Trapcode Particular: Creating an Apparition Effect

Trapcode Particular is a particle system or particle generator that can be used to mimic natural and artificial particles in a three-dimensional modeling environment. These include the modeling of fireworks, clouds, smoke, waterfalls and particular diffused lighting. It can even create abstract elements like ‘streaklets’. The following article will deal with the creation of a smoky apparition effect using the Trapcode Particular system.

Step 1: Import Video Footage

You will start by clicking the project menu and selecting "open"  in order to navigate to a suitable video file. Select the fie and click "OK" to open it. Use two files for your composition: a picture to be used as a background and a movie file for the animated effects. You will now create a new composition by going to composition settings and giving it a new name, selecting the valid presets, then giving a duration for the composition.

Drag and drop the background picture file onto the composition area, and you will be able to see the picture set as a background. You may now go ahead and do color correction according to the mood of your animation. To do this, you will choose ‘Effect’ > "Color Correction" and "Curves". You will now go to the appropriate channel and set your colors.

Step 2: Character Development

Drag and drop the video file featuring the animated character onto a new composition time line. Make sure that the animated character file is transparent or has a consistent colored background. You may use additional effects like feathering and time line manipulation to make sure that the character animation fits with the time duration at which you want your particles to fall. Also make sure that the time line of this composition matches the one in Step-1. You can do this by trimming the actual time line on the composition.

Step 3: Build Process

Now, create a new composition and add the previous two compositions into this one file. You will now have to scale the character to a suitable size to fit the background scene perfectly and then proceed to turn the background layer as a guide. Also execute color correction on the character to suit the entire scene if needed. You can do this by following the steps outlined in Step-1.

Step 4: Particle Effects

Create a new composition and name it appropriately, something like ‘particles’ or ‘particle source’. Add a new solid layer to the composition by hitting Ctrl + Y. You will add an effect to this layer by going to "effects" > "noise" and "layer" and selecting "fractal noise". Change fractal type to ‘Smeary’ and the noise type to ‘spline’. You will now want the noise to evolve over time, so you will need to enable the evolution clock under effects control.

Add this layer to the original composition and make it 3D by hitting the ‘W’ key. Select and change the particle source positions in the time line, and proceed to add particles.