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Flame systemsDocumentation

IntermediateLast updated: February 20, 2021

1 Flame systems basic instructions

With Finale 3D you can script integrated shows that include both flame systems and pyro. Of course, you can also script shows that are exclusively pyro or exclusively flame, but the ability to script integrated shows is one of the great benefits of designing visually. You’ll need a flame system like MAGICFX Flamaniac, Explo X2 Wave Flamer, Galaxis G-Flame, or almost any other system. You’ll need a compatible firing system or any of the DMX-capable firing systems such as Piroshow, Pyromac, Pyrosure, Cobra, Mongoose, or fireTEK. That’s it. You’ll be able to design the full show in Finale 3D and export the show as one or more scripts for the system or systems you are using for your show.


Figure 1 – Designing a show with flame and pyro (notice the stars falling from the aerial shells).


In Finale 3D, you will use a separate position to represent each flame unit, or DMX fixture. We call these positions “Flame Positions” or “DMX fixtures” to distinguish them from the “Pyro Positions“. In contrast to pyro positions that merely represent a location, each flame position represents the physical flame unit itself. It follows from this distinction that you can’t have pyro and flame coming from the same “position.” Flame effects can only come from flame positions, which represent the flame units themselves. It wouldn’t make any sense to have a pyro effect coming from a flame unit. Thus, if you want pyro and flame from the same physical location you need a pair of positions for that location: one pyro position and one flame position, as shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2 – A pyro position represents a location, whereas a flame position represents the flame unit or DMX fixture itself.

Non-DMX firing systems

If you are not using DMX to control the flame projectors then you need to set the “Module Or Slat Type” for flame positions explicitly to the flame unit option for your firing system by editing position properties and selecting “Module Or Slat Type.” You also need to set up the addressing related fields as described in Exporting a firing system script for flame systems.

To add effects for non-DMX flame projectors, filter the effects window by selecting “flame” in the “Type” selector. Add effects from the effects window that are compatible with the type of flame unit, as indicated by their name. For example, the effect with part number GFX9800 and description “Galaxis [002] G-Flame (Medium)” in Generic Effects is compatible with G-Flame units. You may find it helpful to filter the effects window by typing a word or two in the search box, like “explo” or “galaxis”. Ultimately when you export the script, the types of effects used in the flame positions imply what the flame units must be, and you do not need to specify the type of flame units explicitly.


DMX firing systems

If you are using DMX, then you need to right-click on the flame positions to configure them as DMX fixtures, as shown in Figure 3.


Figure 3 – Right-click on flame positions to configure them as “DMX fixtures” (if using DMX).


Configuring a position as a DMX fixture requires specifying the type of fixture (Explo X2 Wave Flamer, Galaxis G-Flame, etc.) in addition to the DMX Universe and DMX Channel Base. You can also edit these fields in the position properties dialog, but the “Configure position as DMX fixture…” dialog presents just the fields relevant to DMX, as shown in Figure 4.


Figure 4 – Each DMX fixture uses a range of channels specified by the DMX Universe and DMX Channel Base.

Each DMX fixture responds to a range of channels specified by the DMX Universe and DMX Channel Base. If you want each fixture to operate independently you need to give each fixture a unique range of channels. It is common to configure fixtures as different channel ranges in the same DMX universe, or the same channel ranges in different DMX universes. The choice may depend on limitations of the firing system, as explained in Exporting a firing system script for flame systems.

In the real world, if multiple fixtures listen to the same channels, the fixtures will behave identically. To create a scene with multiple fixtures listening to the same channels, configure one position with the “DMX Fixture (Master)” Position Type, and configure the other positions that listen to the same channels with the “DMX Fixture (Slave)” Position Type. Configure the slaves to have the same DMX Universe and DMX Channel Base as the master. Add effects only to the master fixture; they will be visualized in the master fixture itself and all of the slaves configured for the same channel range.


Figure 5 – DMX fixture positions are displayed as blue boxes instead of yellow disks.

