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 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

 First, I used Adobe Premiere and Adobe Photoshop for the PC.
Please dont' ask me how to do it on a Mac or how to do it with other software because I just don't know.

Please read this entire page a few times before you start.

I will assume that you can have an AVI or .MPG file of someone twirling something that will be the lightsaber.
I'll also assume that you have some basic understanding of how to use Adobe Premiere and Photoshop. 
This process is often referred to as Rotoscoping.

The first step is to load the movie into Premiere and edit it.

Use the Razor tool to mark segments where you do and do not see the saber blade in the frame. It is not required but it makes sense. This way you can edit the individual segments which load and write much faster in Premiere and Photoshop. Why edit the entire film when you only need to edit the frames where the blade is visible.






















After you make all the segments, save this step so you have a master template

Next select the a segment you need to edit (start with the shortest one for your first try), click on it once to select it,















and export the segment as a Filmstrip.
















Now load Photoshop and open the .flm file you created. It will look something like this.






















Note: The steps from here down to the point of saving the file back to premiere's .FLM format are the same steps you would use to edit a still shot of a Lightsaber.

Add a new layer (from the Layers menu, select new and then layer).
(Special Note: If your movie has multiple sabers in the same shot you must create a different layer for each saber color and repeat the process for each layer)

Enlarge the image so you can see one frame at a time on your screen.
Now select the lasso tool

and draw a box around the area of the blade.

Now select your fill tool (the paint bucket) and fill the area with white.

Now repeat the last two steps for every frame in the strip needs to be done.
(also repeat for each layer if you have multiple sabers in shot)
This can be a long slow tedious job. Take your time and take a few breaks if you need to.

You can save your work as a .PSD file at any time and should just so you don't spend an hour doing this and your PC hangs up and you loose everything!!


Once you have done all the frames.

If you haven't saved your work, do so at this time before proceeding.
This way, if after your done you don't like the effect on film, you can come back to this point and try again.

From the Filters menu, select Blur and Gaussian Blur.
Now here is where you have to start fooling around.
Depending on how big the image of the blade is in the shot will depend on how much blur you really need.
Move the slider around a little till your image is just a little fuzzy.
Write down this setting so you know what looks good.

Next from the Layers menu select Effects and Outer Glow.

Again, this is where you get to play some.
Pick the color you want your blade to be. If you choose a custom color, write it down.
I like 100% opacity, 25 pixels of blur and 255% intensity for this shot, it might be different for you.
Again, it depends on the size of the blade in the shot, the lighting of the shot and what have you.
Experiment until you get the effect you want.


(Special Note: If your movie has multiple sabers in the same shot you must repeat the process for each layer)

Save this file (with a new name).

Now from the Layers menu, select Flatten Image.
Once you have done this, do NOT edit the file or save it again. When you close Photoshop, it will ask if you want to save your changes, answer NO.
Once you flatten an image, you cannot go back and change the glow effect.

Now save the file as a Filmstrip giving it a new name then what you had exported out of Premiere.

Go back to Premiere, load this Filmstrip and edit it.
Select the segment that you originally exported and delete it.

Now replace it with the edited version (the .FLM file)

Save the project and repeat until you have all your new segments in the movie.
Export the movie out and watch your Lightsaber glow!

Coming soon, adding sound effects.




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Jedi Knight