Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Make Your Lightsaber Glow

I will assume that you can have an AVI or .MPG file of
someone twirling something that will be the lightsaber.
I'll also
assume that you have some basic understanding of how to use Adobe
Premiere and Photoshop.
This process is often referred
to as Rotoscoping.

The first step is to load the movie into Premiere and
edit it.

Use the Razor tool to mark segments where you
do and do not see the saber blade in the frame. It is not required
but it makes sense. This way you can edit the individual segments
which load and write much faster in Premiere and Photoshop. Why edit
the entire film when you only need to edit the frames where the
blade is visable.

After you make all the segments, save this
step so you have a master template

Next select the a segment you need to edit (start with
the shortest one for your first try), click on it once to select

and export the segment as a Filmstrip.

Now load Photoshop and open the .flm file you created.
It will look something like this.

Note: The steps from here down to the point of saving
the file back to premiere's .FLM format are the same steps you
would use to edit a still shot of a Lightsaber.

Add a new layer (from the Layers menu, select new and
then layer).
(Special Note: If your
movie has multiple sabers in the same shot you must create a
different layer for each saber color and repeat the process for each

Enlarge the image so you can see one frame at a time
on your screen.
Now select the lasso tool

and draw a box around the area of the blade.

Now select your fill tool (the paint bucket)
and fill the area with white.

Now repeat the last two steps for every frame in the
strip needs to be done.
(also repeat for each layer if you have
multiple sabers in shot)
This can be a long slow tedious job.
Take your time and take a few breaks if you need to.

You can
save your work as a .PSD file at any time and should just so you
don't spend an hour doing this and your PC hangs up and you loose

Once you have done all the frames.

If you haven't saved
your work, do so at this time before proceeding.
This way, if
after your done you don't like the effect on film, you can come back
to this point and try again.

From the Filters menu, select Blur and Gaussian
Now here is where you have to start fooling
Depending on how big the image of the blade is in the
shot will depend on how much blur you really need.
Move the
slider around a little till your image is just a little
Write down this setting so you know what looks good.

Next from the Layers menu select Effects and Outer

Again, this is where you get to play some.
Pick the
color you want your blade to be. If you choose a custom color, write
it down.
I like 100% opacity, 25 pixels of blur and 255%
intensity for this shot, it might be different for you.
Again, it
depends on the size of the blade in the shot, the lighting of the
shot and what have you.
Experiment until you get the effect you

(Special Note: If your
movie has multiple sabers in the same shot you must repeat the
process for each layer)

Save this file (with a new name).

Now from the Layers menu, select Flatten
Once you have done this, do NOT edit the file
or save it again.
When you close Photoshop, it will ask if
you want to save your changes, answer NO.
Once you flatten an
image, you cannot go back and change the glow effect.

Now save the file as a Filmstrip giving it a new name
then what you had exported out of Premiere.

Go back to Premiere, load this Filmstrip and edit
Select the segment that you originally exported and delete

Now replace it with the edited version (the .FLM

Save the project and repeat until you have all your
new segments in the movie.
Export the movie out and watch your
Lightsaber glow!

See More Lightsaber Stuff at