Late last year the premiere provider of specialized digital visual effects software, GenArts, acquired Wondertouch and its well known sprite-based particle emitter, ParticleIllusion. The good news is that nothing has really changed for the end user, as they can still get the great support and information at wondertouch.com and will continue to receive the latest updates as usual.
This move by GenArts is what sparked my interest in what particleIllusion was all about. It was rumored that GenArts needed a particle emitter system to round out their own effects software, which led to this purchase. Whether that was true or not, it certainly drew my interest because GenArts is always associated with big effects houses like ILM and New Deal Studios. If it's good enough for them, why wouldn't we be interested?
Complex and powerful particle emitters with full parameter adjustability.
Ease of Use
I wouldn't say that pParticleIllusion is something you can just jump into and start working without any previous experience with particle emitters. But luckily there are a ton of great intro videos on the Wondertouch website as well as youtube. If you've worked with particle emitters before then you will be in love with pParticleIllusion's interface. It has a great preview window that allows you to see the particle types and final emitter results so that you can select the proper emitter the first time.
Video examples of particleIllusion AE..
Depth of Options
Wow. particleIllusion has a bevy of different types of particle emitters that absolutely run the gamut. You can create everything from realistic smoke, fire, or any combination of sci-fi lasers, explosions, you name it. The options category is certainly where pI excels, with the ability to use so many different emitters, and then customize them by controlling even lower level parameters like particle color gradients, particle images, image reference point locations and initial particle angles. You are only limited by your imagination with this emitter system.
particleIllusion is among the best particle emitter systems I have ever seen, if not THE best. I have seen good, great, and terrible effects created using particle Illusion but that's up to the user. The tools are certainly available to create photorealistic effects that could rival any feature film using particle Illusion, you just need to take the time to tweak your shots. (In fact, editor Jeremy Hanke is pretty certain that, although uncredited, particleIllusion was used to augment a number of explosions in the most recent Rambo film.) There are many options that if set incorrectly will ruin the realism in your shots, but that's true of any particle emitter.
The preview interface is fantastic, look at all of these possibilities!
If you only have the budget for one particle emitter, get this one. Iit's worth every penny. Over the past few months I have come to lean on particleIllusion in nearly every project I've worked on. People often ask me if certain high profile shots they have in mind are possible to create on my computer, and up until last year my answer was usually no because the tools I had were insufficient for the job. With After Effects and great plug-ins like particleIllusion, I am confident I can achieve most any shot.
Final Comments If you are creating special effects, you need some good particle emitters. The particle emitters that come with After Effects are fairly limited in what they offer, so it's important to get at least one good one to add to your system. Currently particleIllusion is only available for CS4, but they will be offering a free update for CS5 early next year, so don't worry about having to pay extra for the upgrade.
A.J. Wedding is a graduate of Western Michigan University and has won festival awards for his first feature film, "Pop Fiction". As a writer/director, he has won several awards for his short films, and recently garnered worldwide distribution for a feature film titled “The Disappearance of Jenna Matheson” releasing this year. His hit web series, “Infamous” created an instant fanbase, and spawned interest from networks to create a tv series based on it. A.J. currently works with The Production Green, directing and editing commercials as well as developing his next feature film, "Junior Crew."