When I need particles, I reach for Partigen 2. Though it only works inside Flash, I export its animations for After Effects and Premiere Pro projects. Why am I gaga over Partigen? Because it gives me total control over every facet of particle creation, emission, and lifespan. If I can’t produce the effect I want in the interface, I dig under the hood by writing code in ActionScript, the programming language of Flash.

Those working exclusively in ActionScript can use Partigen 2 for free. Noncoders must purchase the user interface (a Flash plug-in). It ships with more than a hundred presets (fire, water, explosions, bubbles, etc.), which you can modify as it suits your needs. You can dial in particles-per-second, direction, lifespan, velocity, acceleration, and friction. You can animate particle position, scale, alpha, and color.

Though Partigen comes with many particles (fire, water, smoke, etc.), I couldn’t find an easy way to use custom ones (e.g., company logos). You can do it with code, but I wish Partigen’s UI let me pick movie clips from the Library to use as particles.

Another limitation in the UI is that you can only control position in the x and y planes. So I should update my claim above to say that I reach for Partigen for 2D-particle effects. For those, Partigen gives me everything I need in its fun-to-use, simple interface, which allows me to save my effects as presets and share them with friends.

Partigen doesn’t come with a manual, but there’s a how-to video on Desuade’s website.—Marcus Geduld

Company: Desuade
Price: $147 (Upgrade: $67)
Web: www.desuade.com
Rating: 4
Hot: Easy; powerful; control via UI and code
Not: 2D only; availability of power features