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Creating Fire Using CC Particle World

CreativeCOW presents Creating Fire Using CC Particle World -- Adobe After Effects Tutorial


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In this video tutorial with Steve Lidrbauch, you will learn how to build fire using just the built-in tools inside of After Effects, using CC Particle World, Turbulent Displace, Colorama, luma & alpha channels, and more. Also included in the instructions: A very simple expression which will give your fire a more organic movement; how to add extra realism by using simulated light flicker; and an expression that links particle world to a null object, giving you more control over your fire.



Play Video Tutorial


Comments

Re: Creating Fire Using CC Particle World
by Walter Nowosad
For this recipe on how to make fire in AfterEffectCC, I’m going to assume:
You already know how to create a 3D solid and position it in 3D space so that it looks like a floor.
You already know how to create a camera.
You are familiar with using the camera tools.
You know how to create animation key frames for the camera.
You know how to create and adjust the color and position of a spot light.

I’ve added a few of my own notes, which may help explain the expressions used in this project. There is a pitfall that the instructor overlooked – specifically, the default name of the Null Object.

HOW TO MAKE FIRE IN AFTER EFFECTS

Create a new Comp named CC FIRE
Select your preferred frame rate and duration in seconds
The instructor chose 1280 x 720, 24 frames per second, and duration of 5 seconds

MAKE FIRE
Within the CC FIRE composition, create a NEW SOLID and name it FIRE

ADD CC PARTICLE WORLD TO FIRE
Effect | Simulation | CC particle world | GRID AND GUIDES SECTION
Disable everything in that section by removing the check marks - you don't need them.

CC PARTICLE WORLD | PRODUCER SECTION
Velocity = 0
Gravity = .200
Animation = fire
Birth rate = 5

CC PARTICLE WORLD | PHYSICS SECTION
Position Y = 0.12
Particle type = lens bubble
Toggle Transparency Grid by clicking the small checkered button under the viewer You can toggle this off after the flame becomes visible, later.

ADD MORE EFFECTS TO THE FIRE LAYER
1) Effect | Blur and Sharpen | Fast Blur
Blur dimensions = vertical
blurriness = 25 (later changed to 18 in the tutorial)

2) Effect | Distort | Turbulent Displace
size = 10
a) alt+click on the EVOLUTION Stopwatch
b) in the expression bar, type:
time*250
NOTE: Allows the continuous evolution of the fire animation throughout the composition

3) Effect | Color Correction | Colorama
a) Twirl open INPUT PHASE and affect the following change:
Get Phase from = Alpha
b) Twirl open MODIFY and affect the following change:
Modify Alpha = disable
c) Twirl open OUTPUT CYCLE* and affect the following change:
User Preset Palette = fire

*NOTE: For the triangle icons positioned around the wheel of OUTPUT CYCLE, by dragging them around, the color dynamics of the various grades of color may be adjusted. Selecting and dragging the triangle away from the wheel will remove these triangular-shaped selectors (or stops - not sure what to call them). This is how to affect changes to fire's grades of color. 12 of these triangle-shaped 'stops' are positioned around the wheel.

This is too complex to document exactly what was done; so, you'll have to play with these settings on your own...drag the triangles around and remove some to get the effect you want to see in your flame. Ultimately, in the tutorial, four of the stops were removed and the remaining stops were dragged around the wheel to acquire the desired effect. This color wheel is like an adjustable color-gradient that provides up to 12 points of customization. Have fun!

