Using wondertouch’s particleIllusion with Keynote

Thursday, July 21, 2005

particleIllusion SEOn January 11, 2005, wondertouch released it’s first particle effects creation tool for OSX, partlicleIllusion 2.0 SE. It’s a standalone, introductory version of their award-winning, cornerstone visual effects creation application that is used by digital content creation professionals working in the film, video, broadcast, games, web and multimedia markets (particleIllusion 3.0, the most current version of the software, is scheduled for release on Mac OS X in July of 2005).

The program is fun, fairly easy to use and you can quickly produce some impressive effects. By following a few simple steps, you can create content to highlight your presentation that utilizes Keynote’s powerful composition abilities.

For this tutorial, we’re going to use a generator in the default set in Group 2 called “Explosion 3”. This is a good one to use because it has a definite beginning and ending so you don’t have to worry about the movie’s loop marring the look of the animation. You’ll notice that when you click on that generator in the pane on the lower right, it displays the output in the black pane in the upper right. Next, move your cursor over the black pane in the upper left, the cursor will change to a circle with a dot in the middle. This is your placement point. Place the explosion as close to the middle of this area as you can (it doesn’t have to be exact). Now, if you click the Play button, you’ll see it play out the same way as it did on the right. At this point you COULD begin to export it, but instead, we’ll resize the viewing window to make the file as small as possible.

The first thing you’ll want to do is advance to the frame in which the explosion is at it’s most expansive. At the top of the window, click the up arrow beside the frame number to advance (for this animation, its about frame 26).

Once you have this set, moving your cursor over the pane separators will show the resize cursor. Use this to drag the right and the bottom bars so that they come close to but not cover the particles at the outer edges of the explosion. If you’re not sure, just go ahead and leave extra space. Now we’re ready to export.

The quickest way to start this process is to just click the red button in the toolbar.

In the “Save Output as Type:” window, make sure it’s set for QuickTime Movie then click OK.

Next you’ll be asked to choose a location to save the rendered output and to name the file. Enter this information then click Save.

Now, you have to choose a codec that supports Alpha channels. We’ve tested it with None (huge files), TIFF, Animation, and PNG (smallest files) and it works for each (Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to choose the Animation codec here, but try the others for comparison). Finally, in the output options, set the End Frame (for this animation 91 will do) and click the “Save Alpha” button. Then click OK.

After the animation finishes building, open a Keynote presentation and either insert the movie or drag and drop it onto the slide. If you’ve done it correctly, it will look like a transparent area with resize boxes but when you play your presentation, you’ll get a nice looking explosion ready to season the slideshow of your choice!

particleIllusion SE 2.0 is available for $99. When particleIllusion 3.0 is released for OS X, owners of SE for OS X will be able to upgrade for a special low price. You can find out more information and download a demo from