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When animating a Lightsaber

Posted: Tue, 2nd Jan 2007, 10:56am

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ZoiN

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Im wondering if you guys animate every single frame or so when animating a lightsaber or is there a faster way to do (maybe different) than anymating every single one ?
Posted: Tue, 2nd Jan 2007, 11:06am

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Xcession

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If you place a saber on a frame, then skip forward 4 or 5 frames and add the saber again, you'll find the software automatically tweens (animates) the points in the blank frames in between. The software automatically plots each point of the first saber, to move in a smooth ark onto the points of the second saber.

Technically, this means you don't have to rotascope frame-by-frame. Practically however, its often the case that an actor doesn't move the saber in the same smooth line that the tweening is programmed to do and you'll find the tweening loses sync with the actual position of the sword, which obviously looks bad.

Of the hundreds of saber movies, tests and competitions i've seen over the years, by far the best results were got from rotascoping frame-by-frame. Its tedious, but dedication gives perfect results.
Posted: Tue, 2nd Jan 2007, 11:07am

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Simon K Jones

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You don't have to animate every frame, but you usually are required to due to the nature of the effect. With a fast moving, extremely blurred object like a swinging sword/stick, the only way you're going to get the effect to work properly is by rotoscoping it.

However, in shots where the lightsaber is immobile or not moving much, you can do far fewer keyframes. The more motion there is, the more keyframes you are likely to need.
Posted: Tue, 2nd Jan 2007, 11:09am

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ZoiN

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Tarn wrote:



However, in shots where the lightsaber is immobile or not moving much, you can do far fewer keyframes.
This is what ive done so far smile <-- Well thanks for the quick response here ;D
Posted: Tue, 2nd Jan 2007, 11:16am

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petet2

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It depends! smile

The FX Home programs do a great job of key framing things such as masks, particle effects or light sabers so you can get away with only positioning your object every so often and letting the software tween the intermediate frames.

How effectively this works depends upon the length of the clip, the movement within the clip and also any camera movement. Fast moving action and fast editing will often hide slight misalignment of a light saber blade for example.

It also comes down to how exacting you are. I set myself high standards and notice small imperfections which others do not. In practice this means that I usually start off with a few keyframes then go back adding more and more until I have key framed just about every frame in my clip!

Aliging your effects doesn't need to be a chore. Often people ae working with clips which are far too long. If you watch any action sequence (light saber fight, gun fire, etc) you will notice that they are edited to a very fast pace with short clips and rapid cutting. A common amateur mistake is to use a few longer clips rather than lots of short ones.

Not only does this slow the pace, it means you are bringing one clip into Effects Lab and having to add ten seconds of light saber effects in one go (i.e.: 250 frames in the PAL world). If you use clips of one or two second duration then you are only having to align effects over 25 or 50 frames at a time. Breaking your work into smaller parts in this way malkes it seem much less of a chore and the finished effect will be much more exciting to watch as well.
Posted: Tue, 2nd Jan 2007, 11:24am

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ZoiN

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petet2 wrote:

It depends! smile

The FX Home programs do a great job of key framing things such as masks, particle effects or light sabers so you can get away with only positioning your object every so often and letting the software tween the intermediate frames.

How effectively this works depends upon the length of the clip, the movement within the clip and also any camera movement. Fast moving action and fast editing will often hide slight misalignment of a light saber blade for example.

It also comes down to how exacting you are. I set myself high standards and notice small imperfections which others do not. In practice this means that I usually start off with a few keyframes then go back adding more and more until I have key framed just about every frame in my clip!

Aliging your effects doesn't need to be a chore. Often people ae working with clips which are far too long. If you watch any action sequence (light saber fight, gun fire, etc) you will notice that they are edited to a very fast pace with short clips and rapid cutting. A common amateur mistake is to use a few longer clips rather than lots of short ones.

Not only does this slow the pace, it means you are bringing one clip into Effects Lab and having to add ten seconds of light saber effects in one go (i.e.: 250 frames in the PAL world). If you use clips of one or two second duration then you are only having to align effects over 25 or 50 frames at a time. Breaking your work into smaller parts in this way malkes it seem much less of a chore and the finished effect will be much more exciting to watch as well.
what you are saying here is that I need to shoot the same scene though taken from different angles right ? cos a 2 second long Lightsaber fight aint really that long unsure
Posted: Tue, 2nd Jan 2007, 1:45pm

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petet2

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Lol - yes, shoot the action from lots of different angles. Get some action movie dvds and watch some of the set piece sequences on slow play back or even frame by frame. Count the frames that make up each clip. You will see some clips that are only a few frames long in a sequence, often just showing a blur or a random close up. Cut together these will create a fast paced sequence.

When shooting you don't have to film two second shots. You can film a fight from maybe two or three angles in long shot, two or three angles in mid shot and then shoot some close ups. Each shot can be ten seconds or more at the filming stage. You could even film the full fight from each angle in a single take. In a light saber fight you could have some close ups of faces (even just the combatants' eyes), their feet moving on the floor, hands gripping sabers handles, etc.

When it comes to editing you can then cut these into one or two second clips for assembling into your finished sequence. The beauty of hand/eye/feet shots is that they add to the drama and length of a sequence but you don't need to 'scope in a light saber beam!
Posted: Tue, 2nd Jan 2007, 2:55pm

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Jabooza

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Xcession wrote:

Technically, this means you don't have to rotascope frame-by-frame. Practically however, its often the case that an actor doesn't move the saber in the same smooth line that the tweening is programmed to do and you'll find the tweening loses sync with the actual position of the sword, which obviously looks bad.
I find that every other frame usually works fine but if that's what you do just be sure to go back and see if it does because it doesn't always work.

petet2 wrote:


It also comes down to how exacting you are. I set myself high standards and notice small imperfections which others do not.
lol me too! smile I've even found a few mistakes in Star Wars episode III with their lightsabers...like stuff they actually didn’t mask but where supposed to.