Cigarette Smoking Man (Video)

Cigarette Smoking Man

The client is an independent film maker who encountered a snag. He needed to film a scene with the antagonist smoking a cigarette in a car. However, the owner of the car he was using didn’t allow anyone to smoke in his car. So the film maker decided to simply film the scene with an unlit cigarette and hope that he would find a way to fix it in post-production.

The film maker asked me if I could help, and I said that I could.

I researched several ways of adding the smoke to the scene and studied footage of actual cigarette smoke. After experimenting with several ideas I created a custom particle system with several hundred thousand particles on the screen at any given moment. I set up virtual lights to mimic the real-world lighting to illuminate the smoke properly. I also created a glowing cigarette tip effect and tracked it to the tip of the cigarette.


The effect I created exceeded the client’s expectation, and he called to let me know. His cast and crew watched a rough edit of his movie and were amazed to see that the cigarette was lit – they couldn’t even tell that visual effects had been involved.

I have included a before and after version of the scene for you below:
(NOTE: There is no sound on either of these video clips. Also, please note that the only thing I did with this scene was add the cigarette smoke and cigarette tip. I deserve no credit for any other aspect of these clips.)