On Fire
Using layers as particle emitters in PI3

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particleIllusion 3.0 is a great particle system for generating effects such as fire, laser blasts, smoke and more. With the emitters in PI3 you can create source shapes that are points, lines, circles, and squares. But what if you want to have the emitter be a custom shape? What do you do if you want to create set something on fire and have the fire emit from the shape?

The key to emitting particles from a specific shape is an Alpha Channel. particleIllusion 3.0 reads the Alpha Channel and then uses that as the source for the emitter points. In this exercise, well set an object on fire using the Alpha Channel as our source. [an error occurred while processing this directive]Begin by capturing a still image or video sequence with your camera of choice. For this exercise Ill be using a still image of a maquette I have sitting in my office. While I will only be working with a single image, this same process works for video files as well.

Take the still image (or video) into an application like Adobe Photoshop and create an Alpha Channel for your subject. You can not simply create a mask around the subject and delete the background, you need to make sure an Alpha Channel is created first before you delete.

If you have a video file and are working in Adobe After Effects or Commotion for example, you will need to mask your subject from the background. This may be as simple as keying the background, or a more complex task like rotoscoping the subject.

Once you have masked the still image or rotoed your video footage you need to save the resulting file as a Targa file (or sequence) with an Alpha Channel.

When you have completed this task, you are ready to open particleIllusion and for the final step.

Source: Digital Media Online, Inc.

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