This tutorial consists of making smoke trails from still images and using particle effects methods. The background plate is a landscape photograph from a holiday a few years ago for example. Making this a 3D layer and sending it far back on the Z axis gives us the distance to use a camera and create a 3D space in between for the smoke trails to animate through. Using a simple camera track and zoom, the image now has some movement.
To create the smoke trails, a Light is created and animated to move along the track of the smoke trail. Alt Clicking the stopwatch allows a formula to be entered to affect the movement; [wiggle(0.5,150)]. This takes away the smoothness of the movement making it look more realistic. The Light Layer is renamed to ‘Emitter’. This allows the attachment of the ‘Particle World’ effect.
Using ‘Trapcode Particular’ on an adjustment layer, we can sync it to the movement of the light by selecting the ‘emitter type’ to Lights in the effect settings. Also changing the values of the three velocity and three emitter size all down to zero so that the particles track the light like a trail as shown in the image below.
The an image of a cloud is edited in Adobe Photoshop so that the sky is keyed out and so the cloud has transparency in order to fit in the composition correctly.
Under the ‘Particle’ tab in the effect panel, by changing the sphere to a sprite, we can now sync the image of this cloud to the individual particles tracking the Light. As we are using a Camera, the sprite option is best as the images face the camera in a 3D field, as not to distort the animation. Also adjust the life value up to 15 will increase the size and look effective.
Under the texture tab, it is possible to change the image of the particles in the layer options box. Here we can see the change of particles to the image of the cloud tracking the movement.
Under the emitter tab in ‘Particle World’ effects panel, the ‘velocity from motion’ is changed to slow the movement down as the smoke trail hits the air to get a realistic effect which can also be achieved under the ‘Physics tab’ under Air/Air Resistance causing the particles to slow down and stop. ‘Random Rotation’ to 20 creates a puffy moving look as if the smoke had just come out of a missile, and random size increased. The ‘Rotate z’ axis tool is used so the images of clouds appear with the sun hitting them from above although there is no Light effect for the sun. The ‘Turblant Field’ is changed to these attributes: /Affect Position (170) /Scale (5) /Speed (20). This along with changing the ‘Size over life’ to make the particles start of small and get bigger overtime to simulate smoke spreading over time.
Duplicating the Light layer a few times recreates the whole trail as well due to the settings that have been set. By changing the position keyframes of each one to selected random places, we get the effect of 4 missiles moving in different directions at different times. By adding an adjustment layer in front of every other layer with the ‘Curves’ Effect tool, it changes the contrast of everything in the composition.
Creating another adjustment layer with the ‘Optical Flares’ effect selected and the ‘Source type’ option changed to ‘Track Lights’, glowing orbs will now track the original movements of the Light layers giving this effect:
From the original video co-pilot tutorial, this research video has used original source materials. for example; snowy mountain picture from Bulgaria. The colours and movements are unique and the lens flare at the end is keyframed to blind the whole screen when the missiles hit.