Atomic Particles Simulation

edited October 2016 in HitFilm User Gallery

Hey everybody,

after i've read some posts where people have asked for ways of creating organic looking effects here is my solution for a quite realistic smoke simulation - though you can see a bit of flickering and sometimes the individual particles.

Hope you like it!



    edited October 2016


    It almost looks like water = one of the hardest things to make with CGI.

    Proud to be your first sub. ;)

  • Wow!  Very hypnotic.  Nicely done.

  • Excellent effect. Especially using atomic particles.

    I once did some smoke still photography and I got a little deja vu feeling watching the video. The formations have a good similarity.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    I'm impressed. I've tried smoke effects with Atomic Particles myself and never gotten it to look nearly that good. 

  • I'm curious if the artifacts are due to low bitrate or low AA?

    I've never made complicated effects, perhaps this type of animation is too much for HitFilm to calculate? Just a thought.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    @CNK could be compression artifacts. Shouldn't have anything to do with calculation. Atomic breaks a layer into a series of points on a grid, then uses a fractal equation to warp them. It's just moving points into position, not doing physics sims like the particle simulator. 

  • edited October 2016

    Thanks for the positive feedback of you guys, it means a lot to me.

    I'll try to fix the artifact-problem by playing around with the export settings and will update the video here if it has solved it. I'm also gonna try to apply the same technique for fire (i'm not sure if it will work well...).

  • edited October 2016

    So...I unfortunately couldn't solve the problem with the artifacts although i've used the maximum bitrate. I think it has something to do with the amount of particles. To create a better result I would have needed more particles to increase the density of the individual structures. Anyways, here you can see the result (this time a bit larger):

  • Excellent!  Reminds me of an incense (Joss) stick burning.    Nicely Done!

  • edited October 2016

    So, here you can see my try of creating a fire out of atomic particles. I think it looks a bit unrealistic because of the exact same speed of the individual particles at the bottom compared to the top and also I'm not sure if the color is matching the one of real fire.

    Have a nice day all!

  • That fire is messing with my brain. I think it's because there's no motion blur. 

    It looks super realistic though.

  • Thank you for the tip. I also had problems with my brain when watching the result. Will fix it in a minute...

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Yeah, looks amazingly good. Again, I, and others before, have tried for fire-type looks with Atomic, but yours is probably the best I've seen. More hyper-realistic that realistic, but really gorgeous. 

    Motion blur might make it look more realistic, but might kill that lovely filament structure. Try adding some Heat Distortion, but turn down the Diffusion controls to 0.

    Can you talk a little on how you set these up? Are you using an animated texture on the plane before the Atomic? What control maps are you using? That sort of thing. 

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Epok, once you're happyish with these, you should upload them to the Hitfilm Preset Marketplace on

  • "Reminds me of an incense (Joss) stick burning."

    Exactly. That is what I was using for the smoke photography I played with once upon a time.

    " More hyper-realistic that realistic, but really gorgeous. "

    Perfectly stated. Magical, mystical or super hero type can really fit something not perfectly "real".

  • edited October 2016

    Here is the probably last version of the fire with the default settings for motion blur. Took a bit long to render... well here it is:

    Keeping the long render-time in mind (with motion blur) I probably won't rerender this one today with diffusion 0 but thanks for advice.

    And here a small guide how you can replicate these effects:

    1. Smoke:

    • Create a plane that matches your comp size
    • Set the Number of Particles to maximum for X and Y
    • Scale values: X=0.00; Y=1.5; Z=0.00
    • Particle size = 2 and take the randomness of all setting in the Appearance Tab to 0
    • In the Fractal Tab change the Displace Strength to 540, Size Strength to 1.00, Wavelength to 6.5%, Iterations to 2 and the Speed to 0
    • Set the Y-Flow value to -0.02 to create an upward motion
    • For the Fractal and Size Maps i've used two different gradient Comps (the fractal map is going to create the smoke displacement the further the smoke is away from the source and the size map controls the falloff to the top)
    • Color correction for a slightly blue tint with color wheels

    2. Fire:

    • Once again create a plane but this time in a seperate comp with a color gradient (pale yellow at the top and a kind of orange/red at the bottom) and set the Number of Particles to maximum
    • Scale values: X=0.27; Y=0.57; Z=0.00
    • Particle size = 1, randomness to 0
    • Blendmode: Add
    • Fractal Tab: Displace Strength=145; Wavelength=13%; Iterations=3; Speed=0
    • Flow: X=-0.1; Y=-0.9; Z=-0.05 (These values can vary depending on the motion you want for the fire)
    • Finally i added an Exposure and a Vibrance effect to pimp the colors a bit
    • Motionblur optional

    Hope you've learned something from this short guide.


