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Lightswords: Authentic lightswords

Posted: Thu, 16th Jun 2005, 11:27am

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Simon K Jones

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EffectsLab tutorials: Lightswords

Authentic lightswords: dos and don’ts

Creating lightswords in EffectsLab is easy. The technical side of things is taken care of – all you need is some time and a steady mouse. However, there’s more to lightsword creation than technology. It also needs to look right.

Authenticity

There are two parts to any lightsword – the core, and the glow. Both need to be the right size and shape for the effect to be convincing. Complicating matters is that there is no ‘official’ lightsword style, as it has been endlessly tweaked over the years. Consequently, the final look is down to personal taste but there are still a few basic rules.

Softness

An important element of a convincing lightsword is the area where the core merges with the glow. You can smooth the join using the Core feather slider in EffectsLab (in Blade Glow attributes).

A value of 0 creates a hard edge:

For a lightsword this is a little harsh and draws too much attention to the core itself.

A value of 10 creates a much softer edge that blends the core and glow together:

This amount of feathering is far more convincing and subtle. The size of the lightsword will dictate how much feathering to use – a smaller lightsword will need less feathering.

Distance glow

The amount of glow coming off a lightsword varies with distance. Due to lightswords being inherently fictional, this does not always match what would be ‘realistic’.

EffectsLab has many glow controls, the most vital of which are the Size and Spread sliders. Size determines the overall width of the glow, while Spread alters the solidity of the glow. A careful balance of the two is needed for a convincing glow.

Below are examples of blade glow at different distances.

Medium

Perhaps the most common shot of a lightsword. A common mistake is to make the Spread too high and the Size too low, which results in a blocky and overlarge glow:

If the Size is too high and the Spread is too low, on the other hand, the glow will become washed out and difficult to see:

Instead, a good method is to adjust the Size to roughly the right width, and then slowly raise the Spread until you get the right kind of glow density. As usual, the end result is down to personal preference. Here is a viable example:

Long

Shooting lightswords at long distance can be tricky. In reality the glow should probably become minimal, if visible at all. However, a brief glance at the arena fight in Attack of the Clones reveals that long distance lightsabers still have a surprisingly noticeable glow.

Again, you don’t want the glow too soft or too hard:

The glow needs to be relatively tight to the blade, but still be strong and clear:

Close-up

For extreme close-ups, you have a little more creative freedom and can often exaggerate the glow in order to make the shot even more exciting. Mistakes can still be made, however.

The glow can get so large it overwhelms the composition of the shot, for example:

When a shot gets this close, you don’t want the Spread to get out of control, either. Even if your Size is to a suitable value, too much Spread can cause the edge of the glow to be too hard:

At this close distance the edge of the glow needs to be relatively soft, while still having a powerful glow:

A combination of a high Size value and only a low-medium Spread creates this soft-edged but strong glow.

When combined with a clash, the finished shot is extremely dramatic.

Last edited Fri, 12th May 2006, 8:32am; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Thu, 16th Jun 2005, 12:01pm

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Redhawksrymmer

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Finally a "new" tutorial! Great reading, Tarn!

+1
Posted: Thu, 16th Jun 2005, 12:52pm

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Erfa

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One question: What did you use as the clash? a muzzle flash or som old AlamDV plugin?
Posted: Thu, 16th Jun 2005, 12:53pm

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Simon K Jones

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That's Ryan's spiffy clash, which you can download from his website here:

http://ryanw.michaelfrisk.com/ryan-w/tutorials_sabers2.html

You need to scroll down to the 'contact flashes' section. You can import it into EffectsLab as stock footage and apply/animate it as required.
Posted: Thu, 16th Jun 2005, 4:31pm

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Erfa

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Thanks.

EDIT: At last... 100 posts. smile
Posted: Fri, 24th Jun 2005, 2:57am

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Bugclimber

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Tarn wrote:

That's Ryan's spiffy clash, which you can download from his website here:

http://ryanw.michaelfrisk.com/ryan-w/tutorials_sabers2.html

You need to scroll down to the 'contact flashes' section. You can import it into EffectsLab as stock footage and apply/animate it as required.
Thank you Tarn! I have been searching the web for this with no results! You should document this somewhere. (Maybe the downloads section if the creator allows it) Thankyouthankyouthankyou! +1
Posted: Thu, 9th Feb 2006, 5:56pm

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FXhomer1369

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I can't make a lightsaber clash, can somebody write which are Spread and Size for a clash???

http://img263.imageshack.us/img263/8944/immagine7cl.jpg
Posted: Thu, 9th Feb 2006, 6:18pm

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Oeyvind

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FXhomer1369 wrote:

I can't make a lightsaber clash, can somebody write which are Spread and Size for a clash???

http://img263.imageshack.us/img263/8944/immagine7cl.jpg
Well, I've always just used the muzzle flash engine, that looks good. But if you're to use the neon light, I suggest a yellow\orange glow with a ALOT of feather. Here are some presets that might help you:
http://fxhome.com/presets/presetlist.php?f=%2Bcat:2&title=Lightswords

That should do the work for ya..! biggrin

Hope it helps!
Oeyvind
Posted: Thu, 9th Feb 2006, 6:58pm

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FXhomer1369

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Can you tell me why when I drag the effect from "effect present" to the screen this one goes in the middle of the screen???.
And I can't drag it in another part of the screen???.

http://img267.imageshack.us/img267/2371/immagine26bt.jpg
http://img151.imageshack.us/img151/1012/immagine38vh.jpg
http://img151.imageshack.us/img151/4161/immagine47eg.jpg
Posted: Fri, 10th Feb 2006, 10:01am

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Cogz

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Firstly, its probably worth reading the manual which will explain this.

You have to click on the Flash Attributes part of the effect object on the timeline, you then get a positioning tool appear on the canvas. Use this to drag around and rotate the muzzle flash to the position you desire.
Posted: Sat, 11th Feb 2006, 2:59pm

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FXhomer1369

Force: 200 | Joined: 27th Jan 2006 | Posts: 46

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Cogz wrote:

Firstly, its probably worth reading the manual which will explain this.

You have to click on the Flash Attributes part of the effect object on the timeline, you then get a positioning tool appear on the canvas. Use this to drag around and rotate the muzzle flash to the position you desire.
Thanks it worked, but how can I use the fire effect in particles, because when I drag it in the screen and I render I see a transparent flame.