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beam of light

Posted: Tue, 31st Oct 2006, 3:27pm

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Underdog Productions

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hi guys. trying to get this shot down but having a few probs. its nothing new and you'll all have seen it before.

the shot i'm tring to get is basically a vast dark room. then a beam.shaft of light goes down directly and a person materialises. the beam stays there while the person is put on trial by dismembered booming voices.

Basically your generic si fi/fantasy shot where someone is on trial by some kind of counci. Like at the beginning of superman. I had a go with light sabers for the beam but it wasnt working. I want to see the actor, but he has to be swathed beautiful, ethereal white light.

I'm using green screen so having him in a vast dark room is no probs, its just the beam appearing and the actor looking like he is in the beam of light i'm having probs with. heres a pic of what i mean.

cheers, Andy

Posted: Tue, 31st Oct 2006, 4:09pm

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Simon K Jones

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Have you got a high quality greenscreen image of your actor? Or at least a test version? That would make it easier for people to experiment.
Posted: Tue, 31st Oct 2006, 4:58pm

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Underdog Productions

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Dont know what just happened but I had a flash of inspiration and came up with some new approaches.

I did a google image search for beams of light and this was one i found.

http://www.johnharveyphoto.com/DominicanRepublic/BeamOfLightFromCeiling.jpg

The flare at the bottom where it contacts the ground was something i hadn't though of. As you can see, the beam, if fake would be about 50% opacity. However when i tried this with the light saber it just faded into the black background and looked dull.

Also for the close ups I used light spill which helped but i still want more! Is this the best I'm going to get it? Or would the colour tint further fuse the actor and background?



Posted: Tue, 31st Oct 2006, 5:05pm

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Simon K Jones

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There's also the famous TRON image for inspiration:

http://www.3gcs.com/tron/tron.jpg

Like I said, if you upload an unaltered high quality image of your actor against a greenscreen, I'd be happy to have a play and see what I can come up with.
Posted: Tue, 31st Oct 2006, 6:42pm

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Pyromarius

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Is this something you can use?

Pyromarius
Posted: Tue, 31st Oct 2006, 9:56pm

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frodo1987

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I was messing around with grade objects, and I got this combining two of them with my footage.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v641/frodo1987/PDVD_039.jpg

If you think this would work with your project, I could give you all the details. Yours might look better, though.
Posted: Tue, 31st Oct 2006, 11:57pm

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SGB

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Not really sure what your going for, but try this:

Make a duplicate layer of your person. then, make the bottom layer slightly larger and turn up the transparency a bit. Then, turn contrast waay down, and add tons of ambient blue light. you may also want to add the glow composite, and the blur keying filter.

This should make the edges of your character glow with a bluish tint. I've never tried this though, and I'm not even sure if its what your looking for.

SGB
Posted: Wed, 1st Nov 2006, 1:03am

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Axeman

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Did you ever consider putting your actor in a dark room, with a spotlight shining down on his head?
Posted: Wed, 1st Nov 2006, 1:56am

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Underdog Productions

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What are you talking about Axeman? I presume you're trying to patronise me? You honestly think a spot light in a darkroom is going to achieve the effect I want? An epic Sci-fi/fantasy beautiful crisp beam, with my actor bathed in beautiful ethereal light? That would take stadium floodlights.

I will be filming on greenscreen and lighting him from above to help sell the effect, but only Composite and Effects Lab can get me what I want. Thats why i posted in this help forum.

Cheers everyone else, some good ideas. Like I say, the pics i have uploaded show the general thing I'm after but any ideas or other angles i could try would be great. Here's a still to have a play with Tarn.

Also, can anyone think of any films that use this effect in a scene? Been racking my brains for stuff to check out.

Thanks again

Posted: Wed, 1st Nov 2006, 4:19am

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Hendo

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Andrew Birtwell wrote:

What are you talking about Axeman? I presume you're trying to patronise me?
I very much doubt that Axeman was being patronising, sarcastic, or anything other than attempting to help.

Perhaps a combination of real lighting from above the actor pointing down, combined with some digital effects is the way to go?

Real light will give you the highlights on the actor's head and shoulders, and the digital compositing will give you the nice light spill etc.
Posted: Wed, 1st Nov 2006, 8:30am

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Axeman

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Heh, sorry if I came across as patronizing. I just meant by filming it with the lighting as close as possible to what you are trying to achieve, it would enhance the effect and make it easier to achieve when adding the light beam later.

Having the actor lit properly will be crucial to getting him to composite properly into this effect. That's what i meant.
Posted: Wed, 1st Nov 2006, 8:59am

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Simon K Jones

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Main example I'm familiar with, Andrew, is from the 90s TV series Babylon 5. In that there was an alien race called Minbari that had a bizarre council chamber that was basically a large black space, with spotlights shining down from above.

Here's some info and pics:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey_Council

Also here:

http://www.midwinter.com/b5/Pictures/Scenes/gcouncil.gif

The show itself had much wider shots, but I can't seem to find any online stills of those.

I'll have a fiddle with your greenscreen shot later on!
Posted: Wed, 1st Nov 2006, 10:57am

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Underdog Productions

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Cheers guys and cheers axeman. Was a bit grumpy when i read it so sorry for that.

All great ideas. I knew I could count on you.

But yeah, doing it as much as possible with real lighting and enhancing it with effects is definitely something I'm after.

