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4.4 Creating the Main Sparks Layer

Hello, this is Christopher Kenworthy, and welcome again to the Visual Effects Compositing Course. We're coming a long way with this now, but we're getting to the point where we need to add the sparks, to show that an explosion is happening up here, causing this grill to fall down. The shot is very short, it's only four and a half seconds long from beginning to end. So after a second we need something to start happening to around there that the sparks should kick in, because one second later the grill is falling down. And then the shot's on the way to the end. Any sooner than a second, and we haven't really given people a chance to look up and see what's there. Any later, and we're getting too close to the point where the grill falls. Soon, we're going to need the Spark1.tiff, so drag that from here into the timeline and switch off its visibility. So let's start creating some sparks and to turn off most of the layer's visibility, of course, so that I can see what I'm doing. We're going to create sparks that look a little like they're coming from an angle grinder. Just create a new solid here, Sparks1. The idea is that they're going to fizz and jet out, rather than just dripping or exploding. So, we'll apply cc particle world, re-color the layer, and drag it up to this one second mark so that the sparks are starting at that point. Select the effect up here, then go to the producer. As before, we're going to use these position controls to set this up on one of the edges here. I think we'll go with the forward edge first, on the corner. And we'll just check that that stays at the corner until about the two second mark. It's not quite right, so I'm going to adjust the Y position. See if that works better. And that's much more accurate now. Just reposition ever so slightly. And that should be right. Now the sparks that come out of here by default are no use to us at all. They look terrible. We'll just zoom in, so that we can see what we're doing. And then we'll change the looks of these sparks. Under particle, change particle type to textured quad polygon. And then you need to go to the texture here, un-fill that and under texture layer, choose the Sparks1.tiff down here. And then you can see that that spark is jetting out from there. Still not the way we want it. We'll close up particle, go to physics, and under there we change animation from explosive to FractalUni. We still need more velocity here, these particles are just drifting out. So under velocity turn that right up to, let's turn that up to three for now, and we'll turn the birthrate up as well up here so that we've got a lot of particles. So they're jetting out quite fast now, which is better. But we need them to burn out quickly. So I'm gonna take the Longevity here and pull that right down, so that they're disappearing almost as soon as they appear. And this is gonna give us that angle grinder look of sparks, just fizzing in and out of existence. You can see that there. Now I want it to look as though there are sparks at each corner of this and behind the grill as well. So now that I can see these, I'm just going to adjust the position even more to get it exactly where I want it. That looks about right. Now I want to change the direction. So under Direction Axis, which is in the Physics section, going to move the X axis like that, the Y axis as well, and the Z axis I could use to make the particles point towards me or away from me. I'll have them just going across like that. And now I'm gonna push the velocity up a little more and the birthrate a little more, and see what we get there. And that's a really good feeling of these particles blasting away from that point. Around the two second mark is where the new layer begins, where we see the grill fall away. So I'm just gonna split the clip here and delete the second half, like that. So now we just have those sparks for that one section. I can animate some of the properties through the clip as well, rather than just leaving it the same. So let's select that clip, I'll go to birthrate, key frame that, key frame the Velocity. I think that will do for now, and then we'll move to the halfway point, push the birthrate up a little, push the velocity up, then I'll move to about three-quarters of the way through the clip. And then I'll pull that birthrate down, and pull the velocity down, and that's just gonna create a little bit of a feeling of change going on in there, rather than it looking too CG, it should feel like there's some variation. They still don't look like sparks, of course, but don't worry. We'll render them out and blur them, and then they should begin to look a little more interesting. Now duplicate this layer. We'll name this one Sparks2, and all we do is select that, go up to the filter here, Select Producer, and then we reposition this one at a different corner. That's fairly easy. But of course, it's gonna be looking exactly the same as the other, unless we change some direction and so on. I might even change the X radius here, just widen these particles a little. Then under Physics, you're going to choose the Direction Axis and change this so that they're coming across the image more like that. And that looks quite good. And I'm probably going to want to move these key frames as well, so I just hit E and look under the effect down here. Find those birthrate key frames. I'm just going to swap some of these around. Then under the physics I'll move the velocity key frames around. That just ensures that both clips look different. We have different looking sparks at those two points. We'll duplicate this again. That gives us Sparks3, it's named automatically now after effects has got the idea. And this one we'll reposition in exactly the same way. Push this down into the back corner over here. And then use the Direction Axis to turn this in a more interesting way. It might be an idea to have them cross each other, like this. And, of course, I should go in and move those key frames again. Or, what I could do instead of just moving the key frames is Delete them and put in completely new values so that we have something very different here. So I'll push the birthrate right up there, key frame it, move to the end of the clip, and drag that down a little there. Duplicate this again, now move this off into the far corner over here. We could, at this point, choose to have these point down and away from the rest, but I think having them focused up here with the grill gives this feeling of work going on there. As though whatever bomb or device is being attached to the grill Is working on the metal and is causing the sparks because it's melting the grill away. So I'm going to stick with that, just have a look how that looks. It's pretty good. Then I'm going to create one more layer to go in the far background. So I'll just duplicate this one more time, Sparks5, Select the producer position and move this somewhere towards the middle, like that. Make the other layers invisible while I do this. Then, under it's physics, I go to the direction axis. Now, bring this across like that, and I think I'll widen the radius up here. The Y radius and the X radius, right across like that. Maybe even a z, that gives us some very deep sparks in the background. Now, we need to render these out. But, if we render them all together, it'll become a bit of a mess. So, I'm just going to render one to four ,first, so I select those, solo them, and then render. Then I reimport that, called Sparks Output, and just drag this into the timeline to have a look at it. I'm going to de-solo everything here. We can change its blending mode to Add. Now we're going to add the Pixel motion blur, which really brings this to life. And then we'll add a glow. And then I'd like to turn the glow threshold Down, the radius up, and the intensity up a little. Now, those sparks look much better. We'll do the same for Sparks5, I'll solo it and render, bring that back in as a sparks lower, and then I'll de-solo Sparks5 here, drag sparks lower into the composition, make sure it goes behind the cinema 4D layers here. Now we'll switch everything back on so we can see how this looks when it's all together. And of course, we need to change the blending mode to add. And once again, with sparks lower, we can apply pixel motion-blur and a glow. And similar sort of settings to before, we're trying to make this really glow in the background. If you find when you play through this that the sparks don't look as smooth as you want them to, you can turn up the pixel blur settings, and I find that's often a really good thing to do. So, I'm gonna do that, now. Just go here to the shutter samples and change that to 10. It does make rendering slower. But it makes for a much more smooth motion blur. And of course, just make sure you've turned off the original sparks layers here. So now we have the sparks appear and then they disappear just as the grill begins to fall down. So that works well for the angle grinder type sparks that are appearing where the grill is being melted. But we also need some sparks to fall away, and we need a flash of light over this, to hide the transition between the two effects there. So, we'll look at that in the next lesson.

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