Plugins For the graphic artist and Video Editor

There are times when your working on your films / projects and the software you have just doesnt get you the results your looking for.The only thing left to do is either find better software or you can get some plugins.

This article is all about the plugins, getting that extra boost to solve some of your problems.So iam going to show you some of the cool plugins you can get to solve some of the common problems many of us have.

Making Clouds and Smoke

alright guys now this is a huge one here.Making Clouds and smoke in the popular 3d programs like 3ds max and maya are pretty easy by using some of the defualt effects in the program but it leaves you wanting and needing alot more controll and power.Sure you could use particles but you would need tons of particles for some of the more advanced effects and if you dont have the computer power your just dead in the water here.

So whats the Solution you ask? well here it is Sitni Sati After Burn

After Burn clouds

I use this program alot and i can tell you that it really gets the job done.How ever learning what every single dial and button does in its interface can be a little hard to firgure out even when you read the manual. So there will be a bit of trial and error to understand whats going on but once you got it you cant go wrong.This program is used in films as well (Matrix Reloaded for example) so its no kids toy and you have alot of power in your hands.

The way it works is like this.

All smoke and clouds that you create are based on a particle system.After burn using the particle systems within the program your using.So in my case iam using 3ds max and can choose between particle flow, super spray, cloud and more...

Ok once you have decided on your particle system to use.You must then add a light to your scene and then the after burn renderer.Once thats done all you have to do is add the particle system and light to the after burn interface and your good to go.This is a very easy process and i will now show you this visually in the video below.

After Burn Beginners Guide

Ok so there you have it. A few quick steps and your on your way to making clouds, but of course this program has alot more to offer so let me get into that right now.Here are some of the cool things this program can do.

Special Features -

Blow S**t UP

Not only can you make smoke and clouds but this is very good for creating explosions and with the explosion deamon you can do this


This one i really liked.With this program your clouds and density, meaning that if you wanted you could go inside them with your camera like a real cloud.Also you can put lights inside your clouds to give it sorta a thunder storm look.


If your not familiar with what a shader is well it tells program how to highlight objects when light i shined on them.You have 3 to choose from which are none, lambert and phong if your familiar with the material editor in 3ds max then you will know what these mean.Iam not going to get into them for you beginners out there but just know that they controll how your smoke/clouds deal with light shining on them


Daemons are a cool little thing to play with.What they do are effect the way your particles move, the are just like 3ds max space warps. For example the swirl daemon will swirl particles around in a cirlce.There are quite a few to choose from which are wind, swirl, void, explode, and vmap.

Sticky Particles

This one is just as it says, it will stick to stuff. With sticky particles you can make your particles stick to an object (really cool stuff).

Coloring modes

This is a really nice feature and what it does its lets you controll the color of your clouds over time with a gradient or to have it simply remain the same color all the time.This works well for explosions because they change from yellow, orange, red, then to black for example.

Noise maps

Now this is a really important part of after burn and you will be doing alot of tweaking here.Your clouds/smoke appearance is based on a noise map.Within after burn you have alot of setting to choose from here like size, level of detail, and more.Like the material editor you can use a noise map or smoke map and a few others.

Rendering Engines

This was a really good feature to add on after burns part and what it does is give your the option to use a different type of render that has less detail but will render things faster.You have 3 choices to choose from which are Raymarcher, Octane and Hyper solids.Now its for me to explain what each one does so iam going to give you the definition of each one they wrote in the manual.

Raymarcher - The Raymarcher engine is a high-quality rendering engine in AfterBurn. It is capable of producing very crisp shadows on high-density smoke, explosions and clouds. Light interaction algorithms provide superb lighting and shadowing. However, they have a serious impact on the rendering speed because of complex calculations between AfterBurn and light interaction. Therefore, use it only if you really need the photorealistic output that the Raymarcher offers in your animation.

Octane Shader - The Octane Shader provides up to 10 times the rendering speed of the Raymarcher, but lacks the latter’s crisp, self-shadowed volumetrics. This render engine is good for light dust and background smoke or "atmosphere" in your scenes.

