Some success on the smoke and flame front after what seems like an eternity of experiments. Consultation with some students in Sound and Video produced some answers! I attempted to use Partical Playground but was pretty unhappy with the potchy result. Another student had used Trapcode’s Particular 1.5 Plugin for After Effects on a Mac. Thankfully I was able to get a home of a WIN version and got it up and running. The results were immediate and I’m pleased with the look. Of course, the videos attached are only experiments and I am still learning to use the emitter and control the direction of the smoke. I basically start with the presets and then alter all the figures from there to suit the shot. The plug in call also render great fog and snow effects which will come in handy for the white sequence. I can see this plug in is going to be my new best friend!
DV Reviews basically won me over to Trapcode after hours of searching through the alternatives.