TO ADD CONTRAST AND HARSHNESS TO THE FIRE
1) Effect | Blur & Sharpen | Sharpen
Sharpen Amount = 10 (This value is later changed to 18, during fine-tuning)

2) Effect | Stylize | Glow
Glow Threshold = 82.4
Glow Radius = 103

CREATE A FLOOR OR GROUND
Import a texture (JPG) of your choice
Make it a 3D layer
Rotate the X, Y, Z axis; increase its scale; and position it - as seen in the video...if you've done this before, you're making a floor in 2.5D space for the fire to sit on.
Add the TINT effect
Add the CURVES effect and make adjustments:
- For RGB, add an s-curve for contrast
- For RED, add a bit of red
- For GREEN, add a bit of green

CREATE A 35mm CAMERA
Use the orbit and other tools to position the view of the flame on the floor to be at about a 45 degree angle, looking down at the flame. Later, you can set animation key frames for camera movement around the flame.

CREATE FIRE LIGHT TO SHINE ONTO THE GROUND OR FLOOR
New | Light | Spot
Color = #EBA161 (choose an orange shade)
Position the spot's point of interest and cone size to shine on the FLOOR or GROUND, so that it encircles the flame to your liking.

ADD A FLICKERING EFFECT TO THE FLAME LIGHT DANCING ON THE FLOOR
Twirl open Light Options
Alt+click on the stopwatch icon
In the expression text box, type:
wiggle(10,20)
NOTE: This expression means that ten times per second, the intensity will wiggle at a rate of 20

To affix the fire to a location on the 3D floor layer, such that the fire can recognize there is a floor present and won't float about during camera animation, perform the following steps: (More information about this may be found at videocopilot.net):

1) Create a Null object and make it 3D.
Make a mental note of the name of the Null object. The reason will be made clear later.
Twirl open POSITION (or select the null object and press the letter 'p' on your keyboard)

2) Select the FIRE layer of your composition and affect the following change:
Producer | position X | ALT+CLICK the stop watch Position X
At the expression bar text field of the FIRE layer's Position X, perform the following steps:
a) type x=
b) Use the pickwhip tool to link (click, drag and drop) the FIRE layer's Position X to the
NULL OBJECT'S X Position.**
This results in the following code appearing in the expression bar of the Fire layer's
Position X text field:
x-thisComp.layer("Null 2").transform.position(0)
c) Append the above expression so that it looks like the following two lines.
You will strike the enter key to carry down to the next line after the semicolon:
x-thisComp.layer("Null 2").transform.position(0)-thisComp.width/2;
x/thisComp.width
d) Select these two lines and copy them to the clipboard by pressing CTRL+C on your keyboard.

** Notes: The Null layer should already be set to 3D. As such, you will see three sets of numbers next to it's Position, which represent X, Y, and Z axis coordinates for the Null object, in that order; so, for each axis, you'll later be dragging the pickwhip from each X, Y, and Z axis of the fire layer to the matching X, Y and Z axis of the Null Objects. For the purpose of expressions, X is assigned to '0'; Y is assigned to the '1' and Z is assigned to '2'.

3) Scroll down to the Position Y of the FIRE layer
ALT+CLICK the stop watch of the FIRE layer's Position Y
At the expression bar text field, paste (CTRL+V) the expression copied from step 2c, above
a) Replace the '0' with a '1'
b) Replace the -thisComp.width/2 with -thisComp.height/2
The edited expression for the Y position should look like this***:
x-thisComp.layer("Null 2").transform.position(1)-thisComp.height/2;
x/thisComp.width

4) Scroll down to the Position Z of the FIRE layer
ALT+CLICK the stop watch of the FIRE layer's Position Z
At the expression bar text field, paste (CTRL+V) the expression copied from step 2c, above
a) Delete -thisComp.width/2
b) Replace the '0' with a '2'
The edited expression for the Z position should look like this***:
x-thisComp.layer("Null 2").transform.position(2);
x/thisComp.width

*** NOTE: In the expression above, you'll see ("Null 2"). This is the default layer name assigned by AfterEffects (AE) to the Null object created by the instructor in this tutorial. It was likely the second Null object created in that AE project; so, the value of the null object appearing in your expression may not be “Null 2”. Yours may default to"Null 1"; or, if you renamed the Null object to something like "anchor", for example, you would see ("anchor") appear in your expression; so, be wary about blindly copying and pasting the expression without checking it against the name of the Null Object appearing in your project.

