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Our phone explosion is missing one last ingredient and that's sparks. These sparks will help establish definition scale and movement of the burst of energy created by the phone. We are going to use Particular, an amazing third party particle generator to create that effect. So, here inside of After Effects, I am inside of the MMM-001 Composition and this is where all of our compositing is coming together. And I want to add these sparks and I want to have them come out right at the point where the phone emerges and the explosion happens.
In order to do this, I am going to use the effect Particular. Now, Particular is a third-party particle system and it needs to be added to a layer in order to be visible in the scene and now I'm going to add that to a solid layer and the color of the solid layer doesn't matter. So, let's make a new solid, Command or Ctrl+Y on the keyboard, and I'm going to call this one Particular. Now you can call it anything you want. I usually name my layer exactly what it is. That why I know how to find it in the layer stack, but you could call it sparks or anything you like.
Now, I am going to make it the Comp Size and hit OK and let's back up. I am hitting Comma on the keyboard to backup so I can see the entire frame. And now this Particular layer needs the Particular effect and so when I go to the Effects menu and I am going to go to Trapcode and add Particular into the scene and Particular is added to the layer and the layer becomes invisible. That's why the color wasn't important. I am going to solo this layer out for just a second and I'm going to turn off the Transparency Grid so I can see black here. Now, one of the things about Particular is that it uses the 3D Camera data in the scene but it does it in a way that's really not very controllable.
I've actually never like that but fortunately for me and fortunately for you, there is a great way we can utilize some information that we already have in our scene. You can tell Particular to actually look at a light in the scene and use that light as the basis for the emission of the particles and the light we are going to use is the Platform Disc light. Now, normally with Particular, if I go to the effect and then if I go to the Emitter options and I'll change the Position XY of that effect. Let's move it way over here. You can see there is the Emitter right there and it's kind of in a weird spot.
I don't really need to worry about where that point is anymore. I'm going to start off by changing the name of the Platform Disc light, so I will select that layer and go Shift+ Command+Y or Shift+Ctrl+Y on the PC and that brings up the Light Settings. I am going to change the name of that light toEmitter and that name is very important because Particular looks for that name on a light in the scene and it uses that name to find the light source. So, if it's not called Emitter, it won't be able to see the light in the scene. So, I will hit OK.
And now when I go back to my Particular control to select that layer and I am going to go to the Emitter options and change the Emitter Type from a Point source to a Light and when I do that, Particular automatically jumps the location of the light source and that makes it really easy. So, now as I scrub through my scene, you see those particles sticking right to that light in the scene and that's awesome. It makes it really easy to position your Particular emission point. The other cool thing about Particular, aside from it being really flexible, is it has some really cool presets already built into it.
So, underneath the Animation Presets for Particular, I am going to go to the pulldown and I'm going to grab way down here, about halfway down, the WeldGold_HD. And when I select that, my Particular just disappeared and that's because this preset actually does not use an emitter as a light source and so I have to go back and change that one option. So, if I go back to the Emitter options, you can see it change the Emitter Type back to Sphere. So, if I change that Emitter Type back to my Light then my sparks jump right to that light source again.
And as I scrub through the scene, you can see those sparks are sticking right there. Now, we still need to make a few tweak to the sparks but you can see that they are already looking really cool. The next thing I want to check in the Particular options is how long my particles are living for. Now, these sparks are intended to seem like welding sparks that come off a welder when you see welding two pieces of metal together and they're living for a very long time. I really want these sparks to just burst out and then die off very quickly. So, if I go down in the Particular settings, underneath the Particle options, these allow you to control how your particles look and also how long they live.
You can see that my particles are living for 1.5 seconds right now. If I change that to a half second, .5, that's going change the density of particles but also they are going to live as long and as I scrub through you can see that they're not falling down as far either. The next option I want to change is the Gravity. I don't really want my sparks to fall down. I want them to spread outward from the source of the explosion. And so if I scroll down under the Physics options, I can change the Gravity. The gravity is at 600 now. That's the default and I am going to change that.
Let's bring this to about 50.0. Now when I do that, you see that the particles are now no longer falling; they are spreading outward from the source and when the camera moves, the motion blur on the particles makes them appear to twist a little bit. And I think that looks really cool. That's going to look awesome when our explosion actually happens. Now, as I scrub through this, I want the particles to actually start appearing right at the time of the explosion. What I need to do is to set keyframes for the amount of particles that the particle emitter is spitting out and then adjust those keyframes over time and that's going to make the particles look like they're exploding on.
