HOW TO MAKE LIGHTSABERS 2.0

Discussion in 'Fan Films, Fan Audio & SciFi 3D' started by DorkmanScott, Nov 10, 2005.

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  1. elemental_fantasy Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2006
    star 4
    That's not true, or is, depending on your shots. I notice in one of my fan films that there is an overexposure in the back round in a few shots. All of the sudden the guys light saber blade is gone, it just doesn't look right. It is distracting, like a continuity break, or like, oops who forgot to finish those shots. When the blade disappears, it break's the suspension of disbelief. Even in the star wars movies, there are several shots in which light sabers should disappear but don't for the very same reason.

    As I said, if you tweak the adjustments correct. Besides, when you watch a light saber fight, the last thing you should think of is, hey, light cant bend, light sabers aren't real, ect. ect.
  2. Funk-E Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 11, 2003
    star 6
    Simple fact here:

    You're wrong. Check out whenever there's a saber ignited over white in the movies, you'll see that you can't see the blade's color. It might not FEEL right to you, but it IS right--trust me, if you adjust it so that you can see the color over white, then the saber will just look painted on the frame--that's bad compositing, and again, that's not what light does. You can't make white brighter.
  3. elemental_fantasy Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2006
    star 4
    No, I see what you are saying Funk-E, I understand it and agree with it, but light cant bend either can it?
    I am simply saying that I need to see the saber blade in front of the over exposed back round for it to seem natural.
    In case you didn't notice, thats why I was saying to tweak the settings until your satisfied, if you cant composite that for a correct visual image, then thats your issue. No disrespect. But it seems to blend and work great for me. I dont know how that makes me wrong, I am currently going through the process, are you???

    If you are and are having compositing problems, I can help.

    In all fairness, you are arguing a lost point, don't try and add logic to something that works well to keep the suspension of disbelief up. Again, bigger issues here, theres no sound in space, but when we see it and hear it, it feels natural, light cant bend, but it does in a light saber. Movies are about feelings, not too often about the logic behind them, imho.

    Funk-E..... you can change whites color glow, the method I use, helps to define the glow so it looks natural, not raise the brightness.
  4. Funk-E Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 11, 2003
    star 6
    This is an old argument, and seems to be a lost cause. Have crappy-looking glows for all I care, I'm just trying to give you a friendly lesson in good compositing: The object is to try and make things look real. Of course light can't bend into a blade shape in real life, but we're working inside an internal logic here. If the lightsaber's glow is an in-camera effect, as almost all the effects in the movies and explanations of how a lightsaber works seem to illustrate, then your saber is going to disappear on a white background, and that's just the way it is, discussion over. Try checking out one of the other nine billion threads on this topic.
  5. elemental_fantasy Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2006
    star 4
    You seemed to have missed my point. But thanks for the advice in compositing. Moving on.
  6. Funk-E Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 11, 2003
    star 6
    What's your point, exactly?
  7. VaporTrail Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2002
    star 6
    I think his point basically is "I'm right, you're wrong, move on."

    Much like American politics. Funk is right in this instance, though. I can't think of an instance from the films where the 'sabers go against white, but it's a fairly simple idea.

    If you film a bright white background, like white enough to cast an area of zebra stripes on your viewfinder, try holding a lamp in front of it, or a florescent tube if you want. I'm not sure if the EL sabers would have the right effect, but they might.
    Odds are you're not going to see the front light source over the brightness of the back. It's over-exposure. Break it down to the chemical process of film. The emulsion is getting burned off when light hits it, and the white you see on film is actually empty space on each frame. If you put a bright light in front of another, you're still going to be filming an empty space on the frames.

    It's the same with lightsabers. It's one thing if they're washing out in front of a blue sky or some sand. That's when you might want to tweak the 'sabers or color-correct the shot so they show. In front of a pure white background, you shouldn't expect to see any color. You could even make for a pretty interesting scene that way, if you wanted to try something unique.

    -Vaportrail
  8. elemental_fantasy Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2006
    star 4
    I think we all agree, end of discussion, were all correct within our own points of view that is obviously not going to change.
    My point, is just showing a method of how to do roto work in front of white, regardless if your supposed to see it or not.
    Just wanted to share that with the boards, and you are not looking at my footage, its unfair for you to say it wont look right when I see it and it does look right even though it shouldnt.

    Vaps, check out return of the jedi and some as you said, tweak the colors, not the white. But I am sorry, in the instance of my movie, your both wrong.

    In general, yes, I very much agree that sabers disappear in front of white, but if it doesnt look right, screw the logic, go for what looks natural, you gotta cheat things. Why have every body actually say, hey, his saber disappeared, as about 30 people already have, as to fix it, they dont say hey, now light isnt supposed to.... ect.ect. Use creative imagination, not logic in certain instances.

