Off-Topic Discussion > General Discussion

Explosions needed


As some of you might know, I lead a texture upgrade mod for System Shock 2 called SHTUP. After too many years, I'm finally getting around to upgrading the bitmap explosions. The problem is, for maximum authenticity I'd like to replace the explosion animations with the exact same explosions, just higher-res and higher frame rate. I figured this wouldn't be too hard since most game devs back then used the same collections of pyro effect stock footage, but so far I've only managed to track down one explosion, on a collection called Pyromania Vol. 1. Apparently there are a few more in this series, but I haven't been able to find copies of them anywhere. These collections are so old it's practically digital archeology at this point.

I'm missing this one:

And this one:

I figure since FS2 is so explodey, and so many texture mods have been made for it, that maybe someone here might already have these, or something close enough that you can barely tell the difference. I've already checked the current MediaVPs, and didn't see any exact matches for these guys.


Might try here too  :)

Iain Baker:
Oooh SS2 mods. :yes: Funnily enough, I was looking at SS2 mods this weekend. I'm getting the urge to play it again, the Metal Mother calls methinks  :lol:


--- Quote from: wookieejedi on April 05, 2022, 12:39:58 pm ---Might try here too  :)

--- End quote ---
Oh, very nice. I've been looking to upgrade a couple of skyboxes as well, so this might help.

--- Quote from: Iain Baker on April 05, 2022, 02:59:43 pm ---Oooh SS2 mods. :yes: Funnily enough, I was looking at SS2 mods this weekend. I'm getting the urge to play it again, the Metal Mother calls methinks  :lol:

--- End quote ---
Hopefully you were looking on and not ModDb.

Anyway, this is a bit embarrassing, but right after posting this topic I went on another dive into stock footage land and actually found the two explosions I was looking for!

I do have a related question, and hopefully some of the FSO coders see this. It has to do with actually rendering the explosion bitmaps. The original explosions were tiny 64x64 bitmaps with 1-bit alpha, rendered with no blending. The resolution and frame rate were so low that it was practical for the artists to hand-tweak the transparent regions. This obviously isn't practical for animations running at quadruple the resolution and frames. So far I've tried...

Use the magic wand tool on each frame to create the alpha channel. This results in a black fringe around each explosion frame. Tweaking the sensitivity of the wand to reduce the fringe ends up removing darker parts of the actual explosion.

Use the luminance as the alpha. This doesn't look terrible, but gives an odd almost photo-negative effect when viewed against a light background, since the internal dark regions become transparent.

Give up on an alpha channel and just render the explosions additively. This also doesn't look terrible, but means that explosion bitmaps can only ever brighten the scene, so you lose all the interior smoky details.

So I'm wondering how Freespace handles its explosions.

Depending on the software you're using, you get get a pretty decent alpha by using the explosion itself as a matte. Here's the process I follow in AE to create the matte.

Have two explosion layers. Top layer gets set as a luma matte. Pre-compose top layer. In the pre-composed layer fully desaturate the footage. Then clamp the white balance so that the BG is black and most of the explosion is still full white. Grey areas get clamped to a bright or full white. You'll have to play with this to get a value you like so that the edge still has some feathering. You can also apply a light edge blur, but that tends to reduce perceived quality.


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