I was looking in a previous post for way to produce steam in AEFX.
I did trial TrapCode Particular plugin but ...
..I subsequently discovered a great little application from FXHome called Effects Lab Pro
Do not be put off by what it appears to be...
This has a simple but professional UI , short learning curve and really does the business.
I have in the space of a two days: trialled it, learnt it, purchased the full version and produced /created a number of HD Steam FX clips (with alpha) that I can overlay /key frame / time remap etc in both AEFX and PremPro CS3.
Of course I could composite in the same app but the fact it integrates back to a AEFX or PremPro workflow is a deal maker for me.
$149 USD is a bargain and saved me a heap of shooting, time and cost. There are real advantages using "particles" over actual steam.
To quickly bring me up to speed I watched some great tutorials on their site as well. I am sure I will find other uses for the app but meantime...I am well pleased.
Trick I learnt on the way: applying alpha adjust and alpha noise in PremPro really made the steam fx "fly" perfectly over my food shots but AEFX really "floats the boat" with these clips. eg a 3D layer
I use Motion 3 emmitters for smoke / steam and it flat out rocks. You can animate properties and render with alpha channels for composition in AE. I use Motion 3 often as a big "plug-in" for AE composition elements.