January 9, 2014

How to Set a Living Room on Fire with VFX in 4K

This is part of our behind-the-scenes series on a slow-motion, live-burn fire shoot shot on a Phantom Flex4K.

Nothing in the room above is actually on fire. Nor is there any CGI. Nor was there a big budget or a huge team -- just a few filmmakers with a prototype Phantom Flex 4K camera and a goal of filming a tracking shot through a room on fire... without actually setting it on fire. Here's how director Brendan Bellomo and DP Greg Wilson set a room ablaze virtually using The Foundry Nuke in the Flex4K promo Let Me Know When You See Fire.

In case you missed it, here's the original piece:

Links:

Your Comment

34 Comments

Aww man! I totally though this was practical :( I know it's live plates but disappointed to learn that it was composted. Still though - I guess now I have a different reason to appreciate this video coz they did a bloody good job!

January 9, 2014 at 10:11AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Kraig

They did a great Job, looks pretty real. Nice insight.

January 9, 2014 at 10:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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ADC

sorry to point out a negative, but just so you know for next time, the digital zoom mid way thru the interview threw me out of the story... should have just left it as a 2 shot. i get the reason behind it, but it didnt work with that resolution blow up.. interesting nonetheless.

January 9, 2014 at 11:22AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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jojo

Digital zoom on who, Brendan? That's not digital, he sat for a second interview by himself. (It may be a blowup though as there was no cameraman.... the framing was probably off).

January 9, 2014 at 12:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Can anyone tell me what kind of flammable fluid they used to create the flame

January 9, 2014 at 11:56AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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john

Sadly, In a real production situation a vfx team would never be given time to get up a motion control track and dress the room 4 different times.

January 9, 2014 at 1:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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John

Really? That's been done before many times. Motion control has been used for decades, and if that's how the shot is to be done, the resources will be spent.

January 9, 2014 at 1:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Masaan

What would constitute a "real" production situation? This one must have been make believe...

January 9, 2014 at 3:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Mark

If it leaves results as it was shown, companies will shell out the money for it. It was a great composite and honestly I tried to think how it was done before pressing play. Very impressive that it has such a realistic look.

January 13, 2014 at 12:28PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Carlos

600gb of data and 24 hour of rendering time for a fairly simple composition in 4k, and there are people who cant understand why 4k delivery isnt happening soon. Average movie nowadays has at least 250 post production shots, with the blockbusters reaching 1800 vfx shots, now do the math.

January 9, 2014 at 1:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Marcus

You also have a boat load of people on a tent pole, not talking about 10 guys, not to mention the hardware that is at the finger tips of these guys makes a 16 core machine look like a 1.00 walmart calculator.

January 10, 2014 at 4:48AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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buddy

True, I worked in many of these VFX studios on some big Blockbusters, storage can be a problem, network speeds can be a problem, render time is always a problem, currently studios struggle to render in 2k and when i say render is not only compositing render as in this article, you have to render all the CGI ( creatures, vehicles, etc) which in the end becomes a massive data with all the passes and stuff.

One big visual effects studio is getting bankrupt per year plus few small shops due to the already low profit margins.

I was in a studio when they were bidding the vfx for Oblivion in 4k, they couldn't make it work in 4K, for all the reasons I listed here, the movie was delivered in 2K. Maybe in 4 years? who knows.

January 10, 2014 at 5:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Marcus

Where is the link for the original video?
if it's on youtube or vimeo

January 9, 2014 at 1:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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David V.

From 3:13 on.

What?

January 9, 2014 at 2:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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moebius22

I liked this a lot, personally. Great framing, lighting and if this was to demonstrate a great Cinematographer utilizing the latest 4k Phantom, then it's a great tool as proven here. I can see myself using it in the near future.

January 9, 2014 at 8:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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WAAAAY too long! it's never good when the efx take over the story. sorry!

January 9, 2014 at 9:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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steve chase

More people should try thinking of ways how to make things work for them within their time and financial constraints.

To be honest though, the integration doesn't convince me. You can see the floor reflections don't react according to the flames, which is obvious since they did very general lighting passes with steady light. The other scenes with foreground/background comps look a little poor esp when the color temperature doesn't properly change for example the shot when the firemen enter the house through the hall.

The use of flicker units attached to easy mountable lights can help sell the integration. To me some of these shots look exactly like what they didnt want to do. Shoot a plate and elements and then comp them together with an extra lighting pass.

After filming the fire elements one could set up some cheap HD monitors playing back the fire elements and use that for reflections and lighting passes. Atleast then they would match.

January 10, 2014 at 6:16AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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jvdb

to be fair though, that might not have been possible for them. Even though an extra hour with flicker or HD monitors lighting the scene shouldn't have added too much time on set.

