Yeah, I enjoyed this page a bit. Glass effects, a porkshot bullet hole, muzzle flash, flying meat, and of course explosion stuff. Some of it is painted, some of it is effects, but IMO what really sells it is Max’s expression through the glass.






I get these requests.

Naturally, I’m still in the process of working on the comet stuff I had done last week. The thing about shooting effects (when you yourself basically wear all the hats) is that everything seems to take forever. (My son John helps out, but he has an outside job also, so his primary duty these days is to stand by with an extinguisher in case I set myself on fire.)

The actual shooting is the fun part, but it, in and of itself, only takes a couple of hours. Getting ready to shoot, involving building and/or prepping materials, running tests, etc.; that can take another day or two. But even that is nothing compared to having to having to capture, trim, clean up, and process all the resultant footage. Depending on the shot, that part can be a week or more of drudgery, going from what the camera captured to something that people can actually use easily.

But sometimes all the work hits at once (or as I used to like to put it when I was young enough to think I was clever) “Everything comes in spurts.” In this case, a friend needed a specific effect for a short film he was creating. So of course I had to put the comets on hold for a bit.

Now, when I say “friend,” I don’t mean someone whom I know well, or have ever met in person, or spoken to on the phone, or could even necessarily recognize if I saw them on the street somewhere. I mean “friend” in the Internet sense, which is to say someone who has been part of the same online discussion groups and with whom I have exchanged emails over the years and whose work I have seen and admired. In some cases (not this one) I may have been following their career since before they were old enough to drive.

But I still consider them friends. And this one needed to stage a scene in which a house erupts from an internal pressure blast.

I didn’t get to actually blow up a miniature house, darn it.  I would have, if one had existed, but there was no time or money for having miniatures made. Besides, my friend, already skilled in the art of low-budget filmmaking to the point where he has written books on the subject, had carefully planned around it. His After Effects-fu is strong and he could fake the initial hit, and he had already filmed lots of aftermath stuff involving splintered wood thrown all over the lawn with a few small smoke charges scattered in the wreckage.

All he needed were some quick effects of dust eruptions and flying wood to throw over fast interior and exterior cuts. And if I could manage to get some flame in there just for the pizzazz, that would be great. His thought was that it should be against a blue or green backdrop. I personally thought black might be easier to use, with dust, but hey, why argue? Why not do both?

So I roped in John and we got some footage.



Despite how it looks, this was all done with compressed air. The dust is made of powdered walnut, which can be ignited if it is dispersed in the air sufficiently. The wood was scavenged from a local garage-door-repair dumpster. And the air mortar is a custom pneumatic spudgun with an extra-large hopper on the muzzle to hold debris. Fired across the flame of a propane torch, the debris and dust blasted through the air almost soundlessly, and then the dust ignited for a cool following eruption effect.


The straight-from-the-camera footage has already been dispatched to my friend, who does not need any handholding from me. On my end, it has been trimmed and stashed for further refinement. Should keep me busy for weeks.

As soon as I’m done with the comets.

— Bob out.