Post 1 of 33
UPDATE! Video walkthrough now available! No sound, but it shows you in a quick way just how you do it. Download it here.
UPDATE 2! Presets now available for all versions of EffectsLab and VisionLab. These are available:
ILM Blue Lightsabers - Part 1
ILM Blue Lightsabers - Part 2
ILM Green Lightsabers - Part 1
ILM Green Lightsabers - Part 2
ILM Red Lightsabers - Part 1
ILM Red Lightsabers - Part 2
ILM Purple Lightsabers - Part 1
ILM Purple Lightsabers - Part 2
Hi! I recently figured out how to make nice looking lightsabers in VisionLab (this tutorial could work in EffectsLab, but I have not been able to try it).
This tutorial will learn you how to make those incredibly epic lightsabers as seen in the most recent episode of the Star Wars saga. One thing that can be seen in Episode III and not in the other episodes, is a slight glow around the edges of the core, which is exactly what we are going to make.
I am going to use direct blue screen footage from Episode 3 to show you what I mean.
Width: 853 Pixels
Height: 480 Pixels
Aspect Ratio: Square (1,0)
Scan Method: Progressive
Let's get started!
I start by opening my original footage (I have keyed the blue background out to make it easier to see what to do). The first thing I'll do is to apply a neon light engine on top of the footage. Mask your lightsaber using the teqnique covered in the manual (4-point, first two clicks at the bottom, then two at the top).
Then you alter the hilt curve and tip curve. Of course this varies from what footage you are using, but I'm using a value of 0.22 for the hilt. (Since the tip curve is out of picture I won't make any alterations there. Just remember not to make it too subtle or too extreme.) Your footage should now look something like this. Note that the glow is FAR from finished, this image is just to show the shape of the lightsaber.
Next step is to go into the Neon Glow section. I'll set the feather to 6 since this is quite an extreme close-up. Leave the other Core Attributes. Click on the big red bar to open up the colour gradient, then click the red box next to "Color:" to open the Color Pallete. Depening on what you like to use as a colour, you can choose almost any colour you want. Except white...or black. Just make sure to use a colour next to the edges, and you'll be fine.
The exact value for my dark blue colour is: 25, 75 and 240. Click "OK", then click "OK" again. Leave the Color Randomizer to 0.00.
Now it's time for a important step. *Drumroll*...The Size! It's important not to use a very big number if your lightsaber is far away, and not a small number if it's very close. On my footage I'm using a value of 125. Set the spread at approx. half the size of the size. I'm setting it to 56. Next step is intensity, which suprisingly enough gives intensity to your lightsaber! I'm setting this to 0.15, but again this could vary depending on your footage.
This is a small screencap of my settings:
You have now completed the glow for the 1st layer (!) of the lightsaber. Your footage should look something like this.
The next step is to duplicate your lightsaber layer (by doing "copy" and "paste") and place your new layer on top of the other one.
Now, select your top-most lightsaber layer by leftclicking the purple tab. The object inspector should pop up in the upper-right corner. Set the Composite to "Add" instead of "Screen". Now, enter your Neon Glow settings for the layer you just changed the blending mode on. Raise the core feather to about 6 times the number (I used 6, so I'm raising to 24).
The next step is to alter the Glow Attributes again. Set your size to about a 3rd of it's previous number (I used 125, now I'm using 43). The Spread is a little harder to say how much you should lower it. A bit more than half it's original value should be fine (I used 56, now I'm using 30). Do not change the intensity.
Here is a screencap of my settings for the second lightsaber layer:
If you have done everything right, the effect should now be completed and should look close to this.
EXTRA: It's often good to add a small size randomizer and spread randomizer to the first layer if your lightsaber is fairly static and doesn't move around much. This adds extra realism.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and I can't wait to see what you can come up with. Feel free to experiment! And remember,
Imagination Is Your Only Limit.