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Bang Up Job

FXhome makes muzzle flashes in AE simple By Ko Maruyama
This week, FXhome announced the release of a new plugin for gun muzzle flashes.  This plugin gives all of those compositors access to those flicks of light and flares of fire that issue from the barrel of a gun (even if it's an alien Ray Gun).

AlamDV was the first place where I saw these types of effects from FXhome.   It was one of those niche applications that was requested by many and found by few.  (Maybe it was because so many people thought it was "Alarm" and not "Alam" DV).  Well, all that has changed, and you can tell at a glance that FXhome's new plugin is for muzzle flashes: MUZZLEPLUG is made for After Effects (for AE 7 and CS3).


It's available for After Effects CS3 (Mac/Win) and can be purchased at the FXhome website.  I got the new plugin from the website easily - - while you're downloading the installer, be sure to download the product key as well.    The plugin runs via the installation of  a generated product key - - which is linked to your account, not to your application (but you can only install it on one machine).

Once you install the programKey, be sure to indicate it correctly.  If you don't (or if you haven't purchased the plugin, you can still check out the effect delivered with a watermark of the developer burned into the render.  When you're ready to purchase it, you can activate it from the Options menu.

The plugin itself is for anyone who needs a flash of fire from a gun.

Muzzle flashes are basically the propelling explosion (or gas) that follows the bullet (or other) out of the chamber.  It burns off quickly, so it's visible only for a short amount of time. So while it may only be on your timeline every other frame or once every three frames (depending on the rate of fire), MuzzlePlug is an important plugin to have for a composite that features multiple guns, different types of guns or different angles of a gun.

Not only can you use presets to create several different types of specific barrel emissions, but you can modify their individual properties to subtly change the characteristics of each weapon.

A position for the center of the muzzle flash allows you to track the effect to any 2D point in your composition.

Each of the custom muzzle flashes are produced by modifying specific parameters for bitmap images that are used to create the flash shape.  In a category within the plugin is a parameter called "Textures".  This feature links back to a sequence of .png files that you can assign.  To view the individual png images in your texture panel, all you need to do is click on the small "i" info button to bring up a b/w hicon image.

After you've designed the look of the muzzle flash, you'll want to position it, so that it issues from the end of the barrel of the gun but ALSO at the same heading and pitch.  Position is governed by X, Y only.   Scale, on the other hand, only has one value in the general transformation, but you can modify each of the different attributes that make up the flash with different length and height (and taper) values.

Rotation of the muzzle flash is probably the most notable aspect of this plugin.  While it's possible to create a single left/right bitmap image of a muzzle flash - - it's the ability to make the effect rotate in 3D that makes this plugin really cool.

You can check out the plugin for yourself by heading over to MuzzlePlug's product page on the FXhome webpage (

And Yes - they make light saber plugins too (which you've probably seen used several places).

For rants, ramblings and general announcements - check out a chaotic blog in the BlogZone:

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Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles.  In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design.  When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
Related Keywords:product review, tutorial, After Effects, Muzzle Flash, gun fire


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