Download 4K Spark VFX assets here.
The addition of sparks in explosions, bullet impacts and crashing cars undeniably intensifies the visual spectacle of an action sequence.
Blazing trails of burning hot embers provide incredible contrast and detail, enriching a scene with its turbulent chaotic appearance. They are the icing on the cake of any pyrotechnic special effects and have become a go-to ingredient for many filmmakers to make their action-packed films memorable. Spark effects, when used well, can often elevate a scene to an iconic level, with Michael Bay taking the spotlight in; Transformers, 6 Underground and Pearl Harbor.
“The pyrotechnicians were having fun on this one!” Chris Kelly recalls, while reviewing the footage, “They kept saying things like ‘Oh, I didn’t expect that to happen’ or ‘let’s see what it looks like if we combine these two!’ clearly having a lot of fun. We got some great content out of it that would be nearly impossible to recreate.”
For visual effects artists, sparks offer an avenue for enhancing the realism of explosions and destruction simulations. Using these effectively tackles the challenge of digitally replicating the imperfect chaotic behaviour of explosions seen in the real world. While artists familiar with Houdini are capable of creating spark simulations, this task requires countless hours of R&D and rendering. Using live-action stock footage VFX elements allows editors to immediately apply authentic sparks to their video within minutes; making it an effective solution for projects facing a deadline.
By browsing ProductionCrate’s library of stock footage spark elements, you can instantly preview exactly what each file contains. With the vast selection available to download, you’ll identify the perfect spark effect that your project needs. Whether you need a brief bullet impact, or a star-wars style death star explosion, ProductionCrate aims to cover all creative requirements
These stock footage elements are meticulously prepared by carefully calibrating the recorded footage from the studio. This is done to meet the several requirements for creating professional VFX assets that are ready to be used in feature films, music videos and games. ProductionCrate ensures that all of its content is delivered with these consistent and reliable standards.
4K video resolution gives these video assets a greater range of flexibility. With this, you’re free to position any 4K spark asset around your composition whilst retaining incredible visual quality. The freedom to scale up, rotate and position the spark asset anywhere in the scene without introducing pixelation makes this worthy of even high-end projects exported at a high resolution. This 4K resolution is also crucial to match the realism of the original background footage, allowing artists to naturally integrate this into scenes effortlessly.
The spark VFX assets were recorded at 96FPS on 2 RED cameras. This high framerate captured all of the incredible behaviours seen in sparks, including crackling microbursts, rapid embers bouncing against surfaces, and the explosive initial blast during ignition. To achieve a greater sense of scale, these spark assets are being delivered at 30FPS. These pyrotechnic explosion effects now appear to be several metres high, making them suitable for large car explosions, missile impacts and exciting car chases. To convert these spark effects back to real-time speeds, set their framerate to 96FPS, or adjust the speed to 320%. Slowing down the sparks even further will make them appear even larger in size.
“Our top priority is for these to be composited in seconds, without any technical knowledge or refinement required”, David Blaker explains whilst demonstrating how effortless ProductionCrate has made the process. “It’s really important for us to know that any artist can use these without further instructions, no matter if they’re editing a gunfight or a space battle”.
A huge contributing factor to the quality of these assets comes from the clean-up process. The footage has been thoroughly processed to remove artefacts, background elements, inconsistencies, unfavourable behaviours and various other corrections; providing a clean and polished VFX asset that exclusively features the essential sparks. Further processing has been accomplished to perfectly eliminate any hard edges on the edge of the frame – no sparks will be immediately cut off as they fly out of the footage. This especially helps when the spark effect has been positioned far from the camera or scaled down until edges become visible. Wherever you position your effect, you will have confidence that it will just work with no hassle.
Some assets are designed to fill the entire screen as overlays, whose borders have not had feathering applied. This can easily be re-applied by adding a mask around the edges and feathering the edges to achieve a soft blend.
Complex chemical reactions and the black body spectrum cause real-world sparks to radiate a vast array of colors. It is fair for anyone to assume that sparks simply glow a hot firey yellow. But once observing the pyrotechnic explosions taking place up close, Chris decided it was important to preserve the unique oranges, reds, greens and yellows in the final assets. The imperfections in how sparks are illuminated offer unprecedented realism that is difficult to achieve digitally. However, it is possible to use the tint effect to easily adjust the color of your sparks to match a red sci-fi laser blast or a green magic spell.
During the production of these assets, several categories were produced, each featuring a diverse range of spark behaviours. ProductionCrate aims to meet the requirements of any scene imaginable, and so ambitiously build the largest variety of spark asset styles to date. These include:
Spark burst VFX
These spark explosions are perfect for impactful energetic events. Typically beginning with a sudden expansion of red hot embers, before rapidly decelerating from dragging through the air, the dynamic character of these spark VFX assets make them a favorite of the collection.
Careful adjustments were made to these spark burst stock footage elements to ensure that they worked as modular effects. The timing of all the bursts synced with the first frame, allowing mashups of several spark burst effects to be as easy as stacking the clips together.
Large aerial variations are available that have the iconic appearance of the classic death star explosion. These may also be used for various air-burst effects, such as helicopter explosions, asteroid collisions or electricity pylon destruction.
