Click the image to see an example of the Boris Particle System. Click here to see a smaller file.

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Boris Continuum

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In particular
Now, I have every Boris product known to man, as well as some not yet known to man, so I can do pretty much anything I want effects-wise. The particle system in Continuum, though, adds a little twist to the particle systems you'd find in products like Graffiti and RED. Its purpose is not to blow an object up and scatter it into fragments, but rather to generate particles from an emitter to create a wide variety of possible effects. What makes this system particularly nice (pun intended) is that you can use animated particles. Want a bunch of bats to fly at the camera? That takes about three mouse clicks. Want drippy pieces of fire to collect on the ground? Again, no problem. And, for those of you creating movies to display on the Web, there are plenty of crude possibilities as well. Click here for a not-so-crude-yet-still-disturbing example. (Click here for the quicker download version.)

The particle system works pretty well. Actually, about as well as anything I've seen. There are more parameters than you could possibly be interested in, so I'll just bullet some of the highlights here.

  • Particle shapes, aside from custom images or moving sequences, include blurs, reference boxes, streaks, pixel streaks, lines, bubbles, shaded squares, wide sparkles, long sparkles, round noise and reference pointers. The particle character option allows you to alter the appearance of each of these particle types.
  • Particle production includes parameters for the width, height and depth of the generator, as well as velocity, tumble, rotate, spin, spread amount and spread mode (3D, flat fan, fountain, sine cannon, circular and spiral). The spread character parameter provides some flexibility for each of these shapes.
  • Movement parameters include gravity, gravity angle, air resistance, velocity variance, frequency and frequency variance.
  • Appearance settings include numerous color and color reference, brightness and contrast parameters, as well as individual start, midpoint and end and system-wide settings for opacity, size, color, center and size variance.
  • The custom shape parameter are where the fun comes in. You can pick any composition element as a source particle, still or animated, and play around with some of the settings, such as tilting and weight.
  • Interaction parameters allow you to set floor properties (ignore, stick, slide, bounce), bounce friction, floor height, interaction layer, layer mode, layer channel and layer edges.
  • There's also a whole range of settings for cameras, attractors and animation.

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