Join Lee Lanier for an in-depth discussion in this video Adding blast flares, part of VFX Techniques: Creating a Laser Battle.
- We now have a more complex laser beam. Spent some time working on this coring, and adjusting all the effects. Let me show you where I wound up on that. Basically, to figure out what looks good, you just have to experiment. Let's go back to Shot1BlueTube. If we look at the bottom layer here, you can see that, really, I only adjusted the Glow. The Curves, Hue/Saturation, and the Displacement Map are left at their original settings. Glow, however, I changed to 5.0%, 30.0, 6.0, for the top three properties. Then, I chose A & B colors with those two Cyan colors.
That makes it much more intense, and gives me that bit of a hard line on the outside. In terms of that new center layer, the Curves and Hue/Saturation were left as is. Displacement Map was changed to -500.0 and -300.0. This gives it the more jaggy look. Colorize was ... The second Colorize, I should say ... So, the second Hue/Saturation was set to 192.0, 75, 45, a bit more saturated and a bit brighter. Then, the final Glow is also adjusted. Here it's 20.0%, 90.0, 2.0.
Then also, originally you're set to A & B colors. I deicided to go back to Glow Colors being set to Original Colors. Here's the A & B Color. It's pretty washed out. Here's the Original Colors. Turns out, it gives you more detail. Here, I backtrack, and went back to Original Colors. In terms of that, and that's in this first shot, let's take a look. This has been Screened, so it's a bit brighter. Also, the Curves effect has been adjusted. Originally, I went higher on the peak and the valley.
But, if you keep it fairly low, like this, it actually inserts a nice, subtle, reddish color. And, a bit of purple, too. All right, let's move on, now. Let's figure out what we can do next. We do have one more particle simulation we can add. Let's go ahead and do that. We have the ParticleBlast. This is supposed to be a little puff of gas, or plasma, that comes out of the tip of the gun. We can go ahead and drop that in, ParticleBlast. We'll put that below BlueTube. Let's say this starts at 00016.
That pretty-well corresponds to this blast occurring and when the gun fires. We're going to Screen this, once again. Then, also reduce the Opacity. It's pretty intense there. 50% Opacity. We'll move it into position. Then, we need to Colorize it one more time. Hue/Saturation. Again, 192.0, for the Hue. We can make it more saturated, at 50, and a little bit brighter, 10.
There, it's starting to integrate. I do need to animate a few things. I need to animate the Position, to follow the tip of the gun, over time. Also, need to animate the Opacity. Maybe this will be the peak, say, around frame 19. Key that at 50%. Go back a few frames, turn it off, at 0%. Go a few frames forward, return it back to 0%, so it turns off. Let's take a look at this little section here.
There we go. Nice little puff of gas, plasma, fire, what have you, right here. I do need it for the second time he fires. I'm just going to copy this upwards, Edit, Duplicate. Move that top copy over, and just line that up with the second time he shoots. I'll have to update the Position animation for that. All right, there we go. Now, another cool thing to have, here, would be some type of Lens Flare. This gun really fires off. It's so bright that, odds are, it would flare the lens.
Light would bounce around inside the lens elements, and you'd see it all over the place. We could do that pretty simply though. What I can do, is make a brand new Composition. Same Size, Duration, Frame Rate. I'm going to call this, Shot1Flares. I'll make sure this is in the Shot1 folder. Then, I'll drag Shot1Assemble into this, two times. The low layer, here, I'm not going to touch. The top layer, here, I'm going to make brighter, larger, and blurrier, and then put it back on top.
I'll start with the Brightness. Once again, Curves. I'm going to bow this up. Then, I'll go ahead and change the sharpness, by adding a Blur. I'll use a Fast Blur here. Give it a nice, big Blur of 50.0. In order not to see these dark edges here, I'll turn on Repeat Edge Pixels. Then, I'm going to scale it up. Now, I probably should go to the framework and see the beam, to better help me figure out how to do this. There we go. I'm going to Scale this up, though, so it's a nice, big pattern, so we can't really tell exactly what's in the frame, just that it's a flare.
Let's say 500.0%. Then, I'm going to change it to Screen, so we only get the bright parts on top. You can see, it's starting to form a flare. Then, we can experiment with the Position, to get different, interesting patterns. For example, if I put it at roughly, let's say, -272.0, 254.0. Looks pretty good, gives me an interesting pattern. Gives me an interesting pattern. There we go. Now, the Opacity is pretty heavy right now, so I'm going to reduce the Opacity to 50%. Then, actually key it, so it fades up and fades down. Let's say this is the peak of the flare.
I'll turn on the Time Inc. on there at 50%. Back up a few frames, where it should be off, Make that 0%. Go forward a few frames. Make it 0% again. Then, do the same at the very end. Up to 50%. Right before he fires, 0%. Let's play that back. There's a nice flare, everywhere in the frame. Just one last thing we can do to this beam, to make it a little bit more interesting. And, that's to add an effect to make part of it look much more intense and glow-y.
We can go down to the the low layer. Go to Effect, Generate. We'll use CC Light Rays. CC Light Rays works by giving you a little center handle that creates a flare wherever that handle is. It essentially copies the layer, distorts it, blurs it, and puts it back on top. What we can do is go to where the beam is, and Position this over some part of the beam, to make the beam look more intense. It could be on the leading edge, or where the gun is firing.
It's up to you. We do have to animate this. I do need to key this center handle here. In here, is the property, Center. It's going to be in different places, over time. When the gun starts, the fire that's right here. The beam goes forward. Maybe it's at the leading edge. Maybe, towards the end. Maybe, it's actually at the very front, here. But then, as the beam starts to dissipate, it's on the tail of it. Then, it just goes out of frame. You can also adjust some of these other properties.
You should probably animate these, over time, also. For example, Intensity, Radius, and Warp Softness. Intensity is simply the intensity. The Radius is the radius of that distorted copy ... that essentially makes the Start Points. The Softness is the softness of that warped layer. The higher the Softness, the more blurry it is. I would go through, to each frame where I want this, and adjust all these settings. Now, if you simply wanted to turn the effect off, you can set the Intensity to 0.0.
It should turn on and off. You'll need to animate all these properties for the first time he fires, and then also the second time. Now, take a few minutes to experiment with that. The goal is to make the beam much more interesting with this nice little flare, and some of these star arms, and some of this warping. We are able to quickly create some lens flares by nesting a couple copies of Assemble1, and making the top copy brighter, blurrier, and larger with the Screen blending mode. Then, we're also able to use the CC Light Rays to add an additional, smaller flare in a particular location.
- Running particle simulations to create beams and sparks
- Altering the beams with distortion, blur, and color effects
- Creating interactive lighting through masking and color grading
- Creating set damage by rotoscoping and integrating matte paintings
- Animating post camera moves
- Matching effects through multiple shots