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There are lots of ways to approach that 'particular' effect.
I found the following link (one method) by using the Community Search link at the top of the forums and entering the "text to smoke" search criteria.
Text To Smoke
It's a pretty old method, and there are many other ways to pull it off, but it should get you going.
Here's another one.
This last one is and old favorite of mine. Check it out too.
If you have Trapcode Particular at your disposal, you may want to look into using some smoke presets and some elbow grease.
Just FYI, where the first tutorial calls for "CE Turbulent Displace", there is now a built-in Turbulent Displace effect in AE.
You might also look into Trapcode Form, which specializes in structured particle effects.
Mmh, you could ask you client to pay you a license of Maya Unlimited or Houdini Master plus some introductory courses. ;-) Just kidding, of course. In addition to the suggestions already made you may consider the folowing techniques:
a) If you have RevisionFX' Re:Flex or Digital Anarchy's Anarchy Toolbox collections, you could use the warp and displacment effects included there to have your letters "dissipate" along a mask path - animate the stretch and motion, then blur like hell the further it rises up.
b) Similar to the first technique, you could use Revision FX' SmoothKit directional along Spline blur.
c) Good old CC Vector Blur could be used to create the illusion of smoke emitting from the edges of the text. A linear wipe could be used to introduce a transitional effect and control the area of smoke (using duplicates of the layers)
d) Check out Andrew Kramer's (videocopilot.net) recent tutorials. There's one explaining some sort of energy field effect and the techniques there (namely the lens particle type in CC particles combined with blurs) could also be used to create whispy smoke effects.
thanks guys! yeah i had found that "text to smoke" tut, and i don't know if it was that i wasn't using the exact same plugins as the one he uses in the tut but mine just didn't turn out looking that good no matter what i did to it.
But thank you so much for the "Creating a Flowing Title Effect" tutorial link- that is exactly what i want! In fact, I had come across it about 5 years ago i think, and had used it on something- and yesterday before i put up this post I had this vague memory of doing something flowy that would be perfect but i couldnt for the life of me remember what project i had used it on or where i had got it from. But here it is- thanks!! :-)
Welcome back to the Forum, BTW Anna! Long time no see.
Aren't you working at WETA yet? :-)
hehe no unfortunately! (though i tried!). I'm working in Barcelona now! :-P