"How to make real VFX EMBERS from scratch! - After Effects Tutorial" by Wren at Corridor Digital

There was a discussion on @Andy001z "Andy001z Creations and stuff" thread a while back about the video that Wren at Corridor Digital did called ""How to make real VFX EMBERS from scratch! - After Effects Tutorial."

I thought I would make an attempt to replicate his result in Hitfilm 4 Pro, and here is my first attempt...


I am looking for constructive feedback on how to make it better.  Thanks everyone!


  • Wren's original tutorial is here...


  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Wren's gone for a fire ember look, yours are more like metal sparks, since gravity is pulling them down. 

    A touch of global turbulence might help--a point or two at most with higher smoothness. 

    Also, I am guessing you're using a point emitter? A small sphere, maybe only 3-5 pixels wide will break things up in a more natural way. That's a trick I stole from Axel. 

    edited July 2016

    It really depends, his sparks are embers, both behave differently and look different. Change the color and you'll be good.

    While I think that embers are cool, thing is you won't find that amount of embers anywhere, it sure looks cool though. Perhaps if the scene had a tornado eating fire, then that amount would make sense (AE tutorial).

    In the end, it's about what you think looks great. If you want realistic, record real sparks and model your sparks based on those.

    For instance, in your video, what you've done is taken the looks of sparks, and combined it with the behavior of embers. If you increase how long each spark is while reducing the life span, it'll look a lot better.


  • Thanks both @Triem23 and @KevinTheFilmaker.  I will tweak the project with both of your suggestions.  I am not doing this for any specific reason other than to challenge myself to do it.

  • Here is my tweaked Second Attempt:



  • Hi, I like the 2nd attempt better and the sparks have the nice random at the end, but the start looks a bit like a flare release, maybe that is the look you went for.

  • Thanks @Andy001z! Basically, I am just going for replicating what Wren did in After Effects, but in Hitfilm.  I just thought it was cool.  All feedback is greatly appreciated! I will film a quick shot of two weapons clashing to add the effect to and post it for feedback.

  • @Senseihaynes I had the same thought when I first saw the video 'I wonder if I can do this in Hitfilm' and that is why I posted my efforts. What is cool is that in AE you had to use a bunch of addons that cost.

  • @senseihaynes that looks fantastic! The way that the sparks seem to float away like little metal shavings is great. 

    Love it when you guys take an After Effects technique and apply it to HitFilm - it means that filmmakers all over the world have even more options to make these great effects. Keep challenging yourself!

  • Here is a very quick sparks/embers clip with two sais.


    It is very rough, but I would like to hear some feedback.

    edited July 2016

    Sure bud.

    Faster moving particles, and less random movement.

    If you want a fantasy look then add glow to the particles.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Right now it looks like the emitter is in a static location. Make certain you parent the EMITTER (not the LAYER) to a point* then try animating the point to follow the line of the bottom sai. Add some "velocity from emitter" to the system. This will have the particles come off the entire blade and get some inertia from the direction of the stroke. Since this is a static camera you can probably just use a quick 2D point following the blade for this?

    Agreed a bit less random movement. Metal sparks are massive for their size. the turbulence you have would be great for embers from a fire (wood embers are less massive than metal), but it's too much for this.

    Maybe more of an orange color than white? A bit of glow never hurts sparks.

    It's getting there--again, you're 85-90% done.. It's always that last 10% that's a pain. Plus, the particle system certainly has a learning curve! It's Hitfilm's most complex and powerful tool.

    *For reference. Parenting the Emitter to a point means the emission point will follow the point but the 3D space of the particle simulation will remain static. If you parent the LAYER to a point, then moving the point moves the entire 3D space of the sim. Two different behaviors.

  • Not had the chance to play with two swords myself so can't officially comment on what the sparks would do, but I have played with an Angle Grinder a fair bit and the sparks from this tend to be straight and not chaotic. Also maybe add a small flare on the strike point to give it impact?

  • @senseihaynes Look at  the  2:22 mark. The sparks are fast and go away fast too.


  • @Kardi real life is way cooler sometimes.

  • Thanks everyone!  This is great feedback.  It looks like I have a choice of two paths...  Either I go with a more realistic sparks flying from the contact of the blades or I go with a "magical/mystical" embers floating away from the contact points.  Maybe I will try to accomplish both?

    Thanks again everybody!

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