What is the best particle system for AE? I want to do explosions and fire and I also want to use photos and movies as particles. i have tried what comes with AE with some results that worked, I would like to add maps and footage alph channels as well.
If you haven't checked out the tutorials at http://www.videocopilot.net/ they're fantastic and can probably help you with some of the stuff you're trying to do. The host of the tutorials, Andrew Kramer, uses Partical World from AE and Particular quite often.
Explosions and fire? You won't find any plugins for after effects that will do that with any realistic results like FumeFX does for 3D Studio Max.
The best particle system for AE is probably Trapcode Particular. With lots of tweaking, multiple particle layers, blending modes, and curve adjustments, you can achieve decent looking explosions / flames that might look good for a lot of motion graphics. But it can't be compared to the realistic results of a particle system from a true 3D application.
Particular allows for custom particles (such as a picture), and you can create a comp with lots of different pictures, and have particular generate the particles from all of them.
You might also want to look at Trapcode Form, as it allows you to do some neat things that particular cannot, such as sound or displacement maps effecting the particles.
There is also ParticleIllusion from Wondertouch. While it's not an AE plugin (yet), it does work with AE reasonably well and has some spectacular functions that the current version of Particular does not have.
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