Particle Power to the People!

Particles!  Either you’re shivering in delight or shuddering (like I do) when I think about all I have in my inventory that I’m not using.  For this post, I’m not talking about making particles, but using what you buy.

1282916-particle_sfx

First:  what are particles?

Particles are basically a texture that is controlled by a script and can have a very dramatic impact on a dance.  The script controls the color, the size, how fast the particle emits, the direction, how fast it fades, color changes, etc.  There are generally one or more transparent prims, each containing a particle script.  Creating amazing particles is an art in itself.  I choose to purchase the bulk of my particles, supporting particle designers who can create effects I can only dream of (plus I focus my time on the dance part).

 

There are three main “types” of particles you can purchase.

Most common:  WEARABLE PARTICLES

  • usually no mod, may or may not be copy
  • wear the particle to start the effect, detach it to turn off the effect
  • by default, when you right click and add it is usually worn on avatar center.  When you stand on a pad and dance, your avatar center does not move – good for most particles.  Exception: hand and foot particles by default will attach to your hands and feet.
  • is a transparent prim.  Attach the particle, turn on transparent view.  Zero in on where the particle seems to be coming from.  Usually one or more very tiny spheres or boxes but it’s there!
  • you CAN move the particle as you’re wearing it.  Is the particle too far forward?  To find the transparent prim, stand on a pad, attach the particle, turn on transparent view.  Find it?  go into edit mode, and move it back behind you.  When you attach it again, it will re-attach where you left it.
  • Why do so many creators create this type?  One reason – it is said to create much less lag on the server.
  • Can you put the particle in a rezzer?  If the transparent prim has copy/mod permissions, then yes, otherwise no.
  • Want to rez it but can’t put it in a rezzer?  You will need to rez it or restore to last position (if it’s no copy you’ll have to always place it manually).  To pick it up you will need to find it and take it back into inventory.  I use World/Area Search for this.
  • POSITIVES:
    • generally the best particles fall into this category
    • sold individually, so you can buy just the particles you want
  • NEGATIVES:
    • Can’t control when they trigger, except by adding adding and removing
    • As you move on a mover, particles will move with you.  This may not create the effect you want.

Second Most Common:  PARTICLE HUDS

  • A particle HUD is actually two pieces:
    • an emitter that you wear or that can be rezzed on the ground
    • a HUD you wear that let’s you control/trigger particles
  • The HUD includes a pre-packaged variety of particles.
  • The HUD may or may not allow you to change the particle as you “play” it.  Example:  Changing colors, changing size, etc.
  • Usually the HUD shows pictures of the particles you can trigger.  Click on it, and the particle will start.  Click on it again or click a stop button and it will stop.
  • There are some particle makers that provide a copy/mod emitter.  What does this do?  You can add the emitter as part of your set and put it into the set rezzer.  (Don’t link it to the set.)  Rez your set, select a particle on your HUD and boom!
  • POSITIVES:
    • Provides a ready made buffet of particles at your finger tips
    • A simple and excellent way to start using particles in your dances
  • NEGATIVES:
    • You can’t add particles to the HUD.  What you see is what you get.
    • There are almost always particles in the HUD that you will never use
    • Bigger investment

Least Common:  PARTICLES WITH CHAT TRIGGERS

  • As a dancer – I almost always prefer controlling effects with a chat trigger.  What is that?   saying “fire” on channel 12 to start a fire particle.  This lets me put the command into the Performance Director as part of my routine, set one of the HUD buttons to trigger a particle, or even create my own hud to trigger the particles.
  • In my experience, there are relatively few of these – and high quality ones even less, but there are a few out there.

Caching Particles:

Even been to a a show and watched little grey boxes flying about?  Particles are textures, and just like any texture, our viewers need to “cache” or read the texture before we can see it.  It’s always a good idea for particles to be cached – played early to prepare audience viewers.

Dancer’s Particle now has an object you wear that automatically caches the particle textures.  I believe it’s a group gift and hanging on their back wall.

~ Post coming soon:  Harnessing Particle Power – Costume Assistant & Making your own HUD ~

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