Join Chad Perkins for an in-depth discussion in this video Using a movie as a particle, part of Trapcode Particular Essential Training (2012).
In this tutorial we're going to have a basic introduction for using a movie as a particle. And again, we're going to get into this a little bit later on in our project, and we've already talked about using still images, but this movie is going to be kind of a hybrid. I have here this little motion graphics project that you might find at the beginning of a TV show or something like that. And I have here all of these card symbols-- diamonds, hearts, clubs, and spades--and this is all being generated with Particular. The cards are being created with the Card Wipe effect, but all of these symbols are being generated with Particular.
So again, this is going to be kind of like a transition. We're not going to be using full-on movies, which we'll do later on; And we're not going to be using images; we're going be using kind of like a hybrid and use multiple images. So I have here this Symbols Comp, and it's a four-frame-long composition, and on each frame there is a different one of these shapes. So on frame one there is a diamond and then a heart and then a club and then a spade, and so this is all one, again, four-frame-long composition. If I play it back, it goes really fast, because it's only four frames long.
So if we go over to the Movie particles START Composition, we could see we have Particular here. It's just regular old Particular. So I'm going to select a Particular Layer, and then let's go over to the Particle section. Let's close up the Emitter section for now. In the Particle section I'm going to take the Particle Type to Textured Polygon. That again allows us to use our own custom layer. And they don't stay flat to the camera. The Sprites all stay flat to the camera; Textured Polygons are allowed to rotate around.
Now we open up the Texture section, and then from this Layer dropdown, we choose the Symbols Comp. It doesn't say it's big, but it seems like it's always too big, so just go ahead and click OK. That's going to be fine. Now this Time Sampling dropdown is where it gets kind of confusing, because there is so much power here. Particular gives you so much control over how your movies play back in particles. So the default setting is Current Time, and basically what that means is that when it's on frame one, we are seeing frame one of the texture, in this case the Symbols Comp.
And actually, let me increase the size here quite a bit, so we can see that. And then we can go back up to our Emitter section, we take down the Particles per second, increase the Velocity since we're spread out a little bit, and there we go. Close up the Emitter section. So we're using the Current Time here, so they're all diamonds, and then as we go one frame, they're all hearts; the next frame they're all clubs, then all spades, and then they're gone, because this comp is only four frames long. So one of the things that you'll notice that this allows us to do when we're using a custom texture layer is that we're allowed to change the particles into other things over time, which is really interesting.
Now, as we look at the Time Sampling dropdown here--this is kind of important to remember--these options on the left side here--this is how I remember these different settings--the options on the left here refer to how Particular is going to look at the texture layer. So does it look at the Birth, the Start at Birth? Does it look at a random frame or does it split the clip into different proportions, which we'll look at in just a second. And then the one on the right, the options on the right are basically how the life of the particle is going to be affected.
So if we start at birth and play once, then each particle is going to go through this entire Symbols Comp and just play it once. So each particle is going to only last for four frames, regardless of the life. It's going to go through all four frames. Now if we had a longer texture layer here, if we the Symbols Comp was longer-- let's say it was 2 seconds long--then each particle would last for 2 seconds. So if we choose Start at Birth and then Loop, then what happens is is that it starts from birth. Each particle start as a diamond, so we could see that there is three diamonds here, for example.
And then if you go to the next frame, they all turn into hearts, then clubs, then spades, and then if we keep going to the next frame, then they go back to diamonds again. So each frame they are changing, and they are cycling through this loop over and over again. If we take the Start to Birth - Stretch, then it will take the lifespan of the Texture Comp and it will stretch that over each particle's lifespan. So each particle's lifespan, let's say for example--if we go back to Particular here--our Lifespan is set to 3.0 seconds.
So what that means is over 3 seconds each particle will go from diamond to heart, to club, to spade. So it creates a really interesting look. So they all start out as diamonds, and then they go over to hearts, then clubs, then spades over time, and this is really controlled by the life of the particle. So if we were to elongate the life, then they would have a longer distance to go before they would change. So again, it's stretching these four frames over the 3 seconds of the life of each particle.
So let's go ahead and just take this back to 3. And we'll skip over Random for the time being. If we go to Split Clip, this allows us to split the clip into a number of predetermined clips. So let's say, for example, we had ten little animations of an army guy moving or something like that, and they were all on the same layer or on maybe different layers in that same composition. So we could say if they were--maybe this is a 10-second-long texture clip, we could break this up into five different clips and each one will be 2 seconds long, and so then Particular would look at each of those 2-second clips, and each one of those particles would be a 2-second clip.
And again, these will all make sense more when we use them later on in the project, later on in this training series. For now I want to choose Random - Still Frame. So what that's going to do is it's going to choose a random frame for my texture layer and it's just going to pause. So the particles are not going to change. They're not going to evolve. When they are born, they are going to be born a diamond, a heart, a club, or a spade, and they are going to stay that way throughout the duration of their life. And so that's what I use to create these cool animations.
So using these texture layers, we don't have to necessarily use just still images; we could use a movie file; we could use an animation; we could use a series of objects like this and create kind of like an arrangement of different shapes or symbols or whatever we want. Now that's the end of this tutorial, but for those of you that are interested, in my intro project here, we had this kind of cool little project, or it would have been cool, but these cards don't look quite right. These cards were created, again, using Card Wipe, and Card Wipe doesn't have the same features that Particular does when it comes to 3D.
We can't get a shallow depth of field with these cards, and it just doesn't really blend well with Particular. So what I could have done is I could have made these cards out of Particular. So when I made these cards from Card Wipe, I just created these texture layers, so I had one texture layer that's all the backs. Again, this is one flat solid layer, and then the front of the cards were one flat solid layer as well, and then Card Wipe lets me kind of chop those up and play with those like that, and it's just a little bit easier.
But if I want to take the time and make each card its own layer, then Particular could have seen that. We could have use this as, again, another movie particle. And then these particles could have interacted with each other. We could have gotten depth of field, and this would have created a much better look. So I didn't take the time to do that, but just be aware that things like that are possible with this functionality in Particular.
- Understanding the Particular paradigm
- Working with different emitter types
- Understanding the curve-drawing interface
- Animating the emitter's position
- Adjusting the particles' life span
- Using custom particles
- Using Particular's auxiliary particles
- Integrating the After Effects lights and cameras
- Using a motion path
- Working with gravity and wind
- Using movies as particles