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44 - Creating dust particles in After Effects


Questions & Comments

Claire Wade - 8 months ago

Hi - I've really enjoyed learning AE with you!
I would like to do something a bit like this, but instead of dust or rain, I'd like it to rain down a simple custom shape in various sizes and differing transparencies. Does that make sense?

Administrator Daniel Scott - 8 months ago

Hey Claire, yeah - that sounds cool. I don't have a specific video on this but I've found these 2 that seem to be what you're looking for. If you get it going, make sure you share you video with me. Dropbox/Youtube/Vimeo - Dan.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtOizNUJtNk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viVt97oSxu4

Claire Wade - 8 months ago

Thank you - I'll see what I can do!

Claire Wade - 8 months ago

Hi, I'm having trouble slowing it down - that shapes are falling super fast even when I have the velocity right down - any ideas as to what I'm doing wrong? Thanks!

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Video Transcription

Hi there, in this video we're going to look at adding dust particles. We did something earlier, we used it as background, remember this guy, he was in here, After Effects, he's called particles. So I used-- let's find the rest of the particles. 'Particle Background'. There's this thing with the dots, some bits and pieces, we're going to do something similar to that. Same technique, except, for big circles, we're going to use dust particles. We're going to take an aesthetic image, and try make it look a bit real. Let's double click here. Let's bring in an image.

 

So on my 'Desktop', 'After Effects Files', there's one called 'Old Room'. I'm going to make a 'Comp' from it. I'm going to zoom out a little bit, can you see, old crickety room. I'm going to go to 'Full'. Actually, let's go to 'Fit'. I might even make this a bit smaller, so we can see it a bit better. The first thing we need to do is, we need to go through and create what's called a 'Particle Emitter'. To do it, we need to add it to a layer. You can't add it to this layer, you need to add it to kind of a solid layer. 'Solid'. So 'Solid', we've used-- at the moment, I need for just the background. Big block, that goes as a background. We're going to use this for our 'Dust Particles'. It's going to be the same size as the background. We've got a weird size from this image. You might go through and make a 'Comp' to put this image inside of it to match the HDTV, we've got this random size here. It's going to have to be black. We just got a big black square, finish this job.

 

What we can do though, is we can add him, over here, in 'Effects & Presets', type in 'Particle', and you want the one that's called 'Particle World'. So I'm going to click, hold, and drag it, or you can make sure you get to the right layer down here. Hit 'Space bar'. It's pretty cool without even doing anything. Then, it's sparks flying out the window. So when you use this little kind of particle system to create 'Dust Particles', the first thing we need to do is go and play around over in here. Make sure you got your 'Dust Particles' layer selected. And over here is our 'CC Particle World'.

 

Now what we're going to do, the first one is to do with 'Producer'. Twirl him down, and under 'Radius' is, all coming out of the center, like it's all coming as one dot. What we want to do is come out of everywhere, so instead of '0.025', we're going to put in '3'. Now I'm going to tab down '3', so it's '3' for 'Radius X', 'Y', and 'Z'. 'Radius', not 'Position'. Now before we move on any further, hit 'Space bar' on the 'Time Line' down here. Just see what it does. Can you see, there's like this rain appearing around the outside. I'm going to go back to 'Half', so you can see it. You can see, it's kind of raining sparks at the moment. It's kind of cool. So if you wanted to make rain, you can totally do that.

 

The other thing weird about it, it's kind of starting-- can you see it's like-- there's nothing, and then it appears, so looks like it's kind of just starting, so what I want to do is, I want to start kind of-- I want it to just appear, so it's not kind of starting. What you do is, see this layer here? Considering it that way, you drag it past there. Can you see, at the beginning, it's already started, so that starts over here, and by the time it gets actually started with the Play Head, this black's already gone. What we might have to do is extend this end out, so that it covers the whole thing. So that's the kind of starting bit.

 

Now we're going to play around with bits and pieces to make it look like dust. Now this is where it's more art than it is technique. So, you can go through, and follow me, get a kind of a starting point. But it is going to be different depending on your image. How light or dark it is, and how physically sized. If you got a really teeny tiny image, the sparks going to be too big, and if you've got a really big, high res DSLR image, your sparks are going to be microscopic, you have to play around with different parts and sizes to make it all work. So, first thing is this, the 'Radius', we've just done that. Next is change of form, under 'Particles'. At the moment it's kind of like a line. I want to change it to-- you can play around with these, but in this case, 'Faded Sphere', not 'Shaded Sphere', 'Faded Sphere'. It kind of makes these snowflakes, and now it's snowing inside. It's still kind of sparky looking, a bit weird.

 

Next thing we're going to play around with is the colors. I don't want it to be yellow, I want it to be, maybe a light off yellow, and then a white. And where it says 'Birth Color' and 'Death Color', so when they start, they are this yellow color, and when they die, they are a white color. You can have it definitely look like it's snowy.

