Enzo’s Monday Motion #103: Particles

From solid geometrical patterns to organic flowing liquids. Particle animations are always a feast to watch and strong in directing attention. With this technique it’s impossible to stop with one example…

The Real Thing

Let’s set things straight: particles are in it’s core a natural phenomenon. Leaves floating through the air, rain falling from the sky or pretty much every substance seen under a microscope.

The Usual Suspect

The common thought of particles is CGI and science fiction. Nike football wanted to show its innovative side by combining body tracked motion from stars like Ronaldo and Neymar with particles.

The low poly style (for the n00bs think low resolution / big surfaces) and colour palet gives the video an artistic touch. I like how they play around with multiple particle set ups, mixing break downs and build ups of the athletes body. It gives the impression that Nike shoes provide you with an explosive amount of energy. Creative Direction by Cedric Kiefer and animation by R. Schmidt, D. Öztürk, R. Gambacciani, and D. Weidemann.

Graphical Style

The more technical approach of particle animation is the repetition of an asset. This can be in three dimensional space like the previous example, but just as well in the classic flat graphical design. CNN’s Colorscope is an online serie that uses the latter. Each episode of one minute delivers surprising insights of a single colour, in this case red.

Directer and animator Abel Reverter used more particle animation then you would expect. Not only the blood cell scene but also the swarm of walking insects are based on this specific animation technique. Thus revealing another misinterpreted aspect of particles: it doesn’t have to be a single dot, but can also be a richly animated asset.

ps. watch the full serie of Colorscope on CNN’s website.


Particles are a great way to reveal or hide an object in a scene. Not only technically for the transition but also for influencing the ambience. Ink or smoke are often used to give a mystical effect. Toyota wanted to reveal it’s latest model with an artistic and high end feeling.

The car brand took quite the risk with this campaign. The thick black smoke could easily be seen as heavily polluted exhaust gas. Thanks for the subtle inky smoke by The Mill it maintained it’s mystical character.

(un)Natural Choreography

Flowers can contain the most beautiful and complex forms. Alexa Sirbu and Lukas Vojir created a visual poem where they mixed organic and geometrical forms in 3D.

The duo has surely done their share of research. The shots look uncanny real and could easily have been taken from the very first video. It’s nice to see that CGI has reached the level of natural (im)perfection!

In The Mix

Plus one is an Amsterdam based motion studio with international allure. They excel in smooth and colourful animation where the pace and timing is always spot on. The next example is an ident where they freely play around with particles: from simple graphical strokes to simplified human characters.

Ball Pool for Grown Ups

If only half of the museums were as interactive and playful as the concept of Maxim Zhestkov, they would be a real menace to theme parks…!

Last Week

Who isn’t a fan of Finding Nemo, Cars or Toy Story?! Their style is so strong it could easily be a genericized trademark. Check out these five shorts which easily deserve the brands signature.

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Enzo Greco

Enzo is motion director van Born05 en schrijver van het blog Enzo's Monday Motion. Vimeo

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