HitFilm's 3D particle simulator is an advanced, physics-driven system capable of an infinite variety of effects.
A particle simulation contains a hierarchy of elements. Understanding how these work is key to designing and creating your own particle effects.
Particle simulator layer
The top level is the particle simulator layer on your timeline. This is a 3D layer that contains your simulation. You can of course have multiple particle simulators on your timeline.
Particle simulator effects can only be created and adjusted in composite shots.
The particle simulator has the standard Layer and Material properties, plus high level access to general properties, deflectors and forces.
It also provides access to your Emitters.
The Emitters group can contain multiple emitters. You can add additional emitters using the + icon. The currently selected emitter can be renamed by pressing F2.
An emitter is where all particle effects begin, specifying where the particles appear and affecting their initial trajectory.
A benefit of having multiple emitters in a single particle simulator layer (rather than using multiple particle simulators) is that they can all share the same deflectors and forces. If you decide to move a deflector, all of the emitters will update accordingly.
Due to the rendering pipeline in HitFilm, organizing your emitters under a single particle simulator can also result in a performance boost.
Emitters can be various shapes, including being based on another layer.
Each emitter contains its own particle systems, which are detailed below.
An emitter can contain multiple particle systems. A particle system is the visible part of the particle effect.
The currently selected particle system can be renamed by pressing F2.
The properties of a particle system will determine the visual appearance and behaviour of each individual particle at its birth. Once a particle is born, its behaviour can be affected by multiple external factors such as deflectors and forces.
Click here for details on Particle systems.
You can also control how particles behave during their lifetime, using the Lifetime panel.
The Lifetime settings affect every particle within a particle simulator from its birth to its death. This can be useful if you want to have particles fade out gradually, or increase in speed over time.
For more information take a look at the Lifetime panel section.
Emitters can also contain mobile emitters. These are special types of emitter that are spawned in the same way as particle systems, but which can then go on to spawn their own particle systems.
See Mobile emitters for details.
Deflectors & Forces
If you want your particles to interact in more interesting ways, deflectors and forces are what you need.
The currently selected deflector or force can be renamed by pressing F2.
Deflectors are collision areas for particles and can be shapes generated inside the particle simulator or other layers on your timeline. This is a great way to simulate particles colliding with real world objects in your live action footage.
Forces can be used to affect particles once they have been birthed. Forces occupy specific areas in 3D space and when a particle enters that area it will be affected accordingly.
Click here for details on Deflectors.
Click here for details on Forces.