Finding great explosion reference footage is essential when you are working on FX work. If you don’t have the right inspiration, your explosions can look unrealistic and the final effect won’t have the impact that you desire.
In this VFX roundup, we’ve curated a collection of our favorite explosions from film, TV, and real-life to help you get inspired for your next project. So if you’re ready for some mind-blowing explosions, you’ve come to the right place.
To make your inspiration even easier, we’ve created this simply playlist that features most of the videos found below. You can bookmark this playlist in the future if you ever need some explosion inspiration.
This section will feature explosions that are from real life videos.
In this video, you’l see a compilation of a few dozen real-world explosion examples. All of these explosions are practical, meaning there is no CGI in them.
This slow motion video of a molotov cocktail shows how the real world has particle emitters just like in Houdini.
Another beautiful example of work from the Slo Mo Guys, this car explosion is a real world example of what real explosions look like. Notice how dark and billowy the fire is while the inner flames almost have a rounded and rippled quality to them.
In this real-world video from top gear, you’ll see a helicopter hit the ground and explode in dust.
This video features a large commercial plane hitting the ground. You’ll notice how the individual piece of debris have fire trails coming off of them.
This video is a great example of a bomb blast. Notice how in this explosion the small pieces of debris are overshadowed by the outward pulse of the explosion. This is more common in bomb explosions compared to impact explosions.
This is a compilation of some real-world explosions over the years. Note that some of the explosions are slightly overexposed.
Now let’s watch some awesome explosion compilations from Film and TV
This slow motion explosion from Sherlock Holmes is a brilliant example of explosion work in film. The shots brilliantly blend live-action and CG FX to masterful effect.
One of the most impressive explosions in all of film, The Dark Knight’s hospital destruction scene shows us a beautiful example of what real-world explosions look like in film.
Avenger’s infinity war is a masterclass of great FX work from begining to end. This simple video removes everything but the explosions from the film.
Avengers End Game continues to be studied by the industry as a gold-standard in explosion work.
There are few films that have done large-scale explosion work quite like Godzilla King of the Monsters. In this brilliant roundup we see some of the best gigantic FX from the film.
The Star Wars series has long be hailed for practical FX explosion work. This video shows every Star Wars explosion, from The Phantom Menace to Return of the Jedi.
The effect that Iron Man had on the modern FX industry can’t be overstated. The film ushered in a new era of VFX in Hollywood. This video breaks down all of the explosions from the film.
Pacific Rim repopularized large-scale FX for modern audiences. The film’s VFX showcase some of the coolest examples of destruction ever captured on film.
There’s no way around it, the Transformers movies are visually incredible. In this compilation, we see all of the explosion FX found in Revenge of the Fallen.
In this video, we can see some of the best explosions from GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
Say what you want about the film, Battleship has some of the coolest FX ever. This compilation features all of the destruction scenes from the film.
The newest iteration of Red Dawn features some really good mid-sized explosions that are both practical and FX-driven.
This video features one of our favorite examples of FX work from the modern film world. Kong: Skull Island is a site to behold.
We’re going back to the MCU look at these unique explosion FX that simultaneously try to create a sense of micro and macro scale in the same shot. Really clever work!
The FX in Angel Has Fallen are surprisingly awesome. This video features many of the stylized explosion FX found in the film.
While this is technically a breakdown video, the team at Double Negative created a beautiful breakdown of their explosion work created for the HBO series, Chernobyl.
In this section, we roundup a few of our favorite explosion compilations in TV and film.
Grab your popcorn. This video features 37 minutes of epic destruction scenes from TV and film history.
This video features 25 minutes of awesome explosions from the film and TV world.
Ready for some earth-shattering explosion references? This video features only large-scale explosions from film.
This top 10 compilation of explosions is an incredible example of practical explosion work in Hollywood.
Nobody out-explosions Michael Bay. This compilation video shows all of Michael Bay’s explosions in one pyro-tastic masterpiece.
Want to learn how to create epic explosions like those seen in this video. In Explosion FX in Houdini, expert FX artist Saber Jlassi will show you how to craft breathtaking explosions directly in Houdini. The course will show you everything you need to know to develop explosions from scratch.
Here’s the trailer for the course. You can also join our free Explosion FX webinar by clicking here.
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I hope you’ve enjoyed this explosion FX roundup. Best of luck on all your VFX projects.
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