What I want to be able to do is take a layer and clone/duplicate it a number of times randomly around 3D space, but completely static - ie. not coming out of an emitter and having a particular lifetime, but just being there, the amount of randomness and general size of the area they occupy being adjustable. I feel like this should be possible with a particle system, but I can't figure it out.
Obviously, I could just duplicate the layer as many times as I want and position them myself, I just wonder if it's possible to automate something like this...
you can do this with a particle system. it's hard to give specific setting without knowing the effect that you want to use, but the basic plan would be to have the emitter/producer generate a number of particles on the first frame, then stop.
you'd also need to set the size of the emitter/producer to fill the space that you need (a 3d system will have xyz dimensions).
any velocity or rotation speed would need be zero, as would any gravity settings so the particles stay static. and the particle life span would need to be as long as the comp. i assume that you would also need to change any opacity or color change over life to be constant also.