Project 1: Abstract Particle Visual Music Animation


Create a 60 second particle animation that combines abstract particles with sound in a meaningful way. Your goal should be to express ideas using color, texture, shape, line, value, motion, and timing. You must develop a concept and think about the feelings you want to evoke from the audience. You should focus on a non-narrative piece without characters or plot. You can create entirely non-objective shapes and particles or combine recognizable shapes with abstraction. The piece must make effective use of After Effects compositing layers of rendered material.

Although your animation will not be a narrative story, it should have a beginning, middle and end. Timing will play an important role. You should use the elements of art effectively to convey the ideas and emotions (color, texture, line, motion, etc.)


Think about the concept of a journey and what that means to you. It can be a physical journey or a mental or emotional journey. Along the way, you will encounter tension and at other times you will feel relaxed. Your piece must reflect a variety of feelings that evolve - one into the other.

Technical issues and requirements:

Use at least 10 different animated particle files. You will be putting the pieces together in post-production - do not attempt to create all the scenes in a single file. You should have multiple abstraction scenes and cut or use cross-dissolves to go from one scene to the other. Think carefully about the editing of your film. You may need closeups, midshots, longshots, pans, zooms, etc. to convey the mood you are seeking. Each animation should have a minimum of 6 different shots (you can reuse the existing scenes but you should use different camera angles.)

Projects will be graded on quality NOT quantity - no undergraduate animation longer than 1 minute! Graduate students can determine their own length.

Audio Soundtrack:

Start with the audio and synchronize your animation to the sound. The audio should be sound effects that have been manipulated to create an abstract soundscape. You MUST use copyright free audio.

No audio with standard rhythm throughout - be creative and change the dynamics over time.

You have a few choices:

1. Create your own audio sound track (it should be abstracted also) - use Midi or a sound generator

2. Find some copyright free audio clips and manipulate them to abstract them

3. Find sound effects on the Internet and combine and manipulate them

4. You may work together or get help from a music student but you you must be the main person doing the work


- Do not include human or animal-like characters in the animation.
- You may include geometry, video, drawn images, etc.
- Be careful with color - too many different colors can ruin a piece.
- Use effective lighting, textures and effects.
- You need consistency (with variety) in the graphic style and color.

The audio must be a sound-scape not music with a defined rhythm.


Always render as Quicktime H.264 - NOT .mp4

PART 1 - Three particle Tests Due

Mon. Aug. 29th

  1. Experiment with the different particle systems and create three 10 second tests combining fields and different styles of particles systems. Each test must consist of MULTIPLE particle emitters. Do not worry about color for the first part of the Tests. Add color later.

PART 2 - Sound Research

Wed. Sept. 7th

Find 10 interesting sounds that are COPYRIGHT-FREE. You can capture the sounds using the sound recorder or other device, create the sounds using Garage Band, Fruity Loops, or other sound generating application, or you can find the sounds on the Internet.

You will need a minimum of 10 sounds to work with. A larger collection of shorter sounds will be easier to work with. Sound files should not be longer than 20 seconds. They should be WAV files. We will be using these sounds to compose a soundscape for the particle animation.

NO .mp3 files are allowed.

A good starting point is the links to Sound Effects websites in the [ RESOURCES ] or the Sound Library in the MCap

PART 3 - Six Particle Tests with Compositing Due

Wed. Sept. 7th

Redo your three particle tests and create 3 new ones (with multiple layers). You can modify existing files or start over. Use various methods of color to create interesting visual effects in your particle systems. You can include collisions, collision events, per particle attributes, etc.

You MUST have multiple particle systems composited in at least two tests.

PART 4 - Animation Progress - 30 seconds done with some audio

Mon. Sept. 12th

  1. Create at least half of the animation and add audio to parts
Your project needs to be in the homework directory prior to class.

PART 5- Animation Progress - Three-fourths done

Mon. Sept. 19th

  1. Create three-fourths of the abstract animation
Your project needs to be in the homework directory prior to class.

PART 6 - Project 1 - Abstract Animation - Done

Mon. Sept. 26th

  1. Animation with audio rendered out as an H.264 animation with credits

Your project needs to be in the homework directory prior to class.

PART 7- Revised Project 1

Wed. Oct. 5th

Your project needs to be in the homework directory prior to class.