January 10, 2014 at 6:21AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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jvdb

That's beautiful and fantastic work! Though fire and smoke in super slow-motion look surreal anyway. So no matter how much effort you put in to make it looks realistic, it's just so alien, that it will always look weird.

January 10, 2014 at 3:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Looks like 24 hours is worth the wait. Good things don't come cheap. I am certain someone is working on making 4k, 6k, and soon 8k, workflow faster---and they will make a lot of money from doing it.

The first time I saw this video when it first came out I didn't know it was a visual effects. They did a good job!

January 11, 2014 at 9:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Gene

Can you tell us what kind of motion control slider was used here?.. Did you have any plate slipping issues in post?

January 11, 2014 at 1:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Hi Scott,

For this shot I used the Dynamic Perception time-lapse dolly running at it's highest constant speed. Yeah, we had registration problems. While its great for timelapse with DSLRs, its not made to be a precision motion control rig, it did the trick though and worked for us in this situation. It was a little shaky and wasn't frame accurate but it wasn't too hard to stabilize and register in Nuke.

January 14, 2014 at 1:56PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Greg

Really good, just when the end where the water hits the fire, doesn't add up. The fire should be bending and scattering with the water.

January 12, 2014 at 10:54PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Tim

I thought many of the shots looked great, beautiful slow motion, nice looking fire etc, until it came to hosing down with water inside the apartment, that's when it all fell apart. The beam of water hitting the shelf and the glass was so pathetic, it was way too skinny and powerless and didn't correlate with what was coming out of the fire hose with the fireman in the shot.

January 19, 2014 at 2:02AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Halli

You mentioned a list of fire elements (smoke, light, embers, etc). Is there any such list online?

March 9, 2014 at 12:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Zikora

I'm sorry the fire didn't behave like you wanted it to, but that part was real.

May 15, 2014 at 3:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Japhy Riddle

Not sure why After Effects is considered incapable of doing a job like this. I've done similar stuff in the past in AE, with no dramas.

July 19, 2014 at 8:09PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Very nice work. I love the results. There's plenty of nay sayers out there but hey there will always be plenty o' people finding all kinds of things to be negative about.

Not that I want to add to any of it that but the claim to "no big budget" et al is a pretty big fallacy. $140k camera (on loan, yes yes I know) with all the outboard fixings for proper functional use. Motion control rig, even on rental is not cheap thing to get. Nuke ($4,300 price tag if bought out right, $1,200 to rent minimum even for a 10 day post schedule). Not to mention the additional hardware resources and props on set and in post to make it happen. Unless there were "special circumstances" to facilitate all this, including paying the properly skilled people to do it, this is pretty far away from your average indie lo/no budget project.

Aside from that, the idea of keeping it real in camera is definitely a good one. Love it where possible. No doubt about it. Great job guys!

p.s. What was the target display medium for this? Is it presenting in digital theaters?

July 19, 2014 at 8:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Would someone mind explaining the difference between VFX and CGI?

It seems like the fire wasn't real from watching their explanation, so isn't that CGI? I'm sure my ignorance is showing, but it's not my field and I'd like to understand.

Thanks in advance.

July 19, 2014 at 8:16PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Michael

Michael,

VFX is visual effects and often incorporates a whole host of techniques that utilize "real world" elements, i.e. shooting actual fire footage in this case. These are later blended or "composited" over an original footage plate to end up with the desired result as shown here.

CGI is computer generated imagery. This involves digitally creating the element to be used in a 3D program like 3DS Max, Cinema 4D, or other programs which is then composited over an original footage plate. examples that are applicable in this case would be something like FumeFX or TurbulenceFD which are purely CGI based gaseous particle simulation systems designed for something just like this.

Hope that helps.

July 19, 2014 at 8:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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This is so awesome. Just wondering, is this possible with other cameras or is 4K just build for such purpose ? It took 24 hours for rendering, that's another super cool but tiresome process. And is is possible to set up the entire thing in front of green or white screen ? Or black is just for enhancing the effect ?

July 19, 2014 at 8:33PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Sagar

I know a local production crew is actually filming real house fires from the inside. Into the Smoke, which I think starts filming season 2 soon, is actually going into burning houses for their second season. Should be pretty sick, I've seen some photos of them filming during a training burn. Not as cinematic, but at least it's real.

July 19, 2014 at 8:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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Kyle

Great problem solving! Love this

July 19, 2014 at 9:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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It's always great to see how slomo gives intensivness to film. Great work!

July 20, 2014 at 4:27AM, Edited September 4, 11:56AM

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