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In this chapter, we'll look at special effects. Special effects being roughly defined as any effect that is not character animation or is not, in this case, a mechanical assemblage animation. Specifically, I want to talk a bit about particle systems. What is a particle system? Let's take a look at this short animation. You'll see that this object is spitting out these little squares. Each one of those squares is a particle, and particle systems are useful for effects that cannot be easily accomplished through traditional keyframe techniques.
So if you need to do fire or snow or in this case this sort of radioactive goo that's coming out, you'll need particle systems. Particle systems, as the name implies, are a system. So you don't have a way to define exactly where any particular particle is or what it's doing, but you do have the ability to define properties for the entire system. I've also got a rendered version of this so we can take a look at that, and that will actually give me an opportunity to show you the RAM Player.
In the Rendering menu I've got the RAM Player, and if I go over here to Channel A, I can click the Browse dialog and it's taking me to my image sequences that I've pre-rendered. I will be showing you how to create rendered image sequences in the next chapter. I'll just select this first frame and click Open and I have to click through all these dialog boxes where Max is asking me, do I want to keep it at the same resolution, and the same number of frames and so on? I just click through all those and say OK.
So now these frames are all being loaded into system memory, and the reason that we want to do that is so that we can play them back and be sure that these frames are all playing back at the frame rate that we desire. So they're being loaded into RAM, and now they are loaded in and I can press Play and I am looking in a series of images playing back one image every 130th of a second or 30 frames per second. So you can see here now in my rendered image the particles look a lot nicer than they did in the viewport, and that's because I've added a material and a glow effect to the particles as well.
So it's a concept behind particle systems.
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