the director went to the trouble and expense of using blanks -- and none of the flashes showed up on the 24p HD footage. So we're adding them in post anyway. smile
Posted: Sat, 21st Oct 2006, 8:01am

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alpha54

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So... will a single blank gun fit in well with the rest being airsoft? I'm guessing as its the same they seem to have done for quite a few movies, the answer would be yes? smile
Posted: Sat, 21st Oct 2006, 10:41am

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Kid

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alpha54 wrote:

The way I'm thinking about using the gun for the close-ups, it doesn't really matter whether I can catch the muzzle flash, or smoke, on film or not. Its mainly about the fact that the slide moves realistically, and a shell is actually seen being ejected from the chamber. In this regard, one blank gun for close-ups should be quite useful, or? smile
Thats fine in theory but remember normal blank firers often flash from the wrong part of the gun making such closups harder.
Posted: Sat, 21st Oct 2006, 3:20pm

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Lior

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Not all some guns cover it. I should know I own some. I rmeber owning once a gun that muzzled from the side which is rediculous. Afterwards i bought models that cover it. Now remebr I am also a cop who owns real guns and i can tell you alot of people have misconceptions about guns. As an example i had people telling me why doesint smoke come out of the handgun when I film. My answer is we now are not living in the 70's and 80's handguns today donot i repeat donot have smoke coming out. They acualy fixed it because that was a problem. Now as for m16 there are some shot u wont even see a muzzelflash. Muzzel flashes don't happen in every shot. Smoke does come out of m16 and mp5's but to imitate it its simple dry ice. Blank guns are good for close up shots the end. Now i am not saying its not good for all shots but if your firing side by side with another person you have to distance ur actors from eachother for saftey which is realistic but in movies it looks cheezy. Your call. But for a fact I can tell you not all handguns that fire blanks muzzel flash from the side. If yours does i recomend you get another one because that makes any film look horibble.