Practical FX (fire, lightning)

Just curious if anyone has advice on how to do realistic fire/ lightning / flicker effects.

Is there a way to make custom waveforms or layer effects? Or randomize timing / intensity?


This is exactly what Dylos is meant for. Simply play a video of such effects, some are included in the content package.
The FX system does not allow layering of waveforms on the same parameter and there are no custom waveforms.

I am guessing you are working in movie/TV/commercial programming, where these sorts of requests come up frequently. A lot depends on your fixtures. I have found Dylos to be very good for fire effects, this is because usually you are dealing with saturated warm colors anyway, so hitting a very precise color temp point is a little less important. (Note, I’m still working with sw v. 4.4.1193 -some things may be a little different for v. 4.6). Simply create a Dylos zone, throw your fixture in it, and select one of the orangey/fiery loops. Remember that many fixtures (for instance Arri S series) require you to cross fade in Beam Effects from CCT to RGBW for Dylos to work. Flicker can be accomplished a variety of ways. There is Dylos, and I’ve actually created some impressive flicker effects over a bank of flouro fixtures with it. But you can do things in the efx engine too. You may try setting a square wave modulation on intensity with swing that is enough to kill the light, and very fast rates, and then record that to a cuelist with the light on steady in the other cues and auto follows. If you are wanting a TV flicker, the classic way is an auto follow cuelist with ten or more steps. No efx engine or Dylos needed, just record different values, then different timings on the fade times and follow delay. This has an advantage that you can record the color temp in cue 1, and then when you are asked to change that, simply update cue 1 and it will track for the rest of the list. I have also achieved an excellent TV gag effect with Dylos. We had a custom made fixture with warm and cool LED channels, I put this in a Dylos zone, and fed it TV! I downloaded a couple (fair use, legal) clips from the internet, one was an educational newscast from NASA, the other was a motorcycle chase clip from an old TV show, and used those as my Dylos sources. What better way to simulate TV than with actual TV!

I might add that if you are using Dylos extensively for these sorts of things, you really should update to the new v. 4.6. They have revamped Dylos and made a lot more things possible. I am aware that a lot of people in movie/TV world have been slow to update, because of some limitations that have been found with the new Atlabase fixture library, but at some point we are going to have to, because the improvements in Dylos outweigh the disadvantages in Atlabase. If you are already on 4.6, you are good to go!