Lessons: 18Length: 2 hours

Next lesson playing in 5 seconds

  • Overview
  • Transcript

4.6 Adding Larger Falling Sparks

We're going to add another layer of animated sparks falling from the ceiling, to help draw the eye upwards, and to convince the viewer that something in the ceiling is burning away.

4.6 Adding Larger Falling Sparks

Hello, this is Chris Kenworthy, and welcome to the Visual Effects Compositing Course, where we're gonna add some more sparks here, both before the grid falls and afterwards. The idea here is that the sparks wouldn't just jet across like that, they would fall down. So we want to add something that doesn't look like rain, that looks like metal sparks falling and then as the grill itself falls, we want to emphasize that it's falling and has been blown away by having those sparks continue. So I'm gonna go to Layer > New, create a new solid, call that falling sparks. Turn off the visibility of merge to the layers. Then apply cc particle world to this falling sparks layer. And we can have these sparks begin to fall as soon as the initial sparks appear. So that's around the one second mark. We don't really want them to be there any sooner than that so we'll just drag the layer up here, and now we'll reposition this as we've done before. The difference this time is that I'm going to want this to be the same size as the trap door. And move it up in space a little. I'm going to increase its radius. I'm dragging the X radius across here. And the Z radius to make it wider. I could use the Y but I think I'd rather just have those sparks falling from one level. Now I'm gonna reposition that. Make it look as though it's in the place of the trap door. Drag through the clip and make sure that's staying in that position throughout the clip. And that's not bad. But rather than trying to find the perfect spot, I'm just going to animate this now, so I'm gonna drag my resolution down to a quarter, speed things up. Go back to the one second mark, and here I'm going to key frame the producer positions. Then, I'm gonna go to about half-way through. I'm gonna just shift that back into play so that it looks as though it's in the right spot. Then I go to the very end, and do the same, just key frame that into position and there it is. Now when we play through, that emitter is in the right place all the way through. Go to Particle, Particle Type, and as before, we're going to choose the Textured QuadPolygon. And make the texture, Spark 1. And the size of these particles can be a little larger than before so I'm just going to turn this up. The birth and depth size will have fairly similar. And in fact, looking at that, I realize that I shouldn't have dragged that edge up there, I should've dragged the whole clip up to that point, because we want those sparks to start there. So that's more like it. What I like about this is that the sparks fall, and because they're in 3D and the camera's seeing them in 3D, you really get that feel of looking up into that space as we approach it. However, now that we've applied the textured polygon, I can see that I do want to make some changes to the producer. So I'm going to change the Z radius even more, widen that out, and perhaps the Y as well. I'll just have a look how that looks. That really does feel like they're falling out of that space up there now. There's probably too many of them. It looks almost like it's snowing. So, let's change the birth rate to 1. Cause we really want these to be just fairly occasional. In fact, one way to make this look more realistic is to change the birth rate all the way through. So I'll key frame it now. Move forward half a second. Drag it down to zero. Move forward another half second. Drag it up a little higher. Maybe to two. Another half second. Drag it down to just above zero. Go to three and a half, and we'll take it around to about one. And, then we want it coming down to nothing around here. So, just before we get to the four second mark, we'll take that down to absolutely nothing, so that the sparks fall away completely by the end of the shot. So if we watch that through now, you can see this, a varying amount of particles as we go. I think there are too many actually towards the end here, because after the grill has fallen, we don't want to see too many. So I'm just gonna switch on the animation layer there, so we can see where the grill will be. And so I'm happy to have plenty of sparks here, but from this point on that's probably enough there. And we want to keep framing down to nothing. So I'm gonna drag this key frame here up to that marker. Delete the last one and then drag this key frame to here. Take the current position indicator to there. And set the birth rate to zero. Which means those less sparks will fall through as the grids disappeared. I'll just turn off the visibility there again then we can watch that through. Have a good rush of sparks as the grill falls and then the sparks stop. I think that works much more effectively. So we want to export them and blur them as before, but we're gonna make a slight change this time. So solo your sparks layer. And export. And I've reimported that as dripping sparks. Drag that to the timeline to apply the pixel motion blur. And I'll turn the shutter samples right up for this. Because if you look closely you can see they look a little jagged. So I'll change that to ten. Then we get a much smoother look to those pixels. And, then, I'll add a glow filter and I'll turn the glow threshold right down. And, the radius up. Now, I'll un-solo these, And I'll change the blending mode to Add. Now what's slightly different here from before is that I'm gonna leave the falling sparks layer in. If I switch it off, you can see that we get those sparks, but they lack a little sharpness and clarity. If I switch on the original layer beneath them, they look really good. Now you can select both of these. Hit T. Just drag the pastel down a little if you don't want to be quite so bright. And that's a decision you can make in final compositing. So there even at 50% I think they look pretty good. And of course, we've made them look quite distinct from the rain, and the rain is long, shiny drops, whereas our sparks look much more snow-like, but hopefully, with the right sound effects, they won't appear to be snow, they will look like sparks. So, you can see here, they're falling and drifting in a slightly different way to the rain. And if we look at the place where the grill is falling down, that looks good. They appear to be falling in and around it. You get that feeling of them going in front as well as behind. You could if you wanted render separate layers, and place one behind the grill and one in front. But really using the add blending mode for one and normal for the other does the trick. So with those sparks in place, it's time to head into the final details that will make this look like a complete scene.

Back to the top