How to Make Fire Effects for a Video

by Jacob Stover

Thanks to the proliferation of user-end post-production video editing software, there are a surprising number of special effects and filming techniques available to even the most amateur videographer. Fire is a great example of this change in the movie-making process. In the past, filmmakers had two options for using fire effects in their films: They could use real fire, which was dangerous, or they hired expensive special effects companies. It is now possible to create passable fire effects without money or pyrotechnic experience.


Start a new video project and create a new composition. Do this by selecting the "Project" tab at the top left portion of the editing window, then select "New Composition." Use the "NTSC DV" preset to ensure compatibility with North American video standards.


Select "New Solid" from the composition window. Select any color for the "Color" option, and title the solid "Fire." Click on the "Make Comp Size" button to ensure that the effect is the appropriate size and shape.


Click on the "Effects and Presets" tab, then search for "Fractal." Select "Fractal Noise" from the "Noise" tab. Drag and drop the "Fractal Noise" effect onto the solid you recently created to apply the fractal noise effect to the solid.


Select the "Effect Controls" panel located on the left side of the screen and change "Fractal Type" from "Basic" to "Dynamic Twist." Increase the contrast using the contrast bar. Decrease the brightness, which will make the fractal image look much more like the basic shape of fire.


Click on "Transform" under the "Effect Controls" window to open up the advanced transformation options. Uncheck the box titled "Uniform Scaling." Scale "Height" until the image is stretched vertically. Reduce the "Complexity" under the complexity bar to make your render speeds better. To get an idea of how the fire image will animate, click on the stopwatch icon located next to "Evolution." Drag it across the "Evolution Wheel," which will simulate the passage of time.


Select "Offset Turbulence" from the Transform Options and change the Y-axis to create a more realistic fire effect that travels upward. There is no best setting for the Y-axis, so play around until you are satisfied with the appearance of the effect.


Colorize your fire by selecting the "Colorama" effect from the effects panel. Apply the effect by dragging it onto your existing fire solid. Colorama will automatically map every shade of gray to a new color. This will leave your current image looking like a mess of rainbow colors for a moment. Select "Output Cycle" from the effects panel to navigate through a list of preset colorizing options. Select "Fire" from the list of presets to automatically apply appropriate fire coloring to the solid. You'll have a complete solid for fire. You can import this composition onto any frame of your video, or even use it as a fill effect for a user-defined shape to apply your fire effect to selective areas of the screen.

Items you will need

About the Author

Jacob Stover is a writer and editor from Ann Arbor. He has been writing professionally since 2009. His work has been published in the "Wayne State University Literary Review." He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and film studies from Wayne State University.

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