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Morphing Smoke into Text

Morphing Smoke into Text


A CreativeCOW Combustion Tutorial


Morphing Smoke into Text
Adam Bryce Tracksler Adam Bryce Tracksler,
Kittery Point, Maine, USA



Article Focus:
When I was working on a title sequence for a short film, I needed some help creating a particular effect; smoke morphing into text. Not knowing where to turn, I wrote a post in the Combustion Forum. Lucky for me some people were more than happy to help out. Lee "Rod" Roderick, Discreet Training Specialist, helped me out. This tutorial was created from his original file. In this tutorial, we will use Combustion's Particle effects and text operators to create a cool effect suitable for your home or office.

 


Download Movie Project file Download Stuffit Expander for Windows

Begin by starting Combustion and creating a new workspace. Mine is a Composite that is 320x 240 with a 29.97 Frame Rate. It is 3 seconds long and is created in 2D space and is called SmokeyText.

I will begin by creating Text that says COW. Since the letters will be my template for the particle emitters. I create a new layer (either by right clicking the composite in the workspace, or going to Object>New Layer.


Name the new layer "Cow" with the following parameters: 340x260 29.97fps and a duration of 3 seconds to match my composite. It is a little bigger than the Composite because of the smoke effect that I want. I want the frame to completely fill with smoke.


Now that I have a layer for my text to live in, I will input the text in the text editor.

Click to view larger graphic.

I have chosen to use the following Type Settings; Impact as my Typeface, a font size of 177 and a color of white.

Your workspace should look something like this:


Now, we will add a particle operator to the Text Layer. It is important to note that the text layer must be the active layer. Adding a Particle operator to the composite won't work right.


Next. Make the particle operator the active operator and send it up to the workspace. Your workspace should now say "Particles" in the upper Left hand corner. Click on the particles tab (F8) to get to the Particle Controls. You will see the Default Particle Library. You can use one of the default particles, or use one of the smoke particles. I am going to use one of the smoke particles. We need to load a new particle library. This is done by clicking the "Load Library" Button in the Particle Control window. We navigate to the Combustion Directory and find the Particle Library Folder. In there is a file named "Smoke.elc". Choose this file and click "OK.

Now you should see the smoke library in the library window. We will choose the "Heavy Smoke Option. Next we will create the emitter object.


I have chosen the line emitter tool as my emitter. I want to have the smoke appear to come out of the letters when I create this comp, so that when I play it backwards, it will look like the smoke is coming together into the letters.


In the workspace I create my emitter. Since the line emitter is exactly that, a straight line, the curved shapes take some breaking down to create. Take your time to make these lines into "curves." You can see the line of the emitter in the illustration shown here. It is surrounded by a yellow box that you can use to control the scale, position and rotation of the emitter, but we will leave it as it is right now. Continue to make the "o" and the "w" in this way.


Now preview your animation. The emitters are very RAM hungry, so it may take a while. This animation (at medium quality) took a few minutes on my dual Xeon system. Be patient with particles you will be rewarded.


To soften up the smoke, add a Box Blur operator to the Text layer. Animate the blur so that there is no blur at frame 1 and a blur of 1 at 00:09 and then a blur of 4 at 2:02.


Finally, render out your movie as an AVI and make sure that import into workspace is checked. Note. My render took about 16 minutes. Particle effects are cool, not fast!

Once you have rendered the file out, navigate down to the Footage Library, you should now see your movie in there.


Right click on your Composite and choose "New layer from operator" You can also do this from the Object menu. Choose your Footage - smoke from the Footage Library.


Now. Back in your composite, turn off the visibility of the text layer and make the new layer the active operator.


In the Output section of the Footage controls, make sure that the "Reverse Footage " button is checked and play your movie back. You need to reverse the footage so that the smoke appears to morph into the letters.


You can re-render the movie to have a correct backwards sequence, or not. You can also play around with the particle controls to have some more control over how they behave over time. I hope that this has been informative for you. Good Luck!!

P.S. Have a nice day!

--Adam Tracksler.

Feel free to ask questions or discuss this technique in the Discreet Combustion* forum at CreativeCOW.


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