Chapter 8Fire and Explosions

Fire and explosions, along with breakage and flying debris, are often enhanced or created altogether in live action films. Understanding the physics behind fire and explosions can help you create convincing visual effects for both live action enhancement and traditional animation.


Fire is a rapid chemical reaction between a fuel and another substance, usually oxygen. Heat, light, and gases are released during the process. When certain types of fuel are heated up enough around an oxidizer, they will burn.

From an artist’s point of view, there are a few distinct types of visible fire:

  • Flames
  • Smoldering solid matter
  • Fireball

An oxidizer is a substance that causes fuel to burn. Oxygen gas is the most common ...

Get Physics for Animators now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.