21 Replies Latest reply: Jun 1, 2013 6:51 AM by Bushy162 RSS

    What Layer Technique for VFX?

    Bushy162 Community Member

      I have made a collection of resources (links) for the study of ILM visual effects (digital).

      Sorry if the subject matter is a little specific:

       

      http://forums.adobe.com/message/5293822#5293822

       

      You may notice that some of the images show non-lit blades - and some of these bades are blurry and some aren't (non-feathered masks).

      It is my belief that these are they flattened these (as motion files) and then post-lit them. Notice how no light allowing blend modes are used in the intitial stages of the creation of the blade.

       

      What I want to know is how much more detail/quality would one need to be able to determine the method behind the effects?

      Are techniques uesd such as Channel Blur - did they have to invent really clever techniques?

        • 1. Re: What Layer Technique for VFX?
          Rick Gerard CommunityMVP

          I'm not sure what you are asking here. Blurry? Non feathered masks? Your thread on ILM visuals is just a bunch of screen shots. Some have motion blur some do not. There are dozens of ways to create light saber effects. There are therefore hundreds of combinations of techniques that can be used. If you want to duplicate a specific shot then load that shot in one viewer and put your new comp in another and try things until you get things to match. There's no magic button to press. There is no single technique that will work for all projects. It just takes experimenting and looking at all the options.

          • 2. Re: What Layer Technique for VFX?
            Bushy162 Community Member

            I appreciate what you're saying Rick, and I'm well aware that there is more than one technqiue to create light saber effects. What I'm asking is are you able to tell me your best guess as to the general technique used in the screenshots?

            That is my question.

             

            If you aren't able to give me that guess, are you able to tell me a way of creating a lightsaber other than the one you showed me on Vimeo and the standard technique (blurring a white mask through screen using a doubling sequence of fast blur with adjustment layers)?

            • 3. Re: What Layer Technique for VFX?
              Andrew Yoole CommunityMVP

              One of the primary issues I have with your collection of images is that many of them are productions stills, rather than actual screen grabs from the films.  Odds are they have been enhanced or completely reworked (in Photoshop, probably) for the still, rather than reflecting the true appearance of the film's effects.  The true film look of light sabres is quite different to many of your stills - mostly pure white, with a reasonably intense coloured glow.

               

              There's a milion ways to recreate a lightsaber effect, and just as many online tutorials.  Andrew Kramer did a decent one years ago:

               

              http://www.videocopilot.net/tutorials/light_sabers_v2/

              • 4. Re: What Layer Technique for VFX?
                Bushy162 Community Member

                Yes, the images I chose are all production photos. I specifically chose them because I think they are less enhanced than the ones in the actual film. The film ones are much more intense in color/saturation, plus even on Blu Ray the compression is such that there is no hope of knowing what they'd really look like if you were one of the guys at ILM creating the saber on to the footage.

                 

                I keep hearing of a million ways to recreate the lightsaber effect, and yet I'm only aware of three so far:

                 

                Andrew Kramer's (preset)

                Ryan Weiber's

                Rick Gerard's

                 

                If you know of any others, I'd be very interested in hearing about them...

                 

                Thanks

                • 5. Re: What Layer Technique for VFX?
                  Andrew Yoole CommunityMVP

                  Bushy162 wrote:

                   

                  Yes, the images I chose are all production photos. I specifically chose them because I think they are less enhanced than the ones in the actual film. The film ones are much more intense in color/saturation, plus even on Blu Ray the compression is such that there is no hope of knowing what they'd really look like if you were one of the guys at ILM creating the saber on to the footage.

                   

                   

                  I'm a little unclear what you are trying to achieve.  Do you want to create light saber effects that look like Star Wars movie light sabres?  Or are you looking for something else?  Becasue if the films themselves are not your benchmark, then you may as well just start from scratch and come up with the look you want.  Odds are that every tutorial  in existence is aiming to replicate the look of the films.

                  • 6. Re: What Layer Technique for VFX?
                    Bushy162 Community Member

                    Yes, that's exactly what I'm trying to do - create sabers like those in the Star Wars films. Not the cheap unproffessional looking ones used for fan movies on YouTube.

