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3.4 How to Create and Animate Atmospheric Smoke

In this lesson, you will learn how to create and animate atmospheric smoke for the animation using “Fractal Noise”.

3.4 How to Create and Animate Atmospheric Smoke

Hi, everyone and welcome back to how to create a cinematic text animation in After Effects. In this lesson, we'll learn how to create, animate and control some nice atmospheric smoke to add some drama and movement in to our project and scene. So let's begin by creating a new composition by going to Composition and New Composition, or Ctrl+N on the keyboard. And let's go ahead and rename this Smoke. Make sure you're happy with the rest of the settings here, and then click Okay. Next, we want to create a new solid layer by going to Layer, New, and Solid. And let's rename this BG for background. And then make sure the color is set to black. And then click Okay. Now we want to duplicate this background, so go to Edit. And go to Duplicate or Ctrl+D on the keyboard. And now we're going to press Enter on the keyboard, and rename this Fractal Noise One. Like so. Now with the fractal noise layer selected, go to Effects. Go to Noise and Grain, and select Fractal Noise, and this will apply a Fractal noise to our fractal noise layer. Now we can start creating our smoke by playing about with the Fractal Noise settings. So let's go ahead and set the contrast to something like 75, just to change the look and intensity of your smoke. So you can actually experiment with this. Like so, and so we're going to set this to 75. And now under Transform, you can scale it up or down to make the smoke appear larger, or smaller, like so. And you can also untick uniform scaling, if we bring that back to 100, untick uniform scaling. And you can change the width, and the height separately now as well. So let's go ahead and change that. So we're going to set the width to 400. And let's set the height to something like 250, like so. Cool, now let's set the evolution to 100. And this is how we're going to animate the clouds. So is we play about with the wheel here like so, you can see how the clouds start to move like so. So let's bring that back to 100. Now, in order to animate the loop, what we need to do is, we need to- Alt+click evolution here. So hold Alt on the keyboards and click on the stopwatch here, like so. And now under here, we're going to change that to time times 150. Oops. Times 150. And this will give us a looping animation for our clouds. Cool, so now if we got to the Preview Panel here and click Play, you'll see a preview of the subtle movement, like so. Excellent. Now in order to animate the direction of the smoke, let's say if we wanted the movement to go from the left side of the screen to the right. We'll need to adjust and animate the offset turbulence. Now, we can find the offset turbulence here. And what we need to do here is we need to create another continuous loop by holding Alt on the keyboard and clicking on stopwatch again. And from here, we want to type in the following, so type in open square brackets, value, open square brackets, zero. Close square brackets, and then we're going to put plus time times 100. Value. Open square brackets one, close square brackets, minus time times 20, close square brackets. And this will make our clouds move from left to right, and subtly move to the top as well. So it gives a sense that the smoke is travelling upwards as well, and we can click on the play button to see what that looks like. Excellent Now if you want these smoke to move even further up, we can change the value here to something bigger like, let's say 70. And now if we click on the play button here, you can see the smoke is travelling upwards in a more vertical direction like so. But let's go ahead and keep it more subtle. So let's change that back to something like 30, so it looks like it's travelling a little bit that way. And we can also change the look and the amount of details our smoke has by playing with the complexity value. So let's go ahead and find the complexity value which is here. And let's change that from six to something like 20. So you can see, if we move the complexity like so, we can change some details of our smoke. So let's change that back to 20. Now what we can do is we can add some opacity to our smoke just to make it a little bit transparent. So let's go ahead and close the effects here. With Fractal Noise selected, press T for opacity and let's bring this down to something like 20%. And this will make our smoke appear lighter and more transparent. Now if you wanted to add some shape to our smoke, we can also create a mask by right-clicking on the layer. Selecting Mask and selecting New Mask. And now we can change the way that our smoke looks. So let's go ahead and move these vertices using our selection tool. I'm just going to make it out that the smoke is travelling from the bottom left of our scene to the top right, like so. Now by doing that, you'll see that our smoke now has this really harsh sharp edge. So, in order to smooth out, let's go ahead and press F to create a feather, and increase the feather like so. Something like 500. And we can increase the bottom here like so. Excellent. Now, all that's left is to preview our smoke by clicking on the preview button. You can see now we have a nice subtle smoke effect which is travelling from the bottom left of the screen to the top right. Excellent, so there we have it, how to create some nice atmospheric smoke for our scene. In the next lesson, we'll learn how to create some final touches by creating a quick zoom animation. See you all there.

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