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pFlock Node

The pFlock node can be used to simulate the behavior of organic systems, such as a flock of birds or a colony of ants. Its use can make an otherwise mindless particle system appear to be motivated, or acting under the direction of intelligence.

The pFlock node works through two basic principles. Each particle attempts to stay close to other particles and each particle attempts to maintain a minimum distance from other particles.

The strength of these “desires” produces the seemingly motivated behavior perceived by the viewer

pFlock Node Inputs

The pFlock node has a single orange input by default. Like most particle nodes, this orange input accepts only other particle nodes. A green or magenta bitmap or mesh input appears on the node when you set the Region menu in the Region tab to either Bitmap or Mesh.

  • Input: The orange background input takes the output of other particle nodes.
  • Region: The green or magenta region input takes a 2D image or a 3D mesh depending on whether you set the Region menu to Bitmap or Mesh. The color of the input is determined by whichever is selected first in the menu. The 3D mesh or a selectable channel from the bitmap defines the area where the flocking takes effect.

pFlock Node Setup

When combined with pFollow, the pFlock node can produce natural swarming behaviors that change direction.

pFlock Node Controls

The Random Seed slider and Randomize button are presented whenever a Fusion node relies on a random result. Two nodes with the same seed values will produce the same random results. Click the Randomize button to randomly select a new seed value, or adjust the slider to manually select a new seed value.

Flock Number
The value of this control represents the number of other particles that the affected particle will attempt to follow. The higher the value, the more visible “clumping” will appear in the particle system and the larger the groups of particles will appear.

Follow Strength
This value represents the strength of each particle’s desire to follow other particles. Higher values will cause the particle to appear to expend more energy and effort to follow other particles. Lower values increase the likelihood that a given particle will break away from the pack.

Attract Strength
This value represents the strength of attraction between particles. When a particle moves farther from other particles than the Maximum Space defined in the pFlock node, it will attempt to move closer to other particles. Higher values cause the particle to maintain its spacing energetically, resolving conflicts in spacing more rapidly.

Repel Strength
This value represents the force applied to particles that get closer together than the distance defined by the Minimum Space control of the pFlock node. Higher values will cause particles to move away from neighboring particles more rapidly, shooting away from the pack.

Minimum/Maximum Space
This range control represents the distance each particle attempts to maintain between it and other particles. Particles will attempt to get no closer or farther than the space defined by the Minimum/ Maximum values of this range control. Smaller ranges will give the appearance of more organized motion. Larger ranges will be perceived as disorganized and chaotic.

pFlock Node Conditions, Style, Region, and Settings Tabs

The Conditions, Style, Region, and Settings tabs are common to all Particle nodes, so their descriptions can be found HERE.


About the Author

Justin Robinson is a Certified DaVinci Resolve, Fusion & Fairlight instructor who is known for simplifying concepts and techniques for anyone looking to learn any aspect of the video post-production workflow. Justin is the founder of JayAreTV, a training and premade asset website offering affordable and accessible video post-production education. You can follow Justin on Twitter at @JayAreTV YouTube at JayAreTV or Facebook at MrJayAreTV

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