Was doing my usual trawl through the special effects and compositing sites earlier today and came across this...
particleIllusion is a standalone application that allows you to quickly and easily create amazing effects: explosions, smoke, fire, sparkles, motion graphics backgrounds, space effects, creatures, and abstract artistic effects -- literally hundreds of different types of effects.
particleIllusion SE is the low-cost introductory version of particleIllusion. It uses an older version of our particle engine, but can still create a huge number of effects.
particleIllusion SE is available for both Windows and Mac OS X
Over 950 emitters are included, with more released free every month
SE is the introductory version of the award-winning particleIllusion 3.0, which has been receiving great reviews from the day it was released! read more
particleIllusion SE Demo (Windows)
The demo version of particleIllusion SE for Windows is fully-functional for 30 days and has no limitations (no watermarks for instance).
Download the particleIllusion SE for Windows demo (5.4 MB)
Windows System Requirements
Windows 98/ME, NT 4, 2000, XP
128 MB RAM
OpenGL-supported video card recommended
If you are looking for a special effects app and don't want to take out a second mortgage to purchase it, then it might be worth looking at.
wondertouch: home of particleIllusion