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I’ve seen a few topics in the forums about creating an effect similar to Smallville’s heat vision. Axeman has created an excellent preset designed for this, but by itself, it doesn’t quite match the firey effect seen on the show. The intent of this tutorial is to show a method I have used to give the effect a bit more texture, and to make it more similar to the Smallville heat vision.
Step 1: Glowing Eyes
In Smallville, when Clark prepares to use his heat vision, his irisesgive off a flickering yellow/orange glow. This is fairly easy with Fxhome software. Firstly, apply a grade object above your clip. Then, apply a circular mask around the outer edges of the iris. Click the “Invert Shape” option so that it says “on.” Create another circle mask covering the inside edge on the iris, around the pupil. Be sure that the Invert Shape option is off, and that it the mask is set to “Transparent Mask.” These masks will limit the effect of your grade object to the shape of the iris. Apply some grading filters, like Ambient Light, Brightness and Color Balance, to create a fiery glow. You might also try changing the Composite Blend method of the grade object to Add or Screen to enhance the glow. Copy your Grade Object and move your Circle masks to cover the other eye.
Step 2 The Particles
Apply a particle effect with a point emitter, and set it up for a fairly rapid stream of small particles, To save time, or if you are not very familiar with the particle system yet, you can start out with Axeman’s Heat Beam preset. If you do that, it’s helpful to shut off the displacement map when placing rhe emitter, so you can see exactly where the particles are. Place the emitter in line with the eye, and apply a Inverted Square mask in the shape you want your beam, with some feathering on the edges. The Heat Beam preset comes with a mask like this, so if you’re using it, just place the mask where you need it. Apply a displacement map (under “Composite”). Don’t worry about the settings, yet; you can fine-tune them later. If you are using the preset, just turn the Displacement Map back on.
Step 3: Adding some Color
You should now have a decent rippling heat beam, but it won’t look quite like heat vision yet. To fix that, apply another Grade Object to the clip. Now apply an object mask to it, set to your particle effect.
Then move your grade object underneath your particle beam on the timeline.
Add some filters to your grade object to give it a fiery look, like you did with the eyes. Also, experiment with different Composite Blend methods to lend different looks to your effect.
The final thing to experiment with to get the look you want for your heat vision is the textures. Smaller, more detailed textures as well as stronger Displacement and darker colors more closely match the heat vision used in more recent episodes of Smallville.
Bigger, more blurred textures, lighter colors, and weaker Displacement create a more subtle beam, like those seen in season two of Smallville (when heat vision was first introduced to the series.)
When your heat beam looks the way you want, copy the particle effect and Grade Object and line the new beam up with the other eye.
Hope this is useful!