HyperSolids - HyperSolids is a new way of rendering volumetric effects as blobby solids. This render engine is perfect for liquids or other organic solids like slime, jello and mud. With the HyperSolids engine, it is possible to render a volumetric effect as a true solid object with unlimited details but without a single polygon. Depending on the settings, you can use Noise as a Bump map, or as a Displacement map.

The Bad Parts

Alright so you know the good parts of this program now come the bad.

The first being that the learning curve is very steep for a beginner there are so many settings and options that your going to have to do alot of tweaking to know what everything does exactly.

Second there is the rendering time.Now when your working with basic small scale things with low particle counts its not too bad. But if your considering going big your gonna need some computer power or alot of patients.

Other than those thats all you really have to worry about.




1.Makes amazing smoke effects
2.Can be used with the 3d programs standard particle systems
3.Material maps can be used for the flames and smoke
4.Simulation data can be saved


1.Render times can be extremely high
2.Interface is very complicated, this combined with long rendering times will make learning what all the setting makes for a steep learning curve


Making Water and Fluids

Ok when it comes to fluid effects like water and stuff the 3d world is rather lacking to me (most of the times fluids just look like blobs).Things arent perfect but its getting there and here is a plugin that i use for it alot of times.


Glu3d in Action

This program will give you some very nice effects by using its particle systems and deamons to get the effect your looking for.Out of all the fluid type of plugins i have used i prefer this one.Why is because its not complicated at all to learn and you dont need to be a physics professor to understand whats going on like most particle based plugins.

So here is how it works, you start off by creating a glu3D main node which looks like this

glu main node

Now this node has 3 parts to it but only 2 of them you need.They are the Emitter, glu3d, and glu3d floor.Now lets start with the Emitter now as you probably already guessed it emits particles. Then we have the node and this is in charge of handling all setting of your fluid simulation like gravity fluid thinkness and creating the 3d mesh for your fluids.Now finally we have the glu3d floor now this is not actually needed but its simply a test object that will collide with the water particles.

Alright now before i get into more details about the node iam just going to show you how easy it is to get started playing with water.Now that you have a node created all you have to do now is click 2 buttons which are build mesh and then finally press the Go button and watch you fuild simulation do its thing this is one of the things i liked the most about this plugin, its doesnt take alot of work to setup.You can check out this quick clip to see how easy this is.

Glu3d Beginner Tutorial

Alright so now lets get to the meat of the plugin.So what kind of fancy stuff can this thing do with fluid Well one the most powerfull features to me with this plugin is that it can easily use the particle systems that are alreadty in the 3d program your working with and in my case iam using 3ds max so i can use the particle systems like pflow with this plugin.

Filling Objects with water.

This is another one of my favorite features because you can come up with some really cool stuff with this like morph a puddle of water into another object like a car or somthing.

Thick fluid.

Now this is a pretty interesting thing to mess with and you can make things like honey lava and many other thick fluids.


Ok now if your use to using space warps with particles then you will love the space warps(called forces) that this plugin has and they are... glu3d path and objattractor.Only 2 forces? yea i know you may be thinking thats all but you have to remeber you can use the particle systems in your 3d program as well and this includes the space warps like wind, drag, gravity and all the others.So here is what these 2 forces do.Lets start with glu3d path, what this force does




1.Works with the 3d programs built in particle systems
2.Easy interface to work with and setup
3.Simulation calculation time is not high
4.Simulation data can be saved


1.Needs more forces to use(but not a big deal)
2.Doesnt come with a beginners tutorial.


Making 3d Fire

Here is another high demand effect that artist always want to learn to do.Now me personally i had no idea how to make fire.But i eventually learned a few generic ways to make it but they never looked good at all.So finally a friend turned me on to this plugin.



as you can see from the image above this thing can make some really nice flame effects including smoke.

