with Particle Playground?
No. Layers and layers of Fractal Noise and distortion effects.
Is there any tutorial on that?
Aren't the distortion effects gonna pixelate my image? Or make it lose detail?
Fractal Noise looks very turbulent and chaotic, that flame image is very smooth and regular, how can I use FN to eliminate its inherent graininess?
Some of the distortion effects can eliminate the "grainyness" of fractal noise. But some of the different types of fractal noise aren't very grainy to begin with.
Fractal noise is one of the most powerful and most used effects in the professional world of AE motion graphics. Learn that bugger inside and out.
There's a lot to be said for just getting stock footage of fire and then, optionally, using a Distort effect to reshape the fire. If you start with a stock footage element of high enough quality, then you shouldn't have any problems with pixelation or graininess.
Is Dean Valez's site really gone? (motiongraphicslab.com/ returns "Site is doing maintenance. Please come back again.")
He simulated all naturally chaotic pyro phenomena like fire, smoke, and flames with Fractal Noise and Tint. Easy peasy and elegantly controllable but not as much fun as getting into the particle systems.
It's been down for quite some time. Very unfortunate; that was an excellent site. Todd said he was going to contact him and see what was going on. I haven't heard how that went.
I may have some of those old projects of his kicking around, but the IT guy is working on my machine doing something with my second RAID setup (GO AWAY; I HAVE WORK TO DO, DANGIT!). I'll try to remember to check next time I'm QCing something.