Do VFX artists still make their own flipbook libraries?


If an environment artist wants a texture of a sand dune, he doesn’t travel to Egypt with his camera, he simply gets it from one of the hundreds of amazing sources like,
but if a VFX artist wants a flipbook of something generic like fire-turns-to-smoke, he actually makes it himself from scratch?

At least that was the case when I was doing realistic VFX’s back in 2010, is that still the case?

So for example back then if I wanted a couple of explosions, gunshots, water splashes for a game, I would first spend a few weeks with simulation software like FumeFX to create a library of flipbooks (things like fire-turns-into-smoke) and THEN I was ready to start pumping out actual particle systems using those flipbooks.

I remember thinking to myself that I’m sure very soon someone will start a premium website named “” where they upload ready made flipbooks of simulations and live footage (in front of a black background), making all this manual flipbook creation a thing of the past.

Now I’m thinking about going back to realistic games, and I’m finding I seem to have overestimated the future. If I understood it right, today in middle of 2016 every artist/company still recreates a library from scratch?

So if a company asks me for an art test to make an explosion on water claiming it will take 8 hours, I (who foolishly didn’t save assets from that previous job) would have to first spend a few weeks creating a library of fire, smoke, water, dust flipbooks before I can do the particle effect?
And once I send these source files in for evaluation, if they reject me now they can just hire anyone to make 80% of an entire games effects using my library of fire, smoke, water, dust flipbooks. (As long as the junior artist has access to the source files, neither his boss nor even me could tell whether he used my flipbooks or made his own in fumefx from scratch)


I found one interesting answer, that UE4 startercontent comes with a few flipbooks. They are extremely few and basic, but still at least every UE4 project doesn’t have to re-invent the wheel with a explosion/fire/smoke flipbook. (altho would still be recommended to do, since I’m sure it will get repetitive to see the same flipbooks in every UE4 game)


I build some animations in After Effects or Adobe Animate and export them as frame sequences then format them into a flip-book page with GlueIT. The Unity effects flip-book controls reasonably powerful.