Home / Articles / Adobe After Effects / Climate: Air, Water, Smoke, Clouds in After Effects 7.0

Climate: Air, Water, Smoke, Clouds in After Effects 7.0

  • Date: Nov 12, 2008.

Article Description

If you think of a color key as an edge matte surrounded by two holdout mattes (one for the core, one for the background), how do you combine these mattes in Keylight? Mark Christiansen explains.

Like this article? We recommend

Adobe After Effects 7.0 Studio Techniques

Adobe After Effects 7.0 Studio Techniques

$59.99

Water

We've already examined the effect of water in its gaseous form (as fog, mist, or steam); what about water in its liquid and solid states? Although it's not possible to re-create The Perfect Storm or The Day After Tomorrow without elaborate 3D and practical effects, compositing plays a pivotal role in re-creating rain and snow and in enhancing practical and computer-generated scenes.

Realistically, though, it's rare to create elaborate water effects without relying on some even more elaborate practical or computer-generated source. For this discussion, I'll assume that you're trying to complete shots only in After Effects, but I'll focus on techniques that are equally valid even if your particle and water animations are created elsewhere.

Precipitation

One area where After Effects' built-in features fall short is particle generation. The Particle Playground effect, which ships with the program and hasn't changed much since around version 3.0, is slow, crude, and cumbersome. I have yet to work with anyone who had the patience to coax realistic effects out of this plug-in.

If you're called upon to create rainfall or snowfall from scratch, consider the Particular plug-in from http://www.trapcode.com/. Not only does it outdo Particle Playground in features and ease of use, but also, if set up correctly, it obviates the need for creating precipitation in a dedicated 3D program.

Creating the Element

Particular contains all the controls needed to create a great precipitation element, but it also contains a lot of controls, period. Here's a brief attempt to outline a few of the most significant controls, followed by an example of how to use a final element.

A standard particle shape can be used, or customized particles, such as an irregular snowflake shape. There are several choices of particle emitters, but one great option is to use a spotlight, making the light layer's Transform controls available to establish the position and direction of the particles in 3D space (see Figure 23).

Figure 23

Figure 23 The axes belong to a light used as an emitter for Particular. It can be translated freely in 3D space.

The most important settings are found in the Emitter and Physics categories. Emitter settings establish the amount, velocity, and direction of particles, whereas Physics contains controls pertaining to the environment itself: gravity, air resistance, wind, turbulence, and spin.

The Visibility category contains controls affecting the depth of particles. You may find that, as with smoke, several planes will offer a better result than one big simulation; for example, allowing you to control the foreground separate from everything else.

Particular resides on a 2D layer, but the effect is 3D-aware, so if you add a camera to the composition, the particles will behave as if seen through that camera.

Compositing the Element

When the time comes to integrate falling rain or snow with a background plate, you can do better than a simple A-over-B comp; in fact, the key is to show the effect of these elements on the scene, rather than showing the elements themselves.

Raindrops and snowflakes are translucent, their appearance heavily influenced by the environment. Moreover, these individual bits of precipitation behave like tiny lenses that diffract light, defocusing and lowering the contrast of whatever is behind them, but also picking up the ambient light themselves. Therefore, on The Day After Tomorrow our crew found success with using the rain or snow element as a track matte for an adjustment layer containing a Fast Blur and a Levels effect.

In the image in Figure 24, blurriness is set very high (200), so that the area behind each individual raindrop or snowflake becomes a wash of color. Levels is applied with a slightly lowered (90%) Output White value, and a very high (80%) Output Black value. The precipitation is visible by its effect on the scene, lightening dark areas, darkening light ones, and adding diffusion throughout.

The best thing about this approach is that it works independently of the background appearance. There's no need to decide the color of the element for a given shot, and shots retain source colors, the precipitation having a similar influence on each shot in a sequence.

Figure 24

Figure 24 You must look closely to see the added snowfall in a still image with so many bright regions. (Source image courtesy of Eric E. Yang via Creative Commons.)

Adobe Press Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from Adobe Press and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview

Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about Adobe Press products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites; develop new products and services; conduct educational research; and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email ask@peachpit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security

Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children

This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing

Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out

Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by Adobe Press. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.adobepress.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020