Adding Muzzle Shot effects in AfterEffects

Written by MPS Consultant Mike Kuo – for more help with this topic, visit Mike at the MPS during his scheduled hours, visible on our Live Schedule.

Want high action scenes in your movie?  Have a low budget?  Maybe if you equip yourself with a couple of “hand” guns*, you’d be able to put some action into your videos.

*NOTE – The MPS does not endorse violence of any kind.  This is just for fun.*

Follow this guide to add the video effects you need to change your video into an epic glory.

Note: for those comfortable with aftereffects, skip to the subsection “Adding Muzzle Fire Effects”

What do you need?

1.)  Adobe Aftereffects

2.)  Your soon-to-be-epic video

3.)  Muzzle fire (Easily found in a google image search)

4.)  Gun shot sounds (Easily found at a website like freesound.corg)

Getting Started:

Click the AE symbol for Adobe Aftereffects on the Mac dock below.  Create a new project, and import your movie file, muzzle shot pictures, and gun fire noises.  Left click and drag your movie file down to the bottom right window.

Adding Muzzle Fire Effects

Find a spot in your film where you need to add a muzzle fire effect.

Drag your muzzle fire picture onto the canvas.

Because the muzzle fire picture I use has a black background, I set the mode to “add” to make the background of the picture transparent.

If you don’t see the blending options immediately, click the “Toggle Switches/Modes” at the bottom of the layer window found at the bottom left.

Resize the picture to the appropriate size and to the appropriate location in front of your gun.

Now set your muzzle fire’s timeline to only 1 frame by either 1.) dragging the sides of the timeline together, or 2.) using the hotkeys alt + [ and alt + ].

Hit the spacebar to play the clip to check the muzzle fire is at the appropriate place.  I find that the muzzle fire is best placed right before the recoil from your acting.  You are acting out the recoil, right?

Adding Environmental Lighting

Duplicate your movie, you can do this with command + d.

Set the mode of the duplicate movie to “add.”

With your new duplicate movie layer highlighted, open the opacity window.  The hotkey is “t.”  Click the clock icon so that your changes are recorded.  DO NOT CLICK THIS AGAIN, it will erase all of your changes.  Now, set your opacity to 50%, or play around with the opacity, but I find that 50% is best.

Move back 1 frame from your first keyframe and set the opacity to 0%, and then move 2 or 3 frames after your muzzle fire frame and set the opacity to 0%.  This will cause the lighting to dissipate over a couple of frames.  You can move frame by frame more easily by using the hotkeys page up and page down.

To clarify, say your muzzle flare is at frame 0.  At frames -1 you should have 0% opacity; at frame 0, 50-100% opacity; and then at frame 2, you should have 0% opacity again.

Adding Gun Fire Sounds

Drag your gun fire sound under your muzzle fire frame.  Make sure that the sound begins once the muzzle fire frame flashes.  To check if your audio works hit the 0 key on the numpad to watch the video and the audio at the same time – this is the shortcut key to render audio and video.  The spacebar key only renders the video, and the . key on the numpad renders only the audio.

Making Your Movie

Either hit command + m or go to Composition>Make Movie

Click the Yellow Underlined Button next to “Output Module:” and make sure your audio is checked.

Check the box next to the queue, and then hit render on the right side of the screen.  If aftereffects throws an output error, click the yellow button next to “Output to:” and set the destination of where you want to save your movie.

Once you have mastered the techniques above, you can create something epic, like this:

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