Fireballs and exploding cars are a guarantee for most films. They can create tragedy and a sense of danger for the viewer. There are a few different options for achieving these effects. Whether it be real life or CG (computer generated), there are positives and negatives to both approaches.
Generally the best is a seamless mixture of the two; a film which has recently gotten some well deserved credit for it’s mix of both is Mad Max: Fury Road. We look at that in more detail in here.
If we take Iron Man as a case study, we can see examples of both. Firstly below we have an example of a real explosion made using pyrotechnics. This will of course have realistic fire and smoke, but sometimes it may not suit the scene. They got it absolutely right and it really works for this first shot.
Recreating a desired scale and intensity to an explosion can be expensive and dangerous. Using CG offers far less room for error; if an actor makes a mistake in a line immediately after a perfect explosion the scene may have to be shot again. This may not always be a possibility if an important or expensive prop was destroyed in the real life explosion.
Next below we have a different type of explosion from Iron Man. In this case it needed to be a larger scale explosion and has a longer reaction shot. The type of explosion needed was most likely too large and the effect was too dangerous to recreate using real pyrotechnics.
This is the perfect opportunity to use a CG explosion, the VFX artist will have complete control over this type of effect. The size, intensity and timing can be edited and almost completely recreated after shot. Considering this explosion needed to work in perfect time with the script and be powerful enough to affect the real life characters, the CG version was the safer and smarter option here.
Below you can see our take on creating an explosion. We used real footage and an explosion we created using 3D software. You can see the finished piece here.
Below you can see how it changed, grew and progressed and the breakdown of the final piece of animation we created.
If you want to see our most recent projects, head over to our work page here.