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Trapcode Particular, Part 1Setting up 3D lights for particle emission
We'll simply reuse the solid (Black Solid) that we used to create the motion path. To reuse this, delete the mask shape from the layer by selecting the layer, selecting the mask shape, then clicking the delete key.
With this solid layer selected, choose Trapcode Particular from the Effects plugins.
Initially, Particular will default to creating particles from a point emitter located at 50/50% of the composition.
The Preview menu is the first function within the plugin. To find out everything about the Preview portion, simply check out the introduction on the Trapcode website.
The second portion of the plugin, Emitter is made of up several options itself. (see image below)
The first section under Emitter is Particles per second. This is pretty self-explanatory. Increasing the number of particles per second will change the number of particles emitted during each second of your animation. You can create tens of thousands of particles if you'd like, but you'll notice an increase in render time as you add to this number. I haven't noticed a severe penalty until I go over 10,000 particles per second. Fortunately, most of the animations I create with Particular only require a fraction of that, allowing me to stay with a very, very fast render. I'll set the value to 320 particles per second.
The second subsection contains definitions for the type of emitter. Here, we'll select "Light". The other versions are defined on the Trapcode website and within help.
You'll note that the position controls are now grey'd out. The position of the emitter is based on the 3D position that our light possesses.
The next active parameter is Direction. In this tutorial, we'll use "Directional". You can find definitions of the other direction characteristics within the help menu.
The next active parameter is actually a set of variables governing velocity. They are "Velocity", "Velocity Random", and "Velocity from Motion". The velocity is the speed at which the particles leave the emitter's source. Using a random value changes the speed difference each particle may have, based on the value velocity. Finally, the velocity derived from motion uses the animation of the emitter to create the speed of the particles.
I'll set the velocity parameters using the following values:
? Velocity = 50
? Velocity Random = 50
? Velocity from Motion = 0
The last active parameters in the Emitter section set the emitter's X, Y, and Z size. For now, we'll leave the sizes set to their default values of 50, 50, 50. For a wide, flat stroke, try chaning the X value to 150.
You should have something like this in your Emitter settings:
Step 4: Light editing and preview
The particles are, by default, now based on the light, not only in position, but in color and light options!
Open the options in the Emitter/light to see some immediate changes you can make.
? Intensity of the light can be animated to change the number of particles per second, without having to change the plugin's p/s parameter. Because you can animate the light's Intensity value above 100%, you have access to higher multiplier values than merely 0-100%. (Note: You can change the Particle Per Second control to Shadow Darkness or Shadow Diffusion in the Options menu. More on that in a separate tutorial)
? Color of the light can be used to change the base color of the particle. Of course this can be animated.
? Cone Angle changes the dispersion of the particles. Note that this does not change the emitter size. It changes the spread of the particles as they leave the emitter.
Now you can preview the potential of those particles by using Particular's Preview window. Clicking on the window allows you to rotate around the animation while holding the SHIFT key while you click allows you to change the position of the emitter point in the preview window (this doesn't change the keyframes you've set in the AE layer). If you want to animate your render, you'll have to create keyframes within the comp itself, most likely on the camera position track.
The next installment will focus on more parameters available to our particle emitting light.
Ko Maruyama is a freelance animator in Los Angeles. In addition to working on film and broadcast animations, Ko teaches at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design - focusing on motion design. When working, writing or testing software allows, you can find him lending a hand in the After Effects board and lurking among the Cinema4D, Visual Effects and Photoshop posts within the DMNForums.
Related Keywords:Adobe After Effects, Trapcode, Particular, emitter, 3d lights
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