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Lightswords: Alternative effect to Masking

Posted: Mon, 7th Jan 2008, 1:38am

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Force: 2491 | Joined: 11th Oct 2003 | Posts: 288

VisionLab User FXpreset Maker Windows User FXhome Movie Maker

Gold Member

There are many different ways, many different methods to dealing with obscurities. Typically when a lightsaber or a particle effect goes behind somebody you think of a Mask. Well, sometimes that doesn’t always work out when using a lightsaber. Sometimes it is possible to pull this effect off using a mask, but most the time it leaves a greyish or dark empty line between the lightsaber and the actor making it look very unrealistic. Sorry if the pictures are a little big.

But what about when you want to add enhancements to your lightsaber? Similar to Jabooza’s tutorial found here.

Notice the difference between the shoulder and the head:

You can try different things to try and pull off a realistic look. Such as Tarn’s tutorial found here.

But today I am going to share with you another method. One that is quite easy and is excellent quality.

Usually with a mask you would start out with something like this and then you would just mask out the head:

But instead of masking out the head, instead you will just be adding the 4-point effect to part of the blade, as shown here:

Also, on the picture above, you will notice I have two 4-point effects. That is the basis of this tutorial. That is what you are going to do is click on 4-point one more time to add it to the current Neon Light effect. For some people I don’t need to go any further, you know exactly were this is headed, but for some (mostly beginners) I must continue.

On that second 4-point effect you will do the next part of the blade. Also make sure the tip curve, hilt curve, and feather are all similar to the first effect, if not the same (you might notice I changed the hilt curve to concave inwards around my actor’s head, this is too is optional). After you have done that you will click on Neon Glow (on the Neon Light effect track in the bottom left-hand corner of the timeline) and set all the attributes to your likings. That will automatically set both 4-point effects to be exactly the same so do not worry if you can’t find a second Neon Glow:

For more on Neon Glow settings check out:

So, every time the lightsaber swings behind someone or something (excluding other lightsabers of course) instead of masking you can use this method.

Wait, one second, what do you do with the second 4-point effect when you only need one at a time? You can’t use the green/red toggle button because that affects the entire effect. Well, what you do is when you don’t need it just simply drag it off the video portion of the canvas as shown:

Then when you need it back do you just simply bring it back? No. VisionLab uses what is called keyframes. So if you just simply bring it back into the canvas during the period of time when you took it off the video to the time you put it back it will slowly bring itself back to the point messing of your entire effect! You will see this lightsaber flying across the screen until it gets to where you positioned it. So, to solve this problem go to the frame ahead of when you need it the effect (on the timeline). And click on the effect that is outside the video area and on the timeline a small blue keyframe will appear. You’ve done it! On the next frame you can put the effect where ever you need it to be and the effect will stay in the same spot until the desired time without messing up your shot.

After you have accomplished all of this you can now, and realistically, “enhance” your lightsaber. I would recommend Jabooza’s great tutorial or even Redhawksrymmer’s splendid tutorial (both mentioned earlier) for making your lightsabers look even more realistic then they did before.

I hope this helped out with a few problems.

Posted: Mon, 7th Jan 2008, 9:08am

Post 2 of 3

Simon K Jones

Force: 27955 | Joined: 1st Jan 2002 | Posts: 11683

VisionLab User VideoWrap User PhotoKey 5 Pro User MuzzlePlug User PowerPlug User PhotoKey 3 Plug-in User FXhome Movie Maker FXpreset Maker Windows User

FXhome Team Member

Cool tutorial! Though I'd personally recommend using a freehand shape set to 'transparent' to mask neon light effects, this is a perfectly valid alternative which can be quite useful on occasion.
Posted: Mon, 7th Jan 2008, 11:28pm

Post 3 of 3


Force: 2491 | Joined: 11th Oct 2003 | Posts: 288

VisionLab User FXpreset Maker Windows User FXhome Movie Maker

Gold Member

That's okay. In fact I came up with this idea before i realized your method existed. So, I haven't tried it yet. But I think I will, so I, myself, can have a better understanding.

I guess it is good to know a few ways of going around a problems. Just in case. Atleast they beat masking out laser swords! smile