Around this time of year, sleigh bells jingle, snowflakes fall, and people gather around the fireplace to open their stockings and presents. Right? Well not here in Australia, where I’m just as likely to be at the beach as in the pool, there’s no snow within thousands of kilometers, and seafood is more popular than a traditional roast. Despite all that, the fluffy red and white trimmings, the fake snow, and of course the trees are still the decorations of choice. Here, we’ll look at a few ways to make some seasonal backgrounds which could feature in your yearly family videos, or simply as something pretty to play on your TV, near the tree.
Here’s how I prefer it in PAL land.
Start Motion, then create a new file, 1920x1080, at whatever frame rate is native in your neck of the woods. Set duration to be 2 minutes or more, to make this suitable as a looping background. This will be good for playing back on a modern TV or putting online.
We’re going to make a whole lot of snowflakes fall from the sky, and to do that, we’ll need some snowflakes. We’ll also need to make them as unique as is feasible. Luckily, that’s pretty easy. In the Library, look for Content, then click the magnifying glass at the bottom of the pane and type “snow” in the search field that appears.
Search for that snow — use a different snowflake if you feel like a rebel.
You should see three different snowflakes, and you can preview each of them by clicking on them. Each one is animated, which is good and bad. It’s good, because we can get a lot out of an animation. It’s bad, because if we use that item directly in an Emitter (which is the plan) then the entire snowfall will animate in unison, not really what we want. So let’s deal with it.
Drag Snowflake 01 onto your canvas. Anywhere will do, and you’ll find it’s pretty big — which is just fine. With the snowflake selected, press K to create a Clone Layer. We make it into a Clone Layer because we can then treat it more like a movie. If we can treat it like a movie, we can pick a random frame from the movie for each particle, and that way we can create many different snowflakes from this one source. Magic.
Cloning to enhance uniqueness — that’s a new one.
Now that it’s been cloned, you should hide the original Snowflake 01.
You should end up with something like this.
Press E to create an emitter from your clone layer. An emitter sends out particles, and by default, they go in all directions from a point. We’ll change that.
Change Shape to Line, then change the Start Point to X: -1000 and Y: 600. Change the End Point to X: 1000 and Y: 600. You’re now emitting snowflakes from just above the top of the screen.
Set Emission Range to 90°, which should be enough to send the snow downwards at a gentle range of angles.
And something like this.
Set Birth Rate to 15, to control the numbers a little, but Life to 8, which should give your particles enough time to exit the screen.
Set Speed to 200, to get things going a little faster.
Set Angle Randomness to 360°, to make them start at any angle they feel like, then Spin Randomness to 270° to let them turn any way they wish.
The last few important things: Set Scale to 20%, and Scale Randomness to 30%. Uncheck “Play Frames” to make each snowflake stick on its native position. Random Start Frame should remain ticked to ensure that each snowflake is different.
That’s it! You should now have a field of snow falling from the sky; a perfectly suitable backdrop to opening presents, eating unhealthy amounts of roasted foods, or snuggling inside with loved ones. And if you’re near the beach like me, it’ll help you pretend.
Download the Motion project file here: