Particle Emitter or Particle System is a technique that is widely used in computer graphics, motion graphics, and game physics. It’s a procedure through which sophisticated animated effects involving large numbers of automatically animated objects are created.
Animators use this method to stimulate certain types of “fuzzy” phenomena which are hard to reproduce with other rendering techniques. Particle Emitters consist of graphical methods that are based on complex physical effects. A typical particle system’s position and its motion in 3D are under the control of its emitter. It is up to you to decide what you want to use as an emitter.
Uses of Particle Emitters in Animation
Particle Emitters are widely used in the entertainment industry, especially now. But they had started to be incorporated in various forms ages ago. Particle Emitters involving sophisticated effects were used in 1982 in the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, to stimulate the Genesis effect designed by William Reeves. He tried to create the effect of a bomb exploding on a planet’s surface. Additionally, it also showed fire starting to spread from the point of impact. Every particle that was involved in this scene was in totality a single point in space. The fire that we saw spreading on the planet was actually thousands of these individual points which gave the fire a “fuzzy” shape. The term ‘fuzzy object’ was used by reeves to define an object that is made up of particles. Each of these objects in the particle system created by Reeves had a specific color, lifetime, shape, velocity (speed and direction), age, position, size, and transparency.
Film “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan”
Moreover, the particle system was also used to imitate the phenomena of explosions, waterfalls, clouds, snow, fog, fire, dust, stars, sparks, magic spells, etc. This method is used to create effects that appear and disappear quickly on the screen. Particle Emitters can also be utilized to show things that can consist of strands like hair, fur, and grass.
Particle Emitter or Particle System shares a lot of similarities with the Replicators, but they still are quite different tools. Both of these techniques use layers i.e., shapes, graphics, and text, as the main cell sources to start and both use those cells to generate onscreen elements. However, each of them produces a unique end result. A particle system is famous for creating active elements that keep on moving and changing over time, unlike the replicator. The particles that you create using these emitters, emerge from a specific onscreen point, referred to as emitter, move across the canvas to where you have assigned them to move, and then die afterward. This repetitive motion is what you’ll find in the majority of the animated movies in one form or another, today.