How to Make a Lightsaber Prop and Rotoscope It on Adobe After Effects

Have you been mesmerized by the lightsaber effect in Star Wars? Do you want to recreate this effect? This is the place to be! This article will show you, step by step, how to make a lightsaber and add the effect. Note: Skip to step 6 if you already have your footage.

Steps

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    Create the lightsaber prop. A great way to create one cheaply is to go to a store and buy a toy lightsaber. Take off the top of the toy and remove the plastic blade.
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    Buy a dowel rod about 1 meter (3.3 ft) long and 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter. Buy rubber tubing that fits snugly around the dowel. Replace the top of the toy and insert the tubing. Insert the dowel into the tubing.
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    Drill various holes into the side of the handle so that they go all the way into the dowel. Screw the handle, tube and dowel together.
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    Adjust the screws so that the blade is centered.
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    Film the scenes with the lightsaber.
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    Import into adobe after effects. Drag into the composition. Create a solid white layer over the footage. click the eye to make it see-through. Using the pen tool, click the corners of the lightsaber on the first frame. Connect to make a box. You should see a white mask over the lightsaber prop.
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    Select the solid layer and push "MM" on the keyboard. Click the stopwatch next to "Mask Path" Go on tho the next frame and drag the corners of the mask so it fits the lightsaber (make sure the pointer and white solid layer is selected).
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    Move forwards a couple frames at a time and let the computer fill the frames between, but touch-ups are almost always necessary. If the lightsaber is blurred, make the mask over the entire blur.
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    Once the entire footage is rotoscoped (edited frame by frame), click the solid layer and push "ctrl + D" 4 times. You cannot edit the mask after this. Go to each layer and push "MM" adjust the "Mask Feather" to 5 for the first layer, 10 for the second, 15 for the third, 25 for the fourth and 40 for the fifth layer.
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    Delete the footage from the composition. Create a solid black layer under the white solid layers.
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    Create a new composition and adjust the size so it matches the first composition. Drag the footage into the composition. Drag the first composition into the new composition on top of the footage. They should align. For first comp layer, under "mode" change the blending mode to "screen".
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    Apply the "Color Balance" effect to the first comp layer. Adjust the highlight and midtone colors until you get the appropriate lightsaber color. Make sure to check "Preserve Luminosity"
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    Enjoy the realistic effect this method makes! Rotoscoping is the only way!

Tips

  • Increase the green midtones to get a better blue for the lightsaber.
  • Use a good quality camera and edit with the best quality video.
  • Rotoscoping takes time, a lot of it. Be patient. This could take hours.

Warnings

  • Even thought the lightsaber is just a prop, it can nevertheless hurt people in a less futuristic way - physical contact

Things You'll Need

  • Lightsaber toy
  • Screwdriver
  • 1–1.5 inch (2.5–3.8 cm) screws
  • Drill
  • Drill Bits
  • computer
  • Adobe After Effects
  • Camera
  • Rubber Tube

Article Info

Categories: Adobe Software