Ok now this plugin works a little different from the others.How it works is like this....Unlike the other particle based plugins you cant just place a few space warps like gravity and wind in your scene and then press play and watch the magic happen.NOPE not on this plugin all the particles must run thru a simulation process before it can be rendered.If your famliar with using reactor in 3ds max then you know what i mean by this.but for those of you who dont this means that all the physics to create the flames / smoke creations must be calculated first.But dont let this scare you too much because you actually get to preview and also save every frame of the simulation and use it later.

Ok now let me talk to you about the interface and features a bit

When you first start you actually have to make whats called a FumeFX grid.What this does is makes a boxed area that your simulation will be contained in.If your flame is too big to fit in this grid it will simply be cut off so be sure its at a good size.Here is what the FumeFX grid looks like.



Alright once you have your grid you must then create your particle emitter,FumeFX has 4 for you to choose from which are Simple Source,Object Source,Particle Source, and Gravity Vector.

Once you have created a particle source.(for this example i used the Simple Source). You must then open the FumeFX UI.This is where all your work will be done to make your fire / smoke effects.To open this panel you must be selected on your fumefx grid then like the open FumeFxUI button as shown below

Ok so here it is the the FumeFx UI and there is only 1 last thing you need to do to see this plugin work and that is to add the source obj to the FumeFx simulation in the Obj/Src panel shown below and finally click the Start Simulation Button.

Once you have started the simulation you have the option of previewing every frame as it finish's being calculated by clicking the preview icon.Here it what it looks like.

FumeFx Render

Thats all it takes to get started, but there are tons of other features and ways to minipulate the setting to get the results you desire. I will be posting more information on using this plugin in the future but for now this is just a simple review and to let you know what plugins i use for fire effects.



1.Makes amazing flame effects
2.Can be used with the 3d programs standard particle systems
3.Material maps can be used for the flames and smoke
4.Simulation data can be saved


1.Simulation times can be extremely high and tweaking your settings can be very time consuming
2.Learning Curve is kinda steep you will have to do quite a bit of reading and testing before you have a firm grasp of what every setting does.

Movie Trailer Text effect

This plugin doesnt solve any common problem really but its just really cool and is a must for video editors.If you have ever seen a movie trailer and seen the text have sort of a sun shine effect with light bursting from behind it then this plugin is what you should use. Here is what it is...

Trapcode Shine

Trapcode Shine

Not only can you apply this effect to text but any image you want as well.This plugin is supported in many of the popular video editing programs like Adobe After effect, Combustion, Avid, FCP,Motion, and Adobe Premier Pro.This plugin is really straight forward and you really dont even need to read the manual.You simple apply this plugin thru your effects or filters menu in your video editing software and boom its there.The example image i posted above is an example of this, i didnt have to do anything but just apply the filter to my text.

Its Features (The Good Parts)

Ok so here is a list of the features that this thing gives you.

1.Color Options: Now this part i liked the most because you can build your own gradients into the shine effect with a maximum of 5 colors with your gradient.But if your not to experience with making gradients or just lazy there are also a few preset gradients for you to choose from. Here is what the interface looks like.

Shine interface

2.Transfer Modes: This is another really nice feature that lets you apply the shine effect in 5 different ways which are None, Over, Under, Add and Screen. These modes are sorta like the the blending modes you see in photoshop.Here is what each of them look like.

3.Shimmer Controlls and Detail: Ok this is a very important part to this program and what it does is controlls the amount of beams of light (shine) that you see and how detailed they look.There are alot of options here to choose from but what it pretty much comes down to is more detail or less detail.Here is a closer look at its interface.


4.Source point and mask controlls:This feature you will be using alot, so let me start with light source controll.What this does is it lets you controll which direction your shine effect will shine in.With this feature combined with animation you can make the light source going across your image and create a really nice effect.Now the mask controlls are really simple, they just let you mask / limit the range of the shine.

ok so thats all there really is to this plugin.



1.Very nice effect for text and trailers
2.Interface is vey simple and with many settings
3.You can customize the gradients
4.Shine Source can be moved


1.None that i found but i would be nice if there were better preset gradients.




Article By Logan Kenesis


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