Ceiling spark VFX
Featuring falling sparks and embers, the ceiling sparks give artists flexibility in the placement of their pyrotechnics. Perhaps an incandescent light bulb is exploding due to a power surge, or chaos is unfolding on the engineering deck of the USS Enterprise. Use these spark video effects to add drama to your music video; saving the need to purchase expensive pyrotechnics and follow complicated safety requirements.
Various ground interactions have been included in several of these spark special effects. Sparks bouncing and breaking apart as they collide with these surfaces create a spectacular appearance that once again is very difficult to replicate in a digital simulation. The illumination cast onto the ground by the sparks has also been retained, helping artists seamlessly blend the falling sparks into their footage.
Bullet impact VFX
Quick and easy to composite, these bullet impact VFX stock footage elements are the go-to for building an action scene. These bullet impact effects feature sudden explosive bursts of sparks that rapidly dissipate in the air as they spread out, providing a visual punch that elevates the intensity of a shot.
These can be used for far more than just bullets; artists can creatively insert these into sword clashes, car crashes, robot fist-fights and laser impacts. With over 100+ bullet impact effects available on ProductionCrate, compositors will never run out of variety when using this in a climatic thriller setpiece.
Constant sparks effects
Perfect for factories filled with heavy industrial machinery, these constant spark effects feature a constant directional stream of sparks. Rapidly discharging from their source, the constant spark stock footage is perfect for creating train-derailment wreckage or intense rocket thruster flames. Multiple durations of these are available to download, ranging from one to ten seconds.
Wild sparks effects
Miscellaneous setups were recorded, often purely experimentally to see what interesting things would happen. One pyrotechnic had the idea to hang a spark gerb on the end of a loose rope. The thrust created caused the spark emitter to fly around wildly, creating a chaotic and exciting effect that Chris decided to keep. Another shot saw a firecracker let loose, detonating several times around the ground. Various setups such as these were processed and included in this spark VFX bundle to offer fun options that can not be found elsewhere, and ProductionCrate is eager to see how these are used in projects.
These speciality spark effects feature a rapid discharge of an explosive fuse. Useful in planned demolitions, heists and SWAT ambushes, these charges often follow the geometry of interior surfaces, such as floors and doors.
How to add spark VFX to your video
ProductionCrate promises to provide assets that are compatible with the most diverse range of video editing software. Multi-layer compositing software is recommended for the best experience, such as Adobe After Effects, Adobe Premiere Pro, Hitfilm, Nuke and Davinci Resolve. These VFX editing programs allow anybody to perform a vast range of creative adjustments to meet your artistic vision.
For this tutorial, we will be using Adobe After Effects, although the principles can be replicated in any editing software. Begin by adding the background image or video to the composition, with this particular background being sourced from Pexels.
Once you’ve browsed ProductionCrate’s collection of 4K spark VFX assets and found your perfect pyrotechnic, download the effect and import it to your project. From here, you will be able to insert the effect onto your footage simply by layering it over your background.
If you have downloaded a pre-keyed version of a spark effect, you’ll immediately see the results. You may experiment with different blending modes, such as Add, Lighten and Screen, each affecting the behaviours of colors differently. David used Lighten, allowing the darker red tones in the sparks to remain visible against the bright background.
Depending on the geometry of your scene, you may need to mask out any objects that should be obscuring the sparks. In David’s case, the platform of the train station confines the spark explosion to a smaller size, and so with two subtraction masks, we can account for this.
At this stage, you may already be happy with the quality of your spark VFX! The process of adding Hollywood-grade spark VFX only takes a few seconds with the power of pre-keyed stock footage elements. You’re now free to combine the sparks with even more elements, such as smaller bursts, falling embers and explosions. Additionally, you can color correct your sparks to match the tone and temperature of the scene.
If you’re working on a commercial or professional film, you may want to elevate the quality of your work with an additional reflection layer. If you’re unsure whether this is worth it, check out the comparison down below. Reflections offer an additional layer of scene interaction that visually integrates your spark stock footage into the environment. While most composited VFX requires a shadow, illumination effects such as sparks require the opposite, as their light is expected to illuminate surfaces in close proximity.
Begin by duplicating the effect, and flipping it vertically. Already you’ll see that we’ve taken the first step in creating a fake reflection.
Clearly, this does not look correct – in the real world, we expect reflections to be darker on rougher surfaces. We will need an additional layer to inform the reflection layer on how bright it should be, otherwise known as a Matte. Copy the background footage, and name it something appropriate. You may precompose any layers if you need to perform additional masking or positioning.
In your spark reflection layer, add an exposure effect. This helps you adjust the strength of the reflection. A color filter effect will allow you to intensify the coloring of the reflection, as the washed-out white colors in a spark effect may in reality be really bright orange. The final ingredient is the Set Matte effect. When using the background matte layer’s luminance values, we’re approximating the brightness of the reflection based on the brightness of the background. A great example of this in action is on the metallic rail tracks – its bright appearance in the photo indicates that it is a reflective surface, and so we want this to greater influence the opacity of the spark reflection.
Depending on the roughness of your ground, it can be useful to blur the reflection sparks before these effects are applied. This helps evenly distribute the intensity of the light, simulating the the bumps, crevices and dented surfaces that break up the reflected light.
Those are the main principles that create an incredible spark explosion effect. You can improve this effect even further with the addition of glow effects, smoke, lingering flames and debris. You can find these additional effects and thousands more in ProductionCrate’s library of 10,000+ assets.
ProductionCrate is excited to see what content artists around the world are able to create with this new collection.