Join Lee Lanier for an in-depth discussion in this video Generating a particle blob, part of VFX Techniques: Creating Particle Effects.
We've color graded our footage for shot one, so it looks like nighttime. You can now start adding special effects. This video series is going to concentrate on particle effects. And, in fact, the first particle effect we can add, is a glowing energy sphere to the end of this magic wand. Right now, there's just a little piece of tape. There are a number of plugins for AfterEffects that generate particles. However, there are several that are built into the program that come standard. We're going to use those built in plugins for this series. You can create some very nice effects just with the tools you have right there, when you open up AfterEffects.
Let's get started. I'm not going to place the first particle effect within this first composition. We'll make a new composition to prepare them first. So, I'm going to go to Composition> New composition. I'll make a new composition that is the same resolution, frame rate and duration. I'll name this wandsphere. There we go. Alright. Now even though we're going to generate particles, we need some type of layer to work on. Even if we don't see that layer. What I can do is create a new solid for that. Go to Layer> New> Solid.
I'll make a solid that's the same size, 1280 by 720. Now, the color doesn't matter. I'm going to cover that up anyway with the particles. I'll click OK. And there's the solid. Again, there are several particle plug-in's in AfterEffects that come with the program. We're going to start with CC particle world though. It's under Effect> Simulation> CC Particle world. Right away you get particles. You'll see, there's a red emitter circle in the center. An indication that this is 3D space by this grid. And, in this case little yellow particles.
If we play it back, we'll see that default setup looks like fireworks. What we want though, is a blob of particles swarming around as if it's a bunch of energy that's going to be released. What we're going to do is change some of these options here to get that look. Let's start with the very top here, birthrate. Semi particles are born as a timeline moves forward. Let's make a higher birthrate to get more particles, 25. You'll see this cloud of particles gets denser. Next in longevity.
Longevity determines how long the particles survive before they're killed off and disappear. And this is per second. I'm going to change this to 0.1. So, that means the particles only last 0.1 seconds before they die off. Now, with all particle simulation systems, there's some type of built in dynamics, in other words, the laws of physics are being simulated to determine where the particles wind up. In this case there's a physics section. One common effect is gravity. This pulls the particles towards the original ground plane.
Now, if I turn this to zero, that turns off gravity, and the particles will simply move out in their original direction. In this case, the emitter is on the directional. That's what we want, we want the particles to stay around that sphere shape of the emitter. In fact, I'll play this back now. You'll see it move straight outwards but die off fairly quickly forming that sphere. Now, we're not stuck with this type of particle. This effect provides several different types. If I go down to particle, there's particle type.
Right now we're on line. I can choose some different styles. In this case, I'm going to to pick one that generates polygon surfaces. Tetrahedron, here we go. Swarm of little triangular faces. In this sections also is the birth size and death size, how large they start and how large they get to by the time they die. We'll make burst size one and death size 0.5. So, now they're much larger, and they start to intersect. Birth color determines what color they are when they are born, and death color determines what color they transition to, by the time they die.
I'm going to change birth color to some type of nice lime green. And death color to white. Let's play that back. Here we go, a nice undulating blob of particles which we can convert to an energy sphere for the tip of the wand. AfterEffects provides several different plug-ins for assimilating particles. We're using CC Particle World which allows you to have different types of particles and to adjust the various dynamics, which control how they move, how they're born and how they die.
You can now take this basic simulation and adapt it to make it look more exciting.
- Setting up the project in After Effects
- Generating a particle blob
- Hand tracking particles into the plate
- Patching the background
- Creating particle puffs, sparkles, and explosions
- Motion tracking elements
- Color grading shots
- Keying green screen
- Layering particles