So, as I go, I'll scroll up here to the Emitter options and I'm going to set a keyframe for Particles/sec up here in the Emitter options. And I'm doing this at the point of the Camera Shake and I'm going to zoom in on the timeline and take a look at that. I'm right on that Camera Shake marker. So, at the Camera Shake marker, I am going to set a keyframe for Particular. Now, I am going to make it about 2500, so a lot more than the 500 that we're there. And you can see that the explosions are lot more intense at that point.
And so now I want to backup a few frames. Let's use Page Up on the keyboard, 1, 2, 3, 4. That's about right. And I am going to set my Particles/sec to be 0 but I need to set them to be a keyframe first, so I am going to stopwatch this and that activates the keyframe. I am going to hit U on the keyboard and then I am going to move this keyframe that I just set. I had forgotten originally to set the keyframe at the Camera Shake point and so what I have done now is I have set a keyframe for that here and I am going to back that up in time. Now, normally I wouldn't do it that way. I would have remembered to set my keyframe there but I forgot this at the keyframe so now I am correcting that problem.
So, now that I'm at the right point of time, I am going to set the Particles/sec to be 0 and now my particles explode outward from that source. Now, I don't want the emitter to keep spitting out particles forever; I want it to be a burst of particles and then the particles should die off naturally. And so in order to do that, I am going to keyframe it the other way, bring it back down to 0, and the place where I want it to stop, that's right around frame 40 I think I will have it stop. And so at that point I am going to set the keyframes to be 0 for particle emission.
And now what's going to happen is that as that as the particles jump out then they die off and they continue on their course, and then they die on their own natural lifespan progression and that gives the illusion that the particles are bursting outward from that center. Now, the next thing I want to do to these particles is I want them to brighten them up a little bit, kick them up and out so to speak, and I am going to use the Starglow effect once again. Let's twirl close our Particular and I'm going to apply the Starglow effect to the Particular layer.
So, I go to the Effects options under Trapcode and do Starglow and the Starglow effect once again comes in with these really long rays on here. I don't really want that. The other thing I want to do is I want to base the glow on the alpha channel, not the lightness. And so, if I go to the input channel under the Starglow and tell it to look at the Alpha, it's going to be a much more intense glow effect. The next thing I want to do is change the settings. I am going to go to the Presets and click on that and do Red as the preset. And you can see that it gives me a nice red glow on there.
They still look a too long though, so I wan to dial the streaks down to about 5. There we go and we can see what it looks like. So, now let's take a look at what our sparks look like with all the other layers. And so I'll uncheck the Particular layer as the Solo option. That reveals all of our layers. And so you can see the particles are going to now emit from that point of source as the phone comes out and then they're going to die off. I think I have set my keyframes a little bit too late.
What I really wanted to have them do is I want them to come out right about here where the phone is actually starting to emit out of the platform and I think that's going to look a little bit better. What I am going to do is select the keyframes on this and I am going to drag them back in time. Now, the place where I want to drag them back to is-- I am going to back up and find that point. I wanted to really peak right around here, so I am going to grab that and drag it. Now what that does this is it sits on top of the phone emission and as it comes out of there, you can see it lines up perfectly with the phone coming out of the platform and it really feels like those sparks are being caused by the phone coming out of the platform itself.
So, now that we have got our sparks in the scene what I want to do is to do a RAM Preview. I don't need to preview the whole animation. I really want to see the portion of the timeline where the sparks are. So, first thing I am going to do is zoom out of my timeline a little bit and enlarge the preview range. And then I just want to hit the RAM Preview button and I am going to watch the green progress bar and I am going to let it get to the point just after the sparks are gone and then I'm going to stop it by pressing any key. It's going to RAM Preview automatically once I stop that RAM Preview process. So, I click the RAM Preview button and it starts to cache the frames and this first part goes pretty quick because there is not many effects on, and then it start to slowdown a little bit as the effects become more prominent.
So, here comes our explosion. Now, our sparks are gone and there goes our big phone explosion. So, once that dissipates, let's take a look at this intro. I am going to hit Return on the keyboard just to stop it. So, the sparks really add a lot of detail to the point of impact when the phone first makes contact and pushes it's way about to the platform.
I really love Particular. It gives you a lot of flexibility in After Effects and it allows for tremendous control over your image. You can add all kinds of effects. Take a look at the presets and have some fun.
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