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Using Fractal Noise to Create Fire

Using Fractal Noise to Create Fire



Creating Fire with Fractal Noise in AE 5.5
Matt Dallos Matt Dallos
New York, USA
©2002 Matt Dallos and CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.


Article Focus:
In this tutorial, Matt Dallos demonstrates using Fractal Noise in After Effects 5.5 to create fire. More specifically, he demonstrates the "Bonanza look" of a fire burning through a piece of paper. Yes, this effect could be generated in a 3d program or plugins, but why bother when you can do it with AE's own filter set. You can also use these same basic steps to create other plasma and liquid type effects.


Download Movie Project files Download Stuffit Expander for Windows


Final Result


Directions:


1. Create/scan/photograph your newspaper or use mine which you can download above with the project file.

2. Create a comp (6 seconds in length) that is the size of your newspaper image (mine is 900x1200) and name it "burn"

  • place your newspaper image within this composition

3. Create a composition called "displace" that is the same size as the previous composition.

  • Create a solid that is composition size and apply Effects -->Render --> Fractal Noise
  • Keep the original settings except change Contrast to 205
  • Under the Transform pulldown of fractal noise, uncheck "uniform scaling" and change the height scale to 200% (this adds some length to our flames, basically it makes more of a tendril shaped flame rather than a fire ball.)


Fractal Noise Settings Settings


4. Add an evolution key frame at 0 seconds with 0 rotations and then add a keyframe at 4 seconds and set it to 4 rotations.

  • Now you should animate the Fractal Noise to move upwards.
  • Under Transform in Fractal Noise, set a keyframe for "offset" at 0 seconds with a value of 450, 600 and then another keyframe at 4 seconds that is 450, 200.



  • Add this comp into the "burn" comp.
  • Drag this composition into the "burn" composition and turn off its visibility switch.

5. In the "burn" composition, create a solid named "fire" that is the same size as your "burn" composition (mine was 900 x 1200).

  • Apply Effect-->Render --> Ellipse to this solid
  • Set the inside color to an orangish color and the outside color to a slightly darker orange color
  • Set the softness to 0%
  • Select the width property in the effects rollout and create an expression (shift+alt+= on a PC)
  • Drag the pick whip from the height property to the width property. This allows the ellipse to expand as a circle in later steps.
  • Animate the thickness value from 10 at 0 seconds, to 779 at 4 seconds.
  • Animate the width property so it is 0 at 0 seconds and as large as you want it to be at 4 seconds. (in my example I set the width property to 741)

At this point, make sure that all layers are switched to best quality. When using the ellipse filter on a layer that is set to draft quality, the resulting shape will look like this:



  • Precompose this layer and name the composition "Fire."


6. Apply Effect-->Distort --> Displacement Map to "Fire" with values of 75 horizontal and 100 vertical.

  • Set the displacement map to your displace composition
  • In the project window, Duplicate your fire comp and name the new copy, "flames".



  • Set fire as the inverted alpha matte of your paper layer.


Drag Flames into your "burn" comp (just above the "fire" layer).

  • Hold ALT and double click on the flames composition. Change the thickness keyframe of flames at 4 seconds to 300 and change the second width keyframe to 1800.

Back in the "burn" composition

  • Apply Effect-->Distort --> Displacement Map to Flames with values of 75 horizontal and 100 vertical.
  • Set the displacement map to your "displace" composition.



Now you have a piece of paper that disappears as though fire is burning it, and there are very fake looking flames around the edges. Nothing too impressive yet, but we are getting close.



Now comes the part of making it look better.

8. Make sure that the displace layer in your burn comp is directly above the flames layer. Turn on the visibility of the layer by clicking the box under the eye ball and change the transfer mode to add.

  • The only problem now is that the displace layer changes the color of the entire image. To fix this, duplicate your flames layer and move it directly above the displace layer and rename it "flamesMap".
  • Now make the "flamesMap" layer an alpha matte for the displace layer.



You have made FIRE!!!! Congratulations!



9. To make your fire look better, try the next steps.

  • Add a 10 pixel fast blur to "flamesMap".
  • Add a 50 pixel fast blur to "Flames".
  • Depending on how soft you want the inner edges of the burnt paper to be, you may want to try adding a blur to the "fire" layer also.
  • Change "Flames" transfer Mode to Multiply.




If you want, nest your 900x1200 comp in a smaller comp and add movement as you prefer.

Try to play with different transfer modes, and colors for the ellipse filter in the "flames" composition.


Or you can use other shapes besides a circle (check out the VerticalBurn Composition in the included project files).





---Matt Dallos



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Comments

Re: Using Fractal Noise to Create Fire
by Charlie Harvin
I made it all the way to "Hold ALT and double click on the flames composition. Change the thickness keyframe of flames ..." in CS5 then got completely lost. I REALLY need to figure out how to do this, can anybody possibly give us some insight or a direct to something more current?
Re: Using Fractal Noise to Create Fire
by Sarah Leran
Just got this to work in AE CS5, although I ran into several errors in the tutorial; such as layer ordering, width/height being interchanged for the ellipse, and how to apply alpha inverse matting should be clarified. I really don't think a beginner could follow this. But it does work.
Using Fractal Noise to Create Fire
by lavael lavael
Nice effect, but It is the most unreadable tutorial I've ever seen!
I'm going thru this tutorial a 4th time and again I'm in lost.
Using Fractal Noise to Create Fire
by zero1981
I would like ask you some question , what is (expression (shift+alt+= on a PC) )???
Using Fractal Noise to Create Fire
by Andrea Murray
I cant get this tutorial to work, i've tried it about six times and each time my fire ends up grey and it appears all the way through the hole. Is this because i'm using AE CS2? If so, does anyone have any advice to make it work? please help!


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