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The Lightsaber Effects Thread

Discussion in 'Fan Films, Fan Audio & SciFi 3D' started by krnbanguboi, Oct 23, 2005.

  1. Ricky_Calrissian

    Ricky_Calrissian Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Nov 17, 2008
    Something I finally have time to experiment with is sabers in a 3D perspective (I think I've mentioned them before on this thread...) Many times in The Clone Wars the sabers fan out in three dimensions, something you couldn't exactly rotoscope too easily. I'll try and find a clip of what I'm talking about...
     
  2. TrowaGP02a

    TrowaGP02a Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 24, 2004
    Please do, my brain can't comprehend for some reason.
     
  3. CountDoosheee

    CountDoosheee Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 15, 2002
    Thought I'd share this; not because I'm proud of the job I did (I'm not) but really the hilarity of the original video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWRM-UPzhGY

    The guy actually offered to buy the video from me; I explained to him that I really wasn't going to accept money for such an easy and short video - especially not one that used copyrighted sound effects - but the truth is that he simply wasn't offering enough. Unless someone has a maple Rickenbacker 325v59 out there, I can't be bought.

    (cough) Anyway. Thought I'd share that video.
     
  4. Kaat

    Kaat Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 5, 2004
    I like the video. I don't find it exactly hilarious, but I actually think that it's an excellent demonstration of an effect very well sold due to how the visuals, the sound effects and the actual footage play together.
     
  5. CountDoosheee

    CountDoosheee Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 15, 2002
    Aha!
    A brief note - I didn't mean to imply that mine was funny, I just found the original guy to be somewhat amusing. I (and this might be just me) don't usually bellow "JUST HANGIN' OUT" before jumping on my prey.

    Not that I have prey!
     
  6. VaporTrail

    VaporTrail Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    May 19, 2002
    I've been thinking about this for a bit, but I caught a glimpse of it in the TFU2 trailer that confirmed this is prolly the next step.
    We can do IL. We can do burn marks. We can do glows that take the lighting conditions into account. My latest obsession?

    [image=http://img693.imageshack.us/img693/5720/tfu201.jpg]
    That's right.
    Realistic motion blur.


    Initial thoughts. Most of my latest fights have been shot with white duct tape on the blades with red markers near the base and tip. However, if I remove the markers, there's nothing that would really stand out. If anything, it adds to the highlights like on Starkiller's arm there. The trick though, is I don't think just lowering the opacity would do it. I may play around with this tonight, if I can recover some mental energy.
    I still have no idea how Essence of the Force did it.

    Input?
     
  7. DarthRicmu

    DarthRicmu Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jul 3, 2005
    I actually got that effect once (the same look as in your pic) by accidentally flipping on the Motion Blur switch in AE...

    Dunno if it always works or what I did (mixed) that achieved it... it gave a very weird/smoothing pase to my Lightsaber fight... Though I wouldn't feel it to be correct though...
     
  8. frodo_1987

    frodo_1987 Jedi Youngling

    Registered:
    Jun 4, 2010
    I think the problem with that would be seeing the prop stick underneath. That's the first thing that comes to my mind, anyway....but I've never really tried it before so I could be way off base
     
  9. Rhys

    Rhys Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 27, 2005
    You could always use the masks for the saber props to image re-target the props out of each frame. Then either use AE's standard motion blur, or write some expression to blur/drop the opacity of a saber mask in relation to its displacement from its position/rotation in the previous frame. Higher numbers equals less opacity/higher blur, or whatever.
     
  10. drewjmore

    drewjmore Jedi Knight star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 15, 2007
    Motion blur? One way that's occured to me: Roto just the stick, then use echo time to spread that into the type of fan you're going for.

    You might also mess with the AE shutter/motion blur, but there'd be lots of fooling around with that too to keep the stick hidden, as Mr. Frodo mentioned one post up. Possibly one layer that securely masks the stick, and then another layer with a duplicated mask with MB and the shutter way open over that. Also could use the mask on an adjustment layer that color-corrects to help hide the prop when it's fanned out.

    Rhys's suggestion is what I do in my roto expression program: track the leading-edge of the prop's endpoints, and then calculate the apparent distance swept to produce the fan mask. "Image re-target"? What the devil is that?
     
  11. Ryan_W

    Ryan_W VIP star 4 VIP

    Registered:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Two-point roto has always been an enticing approach. A year or two ago I tried rather seriously to develop a strong method. My first attempts were simply trying to use motion blur, like you're talking about, but you will find that in real-world scenarios, After Effects has a finite number of times it can sub-sample a frame for motion blur, even with the preferences maxed out, which means if you really whip that saber, or whip it closer to camera, you get into trouble. That's all beside the fact that it's highly intensive to be rendering that kind of motion blur for every frame.

    What I ended up doing, was to actually write a fairly complex script that would take your points, and a number of keyframable parameters, and calculate the blurred saber shape and build masks for you. This functionally worked pretty well, but it really pinpointed the one problem with this method: It's never 100% right. In fact, it's rarely 70% right. Why? It actually makes a lot of sense if you think about it. On "film", if your saber blade prop were always exactly in the very center of your blurred saber, then this method would work. But, reality is not that clean. For that to be the case, your saber blade would always need to be swinging at a perfectly constant speed. Neither accelerating, nor decelerating. But that's never the case. It's often pretty close... close enough to be tantalizing, but that really only tends to be in the easy scenarios you use to just test the theory.

