Convincing contrails

Compositing and Motion Graphics

Convincing contrails

Postby Green_Screener on 07/4/2017, 10:12 pm

Hi. I want to create a shot of contrails very high in a winter sky. My protagonist will look up and see the contrails and realise that a nuclear attack has been launched, (set in the mid-50s, so it'll be a B29, not ICBMs.)

I've been trying to make a contrail using Particular 2, but it looks too "chunky", no matter what settings I use. Using "streaks", or "spheres", or any of the particles, reducing opacity, size, size-over-life etc etc, but it still doesn't look like a real vapour trails. They only look like billowy smoke trails.

Does anybody know of a way to do this successfully?

Thanks.
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Re: Convincing contrails

Postby ender772 on 07/5/2017, 8:00 am

isnt there a tutorial on this site that covers this...I know ive seen it in one
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Re: Convincing contrails

Postby Mylenium on 07/5/2017, 8:04 am

Well, to be direct: Your post is like describing the latest iPhone to your grandma - verbose and elaborate, but with no practical use. Show people what you have and what settings you use and then someone might be able to advise. Everything else is a waste of time. Such stuff can only be tackled on a shot-by-shot basis since identical settings will still look iffy in different shots and you have to tweak each and everyone. There's no magical "one fits all" setting. After all, particle effects are always hacks that barely have anything to do with real physics.

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Re: Convincing contrails

Postby Green_Screener on 07/5/2017, 5:14 pm

ender772 wrote:isnt there a tutorial on this site that covers this...I know ive seen it in one


I've seen the tute with the exhaust trails of the rockets, but it's not quite what I want. Contrails, as you probably know, are vapour, not smoke. More like steam, in a way. Cold steam, that is.
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Re: Convincing contrails

Postby Green_Screener on 07/5/2017, 5:32 pm

Mylenium wrote:Well, to be direct: Your post is like describing the latest iPhone to your grandma - verbose and elaborate, but with no practical use. Show people what you have and what settings you use and then someone might be able to advise. Everything else is a waste of time. Such stuff can only be tackled on a shot-by-shot basis since identical settings will still look iffy in different shots and you have to tweak each and everyone. There's no magical "one fits all" setting. After all, particle effects are always hacks that barely have anything to do with real physics.

Mylenium


I wrote it that way to give it context and make it a tad more interesting.

No point in showing what I've done so far, and the settings I've used, because that would take a couple of pages. I certainly don't expect there's a "magic formula" for creating these things, but I thought perhaps someone might have tried it at some time, and would have a few clues. I'm not averse to benefiting from the experience of others.

I was even considering trying it without using a particle effect. Maybe something like a semi-opaque light beam with directional moving "texture", or something. All of the videos I've seen of real contrails suggest that they're tenuous and "hardly there". Particles tend to be too substantial, even with opacity turned right down.

As you would understand, there are many ways to achieve an effect, and I wouldn't want to waste everybody's time laboriously going through every hint or suggestion that people might come up with. I thought maybe someone might have already managed to create this effect, something that worked, and could point me in the right direction.



.
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Re: Convincing contrails

Postby Duncan on 07/6/2017, 8:08 am

One thing you could try is:

• Create a 3D Null
• Create a 3D Point Light and offset it a bit from the Null
• Parent the Light to the Null
• Set the Light as your Emiter
• Animate the Null to spin on the Z axis, either with an expression or keyframes.
• Duplicate the Null and Light, if needed. Offset them. Parent all the Nulls to another Null in the center.
• Animate the Position of the null.
• Adjust Particular settings to get the Effect you want, I'd suggest starting with setting velocity to zero.

Check out these images for reference:

http://i262.photobucket.com/albums/ii12 ... ails-2.jpg

https://acesflyinghigh.files.wordpress. ... -photo.jpg

http://files.abovetopsecret.com/files/i ... 2ec33b.jpg

http://www.berettaconsulting.com/barbar ... ermany.jpg

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/or ... 0d520b.jpg
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Re: Convincing contrails

Postby Green_Screener on 07/6/2017, 7:04 pm

Duncan wrote:One thing you could try is:

• Create a 3D Null
• Create a 3D Point Light and offset it a bit from the Null
• Parent the Light to the Null
• Set the Light as your Emiter
• Animate the Null to spin on the Z axis, either with an expression or keyframes.
• Duplicate the Null and Light, if needed. Offset them. Parent all the Nulls to another Null in the center.
• Animate the Position of the null.
• Adjust Particular settings to get the Effect you want, I'd suggest starting with setting velocity to zero.

Check out these images for reference:


Thank you very much for that, Duncan. I'll try that. Tbh, I never thought of using a Light as a trail generator. I was going to use a "ray" of light, maybe something from AK's "Sabre" pack, but was having trouble getting it to "travel". I still have a lot to learn.

The pictures you linked are very enlightening. All of the "contrail" photos I've seen before show the trails as very tenuous faint lines, very high in the sky, which is what I want because that's how my character will see them. Also, being so high, they're "blurred" by the haze in the air, so the turbulence isn't as noticeable as it is from close up. When I've used particles to create a trail, it looks very much like the close-up photos of contrails that you provided. But since I need to have my character see them very high up, they need to look more like faint vapour. Simply scaling back the emitter/particle doesn't
create the right result.

Anyway, thanks again. If I get it right I'll post it here.

GS
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Re: Convincing contrails

Postby Green_Screener on 07/10/2017, 2:02 am

Duncan wrote:One thing you could try is: etc.


Duncan, that worked a treat. Thanks.

Only have one problem now, and I know I should ask this elsewhere, but I can't find aught about it.

I have Particular V 2.2.6. I tried to render a short animation using Particular over a 4K background. AE crashed. It even prevented my shutting down the Mac.

Question: Does Particular V 2.2.6 handle 4K footage?
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Re: Convincing contrails

Postby mechakaiju on 07/10/2017, 4:34 am

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Re: Convincing contrails

Postby Green_Screener on 07/10/2017, 4:41 pm

mechakaiju wrote:https://www.provideocoalition.com/optimizing-for-performance-for-premiere-after-effects/


Very informative, Mechakaiju, thanks very much. :)
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