    Overall point, thats how you can make em keep there color over any back round. We all have different opinions, so within our own, all are correct.

    E.I. If your gonna argue a point funk -e argue the point that skywalkers green saber is WAY too bright over that blue sky in rotj, logically, you shouldnt even see it. But it works. As well as when he is on Hoth.
    But indeed, thank you guys very much for your logical reply's.[face_peace]
  9. erus_multus2 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 11, 2005
    star 3
    They don't say it, but their eyes do.

    Anyway, you should post some examples of your method in the Lightsaber effects thread so we can judge what you've already done ourselves. :)
  10. elemental_fantasy Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2006
    star 4
    I'll post what I am talkin about in a few days, with and without the effect so everybody can see.;)
  11. Scott_M Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 24, 2000
    star 4
    I don't think this has been touched on, and doesn't have a right or wrong answer, but - Contact Flashes. Not the ones when sabers hit, but while they're locked together.

    I originally used AOTC as reference (just cos it was handy at the time) and noted that when Dooku fights Obi-Wan and Yoda, when the sabers are touching there's a small glow. Same with ROTS.

    Watch ESB again recently - no glow while they're touching.

    I've been using the 'prequel' version simply because I think it looks better. But having said that have gone for a OT kind of clash when the sabers actually hit. ie. Bigger compared to the smaller prequel clashes.

    Just wondering what other peoples preferences were.
  12. elemental_fantasy Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 6, 2006
    star 4
    I personally think it all depends upon what looks good for that specific shot. I don't think there is a particular version to use thats better then one or the other, just depends if it works for the shot or not.

  13. Scott_M Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 24, 2000
    star 4
    True. I've had to tone down some of the flashes while the sabres are locked because they're too distracting- often when they're locked dialogue is being delivered. But at the same time I've had to keep it consistent throughout the film. Can't suddenly have no glow after using it in previous shots or scenes.
  14. VaporTrail Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 19, 2002
    star 6
    Why not? That's how the movies did it.
    I think you just have to establish your own rules. If I have a moving grind, like swinging the 'sabers together, I'll have a flare. It's never as big as a single contact flare though, and I'll have an extra reverse+normal contact flare slightly larger as they break away.

    If it were a still grind, or something similar to that close-up of Luke in TESB (right before he front-flips over Vader) where the flare would completely block out the face, I'd probably refrain or have it very small.

    I still want to do something like ANH, and add a small flare when the sabers are close to each other, not quite touching but the flares are showing up. I think that's prolly due to the limited reach of the effects then, maybe the roto guys thought they were actually hitting.
    It looked neat though.

    -Vaportrail
  15. Scott_M Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 24, 2000
    star 4
    Why not? That's how the movies did it.

    I know they change from film to film, but did they change during the course of one film?
  16. Jace Taran Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 2, 2000
    star 4
    Actually, yes. In ANH, the saber effect when Luke was practicing against the remote was quite different from the effect during the Obi-Vader duel. Perhaps even more noticeable is the differences in sabers between different scenes in TPM. If you pay close attention to how the glows are done, they're handled quite differently from scene to scene (I guess they just let various rotoscopers just have at it without giving them some precise method to use). For instance, when they are on the





  17. Kevin_Sabersmith Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 19, 2007
    star 2
    Far be it from me to say anything bad about Dorkman Scott, but in his original message, he missed something that can be used to put special effects (aka lightsaber blades) into movies.

    This is important for the simple reason that all of the ways that he listed to create special effects require money.

    Now, I may be alone here, but as a Star Wars addict, any place that I can save money is a plus. Take a look at this website:
    Lightsaber Creations - Movies

    Under the "Tools" page, there are links to websites that have tools that will allow you to put lightsaber blades into movies, and they are all either open source or are free.

    Take a look, there is a lot of information on this site.



  18. DorkmanScott Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Well, I didn't mention it for the simple fact that I didn't know about it. Indeed, looking at the site it seems quite likely that your site didn't exist when I wrote up the first post over two years ago. When did you create it?
  19. Evil-Henchman Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 17, 2004
    star 4
    Ok, I originally posted this in the old Lightsaber sticky thread shortly before it was unstickied and sent into locked limbo. I just made some minor changes and decided to post it again. While written for Adobe After Effects 6.5, It also applies to AE7 and probably applies to AE CS3 as well. I hope someone finds this information useful...



    Lightsaber Core Blurring in AE:

    I was playing around with lightsaber effects in AE 6.5 Pro and decided to determine what "blur" was needed for the core of my lightsaber so that is has the same amount (proportionately) of blur for each pixel width that the blade could be. What I mean is that I wanted the blur or softness if you will, of the saber core to be proportionately the same when the blade core becomes larger or smaller (closer or farther away from the camera/viewer).

