It might be a guy thing, but I have always enjoyed watching explosions and fireworks. Destruction can yield beautiful images especially when slowed down and examined frame by frame. The light burst, the fiery debris traveling away from the epicenter while the atmosphere progressively slows it to a halt as the flames run their course leaving a trail of smoke. The folks at wondertouch have made a name for themselves in particle based explosions, fire, sparkles, light, smoke and a combination of everything in-between with Particle Illusion.
Over the years, wondertouch has introduced libraries of emitters that have taken this stand alone program way beyond traditional particle effects. Their latest release of Pro Emitters Volume 7-9 is no exception. (Volumes 1-6 were released in Feb. 2006)
The artist behind these new emitters is Tom Granberg. I am amazed that this complex and beautiful imagery was created using a particle emitter system. Tom's design sense and motion artistry seen in these new libraries is a commendable achievement.
Included in this review are a few standout images from the new collection, but still images really don't do these libraries justice. They need to be seen in motion at http://www.wondertouch.com
“Graphic Elements 1” includes two folders: “Numbers” and “Gadget Gizmos”. Numbers includes 17 preset emitters that use numbers is a variety of ways. It's difficult to describe all of the life that these animations offer without actually seeing them for yourself but they offer a fresh take on the “matrix” look. I scanned through this bunch and one is more beautiful than the next. I especially liked the “barcode reader” emitters (shown below). These would be a great start for a logo or title treatment.
The “Gadget Gizmos” folder contains 13 cool emitters based on a spinning ellipse. “Ultra-Data Spin 2” was my favorite (shown below). This collection is more sci-fi looking and might enjoy an entirely different use than the “numbers” emitters. And that's the beauty of these libraries. You might not think of a use at first, but when the right project lands on your plate, you'll remember them and find a way to apply them to your project.
“Graphic Elements 2” includes three folders: “Energy”, “Readouts Displays” and “Textures & Backgrounds”. Energy contains 13 “energetic” emitters that are of the “Beam me up” variety. In fact one of them is called BeamMeUp. But Star Trek never looked this cool. The complexity and choreography of the different particles is stunning. “Warp Drive Startup (shown below)” and “Warp Drive Shutdown” are the highlights in this batch. There are some atomic particle emulations and energy beams that are mesmerizing.
The “Readouts and Displays” folder include some supercharged radar scopes, wave scopes as you've never seen them and frenetic readouts that could serve as another background for titling or as the cutaway to a sophisticated display in a feature film. In fact with some modification this collection is all you will ever need to get started creating the high-tech display screen of your choice.
“Textures & Backgrounds” contains six textural backgrounds. Two of them splatter on and stay. The others undulate slowly-as if not to call attention to themselves. These are highly useful backgrounds from which to build upon.
“Graphic Elements 3” also includes three folders: “Extreme”, “XRay and Scans” and “Letters and Text”.
The “Extreme” and “Xray and Scans” folders mimic the CSI/HOUSE look. They are frantic and unsettling. There are a few blood splats (shown below right) as well as medical x-rays of body parts that flash on and off. Check out the “Nightmare (shown below left)” emitter. It has x-ray bug parts combined with other disturbing images.
The “Letters and Text” folder contains some gorgeous and frenetic text treatments. I really enjoyed “Barking News” and “Playdate (shown below)”. Clean “vectorish” text over grungy splotches and neon lines. It's a delicious combo-platter for the eyes!
These are extremely complex animations. I had a blast dissecting the parts to see how Tom created them and why they behave the way they do. As an After Effects artist, I kept thinking about how many layers, key frames and time it would have taken to achieve the same look. At the core, these stunning particle emitters are a collection of images or image sequences that are layered and affected over time.
I have never been a fan of using preset effects the way they “fell off the truck” because it feels as if I'm stealing someone else's work, but with a little tweaking, you can customize every aspect of the animation as well as adding your own images to make them your own.
Tom's work is inspiring. Dive into the settings of his emitters and learn. It is obvious that he has spent a lot of time in creating these deep, complex images. If nothing else, this collection can replace a few stock background libraries you might have. They are that good.
There is nothing ordinary in these collections. Tom shakes up the conventional, twists it, and then dumps it back out on the palate to create some of the most original looking graphics I have ever seen. And priced at $90 for all three libraries, it's a bargain!
It's almost as fun as watching stuff blow up.
Rating: 5 Cows
Go to Bill's site to see more of his work: www.chicagospots.com