I have a scene in 1812, which is based on an engraving by Christian Johann Oldendorp, of Moscow as it burns when the Russians left it ablaze. Of course there is smoke in this picture so I wanted some sort of animation to show that. Scouring the internet for tips, I found that Particle Playground, a particle plug-in included with After Effects, is the best way around it.
Using Particle playground, you can take away the gravity, causing particles to fly up, and play with the velocity and gravity force to change the speed and behaviour of the smoke (I still haven’t managed to get it slow enough for my liking…). The colour and size of particles also helps make it look nice and finally stick a Fast Blur effect on to finish the job. As you can see above, it look not too shabby and moves alright too. Could be better but for an included plug-in, it works.