                    • 7. Re: What Layer Technique for VFX?
                      Klaus_Brandenburg Community Member

                      you are overcomplicating things on the wrong end. a light saber is a beam and a glow. period. what sets apart professiona from unprofessional is the location, the costumes, choreography, sound design, camerawork, editing, compositing and color correction. so if you have a cheesy scene not a real light saber could help you.

                      • 8. Re: What Layer Technique for VFX?
                        Rick Gerard CommunityMVP

                        The formula that I gave you in the past will create a light saber that is as good as any in any of the films made by Lucas. It's just a matter of execution. No magic here except the performance of the actors, the lighting on the set, the color grading. Like Klaus said "you are overcomplicating things..."

                        • 9. Re: What Layer Technique for VFX?
                          Bushy162 Community Member

                          I hear what you are saying....I'm not sure I believe it, but I can see you're adament that it is true.

                          When you say "formula", you mean simply the video you made on Vimeo. That formula is certainly better than any others I've seen, but what makes you so certain that it is as good as any made under Lucas.

                           

                          I mean the blend mode "Add" is very glaring and saturated everything. If you look at the production photos, there isn't much saturation going on. Is this simply because the footage was such high quality and low compression when they did it?

                          • 10. Re: What Layer Technique for VFX?
                            Rick Gerard CommunityMVP

                            Because I know some of the folks that worked at ILM and developed these techniques. Software may be different but it's just blend modes and blurs. That's all there is to it. That's all that can be done with a dedicated plug-in. You take pixel values and do some arithmetic on them. You add the values, multiply the values or perform other calculations on them. That is all there is to compositing and visual effects.

                             

                            There is no magic, just technique and care throughout the whole process. It's layers and arithmetic. That's all there is to it.

                            • 11. Re: What Layer Technique for VFX?
                              Bushy162 Community Member

                              Yeah software is different. They use an advancment on your (Rick) personal favourite tool "Commotion", plus some stuff made by Autodesk such as Flame.  The package is called CompTime.

                               

                              If you ever get the chance to get in touch with those ILM guys again, tell them some obsessive nut case called Bushy is curious as to why the production photo saberse look nothing like anything one can make with Blend Modes. I'm not saying I don't believe you - I'm just saying it doesn't add up (the look vs the method).

                               

                              Anyway, I probably need to move on with life......

                              • 12. Re: What Layer Technique for VFX?
                                Rick Gerard CommunityMVP

                                Pick one of your sample production stills and I'll send you a comp in a few days that looks just like it.

                                • 14. Re: What Layer Technique for VFX?
                                  Bushy162 Community Member

                                  I picked my production still like a week ago and you have sent me it back. Would you be able to please?

                                  • 15. Re: What Layer Technique for VFX?
                                    Rick Gerard CommunityMVP

                                    I'll try and get to it soon. I'm on a production deadline and I don't have much free time start a new project in AE.

                                    • 16. Re: What Layer Technique for VFX?
                                      Dave LaRonde Community Member

                                      I think the Good Mr. Gerard wanted a CLEAN production plate.  Not one with the effect already in place.

                                       

                                      To do what he proposed and you expected, he would have to remove the existing effect -- not a particularly fast or fun chore, incidentally -- and then replicate the effect.  There is such a thing as integrity, and Rick would not have foisted the original off on you as his take on the effect.

                                       

                                      Then, after a perfect replication was completed, how would you be able to tell he had done a single, solitary thing?

                                       

                                      See the problem? 

                                       

                                      Try again.  A clean plate, please.  An addition, a second plate with the effect in place for reference is helpful.

                                      • 17. Re: What Layer Technique for VFX?
                                        Bushy162 Community Member

                                        Thank you for pointing this out.

                                        • 18. Re: What Layer Technique for VFX?
                                          Bushy162 Community Member

                                          Thanks Rick, appreciated. Whenever you're ready - after all, you giving up your free time to do me a favour

                                          • 19. Re: What Layer Technique for VFX?
                                            Bushy162 Community Member

                                            Unfortunately I can't find any of high enough quality and low enough compression for Rick to use. How might I go about obtaining these plates?

                                            • 20. Re: What Layer Technique for VFX?
                                              Rick Gerard CommunityMVP

                                              I'll just take a photo with my phone, match the color and add a light saber. It will probably take about 10 minutes. Maybe I can get to it this weekend.

                                              • 21. Re: What Layer Technique for VFX?
                                                Bushy162 Community Member

                                                Thank you so much Rick (What phone is it?)