After configuring the DMX positions as DMX fixtures, they will appear as blue boxes as shown in Figure 5, to distinguish them from the pyro positions. When you right-click on a DMX fixture position, the context menu will give you options to add a compatible effect, which you can select from a menu. The compatible effects list is drawn from all loaded effects collections, filtered to effects that contain a valid “DMX Patch” field (which is what defines the meaning of their DMX channels) and that contain within their description the bracketed three digit DMX Fixture ID that matches the DMX Fixture Type of the fixture for which the effect is being added. An example DMX Fixture ID is the “[004]” shown in the Figure 6 menu on the right. The DMX Fixture Type is one of the fields of the dialog in Figure 4.


Figure 6 – Right-click DMX fixture positions to add compatible effects.


If you do not see the type of flame projector you need in the DMX Fixture Type options of Figure 4, please contact the Finale staff by email to ask for your flame projector to be added. At the time of this writing it is possible for users to create their own custom DMX effects with DMX Patches and to use the DMX Fixture Type of “<Any DMX Fixture>” in Figure 4, but it is easier for the Finale staff to add the flame projector as one of the standard options.


Figure 7 – The middle flame has a longer duration than the others, but they are all the same effect (same Part Number).


Some flame systems like the Explo X2 Wave Flamer have rotating nozzles that can be controlled by the script. For this type of flame system, you can grab and tilt the dotted line representing the effect in the 3D view. You can also select groups of flames and do functions like “Fan” or “Sequence” to create interesting patterns, just as you do for pyro effects.

Other flame systems like MAGICFX Flamaniac Mode 1 have pre-defined angles that you should not try to change by grabbing and tilting the dotted line representing the effect in the 3D view. If you want an angled flame effect for this type of flame system, then insert the flame effect from the effect palette that already has the angle built into it. The MAGICFX Flamaniac Mode 2 fixture type supports manually tiltable effects in Finale 3D like the Explo X2 Wave Flamer, but unlike the Explo X2 Wave Flamer the tilt angles correspond to a set of pre-defined nozzle angles rather than a nozzle that actually rotates. Consequently the angle you tilt the trajectory to will correspond to the nearest pre-defined nozzle angle in the physical hardware, but it may not be exact.


Modifying the standard flame effects

The Generic Effects collection contains about 6000 generic effects, including a few dozen pre-made example flame effects for Explo, Galaxis, MAGICFX, and some generic on/off DMX-based flame effects, in addition to few Cremora fireball effects if you want to treat them like one shot flame systems. Each flame effect includes a number of basic parameters like height and duration, as well as a simulation description in the “VDL” field, and some extra parameters in the DMX Patch field and “Custom Part Field” to produce the correct output in the exported firing script for your specific flame system.

Most of the flame effects in Generic Effects have constant durations. When scripting the show you can simply click on the effect with the duration you want to insert. If you would prefer to edit the flame durations directly in the script, you can use the variable duration flame effects provided in Generic Effects (GFX1005, GFX1006, and GFX1007), or you can create your own, as explained in Flame and special effects with variable duration.

All of the flame effects in Generic Effects can be modified and copied to your own My Effects inventory. If you want to change the duration or height of a simulation, just type a different duration or height into the “Duration” or “Height” field in the effects window. Bear in mind that changing the simulation doesn’t necessarily imply the necessary DMX channel values will be issued to make the flame projector match your simulation. The DMX channel values generated by the effect are determined by the DMX Patch field, which may or may not take the Duration or Height field values into consideration, depending on the capabilities of the flame projector hardware.

If you want to change the angle of the simulation, or create an animated sequence simulation like the 63 pre-defined Explo X2 Wave Flamer programs, then edit the VDL field and type the specifications of the angle or animated sequence (this is hard, and you’d need to be proficient in writing VDL). You can also create flame effects from scratch from the “Effects > Create effect…” menu item by typing a VDL description like “0.5s 5m Flame Projector” into the input field.