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"An elegant weapon, for a more civilized age:" Creating Lightsabre FX
by Jedi Knight Toren Depor

    Lightsabres are the most unique object in the Star Wars saga. During the days of the original trilogy creating glowing, pulsing Lightsabre blades was no easy task. It required trained professionals painting blades on film by hand, one frame at a time. With the dawn of desktop publishing and desktop video, many of the effects seen even in Episode I: The Phantom Menace can be accurately reproduced on a home computer with off the shelf software.
    These are a series of tutorials that explain how to create a glowing, pulsing Lightsabre blade in Hash Inc's Animation:Master. This tutorial covers every aspect of the Lightsabre, including perfect clashing effects!

NOTE: All of my tutorials use centimeters as the unit of measurement and SMPTE as the measurement of time. To alter these settings, go to Tools>Options>Units Tab and change the "Unit of measurement" to Centimeters and "Show time as" to SMPTE (00:00:00).

1) Animation:Master version 6.0 and above
2) Animation:Master version 8.5c and above required for Onion Skinning mentioned in Animation #3: Making the Lightsabre Swing and Animation #4: Creating a Lightsabre Duel

Part 1: Observations and References of Lightsabres
    A list of observations about the nature of Lightsabre blades, as well as visual references.
Part 2: Modeling and Texturing the Lightsabre Blade
    Creating a Lightsabre shaped plane that glows.
Part 3: Preparing the Lightsabre for Animation
    Adding a simple skeleton and creating two poses.
Part 4: Creating Lightsabre Collision and Blaster Deflection Lens Flares
    Creating a lens flare using A:M's built-in lens flare tools.
Part 5: Animating the Lightsabre

        Animation #1: Making the Lightsabre Pulse
            Animating the ambiance of the glowing materials so that they pulse.
        Animation #2: Making the Lightsabre Activate and Deactivate
            Animating the ambiance and the scale of the blade.
        Animation #3: Making the Lightsabre Swing
            Making the sabre appear to stretch as it is swung.
        Animation #4: Creating a Lightsabre Duel
            Making two lightsabres produce a clashing effect when they collide.

Completed Project File 70.4 KB
    Contains all of the materials, models, actions, and choreographies used in this tutorial.
Tutorial: Off-Line Version 996KB
    All of these tutorials downloadable as a ZIP Archive.
Tutorial: Off-Line Version 1.06MB
    All of these tutorials downloadable as a SIT Archive.

Tutorial by Jedi Knight Toren Depor (a.k.a. Filmmaker Matt Pfingsten)
Special Thanks to
Hal Hickel of ILM for verifying the existence of lightsabre shadows
Loring Veenstra for Beta testing my lightsabre tutorial
Jan Horjus for Beta testing my lightsabre tutorial
TheForce.Net for hosting this tutorial
Hash Inc. for making such powerful 3D software
George Lucas for creating Star Wars



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