Sands of Time: A Boris Graffiti Tutorial
Advanced particle effects energize titles

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2D Particles Advanced
You can apply the 2D Particles Advanced filter in a couple of ways. One is to go to the Filters menu and select it, but Graffiti is also right-button sensitive on both Mac (for those of you Mac users who have more than one mouse button) and PC, so you can apply it that way as well.

Back up in the Controls Window, we're going to deal with the second choice first, a little pop-up menu that lets you decide whether to let Graffiti animate your particles for you, or to do it yourself. These are advanced particles, doggone it, so we're going to take control of these bad boys ourselves. Set the pop-up to Manual.

To tell you the truth, I'm not all that fond of any of the preset animations. They're okay, but I tend to have specific things in mind when I play with particles, and it's much, much easier to tweak when you don't have presets getting in your way.

At their most basic, you can use particles to blow stuff up, which is, of course, one of the best things about being in the effects business. It's also one of the best things about BorisFX. Generally speaking, it requires keyframing the scatter of your particles from zero to 3000, which gets them all completely offscreen. You only have to set one keyframe to do that, actually, the last one. Select the last keyframe, which turns it red, and either type the number 3000 in the box on that parameter, or move the slider all the way to the right. Set the interpolation for this keyframe to linear, which means that the effect will progress from 0 to 3000 in a linear fashion.

The next couple of settings are fine: the Explosion Type as Constant, and a multiplier (Particles X) of 1000. That means the number of particles that you set in the Grid Spacing is multiplied by 1000. We could also choose to multiply by one, 10, or 100, and the maximum number of particles is 100. To create my Sands effect, I opted for the maximum number of particles, 100,000.

Regular users of Boris products will notice a new interpolation symbol in the box next to grid spacing, and it does indeed represent a new kind of interpolation, called Constant. Unlike every other kind of interpolation in the BorisFX ecosystem, this one applies no keyframes. In fact, this is generally the way that Adobe After Effects approaches keyframing effects, which is to treat the application of an effect and the setting of keyframes to change it as two different things.

Which, of course, they are. You'll often want to set a value that stays the same for the duration of an effect, such as a key. You usually don't need the value of a chroma key to change over time, although you certainly can if the need arises. Instead, you select the shade of blue, green or red that you need for your key, and specifically DON'T want it to change. Constant is the interpolation for you in this case.

Constant is also the ideal default interpolation for hard-core users of After Effects to use when they're in Boris, in order to have the two programs behave a little more similarly when it comes to setting keyframes. You can set the default interpolation in the Preferences. The default is Ease In/Out, which is now my second favorite. My new favorite is Constant.

The next couple of settings don't need too much description for now. Just set them as I describe. Under the Velocity tab, reduce it to around 120. You can see from the screen grab here that I just slid mine over to that general vicinity, and that's fine. This isn't a situation that calls for much precision. The next tab is Gravity, which you want to increase to around 500 or so. Leave the direction straight down. You'll see why in just a second.

Skip ahead to the Options tab, and slide the Density to about 200, and reduce the particle size to 50. We're making grains of sand here, so small is good. As the size gets much smaller than 50, I found they were looking more like dust or smoke than sand. You can surely imagine many, many uses for smoky particle effects with text, but our goal is sand, Make both parameter Constant interpolations, since those numbers will remain the same throughout the effect.

While we're not going to do it in this effect, I wanted to call your attention to a checkbox at the bottom of the Options tab, Wall Bounce. It does exactly what it says, makes the particles bounce off the edges of the frame. Selecting that option, though, means that you'd most likely want to keyframe your gravity to diminish over time. Otherwise, your particles would fly up to the top of the frame as quickly as they fell down, and never get any slower or come to rest.

Notice too that I'm not even getting to the More Options tab, which have to do with channels (including alpha channels) and apply modes. These really are ADVANCED particle settings.

Next: Making the Gradient