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After Effects Snowfall Simulation Effect


One of the fun features of animation is the particle system. With it you can create some very realistic animation that couldnít be created manually, i.e. without code. After effectsR has a few great built-in effects including the CC Snowfall simulation.

In this tutorial, we will create a snowfall simulation that will be used as a background for a storybook app trailer. We will be using a jpg background image on the bottom layer of the Timeline and the snowfall will be placed on an adjustment layer above that. As we work through the tutorial, you will learn the names of the panels in the After Effects workspace.

Open After Effects CS6 and letís get started.

  1. In the Welcome screen, choose New Composition to start a new project.

  2. In the Composition Settings dialog box, set the following values. We are creating a (1280 x 720 px) HD video supported by YouTube. Letís start with 2 min duration but we probably wonít need all that. We can trim the end later.

    Width: 1280 px
    Height: 720 px
    Frame Rate: 30 fps
    Resolution: Full
    DurationL 2 min

    Now we have an empty composition called Comp 1. Let's add our background image.

  3. From the Menubar, click File - Import - File. Choose the jpg to import and click Open. You will see your jpg in the Project panel at the upper left of the workspace.

  4. Click on the jpg in the listing and drag it down and into the Comp1 Timeline panel. You will see the image appear in the Composition panel in the top center of the workspace and also the jpg is now listed as a layer in the Comp 1 Timeline and Time Graph panel. By default, the jpg will span the entire Timeline. Click the Lock icon to lock this layer.

    Now we can add the snowfall simulation.

  5. From the Menubar, click Layer - New - Adjustment Layer. You should see a new Adjustment Layer 1 in the Timeline. Rename it "snow".

  6. From the Effects and Presets panel at the right, expand the Simulation section. In that list you will find CC Snowfall. Click and drag the CC Snowfall name to the Composition panel.

    As you can see, the default is very small, semi opaque flakes. Letís take a look at some of the parameter controls for this animation. Feel free to experiment with different values for these parameters.

    Flakes - number
    Size
    Variation in Size
    Scene Depth
    Speed
    Variation in Speed
    Wind
    Variation in Wind
    Spread
    Wiggle
    Background Illumination
    Extras

  7. As a beginner tutorial, we will only make a few changes. We will increase the size and opacity of the flakes.

  8. Set the Size parameter to 6 and the Opacity to 100%.

  9. Click the Play button in the Preview panel at the right.

  10. Save your snow effects in the native After Effects format snow.aep.

Join us in the Animation forum. | Join us in the Digital Art forum.

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Content copyright © 2014 by Diane Cipollo. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Diane Cipollo. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Diane Cipollo for details.

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