5) POSITION THE FIRE ONTO THE FLOOR - (attempting to drag the fire layer to the floor layer will not work)
Select the value of the GROUND or FLOOR layer's Y position by clicking on it once and use the keyboard shortcut
CTRL+C to copy.
Select the value of the NULL Object’s Y position by clicking on it once and use the keyboard shortcut CTRL+V to
paste.
(Remember, the Y position for 3D layers is the middle of the three values.)

6) ADD TRANSPARENCY TO YOUR FIRE WITHOUT WASHING-OUT THE COLORS
Create a new solid and name it 'RAMP'
Position the RAMP layer just above the FIRE layer
Add a RAMP effect to the RAMP layer: Effect | Generate | Ramp
With the FIRE layer selected:
Open the TRACK MATTE combo box and select LUMA MATTE

7) FINE TUNE THE FIRE
- Give it a wider base that narrows at the top
- Increase the height of the fire

a) Select the Fire Layer
i) Twirl open CC Particle World | PARTICLES:
- Birth size = increase this value to your liking
- Death size = decrease this value to your liking
ii) Twirl open CC Particle World | PHYSICS:
- Gravity = increase or decrease to adjust height of the flame

- Give the flame more sporadic movement

a) Twirl open CC Particle World | PHYSICS:
- ALT+CLICK the stopwatch of RESISTANCE:
- Add the following wiggle expression:
wiggle(3,5)

NOTE: Adjust the first of the two arguments of the wiggle expression within the parentheses to see how it affects the flames. You'll see that the flames pull down intermittently, as if affected by another force, such as a down-draft.

- Other fine-tuning adjustments
Twirl open the FAST BLUR effect:
Bluriness = reduced to 18 in this tutorial

- To slow down the fire's animation
RIGHT CLICK the FIRE layer | Time | Time-stretch...
Stretch Factor = 250
NOTE: Adjust the Stretch Factor value to suit your needs.

For anyone wondering why tutorial aren't documented in text, the body of text above should provide a good reason.
:-)
Re: Creating Fire Using CC Particle World
by Davilyn Eversz
Is there any place these tutorials are in text, instead of a video. First, I am just learning and there is no way I am going to remember all of this and it goes too fast to take notes. Secondly, I don't see that well, and everything is so tiny - if someone is unfamiliar with the layout of AE/PW, it makes it very complicated. Very good video though.
Re: Creating Fire Using CC Particle World
by Eric Holzapfel
You created a great effect here. I tried to follow along, but my fire is more or
less vertical, shaped like column. You graphics seem to have a broader base (at the bottom of the fire ball, which makes sense to me, and slightly pointed or narrowed at the
top of the fire flame, similar to a candle flame. I would like my fire to look more like yours, broader at the base, and more or a candle flame shape, but wider, etc.

Thanks to you and Creative Cow.

Eric W. Holzapfel
Charybdis and Scylla Productions

Final Cut Pro, Adobe After Effects, Photoshop
Re: Creating Fire Using CC Particle World
by Bob Marr
Steve, thanks for the tutorial.
The script commands are something I have only started and seem like a powerful tool. But in this case, I was curious if it was easier to just match the anchor points of the fire and ground layers. I used a dual view with one overhead view, and the other a standard monitor/active camera view. With the overhead view it was easy to center each layer.
@Bob Marr
by Steve Lidrbauch
Hi Bob,

Thanks for sharing! I think that's probably a much easier, and quicker option. Seeing as the objective is to keep the fire pinned to the floor and avoid any kind of un-natural parallax, I think you're method probably works best. The expression usually works best as a solution for solving animation problems with CC Particle world, but since the camera is the only part being animated, there's less of a need for the expression.
Thanks again!

-Steve

Steve Lidrbauch


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