    You have to think about the real world. Imagine, for example, that you are swinging rapidly, but decelerating quickly. Where, in one frame, you are going from high speed, to nearly stopped. You can imagine this happening when you strike another blade, as an obvious example. In this case (which, if you think about it, is all cases, to varying degrees) half of the speed is not half of the visual blur. Most of the blur you see is from only the beginning part of that frame's movement (the part where you were swinging fast) and once the saber blade slowed down, it is simply not spanning across very much of the frame. And so, if you think about it, simply placing a roto-blade in the middle of the blur that you see, is generally not going to be the correct placement, and there is really no way of knowing where that position should be. And, even if you could, for the digital motion blur (or calculated motion blurred shape, in my case) to be true, it would also need more accurate information about the velocity, or really, more "time resolution", to correctly span the blur on either end of the true position. If you were to use a method like this, by the time you manually corrected these issues "by hand", you would have spent more time than it would have taken to actually just roto the damn thing, in all likelihood.

    However, if your goal is to make a motion-blurry saber, it's going to be a bit more forgiving because your leading and trailing edges are softer, so you will be able to get away with less manual correction, but in my experience, it still would amount to a lot of extra work.
     
  12. NateCaauwe

    NateCaauwe Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    May 30, 2005
    I think I could've rotoed a shot in by hand in the time it took to read that post.
     
  13. Kaat

    Kaat Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 5, 2004
    Call me old fashioned, but I still don't see anything wrong with either the good, old "solid" fanning sabers (you know... like in those movie-things that Star Wars used to be before all that CGI ****?) or with AE's built-in motion blur effect, which most of the times will give you satisfying results as well. Especially since it's not like anyone will notice anyway.

    I think we shouldn't go all ape**** because of that render movie that shows effects like this in one shot and forgets to add basic lighting in others (like when Galen dual-stabs that one stormtrooper through the door and you see no light from the saber or the impact on the door).

    Oh, and the sabers don't flicker.
     
  14. VaporTrail

    VaporTrail Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    May 19, 2002
    Beyond all that, I just think it looks neat and I'm wondering if I can do it. At this point, I don't see how it could be worth the effort unless someone wanted to be really particular about the style of their sabers. Which most of us do, but to the point where we're applying an effect to specific frames? I dunno about that.
    Just motion blur isn't giving me the look I'm going for. To me that frame of Starkiller looked like was the fanning area of the blade duplicated from the footage layer, then Add mode applied to boost all highlights, then have a lower-opacity, motion blurred saber effect laid over that.

    That's what it looks like, but it's not working that way in my test. I wonder if they've actually got their saber as a 3D object, so it blurs like this naturally when in motion.
     
  15. Kaat

    Kaat Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 5, 2004
    Of course they do.
     
  16. DarthRicmu

    DarthRicmu Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jul 3, 2005
    Well I am curious now how the sabers will look when you motion blur the core and then use a duplicate core to ensure the blade is covered...

    I might try this sometime..

    Though I'm also still searching for a way to achieve the great green saber effect from Luke in the ROTJ.
     
  17. Kaat

    Kaat Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 5, 2004
    Got a picture? I only remember this effect as being kinda blown out. Which scenes especially are you referring to (Tatooine, Endor or Death Star)?
     
  18. drewjmore

    drewjmore Jedi Knight star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 15, 2007
    http://www.vimeo.com/12556551

    I took a quick minute to try out a few motion-blur settings with a shot from my primary ff project, where I'm using my 2-pt roto thingy.
    For references, there are 5 replays with: no roto, just the 2-point core, standard fan and then 2 of the MB settings that looked interesting to me.
     
  19. DarthRicmu

    DarthRicmu Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jul 3, 2005
    I can hardly see any difference as it goes so fast :p

    Hmmm... i'll try to make a screengrab when I can :)

    I think it was Death Star :)
     
  20. drewjmore

    drewjmore Jedi Knight star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 15, 2007
    dl the original file so you can jog it.
    the link's on the page, bottom right.
    I'll do stills instead in a bit...

    .a bit later:
    [image=http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o42/drewjmore/StillComp.jpg]
     
  21. FilipeJMonteiro

    FilipeJMonteiro Jedi Youngling star 1

    Registered:
    May 23, 2010
    The last two remind of the Jedi Academy games. They're kinda cool, dude.
     
  22. drewjmore

    drewjmore Jedi Knight star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 15, 2007
    Thanky!

    After I put that still up, I started wondering about adding the bottom two together:
    [image=http://i117.photobucket.com/albums/o42/drewjmore/StillComp2.jpg]
    More solid near the core, with the longer smeared glow.
     
  23. Ryan_W

    Ryan_W VIP star 4 VIP

    Registered:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Yellow saber over a bright green background... maybe not the best way to evaluate how your saber is looking.
     
  24. Master_Comyn

    Master_Comyn Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 17, 2000
    If only there was some way you could remove that background....

    I'm in the camp of mostly solid white fans, with maybe a slight opacity drop (about 90%), just enough for it not to be stark white, but enough to obscure the blurred prop. Obviously, the opacity would drop more as the fan grew larger, and come back up as it slowed down. I really don't like that blur effect in TFU2 trailer. So long as you can keep the white from looking like a blob, I'm happy. But if you get rid of it, it looks less like a lightsaber and more like a glow stick.
     
  25. drewjmore

    drewjmore Jedi Knight star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 15, 2007
    Good point on the green. We're getting there on the environment, but still gonna be awhile.
    Sorta casually looking for a Vue or Terragen expert, in case anyone in here is one of those.[face_thinking]

    That was just he first shot I scrolled past as I was looking for completed roto in my teaser sequence.
    The real deal will be solid fans. Y'all just got my noodle boiling, and I like the "more realistic" look of transparent fans: I might do those on my LCC entry.