Red Giant Software has shipped the Trapcode Particular 2 plug-in for Adobe After Effects, which generates quick-rendering 3D particle systems.

Trapcode Particular 2 offers fast renders, bouncing particles, 3D camera integration, particles that emit particles, custom shapes, air resistance, gravity and turbulence controls, and depth of field, according to Red Giant.

New features include shaded particles. All particle types in Particular 2 can be shaded from multiple lights in After Effects. Spot, point and ambient lights are supported, with natural light falloff available for spot and point lights.

Users also get access to particle volume self-shadowing. This feature creates a shadow from light sources to give the scene a much greater sense of depth, according to Red Giant. This new Streaklet particle type is designed for long exposure-style light effects as seen in the commercials for Apple's iPod.

Red Giant says that shaded particles, particle volume self-shadowing and Streaklets are exclusive to Particular and found in no other After Effects particle plug-in.

The new version also introduces floating point rendering at 32 bits per channel to allow super-bright particles to be created. Red Giant says that when motion blur is enabled, particles will render with optically correct, extra bright results.

Trapcode Particular supports After Effects 7.0-CS4 on Mac OS X and Windows. It costs US$399 (around £250), or $99 (£62) as an upgrade.

The company says that the software was used by CIS Vancouver for visual effects work on the film version of Dan Brown's Angels & Demons.

"We used Trapcode Particular on Angels & Demons to help create realistic 3D embers and falling ash," says Mark Breakspear, visual effects supervisor at CIS Vancouver. "We were amazed at how quickly Particular could set up and render a shot, and then allow us to make changes almost in real time. The embers have to have a specific look, and also animate as they fall.

"The combination of custom sprites and 3D turbulence fields allowed us to create realistic acting particles that cut seamlessly with practically shot elements. Particular was able to handle the large number of embers easily and quickly, even showing live depth of field as we worked."