Digital Video Editing

Ok, Ok, I've had enough emails asking me how I got the glow on my lightsaber for my little movie, so I'll explain. This process is known as Rotoscoping.
So, let's learn how to Rotoscope a Blade on a Lightsaber.

To see my sample video, go to my Downloads page and check out the Pre and Post Rotoscope examples.

So I finally got a copy of FXhome EffectsLab Pro and I got to tell you, this has got to be one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to rotoscope a Lightsaber blade (and several other effects) in a movie you have made.

After puttering around with it for a little bit I decided it would be fun to rotoscope the same video I had done with Adobe Photoshop and Premiere using FXhome EffectsLab Pro and compare the difference. Unfortunately I didnít have the original video so itís a little lower resolution then I would prefer. But for the purpose of this tutorial, it works just fine.

A couple things about FXhome EffectsLab Pro, it is as its name implies a program for adding Effects, visual effects. It doesnít do audio; it doesnít do Titles, Subtitles or that kind of stuff. Use Microsoft Movie Maker or some other movie editing software to do that. FXhome EffectsLab Pro is for adding things like Lightsabers, Blasters, Explosions and things like that.

Also as piece of advice, I donít believe in editing an entire video clip if you only need to apply effects to a section of it so I open my unedited video in Windows Movie Maker, save the project and then use the Split function to cut out just the piece Iím going to edit and save it separately. Now I have a smaller file to work with.

Open FXhome EffectsLab Pro and select the video clip you want to edit.

Youíll see your video clip in the timeline


Advance ahead a frame at a time until you reach the first frame that you want to add the blade. You can either use the left/right keys to move through the movie or you can use the Next field button.

As you can see in the next picture, the Lightsaber blade is just starting to come into view, this is where I will start adding the blade effect. 


Click and hold down the right mouse button on the Neon Light effect under the Effects Tab in your Toolbox, now drag the Neon Light effect over onto your video clip you are editing.


Now down on the timeline you will see a layer called Neon Light.
Click on the Crop tool ;

And click on the right end of the Neon Light effect and drag it to the length that you need the effect to last (you can shorten and lengthen it as needed)


Inside that layer you will see a line that says Neon Glow. Single Click on it.


And on the right hand side of the screen, you will see the attributes for that neon glow layer. Here you can change things like the color of the blade or the feathering (fuzziness) of the blade core.
This is something you might want to tinker with as it may change with different scenes.

Click on the color bar to change the color.
Then click the Color box to bring up the color palette.
Choose your color and click ok.


Next, back down in the timeline, under the Neon Light layer, click on the line that says
Neon Glow and click the little green dot once and turn it red.

This actually turns the effect of the glow off.
This makes it a lot easier to do the editing; when we are done we will turn it back on.


Next click on the line that says Neon shapes.


Then on the right side of the screen, click on 4-point


We are now ready to start adding the rotoscoped blade effect.

Note: You can use the zoom tool located in the upper right corner above your video to enlarge or shrink down the area you are working in. You can also hold down the right mouse button when you have your mouse over the image to move the screen around.
This is very handy when working on a small area.


Click once next to the hilt of the Lightsaber (where the blade comes out)
Click either on the right side or left side of where the blade is, then click the other side, then go down to the end of the blade, and click the two points of that end.


You must do the handle/hilt end first, then the tip of the blade.
The software needs to know which end is which so it expects you to do it in this order.
You will note that in this frame the end of the blade extends off the edge of the screen.
You donít need to draw all the way to where the end of the blade would be, but you should go off the screen some to get the glow right.


On the right hand side of the screen you will see the attributes for the effect.
You can curve both ends of the blade by putting a value from -0.50 to 3 in the Hilt curve or Tip curve boxes. A negative value will curve the end inward (you way want this on the hilt sometimes). Use the slider to adjust the curve to your liking. You will most likely change this setting as you go depending on which way your saber is pointing at the time.



Then hit the right arrow key or click the Next field button to go to the next frame.


You will see that the effect you drew from the previous frame is in the same spot, grab the corners and drag the shape to cover the blade again.

Keep repeating the process (saving along the way) until you have every frame done.

Now go back to the timeline and click the red dot next to Neon Glow to turn the glow back on.


And the effect will appear.

(NOTE: Real image looks much better, I had to squish this to make it fit on the screen)

Render your movie, pull it back into Movie maker, add your sound effects and titles and your done.


Using this tool was much easier then using Adobe Photoshop and Premiere. It took less then half the time.
Stay Tuned for more cool stuff using FXhome EffectsLab Pro.


I'll be adding another tutorial showing deflecting a blaster shot with a Lightsaber.

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