  • edited October 2016

    I wanted to make something else but I finally came up with another fire. Although the animation at the beginning is not very realistic and the fire moves in slow motion I think that I've matched the overall fire look much better here.

    And yess... no Motion Blur haha

  • I don't understand why my brain isn't able to take in what I'm seeing without going all googly-eyed -- too much random movement perhaps, am I the only one?

    Yes, both your videos with fire in them are way too slow to be realistic to how we see a bonfire in real life, but MY EYES THOUGH!

  • I'm sorry for your issue but i can't do anything against it... Atomic Particles are actually not made for these kind of effects thats why it is very hard to create a good result. I can image that the regular particle simulator can replicate fire much more realistic and less confusing but the discussion was created for inspiration only not for perfect looking results. (though I tried it )

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Takeoff a clever thing to do would be to create one of this Atomic Flames in a tall comp (like 50 wide by 500 tall--which is much larger than one would probably need, but that much detail could be useful), then bring this into another comp and use the Atomics as an animated texture source for the particle sim (I would probably proxy the Atomic Comp). Then, instead of a static texture on a moving particle, you can have an animated texture. Keyframe the start frame so each particle isn't identical, and, by combining the rippling textures of your Atomics with the physics of the particle sim you could build a really fantastic fire in full 3D space.

    I've done similar things using stock video fire for the texture it works very well.

    Incidentally I stole that technique from WETA. When they did the Balrog in "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring," doing full fire simulation was still impractical. The Balrog is spewing a particle system using stock fire (and smoke) as the particle textures. 

  • @Takeoff wow that is some lovely particles you have the. That last one is fantastic, I almost expected to to see a nice lady bond girl silhouette (man needed to look that spelling up)  coming out of those flames.

  • @Triem23: Thank you for the advice, I'm going to try it out and post the result here.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator
    edited October 2016

     Np. In the latter parts of this tutorial NxVisualStudio shows how to set up animated video textures in the particle sim. He also shows how to keyframe the 'Start frame' of the animated texture so each particle isn't identical.

    You will want to proxy your texture source comp. Animated particle textures will slow Hitfilm down a lot, especially if you have hundreds (or thousands) all animating on different frames. 

    You might want to either darken your Atomics to a very dark orange and/or turn down particle alpha so you can blend the particles in ADD mode without blowing out to a white blob. Try a circle emitter with a "Target" trajectory with the target far above the emitter on the Y-axis. This will help get a bit of "pyramid" shape for a bonfire look. Or a cone trajectory with 0 radius for a larger fire. 

    Try one of your smoke Atomics in a dark grey as a second texture. Duplicate the fire's emitter  change the seed, up the particle life and set this to NORMAL blend with the smoke texture. Layering ADD mode fire with NORMAL mode smoke can give a very realistic look. 

    You can kind of see what I am discussing in this test explosion.

  • edited October 2016

    The idea is great but the realization is almost impossible. Every setting I try does not work well because either the particles are all the same size or spawn in the air which looks both crap. Also a fadeout of individual particles looks weird.

  • This is the last version I did with the single atomic effect with fake motion blur. It is already a bit too much but anyways...

    @Triem23 Will come back to your suggestion maybe when I found out how to create a not weird looking result.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Oops. A couple more tips on particle fire. The"anchor point" of a texture is the center of it's bounding box. So, when prepping your texture, have the "base" of the flame at the center of the comp. That locks everything to the "ground."

    Don't forget the scale variation property in the Movement Variation group. That breaks up the size of your particles. Life and speed variation is also useful.

    Remember you can attach multiple particle systems to an emitter for more scale/life/speed variation.

    The Lifetime Panel is your friend. Combining a fast fade out (a frame or two) with a scale varation (shrinking) can look natural. 

    The particle sim is Hitfilm Pro's single most powerful tool, but it's also the most complex to set up. 

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    That last Atomic only is looking very realistic, actually. 

  • edited October 2016

    Thanks for the anchor point tip, I'm gonna try it once more.

  • edited October 2016

    Does anyone has an explanation for these 3 jumps in the anim? Would help me alot. Thanks in advance!

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