    You may be thinking that this is easy, just double the blur if you doubled the blade width... WRONG! This only works for a specific blur amount used on a specific blade width (which I'll get into in a moment). Let me give you an example. If I have a saber core that is 20 pixels wide (20px) and I use a fast blur, mask feather or gaussian blur setting of "4" (it doesn't matter which blur method as they all blur pretty much the same and definately use the same mathematical algorithms for increasing/decreasing the amount of blur) and then make a saber core that is 40px wide with a blur setting of 8, it will NOT look the same when you either scale the 20px blade to 200% or the 40px blade to 50%. In fact you actually need to use a blur setting of 10 for the 40px blade to get the same results. why? Because the math that AE uses is... complex... to put it politely. The same goes for adding lightsaber glows. The whole "layer 1 = x amount of pixels, layer 2 = double the amount of layer 1 and layer 3 = triple the amount of layer 1" type of pattern that most lightsaber tutorials say to use doesn't really work the way that probably most of you think it does... but I digress.

    For the rest of this post, the example I gave above will be referred to as "Method 1". We'll get into Method 2 in just a moment. For Method 1, a 5px wide blade (saber core) would have a blur setting of "1", 10px would have a blur of 2, 20px would have a blur of 4, 30px = 7, 40px = 10, 50px = 13 60px = 16, 70px = 19, 80px = 22, etc. You may notice that 10px had a blur double that of 5px and that 20px had a blur double that of 10px and you may be saying wait, that does not compute with what the following blade widths after 20px show. You're right, it does not appear to be correct... but I assure you it is correct. Try it for yourself, you'll see I'm right. if you compare a 20px core with a blur setting of 4 and a 40px core with a blur setting of 10, then you either enlarge the 20px core to 200% or shrink the 40px core to 50%, you will get a "perfect" match. Why doubling/halving does not work after a 20px wide core using this method, I don't know. However, between 20px and at least 160px, the mathematical algorithm stays the same. Meaning that for every pixel width number increase by 1 (after 20px), the blur number now increases by .3 instead of .2. So to recap, from saber core pixel widths 1 to 20, the blur increases in increments of .2 for every 1 pixel added to the width of the saber core. From saber core pixel widths 20 to at least 160, the blur increases in increments of .3.

    Ok that's Method 1. I decided to see if there was a blur setting I could apply to a saber core that would increase in perfect proportion by doubling/halving before and after 20px... there is. If I take a 20px wide saber core and apply a blur of "3", I can now double/divide by 2 both the blade width and blur setting and get the same proportionate results... thank God. I call this method "Method 2. In Method 2, 10px by 1.5 blur = 20px by 3 blur = 40px by 6 blur... yay!

    You don't have to take my word on it that these methods work. By all means, feel free to test it. I know I'm right but you don't so please go ahead and try this on your own. I used a
  20. Kevin_Sabersmith Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 19, 2007
    star 2
    I created the site last April, and updated it with the effects information during the last few weeks of November. I did not create any of the programs I mention on my website, I simply pulled all the information together.

    Master Scott (aka Dorkman), I just wanted to say that it was your movies that first got me thinking in this direction, thank you so very much for putting them together!
  21. evilottojr Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Dec 30, 2007
    Another program that could work, if I may, is called LSMaker. This for someone on the lowest budget; the program is free to download at lsmaker.uw.hu . It is a very task specific program;
    you click a few points on the screen, hit the render button, and there is a lightsaber button.
    The program is very limited, however (and somewhat unsurprisingly); it only works with a specific type of .avi file, and the effects you can do with it are limited as well. (They can look all right, but you'll never get After Effects quality.) It works similar to 'Screen' mode in Photoshop; you can take a BMP or JPG and insert it into the background frame of your video, and black becomes transparent. You CAN create your BMPs and JPGs to get effects like lightning and sparks, but this can be tricky. But for the most financially challenged filmmaker, LSMaker can
    be your best friend. lsmaker.uw.hu
  22. Kevin_Sabersmith Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 19, 2007
    star 2
    Gimp is also free, and very easy to use, plus you have much more control over the specifics of the blade
  23. dutchboyjr Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 13, 2007
    star 1
  24. bgii_2000 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 21, 2005
    star 4
    Just found this place:

    http://dragonplate.com/ecart/product.asp?pID=690&cID=42

    I bought some. Will review.
  25. Evil-Henchman Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 17, 2004
    star 4
    Yikes! I already bought from them. The carbon fiber tubes broke after 1 or 2 hits. Sorry man. I even posted pics and reviews of them in this thread. I tried 2 different diameters. The larger tube had a thicker wall. Both tubes split open after a few hits. Here is a pic of the smaller diameter tube after it split open.

    [image=http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y237/Evil-Henchman/Carbon%20Fiber%20Tubes/BrokenTube.jpg]
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