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Motion Project 1: Blowing Up Objects

Creating explosive particle effects By Dave Nagel
So we've finally made it through the introductory phase of our exploration of Apple Motion 1.0. Now it's time to summon forth all of our new-found, awesome Motion skills and put together an actual--gasp!--effect on top of some actual--double gasp!--footage. And what better way to start than with a project that involves the most celebrated of human endeavors: blowing things up!

But we're not just going to blow things up the old-fashioned way (with fire and such). Rather, we'll create an effect in which we'll scatterize our subject into dozens of little pieces, each one an animated object in itself. And it goes a little something like this. Hit it.

So, obviously this scene is a 3D render (actual multiple renders in multiple programs). I just didn't have the budget to hire an actress who could actually fly for this tutorial. But no matter. This technique will work regardless of the type of source footage you use (live-action, animated or still image), as long as you're able to separate the foreground subject from the background--via chroma key, manual masking or rendering the subject with an alpha channel. That's your problem though; I'm just going to show you how to create the particle scattering effect.

Also your problem, since this isn't meant to be an introductory tutorial, is learning about particles, behaviors and filter effects, all of which we've covered in our preliminary tutorial series, "An Introduction to Motion." If you haven't read these tutorials already, you can find these four past articles by clicking on the links below.

? Part 1: General Overview: Particles, Masks, Text, Animation and Filters
? Part 2: Introduction to Behaviors
? Part 3: Introduction to Particles (Part 1)
Part 4: Introduction to Particles (Part 2)

You might also benefit from reading our review of Motion 1.0, which you can find here.

But, if you think you're already good to go on the background reading, by all means continue on.

Composition setup
The composition at hand isn't a complex one at the macro level: just three layers comprising five individual principal elements. The layers, from top to bottom, are Foreground, Particles and Background.

In the foreground, of course, is our subject, in this case our flying actress (or, for the budget-conscious, an animated flying object). We're going to need to duplicate this foreground object, which you can do by right-clicking on the object and selecting Duplicate for the list of options.

Once you've done this, uncheck the duplicate layer to make it invisible. We'll be using it as a control element for Behaviors and as an image mask for particles, and we don't want it to be visible.

I'll be referring to this duplicate as "Flying Woman copy" when we reference it later on.

The next layer is our Particle layer. This consists of two emitters, plus all of the requisite media that make up the individual cells in the emitters. I'll get to the details of these in the next three sections.

And, finally, we have the background, which consists of a single element, that being the background.

I have pre-treated my background before starting this project--a little color correction, the addition of a shadow cast by the subject, a zoom blur, etc. I recommend that, if you have any correction that needs to be done to this element (or the foreground element, for that matter), you handle it before you add any particles to your scene. The particles we're using for this effect are complex and might be slowed significantly by the addition of any filters you're using on other layers. So make any corrections that need to be made, render them out, and then bring the finished elements back into your project.

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Related Keywords:apple motion, particles, scatter, explosion, image mask


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