 

The next thing I'm going to play around with is maybe the size. We're going to play around with the size... where are you, particles, birth size? I can't find you there. We're just going to make ours smaller. Now this will depend on your image. Some images need to go really big to make them see if you've got a really big house image, and some of them are really small, like dust particles. I'm going to put mine to '0.1' for the 'Birth Size', and '0.1' for the 'Death Size' as well, so they're just smaller. It's kind of become harder to see, it's still falling, which is a bit weird. So let's go and play around with—

 

Let's have a look at a couple of things. So let's look at 'Longevity'. What I want to do is, 'Longevity' here, the last thing's for '1' unit, what I want to do is, let's make it to go for '3' seconds, just a bit around a lot longer. Before they die, they kind of just appear and disappear. They're going to to be around quite a bit. Next thing I want to play around with is 'Gravity'. At the moment, it's falling like it's rain. So what I want to do is, I'm going to twirl these in, and I'm going to go to 'Physics', and under 'Physics', there's one called 'Gravity'. And 'Gravity' is at '5', now, you can play around with, between '0'-- so it just-- can you kind of see on my one? I might have to zoom a little bit to see a few of these little guys. We get some good contrast. Can you see them there? Kind of a no man's land moving around.

 

Now, before you go off and think, "No, they can't keep coming towards me," at the moment we're using this thing called 'Explosive', so I'm going to change it from 'Explosive' to-- it's up to you, you can play around with different ones. I'm going to play around with-- I like 'Twirl'. and they kind of like wiggle around all sorts of different places, see them all twirling about? And I'm going to turn down a couple of things. So 'Gravity', I'm going to turn down to maybe a little bit of gravity, just so they're falling towards the floor, and not up. These ones are going perfectly, so ours is at, maybe at '0.005', just a tiny bit of gravity. Can you see, they're just slowly kind of drifting down rather than anywhere else. And in terms of 'Velocity' I'm going to turn that down as well, so not so active. So, maybe '0.1' There we go. Gravity's taking control of them now, so maybe '0.3', and then 'Gravity', I'm going to have to make it even less. So this is why I say you're going to spend ages working on this, and how fast they're going, and their velocity, so I'm going to bring that down to '1'. Adjust them all. There, I feel like it's there. Let's zoom up.

 

We've got these dust particles going on at the moment. I'll click out of this. And there's them, dust particles going. Let's hit 'Space Bar', watch him. Now it's really subtle, I've decided to go really subtle. You probably want to go maybe a bit more extreme just so that looks fun, but I'm trying to go for believability with my little snow flakes. So what we're going to do-- that's a particle emitter. It's a particle world, well you can play around with it to your heart's content. We can 'Save and Close' now.

 

What I'm going to do is just show you a little bit extra stuff. So we're going to add a 'Camera', and we're going to zoom in. So, what we're going to do is, go to 'Layer', 'New', 'Camera'. We did this one when we did our Parallax, but instead of having 2 layers, we're just going to do with 1, and zoom in slowly. What we'll do is add a 'Camera', '2-Node', click 'OK'. I'm going to make sure both of these are 3D. If it comes up with an error, just click 'OK'. And what we're going to do is we're going to start it here. Open up my 'Camera', and it looks kind of I can play around with the 'Zoom'. I'm going to grab 'Transform'. I'm going to make this a little bit smaller. We're going to go 'Camera Options', go to 'Zoom'. Keep the little stopwatch on. You can see there, on the beginning of my animation first, then I click this stopwatch, go to key frame, and then further in.

 

We're just going to zoom in a bit, zoom, click and drag to the right. How much are we going to zoom? I'm going to play around a bit. I'll hit 'space bar' now, I’m on 'Half'. Now I'm zooming in, and I'm zooming past my pixels. So they look they're kind of more in the room. It will catch up now when I play this for the second time. I'm happy with it. If you're watching this at lower res, low quality, you might have to go through and crank this video up to HD just so you can see the little pixels going on, but I'm pretty happy with my little fake room thing going on.

 

One last thing is, remember, we did in the last one, 'CC Light Rays'. 'CC Light Rays', there he is there. We're going to add it to the 'CC Light Rays'. What we should do is, we're going to add it to our 'Adjustment Layer' because we are good campers. And I'm going to go on and add the 'Light Rays' to it. There it is there. Now I've got a kind of a window with a really strong white.

 

Where is it going to go? Here they are. We'll actually get started here. I want to see our colors. 'Space bar'. I want to turn mine down to even lower, 'Third'. 'Third' quality. It will render fine, remember. Look at that. How believable is this, the dust particles. Funny thing is that nobody's going to notice your dust particles, or your light rays unless you go to extreme. Looks like it's-- I'll make this white look sort of ash falling from the sky, and the lights are sparkling everywhere, but I'm happy with that. I'm going to hit 'Save'. And that's it for looking at particles in After Effects.

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