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Software Documentation

Flame systemsDocumentation

Intermediate Last updated: September 30, 2019

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 Wave Flamer, Galaxis G-Flame, or almost any other system.  You’ll need a firing system that is compatible with your flame system or any of the DMX-capable firing systems such as Piroshow, Pyromac, Pyrosure, or FireTek if your flame system runs on DMX.  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, one position per flame unit.  We call these positions the “Flame Positions” to distinguish them from the “Pyro Positions“.   Every position in Finale 3D can be used for pyro or for flames, one or the other, but not both from the same position.  So if in the real world you have a single position, called Pos1 for this example, then in Finale 3D you would split that position into two positions, one for pyro and the other for flame.  Maybe you would call them Pos1-p and Pos1-f, or Pos1-Pyro and Pos1-Flame.

Later in these instructions, you will learn how to configure the settings of the positions to produce the correct output for pyro and flames in your exported firing system scripts.  The details of that process depend on your firing system and whether you are using DMX.  To get started designing, though, all you need to know is that the shoot site contains separate Pyro Positions and Flame Positions.  Please imagine the Pyro Positions as housing mortars or single-shot racks in the real world, and imagine each Flame Position as housing a single flame unit such as a Flamaniac box, Wave Flamer, etc.

Figure 2 – In the real world, pyro and flame might come from the same position, but in Finale 3D you need to split them into separate pyro and flame positions, even if they are served by the same module.


After laying out your shoot site with Flame Positions and Pyro Positions, you can add flame effects to the Flame Positions the same way that you add pyro effects to the Pyro Positions: by clicking on the effects in the effect palette or in the effects window.  If you want multiple Flame Positions to fire in parallel, select all of them and click on the effect in the effect palette to add the effect to all of them, just like pyro.  When you export the script following instructions here , every flame unit will have its own firing system pin, or its own range of DMX channels or its own DMX universe.

Figure 3 – Choose the “Others” icon (circled) and type “flame” in the search box (circled) to bring up the flame effects.


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!  (The Explo X2 Wave Flamer only has this capability when coupled with a DMX controller.  Please see Explo X2 Wave Flamer for details.)  If you are using a flame system with a controllable nozzle angle, you can drag the tops of dotted lines of individual effects or groups of selected effects to adjust their angles, and you can select groups of flames and do functions like “Fan” to create interesting patterns.  Of course, you can also select groups of any flame effects and do functions like “Sequence” to make interesting timing patterns.

Other flame systems like MAGICFX Flamaniac 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 Generic Effects collection, which you can select using the blue selector in the effects window, 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.


Figure 4 – The middle flame has a longer duration than the others, but they are all the same effect (same Part Number).


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 (this is easy, and you can try it now).  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.

This is all you need to know to get starting designing a show with flames.  Why don’t you give it a try, and then come back to read about exporting the firing system script when you are ready.