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Tinkerbell Pixie Dust

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David McQuinnTinkerbell Pixie Dust
by on Oct 29, 2003 at 8:03:13 pm

Hi. Does anyone know how to create a trail of "gold, sparkling pixie dust" that would show the path of an object over an aerial view of a cityscape? I would want to make the path slowly decay so that it ultimately disappears.


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TomRe: Tinkerbell Pixie Dust
by on Oct 29, 2003 at 9:52:00 pm

Hi there,
You could use a custom path created in AE, then apply a stroke to that path and tweak and animate it over time. Then use Shatter to create your pixie dust effect.

This example here is similar to what I explained above about using Shatter, although it I used Trapcode's 3D Stroke on text paths brought in from Illustrator. You can take a look at the (3.6mb QuickTime) animation here:

You can also try and use a plugin called Particle Illusion as it offers some great options:

Tom Juliano

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Todd FullerRe: Tinkerbell Pixie Dust
by on Oct 29, 2003 at 9:54:48 pm

I'd say the particle systems from Final Effects Complete are the best suited, however, I can't recommend doing business with Media 100. Digieffects has a plug-in called "pixiedust". That might be worth a look, although digieffects stuff tends to make for a pretty slow render. I think it would be possible with the built in particle playground plug-in, but it would take alot of work. It might also be possible with AE's "foam" plug in, using a custom layer map for the particles, and a flow map to control their direction and velocity.

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Steve RobertsRe: Tinkerbell Pixie Dust
by on Oct 29, 2003 at 10:55:13 pm

Which one of the FEC Particle Systems would be best for this, Todd?

I've been trying to stretch my old Metacreations FEC set until it's pulled from my cold dead hands! (sorry for the metaphor)


P.S. Love your fonts!

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Todd FullerRe: Tinkerbell Pixie Dust
by on Oct 30, 2003 at 5:19:21 pm

FE Particle Systems 2 is probably the easiest. Make sure you use the "jet" animation system, so the particles respect the direction and velocity of the producer. You might need to add Trapcode's Starglow plug-in to the end result to get exactly what you're looking for.

For a slightly more complicated solution, you can try Particle World with some expressions to link the producer's position to a 3D null in your comp. It will take a long time to set up, but you'll be able to get slightly more realistic 3D space. I know the Meyer's did an article in DV (which may also be in "After Effects in Production") about getting faux 3D plug-ins to work with your AE Comp Camera - that might be worth looking into if the other methods i described aren't getting the results you need.

Glad you like the fonts. Hopefully I'll get the time to do some more soon.


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Mark SimpsonRe: Tinkerbell Pixie Dust
by on Oct 30, 2003 at 12:03:55 am

[Todd Fuller] "Digieffects has a plug-in called "pixiedust". That might be worth a look, although digieffects stuff tends to make for a pretty slow render."

DE_Fairy dust is actually very nice, and is one of the two effects I was after when I bought Delirium. While many of deliriums effects are pretty slow rendering, fairy dust isn't bad, especially on current computers.

Another option is to use shatter (set to render pieces only), and then animate the path of the force 1 sphere. Set the pieces to be very small and then apply shine to the result. It looks great!

Rick Gerard originally posted the idea, so if you do a search of the archives in this forum, using his name and words associated with pixie dust, sparkles, etc., you should be able to come up with his method.

Particle illusion is a very nice app, but it works outside of AE. The best solutions within AE would be the two mentioned above (DE_Fairy dust and the shatter method).

Mark Simpson

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yikesmikesRe: Tinkerbell Pixie Dust
by on Oct 30, 2003 at 8:01:27 am

If you don't have shine, maybe give a look at Creative Cow's own Dan Ebbert's Tutorial "Building Your Own 3D Particle Generator" (25 Cool Things About AE5.5).

The particles are based on imported graphics (so you can make them look however you like). And its affected by gravity and wind and drag, and initial velocity (would an excited pixie emit at a higher initial velocity?) and such (hey even pixies are subject to physics), all adjustable I think. I just started working my way through the aforementioned Tut after reading your post, so I don't know if this is what you want, but the two comps "moving emitter 1" and "moving emitter 2" aren't that far off from pixie dust, start with a smaller graphic(s) for your particle(s).

Dan says you don't even have to understand the hairy math to adjust the parameters to get what yo want.

Long live expressions.

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Michael MunkittrickRe: Particle Illusion...hands down.
by on Oct 30, 2003 at 5:17:04 pm

Particle Illusion is by far the BEST solution, but it does require lining up your effect outside of AE and then a very short render and an import and rerender in AE...but it is by far the most realistic. Suffice it to say that Disney is now using it to do quite a few of its particle effects.

The DigiEffects filters have a plugin called, interestingly enough Pixie Dust, and while it does a pretty nice job...the control of Particle Illusion isn't available. But it does get you there.

Also, if memory serves, there are numerous plugins in the older Final Effects bundle that would produce a somewhat lackluster, more cartoony sparkle...but it would work.

And lastly, if all else fails, look to AE's own particle tools. There are hundreds of ways to render out tiny particles with the particle generator and a few glow-type effects. This is obviously the most complex way of reaching your goal, but with the tutorials here at the can figure it out fairly quickly.


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David McQuinnRe: Particle Illusion...hands down.
by on Oct 31, 2003 at 12:18:02 pm

Thanks everyone. Extremely valuable advice. I've embarked on the 3D stroke method -- now to try to get the sparkles . . .


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