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Falling Pieces of Particular

Using Trapcode Particular's Custom setting: Part 2 By Ko Maruyama
Trapcode is the one-man company run by Peder Norrby, who developed the popular 3D Stroke, oft-used Shine and now the increasingly popular Particular.  Particular is a 2D plugin that introduces special formulae that allow After Effects to calculate imagery in 3D environments, and based on camera data.  Unfortunately, it does not calculate 3D rotation of planar elements used as particles.  In this week's tutorial, I'll demonstrate a work-around solution.

Before you start this, you should have TRAPCODE PARTICULAR installed.  You can download the demo from the Trapcode Web site.  If you have an older version of Particular, be sure to check the site for updates as the plugin and the website evolves.

In order to set up a particle effect using Trapcode Particular, you'll need to create a layer to attach it to.  Note that this layer will remain 2D, while the plugin makes the resulting imagery appear 3D in position.  A trip to the Trapcode site will help you set up the specifics of your Particular particle simulation, but in review, I'll post some tips here:

Set up the Comp for the particles

Create a solid layer and a camera in your composition.  Your solid should NOT be a 3D layer.  Although After Effects will warn you that a camera will not affect a 2D layer.  This is correct. The layer itself will not be affected by camera angle, but the attached plugin (Particular) will be affected by the camera!

Apply Particular

Select the solid layer and add Particular from the Effects pulldown menu (usually categorized under Trapcode).

Setting up a Particle Simulation: "Emitter"

Under the settings for Particular, you can control the Emitter's characteristics.  Most importantly, this group of settings describe how many particles will be emitted, and from which point in space.  The parameter for Particles/sec governs how many elements will be created in your composition.  Further down in the Emitter settings, you'll find "Rotation".  NOTE: This rotation describes the rotation of the emitter itself, not the particles that it produces.

The emitter type, defined by the pulldown box, can change the style that the particle emitter takes on (this cannot be animated).

Setting up a Particle Simulation: "Particle"
Under the next set of parameters, you'll find the descriptions governing the particle itself.  Under Particle Type, you have the option of selecting from a set of preset partilces, or use another layer in your AE comp as a "custom" particle.  Here is where you'll have an opportunity to change the attitude of the particle reference, or even animate it.

Note that when you create a custom layer, then rotate it with the "rotation" parameters under particle's sub-heading, you control all of the particles as they leave the emitter.  "Rotation Speed" governs how quickly those particles will spin around (1 full rotation) after they leave the emitter.

Setting up a Particle Simulation: Physics

In the last scenario for rotation, you might consider the environment's physics.  Physics settings within Particular effect the environment in which the particles are produced.

Parameters like Gravity and Air Resistance may be familiar to you, but in the quality of 'Air', there are also settings for 'Spin Amplitude' and 'Spin Frequency'.  These have less to do with the particle as it exits the emitter, but instead focus on how the particle behaves after it has been ejected into the Air Physics model.

Spin is a difficult parameter to control.  Because the orbits it imposes on the particles is completely random, Spin creates a more natural look in some instances.  Spin's random characteristic also makes it produce some unexpected results, especially when used in conjunction with different Physics Time factors and other Air qualities.

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Related Keywords:After Effects, Trapcode, Particular, Particle Effects, St. Patricks Day,


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