This Ship Has Sailed

And what a beautiful ship it is . . .

After many long months of work by our incredibly talented and dedicated engineering teams CS3 Production Premium is now shipping!

To celebrate, let’s make some fireworks. It’s almost July 4 anyhow.

Start off by creating a new composition in After Effects, in whatever resolution you wish to work in (File > New Composition). In the Composition Settings dialog, set the Duration to 4 seconds (0;00;04;00).

Create a new solid layer in your Comp by selecting Layer > New > Solid. In the Solid Settings dialog, click Make Comp Size and then click OK.

Go to the Effects menu and select Simulation > CC Particle Systems II. RAM Preview and you’ll see some sparks.

fireworks_01.jpg

We’re actually not gonna have to do all that much to make this look real pretty. What we’ve got now is a constant stream of sparks. Let’s set some keyframes for the Birth Rate of these particles to give us a single “pop”. Drag the Current Time Indicator (CTI) in your timeline the beginning of the comp and then set an initial keyframe for Birth Rate by clicking on the stopwatch to the left of its name in the Effect Controls Panel.

fireworks_02.jpg

Set the Birth Rate to 40, then move the CTI ahead 5 frames and set the Birth Rate to 0. RAM Preview again and you’ll now see that “pop” but we still have some work to do in order to make this more convincing.

Twirl open the controls for Physics and set Gravity to 0.2 (which will keep the particles from falling away so quickly) and set Resistance to 10 (which will keep them from traveling too far away from their point of origination, also known as the Producer).

Then twirl open the controls for Particle and set Max Opacity to 50%

Now let’s duplicate what we’ve done a few times to create a short sequence. First, trim back the tail end of the Solid layer to make it 2 seconds long by clicking and dragging the right-hand edge of the clip to the left until it lines up with the 2 second mark on the timeline.

fireworks_03.jpg

Duplicate the layer by selecting Edit > Duplicate, and then change the position of the Producer by first selecting the CC Particle Systems II effect in the Effect Controls Panel, and then clicking-and-dragging the Producer in the Composition Viewer to a new location.

fireworks_04.jpg
The Producer is a small circle with a cross inside it.

Repeat the above step 3 more times until you have 5 copies of the layer, each with its Producer in a different location.

Now to have these fire off in a sequence, select all 5 of the layers then go to the Animation menu and select Keyframe Assistant > Sequence Layers.

fireworks_05.jpg

In the Sequence Layers dialog, make sure Overlap is checked. When one layer fires, we want the next one to fire 10 frames later, so this is basically a math problem which depends on your frame rate:

If you’re working in 30fps enter a duration of 1:20 (0;00;01;20)
If you’re working in 25fps enter a duration of 1:15 (0;00;01;15)
If you’re working in 24fps enter a duration of 1:14 (0;00;01;14)

Click OK, RAM Preview, and then sit back and watch the show.

To customize further, try changing the colors of the particles as well as playing with the different Physics parameters. Happy 4th of July everyone, and here’s to the most exciting release of video tools in Adobe’s history!