The council chamber look is definitely something i'm after. More so the glow on the actors than the beam which is a bit too faint for what i want.

To get glowing hightlights like in the council chamber is it just a case of fiddling with the "glow: composit" filter in composticlab?

Thanks again guys. I grew up in the 80's with effects films like Tron and Highlander (still two of my faves), and to think I can produce epic looking seqences via a greenscreen, a few B&Q security floodlights and a humble PC blows my mind.

Viva la revolution!!!
Posted: Wed, 1st Nov 2006, 2:06pm

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Simon K Jones

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Rating: +2



That was my quick attempt just now. Obviously it isn't pefect due to the greenscreen shot not being lit specifically with this in mind. If he was lit from above by a really strong light then the results would be much better.

The beam was a neon light effect with a high feather and glow size.

I put a lens flare just off-screen at the top.

The actor was graded using exposure and color gradient filters to get the appropriate washed-out look, then a heavy light spill was added to let the brightness flood over him.

After keying out the green, I also added an erode white filter and set it to 5, followed by a gaussian blur set to 13. This made the white light look stronger, as it appeared to be blasting out the edges of the actor completely.

Hope that's useful, let me know what you think.

Here's an alternate version:



In that one I added an additional copy of the composited actor and then applied a gleam to it, with the origin point off the top of the screen (ie, close to where the beam would seem to be coming from).

This created the illusion of the man obscuring the beams of light, hence the slightly darker patches, as if he was blocking the light.
Posted: Thu, 2nd Nov 2006, 7:58am

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Underdog Productions

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Amazing! eek You read my mind. Gonna have a quick play and get back to you if I get stuck with anything.

Thanks!

Andy
Posted: Thu, 2nd Nov 2006, 8:53am

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Underdog Productions

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Ok here's my latest attempt:



Ignore the bottom of his body, as you know that's where the screen cut off.

The only thing I cant get down is the gleam effect. When I dupilcate the layer to do gleam effect, do i just leave the new top layer on screen mode so the layer below is still visible?

I have positioned the gleam right at the top like you said to sell the effect, but I cant make the gleam effect a shadow. It's doing those white and red/orange gleams. What are the settings to make them shadows like in your example?

Thanks

Andy
Posted: Thu, 2nd Nov 2006, 9:02am

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Simon K Jones

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Ah, sorry, I should have gone into more detail about the gleam layer.

For the gleam layer, I increased the 'erode white' filter, to cut down the edges a bit more than the main layer. Otherwise it slightly interfered with the light spill and composite edges. Increasing erode white ensured that you couldn't see the gleam layer itself peeking around the edges of the main actor layer. I also turned off the gaussian blur, as there was no need for it on the gleam layer.

As for the gleam filter itself, try these settings:

Blend method: Softlight (this bit is vital)

Transparency: 100

Position: 360 x -51 (this was on a PAL project setup)

Black point: 131

White point: 255

Type: Colorize image (also very important)

Colorize gradient: set to pure white

Brightness: 230

Levels: 0.05

Falloff: 0.5

Accumulator: 47

That should get the same effect that I achieved.

The key bits are setting the blend to softlight, which creates the particular kind of colour blending, and also setting it to colorize the image. 'From image' creates all kinds of crazy colours that we don't want in this particular example, so instead we set it to a white colorize, which ensures that the gleam effect's colours match the general appearance of the white/blue lightbeam.

Hope that helps. smile
Posted: Thu, 2nd Nov 2006, 9:46am

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Underdog Productions

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Hmmm. Not getting same results. Followed your instructions exactly on the gleam filter settings. Mine is a lot darker. Are the adjustments just to the new third layer? Or have I missed something out?

On the new third layer I increased the erode white filter to 10 and turned off the gausian like you said. Even though I don't know what I'm talking about, the darkening of the image suggests its something to do with a screen mode somewhere?

Posted: Thu, 2nd Nov 2006, 9:49am

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Simon K Jones

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Both clips of the actor should be set to normal blend, so make sure you haven't changed anything there (make sure you're using CompositeLab for the gleam bit).

If you save your project file and send it over to support@fxhome.com I'll take a look at it. I might be able to spot something that's not quite right.
Posted: Thu, 2nd Nov 2006, 10:01am

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Underdog Productions

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Right. Think I may have got the set u wrong then. Bottom Layer Is my Neon Background plate, then composited actor graded with a lightspill filter, then top layer is a duplication of layer below with the light splill filter deleted and replaced with a gleam filter.

I know that's wrong somewhere! I've emailed you the project file. Thankyou somuch for all this support. Definitely getting my moneys worth!

Andy
Posted: Thu, 2nd Nov 2006, 10:17am

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Simon K Jones

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Right, I've taken a look and there's a couple of things you should do:

1. Put the gleam layer on layer 2, so it's UNDERNEATH the main actor clip. Otherwise it'll do weird darkening things to it.

2. The falloff needs to be 0.5. You've got it set to 0.05, which means there's hardly any gleam rays at all. Make sure it's set to 0.5 and the effect will be far more visible.

Let me know how it goes.
Posted: Thu, 2nd Nov 2006, 10:48am

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Underdog Productions

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WOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! biggrin



Thanks for your time and patience Tarn. GOnna go and set my greenscreen up now and get filming.

Long live FXhome!