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I'm not sure what you are getting at. By all rights, keyframing the parameters should give the expected results, so probably there's something amiss in the way how you combine them. Anyway, you can always use a gradient layer to control how the dynamics respond. In your case, simply create a white solid in a pre-comp, then assign that pre-comp as the gradient layer. Animate the threshold and leave the forces at full from the start.
I agree that the keyframe thing should have worked (that's why I tried it), but it didn't (that's why I posted :) ). Sounds like a weird bug to me.
Anyways, the gradient thing worked perfectly...thanks a bunch!
You don't want to kf the Force, you want to keyframe the size of the sphere.
Think of it this way, any pixel that the sphere touches has been given permission to move. The only way to keep something from moving is to not touch it yet.
I love SHatter.
The original Atomic package came with more than 2 hours of video explaining the baiscs of Shatter. It's incredibly cool and stupidly underexplained.