That’s no moon…

Listen up dudes and lady-dudes. Remember when you were a kid and fought with wrapping paper rolls like they were light sabers? Well, hold on to your neckbeards because the future is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/92261588@N04/8586883011/in/photostream.

First, get your video clip you’d like to edit. It helps to have some prop to stand in for the light saber (mine was a broom). You will also need a plain white and a plain black background that are the same dimensions as your clip.

Okay, now insert your clip and your plain white picture into your timeline and make sure they are the same length. Next go into Effects>Keying>Four-Point Garbage Matte, and apply it to your white layer.

This next part sucks.

Using this matte, select the keyframe editing mode (the little clocks), check “Repeat Edge Panels,” and edit every pane manually, aligning your matte with the light saber.

ss5

Be sure to get the whole lightsaber with the matte, even when it blurs while it is in motion. Every inch of the lightsaber should be covered for every frame. Chances are every millisecond will need a realignment of your matte.  (It took me about an hour to do this nine second clip.) Patience, young padawan.

After that mess, add a blur to your white layer (Effects>Blur & Sharpen>Gaussian Blur) and set it to about 13. Next delete you clip—we just want to work with the lightsaber layer now—and paste the black picture into the timeline and line it up with the white layer.

For the next step it helps to duplicate your sequence. In your duplicated sequence, apply an RGB Curve effect (under Color Correction) to your white layer and adjust the gray scale to get a good contrast.

ss1

Fiddle with that, then take your initial sequence and place it in your duplicated one (just drag and drop it into the next video slot). With it still selected, change the opacity (under Effect Controls) to “Screen.” Next apply a Gaussian Blur (same as before), only now set it up to about 35.

You can add blur layers as you see fit, doubling size until you have a fine blur.

Once your done with your blur layers, you want to make another duplicated sequence. Now all of your blur layers should be merged into one. Select your original clip from your project files and insert it into the new sequence. If you can’t see it, make sure all of your lightsaber layers are set to “Screen.” Great, now apply an RGB Curve effect to the lightsaber layer and edit the color and contrast of your lightsaber!

ss2

That’s it for the lightsaber. The sound effects can be a little tricky. I found an open source zip file of all the lightsaber effects you can imagine here: http://theforce.net/fanfilms/postproduction/soundfx/saberfx_fergo.asp, so you can just import them into the timeline as  you’d like.

It’s a fairly frustrating procedure, especially at first. Feel free to comment me if you’re having any trouble.

May the force be with you.

-VBS out.

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