Mechanism Digital Deploys wondertouch particleIllusion 3.0 to Recreate Historic Battle Scenes and Environmental Particle Effects For The History Channel® Special: “Last Stand of the 300”

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wondertouch™ today announced that Mechanism Digital relied on particleIllusion 3.0 to create realistic particle effects on “Last Stand of the 300,” The History Channel special (currently airing), which made its television debut on March 8.

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Within the 3D environment, recreating and refining natural-looking particle effects such as smoke, fire, and dust, requires a considerable amount of research and development, as well as time-consuming set-ups, experimentation, and modifications

wondertouch™, , a high-performance developer of particle effects creation software tools, today announced that Mechanism Digital, a New York-City based facility specializing in 3D animation, visual effects, and broadcast design, relied on particleIllusion 3.0, the company’s cornerstone particle effects application, to create realistic particle effects such as fire, smoke, dust and sparks, on “Last Stand of the 300,” The History Channel special (currently airing), which made its television debut on March 8. Mechanism has been using particleIllusion since 2001, and has used the software on “Engineering an Empire,” and “Inside the Volcano,” two other recent The History Channel programs. (Editors’ Note: Downloadable image is available at:

“Last Stand of the 300” focuses on the Battle of Thermopylae during the Greco-Persian War in 480 B.C. The battle saw 300 Spartans teamed with a few thousand Greek warriors fighting a million-man Persian Army to a standstill. For seven days, the small, but valiant army defied impossible odds. Mechanism Digital generated a 3D background that includes shots of Greece, Athens, Marathon and the Battle of Thermopylae, together with live action compositing for a strikingly realistic recreation. The two-hour special, directed by David Padrusch, is a Limulus Production for The History Channel.

According to Lucien Harriot, Mechanism Digital founder and visual effects supervisor, particleIllusion takes its place in the production pipeline, alongside 20 PC workstations running Autodesk Maya 3D, as well as eyeon Fusion® and Adobe® After Effects® for visual effects and compositing.

“Within the 3D environment, recreating and refining natural-looking particle effects such as smoke, fire, and dust, requires a considerable amount of research and development, as well as time-consuming set-ups, experimentation, and modifications,” says Harriot. “Overall, because particleIllusion 3.0 is a 2D tool, it offers a truly real-time creative process. We find using particleIllusion much faster than creating effects from scratch. It speeds up the process, and speed is absolutely critical when working under the intense deadline pressure typical of TV shows,” he explains.

“Working on a television production is fast and furious, and down and dirty,” says Harriot. “particleIllusion lets us change the scale and other properties of an emitter, and the libraries that wondertouch has developed work perfectly. At this point, we know when we can use particleIllusion, get the job done quickly, and move on.”

“wondertouch is committed to creating particle effects software that is flexible, intuitive, and reasonably priced,” says Alan Lorence, president, wondertouch. “particleIllusion 3.0 offers a high degree of customization options and creative control over virtually every parameter of the particle effect. And, we’re pleased that Mechanism Digital is leveraging both our standalone application and the Pro Emitters collection to speed workflow on its many high profile television production projects.”

Harriot points out that in order to present the original topography of Thermopylae as accurately as possible and to recreate the combat experience, Mechanism shot people on greenscreen and placed them into various CG environments such as the Pass of Thermopylae, Athens, water, and more.

“We used particleIllusion for long distance shots of smoke, sparks, and fire, in the camps and during battle scenes and to create dust impressions kicking up from the feet of marching soldiers. After creating a 3D background, we also used the software to depict hundreds of arrows being shot by archers, which took us five minutes to create versus a 3D approach which would have taken at least half the day.”

For “Engineering an Empire,” a series of 12 one-hour episodes illuminating some of history’s most impressive engineering feats, Mechanism Digital used particleIllusion to portray how steam traveled through one of the first steam engines and the pouring and smelting of molten metals in the production of cannons. Mechanism also used the software on “Inside the Volcano,” a two-hour special that aired last December, to create smoke, lava flows, fire, exploding rocks, and other fiery effects to enhance the computer-generated volcanic activity.

Mechanism Digital also relies on wondertouch Pro Emitters for particleIllusion 3.0 to expand its library of effects. “Everyone wants to be able to push a button, plug it in, and just go. We load the Pro Emitters libraries, find what we’re looking for, and quickly make the necessary adjustments,” adds Harriot.

About Mechanism Digital    

Serving the New York film and television community for over 10 years, Mechanism Digital offers 3D animation and effects for film, television, and commercials. The company also provides broadcast design and channel branding to such major networks as PBS, National Geographic Television, and The History Channel. Mechanism Digital’s reel can be viewed at

About wondertouch                            

wondertouch, headquartered in St. Louis, Mo., is an award-winning software developer specializing in particle effects for the visual effects industry. The company's flagship product particleIllusion, a sprite-based particle effects application, is designed to provide the most comprehensive effects creation tool and efficient workflow. Widely regarded as one of the most artist-friendly and affordable software solutions for creating high-quality, complex particle animations, particleIllusion is now used worldwide by creative professionals working in film post-production and pre-visualization, standard and HD video, commercial broadcast, motion graphics and game content creation. wondertouch software products are available directly from wondertouch. Additional information on wondertouch can be obtained on the Web at

wondertouch and particleIllusion are trademarks of wondertouch, LLC. Adobe and After Effects are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries. eyeon Fusion is a registered trademark of eyeon Software Inc. Autodesk and Maya are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., in the USA and/or other countries. All other trademarks contained herein are the property of their respective owners.


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