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Cloud Particles

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Andrew RobsCloud Particles
by on May 30, 2011 at 3:35:38 pm

So I'm working on a video where I need a certain particle(s) behavior, seen in this video[

]at :45-:49. What I am trying to do is create that circling clouds/smoke around the giant tower effect through Adobe After Effects. I have been trying CC Particle World, Trapcode Particular, but cannot seem to get any headway. So I was wondering if anyone can assist me or guide me in the right direction. Any help is greatly appreciated, thanks.

And if it helps to know, I run a Macbook Pro and have Autodesk Maya 2011 as well, but I do not know how to use it as much as I do After Effects, but will watch any tutorial I may have to...

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Jason MettlerRe: Cloud Particles
by on May 30, 2011 at 5:46:19 pm

In trapcode you can assign the emitter to be a light. by animating the lights you can create a swirl effect as the particles move in the same motion but have a lag.
If the rotation effect loses it's depth you can always precomp the particle layer and 3D it. Rotate on X and you should get the angle you'd want.
I guess that's one way to try.

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Steve RenardRe: Cloud Particles
by on May 31, 2011 at 3:58:06 pm

For something a little less render-heavy, you could try building a series of precomped fractal noise layers, than use some of the other 3D tools in AE to get the right perspective. The short instructions to do so go something like this: create a new comp that's big and square (if you're working in HD, make it 2500x2500, in SD you probably only need about half that). Create a new layer in that comp and add the Fractal Noise effect to it. Tweak the settings to get it to look like a flat, square version of the clouds you're going for. Create another layer, then click and hold the mask tool and select the elipse mask option. Double-click the mask tool to create a circular mask on your new layer (it will just go to the edges of the layer). Duplicate that mask so that you have Mask 1 and Mask 2 on that layer, then play with the mask expansion and feather settings until you have a nice soft donut. Use that layer as an alpha matte for the noise layer, and keyframe the rotation and evolution of the noise layer to get it to swirl around in the donut. Take the whole comp and drop it into your master comp. Make it 3D, then place it as you wish in relation to your tower shot. You may need to scale and blur it a bit, and you'll probably need at least 3 or 4 different versions of that "swirly smoke" comp to get it to look good, but it will be a lot less of a render hog than trying to do it with a particle system.

If you need a more detailed step-by-step on how to do this, let me know, but if you're familiar with AE (and particularly if you've done a couple Andrew Kramer/Video Copilot tutorials), hopefully it all makes sense already.

Good luck,

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Andrew RobsRe: Cloud Particles
by on May 31, 2011 at 11:14:47 pm

I may actually need a more detailed step-by-step guide, if it isn't too much trouble. I think I have the basic gist of it, but I don't know if I'm lost on it or not; so basically (this is how I'm interpreting this) create an almost Torus shape, like a donut, apply the fractal noise to the shape and make sure it is a 3D shape in the 3d space using a camera, modify the fractal noise so it behaves like clouds moving through wind so that the "donut" appears as the bottom of the vortex... Am I getting this right, or no? I mean, I can see doing that (I'm not on my work computer at the moment so don't have AE in front of me), but did I interpret that incorrectly?

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Andrew RobsRe: Cloud Particles
by on May 31, 2011 at 11:04:54 pm

Thanks, I tried this out and it looks pretty good so far, I still have to make a few tweaks though and try to get the particles to appear more cloud-like or at least behave as if it were blowing wind...

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