Christopher Kenworthy explains how to perfect this metal sparks dripping effect
A cool movie effect that we often see is dripping sparks. With spaceship crashes, or after some natural disaster, sparks fly. More often than not, third-party plugins are used to achieve this effect by the creation of complex particles. However, although plugins work well for this, very often it is their presets that make them look more realistic. You can apply these principles to the basic After Effects CS6 plug-ins to create a powerful effect.
To generate such sparks you will need to adjust the settings of Particle Systems II, enabling the particles to flow fast and freely, but still having some resistance from the air. If you reduce the colour, round their shape and make them small, you will get the right look. When you use the Add Composite Mode you create extra hints of sparkle and glow. If you then animate showers of sparks, by increasing the velocity and birth rate for a small fraction of a second, this creates a totally realistic look. Add to this a motion blur, and the effect is ready to be built into your scene. Remember that dripping sparks give the best effect when they’re barely noticed, so don’t be too heavy handed.
You can see the finished effect at the end of this tutorial video.
Steps to Creating the CS6 After Effects
Dripping Sparks Effect – Tutorial by Christopher Kenworthy
Create your new composition, then: Layer>New>Black Solid. Apply CC Particle Systems II to the black solid. This filter looks too basic to use by default, but it can be tweaked to great effect.
“Adjust the filter’s birth rate to 2. In the Producer settings, click on the Position crosshair and then click high up in the image. You may animate this position later, but to check the effect as it develops, position it near the top of the screen.”
Under Physics, change the Animation drop-down from Explosive to Direction. Set velocity to 0.2, gravity to 1.5 and resistance to 10. If you want custom sparks, these are the settings you can play around with.
Under Particle, change the Particle Type drop-down to Shaded Sphere, the birth size should be at to 0.05, with death size as 0.10. If you prefer your particles to fizzle out, then do the reverse. Change the Opacity map drop-down to Constant.
Adjust maximum opacity to 75 – 100%. Click the Birth Color box and set to white. Click on Death Color box and set to a yellowish off-white. Change the Transfer Mode drop-down to Composite.
If you want to learn some other After effects stuff go HERE.
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