Harmony particles demo - YouTube

I just watched Lilly’s demo with a brief overview of the particle system. It was fantastic! Just yesterday I began studying the chapter on particles as I had wanted to use them in a recent animation. I have a guy on a bicycle and I wanted to add speed lines. Lo, and behold, there is already one available to use so I began tinkering around with it to fit my biker. I got totally lost! I figured, here is this great new feature and I’m not even using it because I don’t understand how it works. When I look at the network view it is like a giant tangle of modules and parameters and this hooked to that and that hooked to this. Where to begin?

So I’m glad Lilly did this demo and James also has some on his channel. For one, I think some more video tutorials are really needed. And for two, I think it would be super cool just to show off what you can do with a string of short clips showing the effects with a title to identify each one. I think that would really help arouse interest in Harmony. Right now there is basically the video that shows rain and fire. But there are so many more that most people don’t even know are there.

I’m working on another animation that has a couple of curtains blowing in the wind. I rigged each with a curve deformer and then set some keyframes and it looks okay. But, can I add the gravity and wind modules to them somehow to simulate a more realistic movement? That would be cool!

Oh yeah, the video can be found here:


I am glad Lilly put that demo up. It was excellent.

I have more tutorials planned. I am trying to explain all the modules as I go (without going into so much detail it is tedious). That is why I am building from scratch rather than modifying, so you can see why things are added and what they do.

Sadly I have a ton of work to get ready for a trial of my software on Tuesday so I don’t have anytime to record any until that it is done. I have a list of Harmony, Animate Pro and Animate tutorials stuck behind my computer screen I want to do ;D

I don’t think you would be able to use the wind and gravity on a curve deformer because they are only designed to work on particles.

Looking forward to your tutorials, James! I understand about having lots to do–same here! I’ve been trying to use the speed lines effect but I can’t figure out how to have it start on frame 300 and stop by frame 350. I moved the drawing layers around, slid the whole group over, added a kill module and messed with the settings. I just don’t seem to be able to do it. Maybe have the peg go from behind my background layer, then forward and back again. That doesn’t seem right though. Got any ideas?

Animate the trigger of the spite emitter to 0 to switch it off. Animate it to 1 keep it on.

I would suggest making the keyframes for on and off right next to each.

So if you want it to run frames 30 to 60

use these keyframes
29 trigger 0
30 trigger 1
60 trigger 1
61 trigger 0

once you switch it off the remaining particles created should complete their life cycles(which might mean you want to switch it off a bit earlier). This works nicely for something like smoke where you get a natural reduction when you stop emitting.

Thanks, James! You da man! How do you understand these things so well?

When reading over the manual, which is very well written, I feel that it is written in a technically correct, concise manner which, I would imagine, helps to keep the already voluminous manual to a manageable size. However, I feel like they should strive to “put their cookies on a lower shelf” and make it a bit more understandable to the common layman. Sprites, emitters, bakers, visualizers, etc. It’s all new to me!

you’re welcome. Glad it helped.

The problem with making the manual more words, it would actually be harder to use. It is a real hard balance.

I actually use particle systems for work at times so there is a lot of crossover and I am already familar with the basics of how they work.

I think what makes it hard is modules don’t work alone, they need the right friends(other modules) to work the way you intend. In my opinion the best way to learn is the build the effects from ground up. Look at one thing that would make your particle better and try to add that.

It makes it hard to write a manual because there are so many possible combinations which is why they added all the examples.

Since I am guessing you watched the rain tutorial i did, how did you find that to follow? Should i explain things more? I am trying to keep the pace up but sometimes i worry I gloss over stuff.

It’s been around a week since I viewed them so it’s not fresh in my mind. But I think they were good and understandable. I’ll have to take another look at them once my deadlines ease up a bit.

I realize it might be quite a bit of extra work, but what about flipping the problem around backwards. Try making a curtain out of particles that
can then experience the effects. Page 993 of the manual mentions
a particle replicator “animated grass” that does grass blowing in a
breeze. It may not be exactly what you want, but it might have some
good starting point clues…?

Haven’t tried it myself yet, but seems like it could work.


Just did a real quick experiment here,
inserted an animated grass, went to
network view, selected the peg’s
properties, changed the 3d rotation to
quaternion, rotated y and z by 90 degrees,
went back to camera view and hit play.

Is that along the lines of what you are thinking?


Do you realise the grass swaying is actually just a series of animated drawings with the particle system adding some extra movement and multiplication?

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. I ended up just going with the curtains with curve deformers. It worked well enough and served my purposes.

Yes. And yet with 2 minutes of play it was able to give an appearance
of the basic harmonic oscillator motion of a membrane shaking in the

Sure you can write a Qt script to calculate the dynamics of a
membrane under a wind periodic driving force (a sin wave would
be the simplest, but a triangle or sawtooth waveform would be more realistic
(just use the first handful of terms from the fourier expansion,
should be close enough for this purpose) )
with gravity providing a restoring force with a constraining boundary
condition along the top of the membrane [allow rotation,
but no translation]. It would add on the order of NxM calculations for each time step,
where N and M are the number of vertical and horizontal elements
representing the mesh making up the curtain.Probably not that
different from the calculation times associated with the particle

I just suggested particles it as it seemed like a new direction to explore.
Certainly being able to animate a 3d region for the Repulse
module could give a very interesting controllable wind effect.
I may play with the idea a bit.

Glad Zeb managed to straighten out his curve deformers! Can you tell
us what change was key to making the effect better?

Lily, it would be delightful to use the physics engine as a module to
hook up to objects and their control parameters. Sounds fun!


No change, Tom. I just used the curve deformers and keyframed it until I got the movement the way I wanted it. My original question was regarding using the particle modules to add the effects of wind and gravity which I found only applied to a particle setup. So I just stuck with the curves and it worked quite well.

I’m very thankful for all the ideas and discussion as that’ how I learn and find new ways of doing things.

Just in case anyone is interested, I had a couple of hours to just
play this afternoon, and this seemed like a good project to start
getting used to working in Harmony (new user).

I set up a basic gravity emitter, added a repulse cone to it (off to
one side), enabled Relative Gravity, increased the particle mass,
and sketched a small elongated textured particle.

Outside of the stray particles, I am not completely unhappy with
the progress. I would crank down the frame rate a little and increase
the particle density, and work on eliminating the falling effect
a bit if I wanted to use it, but I did like the dynamics.

Depending on how 3d you wanted it, one could get a better result
by changing the emitter to a long cylinder and change the repulse
object to fit.

As it is it would make a pretty decent faucet effect.

Just a bit of play, but If you want to see I have posted it to youtube.



What the gravity does on the particle effects is it affects the position of the particles over time, same thing with wind. With something like applying gravity to curtains, you are probably wanting to actually deform them over time. You mentioned that you already put them on deformers, and I think that’s probably the way to go.

Now that we’ve built some basic physics in there, it would be cool to go to the next step and tie together what we’ve done with deform with the physics engine, but we haven’t done that yet.