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Wondertouch ParticleIllusion 3 for Mac OS X

Particle-based effects system By Dave Nagel
Summary: ParticleIllusion is the ultimate 2D particle generation system. In power, depth and performance, it just can't be matched. Version 3 is the first full release of this software for Mac OS X. (An "SE" version was available prior to this, but it didn't offer the functionality of the full 3.0 version.) The principal new feature in the latest release is the addition of "super emitters," which allow emitters to emit other emitters, simplifying the creation of complex effects.
Publisher: Wondertouch (
Platform: Mac OS X and Windows
Price: $389 for the full version, $289 for the upgrade from ParticleIllusion SE and $49 for the update from ParticleIllusion 2.0 for Mac OS 8/9.
Demo available: Yes
Recommendation: Strong Buy

Wondertouch ParticleIllusion is the ultimate 2D particle generation system. If you're in Motion Graphics, you've probably experienced some of the look-alike particle systems out there, such as those integrated into Apple Motion and Discreet Combustion. (Both of these are based on ParticleIllusion, directly or indirectly.) But from the myriad particle systems I've experienced, nothing can match the originator for depth, power and performance--at least not now that version 3 is out for Mac OS X.

For those of you unfamiliar with this tool (or particle systems in general), let me give you a brief introduction. Particle systems are designed to produce complex effects quickly and with a high degree of control. They allow you to create explosions, smoke effects, water, fire, clouds, snow, rain, fairy dust trails and other types of effects based on, essentially, two components: an emitter and the elements that issue forth from the emitter. Here are some examples of that. (The little circle moving around in these examples is the cursor indicating the position of the emitter.)

So basically you create these effects by placing an emitter on your canvas and compositing it with your existing footage.

Particles can be used in their preset configurations (as seen above) or customized with your own movies or imagery so that your effects can be unique to your project.

ParticleIllusion itself is different from other particle systems for several reasons. It's a stand-alone tool, so you create the effects, then export them for use in your primary motion graphics program. This allows for the aforementioned extreme depth you'll find in this package. It also allows for things that may not be feasible in other programs, like deflectors (which are invisible objects that block and repel the particles) and forces (which blow particles around). There are other things that distinguish it as well: amazing performance, a massive and ever-expanding collection of particle presets (now at something like 1,300, with new libraries released for free each month) and a feature new to ParticleIllusion 3: super emitters.

New features in ParticleIllusion 3
ParticleIllusion 3 is the first full release of ParticleIllusion for Mac OS X. As such, it brings this powerful particle generation system up to snuff with its Windows counterpart in terms of functionality. This includes the highly anticipated addition of "super emitters" to the Mac visual artists' toolchest.

So what is a "super emitter" anyway?

To put it in a convoluted way, it's an emitter that emits other emitters. What this allows you to do is to group emitters together, giving you the convenience and ease of working with a single particle system, but with the complexity and depth of many separate particle emitters. Here's an example of that.

In that animation, each one of the "arms" of the explosion is a separate emitter, represented by the small circles below.

I'm sure you can imagine the time it would take to put something like this together manually out of separate emitters.

Version 3.0 also adds "forces," which are objects that can interact with particles by blowing or pushing them around the stage. Forces are fully keyframable for direction, strength, angle, width and height.

So the major new features in ParticleIllusion 3 are super emitters, forces and, of course, compatibility with Mac OS X. But there are several other improvements as well, including:

? A library manager for working with and organizing the multitude of existing emitter libraries;
? Improvements in the creation of alpha channels;
? High-quality motion blur;
? Field rendering;
? And the ability to grab particle colors from a layer, rather than assigning a fixed color.

There are also several improvements to ParticleIllusion's interface and workflow, some of which we'll touch on below.

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Related Keywords:wondertouch particle illusion 3, mac os x, super emitters, review, motion graphics, effects


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